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FFmpeg Finally Releases Long-Awaited Version 0.5 176

Posted by timothy
from the unsung-software-heroes dept.
An anonymous reader writes "After many years of release-free development, FFmpeg, the most widely used audio and video codec library, has finally returned to a regular release schedule with the long-awaited version 0.5. While the list of changes is far too long to list here, some high-profile improvements include the reverse-engineering of all Real video formats, WMV9/VC-1 support, AAC decoding, and of course vast performance improvements across the board. To commemorate the 'lively' discussions predating the release, 0.5 is codenamed 'half-way to world domination A.K.A. the belligerent blue bike shed.' The new version can be downloaded from the official website." As another reader points out, FFmpeg is what makes some open source multimedia apps (like MPlayer, Xine, VLC and Kdenlive) so versatile.
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FFmpeg Finally Releases Long-Awaited Version 0.5

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  • M!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xtracto (837672) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @10:34AM (#27134423) Journal

    the reverse-engineering of all Real video formats,

    Sweet! does that mean that we are going to be able to play rmvb in the Wii soon?

  • by saleenS281 (859657) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @10:39AM (#27134501) Homepage
    How is one release after "many years" of nothing a "regular release cycle"? Wouldn't that require, at minimum, two consecutive releases? What if the next release isn't for another 5 years? Unless you're suggesting that is in fact their "regular release" schedule.
    • by c0rN_g0aT (752144) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @10:47AM (#27134591)
      I think he was trying to point out that previously FFmpeg didn't have any release cycle at all. They wanted everyone to download and compile the latest CVS snapshot and use that. In fact, to get help from the mailing list they usually require that you download source and recompile first. The fact that they have locked in and officially named a release is significant.
      • by coryking (104614) * on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @11:21AM (#27135105) Homepage Journal

        There never was a real build for ffmpeg. Now that they've got a stable release, I wonder when they will start pushing out official builds for various platforms (say, Win32/64)?

        That said, could they actually push out binaries? One of the strange things with ffmpeg is that pretty much everywhere you go, it is compiled different. One system's ffmpeg will have a bunch of codecs installed and another will not. You can never really count on having something like H.264. Hell, I've seen one installation that didn't even have libmp3lame on it! Reminds me of PHP in many ways--so many damn compiler flags that you are pretty much guaranteed every system will be different.

        Is this a legal thing, or a "we dont have a good build process yet" thing?

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Hell, I've seen one installation that didn't even have libmp3lame on it!

          You do realize, don't you, that thanks to software patents, it's probably illegal to distribute libmp3lame in the US?

          • by MightyYar (622222)

            Unless you can point to an individual, non-commercial user of ffmpeg who has been sued I'm not going to worry much about this. I don't see how the patent holders could even find out that you are using an unlicensed player unless you are stupid enough to ship something commercially.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by squallbsr (826163)

              But they WILL sue companies that distribute these patented codecs. This is the real root of the problem is that Ubuntu, Fedora, etc, etc cannot distribute a fully functional multimedia system without paying prohibitive royalties.

              It is true that no individual is going to get sued for installing ffmpeg with everything compiled in, it isn't cost effective.

        • I am not a lawyer...but I am certain it is a legal issue. I seriously doubt the developers can "reverse engineer" several commercial/proprietary CODECs and release in binary format.

          The source code may be the closest thing to legit as they can get.

        • by jonwil (467024)

          Most of the time its a legal thing.
          Many distros and packagers don't want to ship builds of FFMPEG (or any other program for that matter) that contain support for various patented codecs. Some distros block MP3, some don't. Some block MPEG video, some don't. Some block Windows Media, some don't. Some ship default versions with stuff blocked but ship separate versions in a special "non free" repo that have the patented codecs turned on.

          Then of course you have Gentoo which (since its built from source) can tur

      • by egghat (73643) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @12:06PM (#27135963) Homepage

        ffmpeg is one of the pieces in the open source world that must have the biggest gap between usefulness and usability. Ever seen the man page? Gazillions of options! Some of them can be applied multiple times for input and output. Therefore the order of arguments is significant. Took a while for me to figure that out ...

        • by DarkOx (621550) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @01:14PM (#27136991) Journal

          FFMPEG is not something that I think is targeted at the end user to use on the command line. It works great for people like you and I who can figure it out. I can't remember all those options either but I certainly can and have created some shell scripts to build correct ffmpeg commands to produce output for the various media devices I own. Its nice to have this option, as I don't know of any software front end that would let me record directly from my DTV card and convert to the obscure mov+jpegB format used by my SANSA on the fly. Its to exotic a situation and something only a small number of people want to do. That is where the ffmpeg binary is great. It lets people like me to slap what I want together in some shell scripts and not have to break out the C compiler.

          Really the projects value is in libavcodec; which is used in all sorts of things like VLC, mplayer, Myth etc which are much more "usable" and target at the end user.

          • by egghat (73643)

            Yeah I know it's mostly used as a lib but that doesn't mean that nobody should or will use it on the command line.

            The ffmpeg team has built in shortcuts like -target type="ntsc-svcd"that automatically sets all the format options (bitrate, codecs, buffer sizes). So it isn't like they don't care at all.

            In the end I'm sure that the "stable" release will bring better and more consistent tutorials.

        • Well it's used INSIDE a lot of stuff, but the command line version is actually pretty easy to use if you just sit down and learn the basics. See here [worldtv.com].
  • Really? AAC Decoding is new?

    I thought that this was already done by many things (VLC for one). Unless these were using an SVN build this really surprises me.

    Also for us not in the know. Is WMV9 what WMP10 and WMP11 use?
    • by thaig (415462)

      VLC is built with ffmpeg inside, ffmpeg has had all these features for ages - this news is only new because there's a "release" - not because the features are new in ffmpeg or in the programs that use it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Actually the news about it is that instead of using a GPL AAC decoder, they have their own LGPL decoder that is twice as fast as the old decoder. This LGPL AAC decoder is something that has only come about since maybe last year's Google Summer of Code.
    • Basically Yes. [wikipedia.org]
    • by Lumpy (12016)

      everyone who has ffmpeg in their project uses SVN checkouts.

      That's the only way to use ffmpeg up until now.

    • >Unless these were using an SVN build this really surprises me.

      Actually, everyone (vlc, mplayer, xine) was using VCS snapshots.

      >Is WMV9 what WMP10 and WMP11 use?

      Yes. WMV9 is the latest version. It is related to VC-1 and descended from MPEG-4 part 2, and is a competitor to MPEG-4 part 10/AVC/h.264/whatever-you-want-to-call-it

  • At last! (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Chris Mattern (191822)

    Now I can listen to my Nobuo Uematsu collection!

  • by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @11:04AM (#27134859)
    I noticed on the release notes that ffmpeg now supports TrueHD as well as the VC-1 for video, these are both commonly used on blu-ray discs. Maybe we'll get lucky and at least now we'll be able to play our blu-ray disc tracks on linux after we remove all the DRM, & HDCP nonsense. We could sort of do it before but it's a royal pain in the ass: just last night I had to go through about four different media players to blue-ray tracks in trueHD audio and some other weird video format before I found one that could actually play my disc without spewing out error messages every frame. Even then it seemed like the dolby 5.1 sound was messed up -- the voices were coming from behind us and the music from the front.
  • by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <{elmuerte} {at} {drunksnipers.com}> on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @11:07AM (#27134915) Homepage

    So, 0.5. Does that mean they're half way done?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BESTouff (531293)
      The release codename is 'half-way to world domination A.K.A. the belligerent blue bike shed.'. Did you even read the abstract, or just the news title ?
    • Does that mean they're half way done?

      OHHHHHHHH LIving on a prayer!

      Sorry. Had to. It's in my contract. =)

    • by forkazoo (138186)

      So, 0.5. Does that mean they're half way done?
      It's probably fair to say that ffmpeg currently supports 50% of all multimedia formats that will ever be invented, so I suppose that's fair.

  • Anyone know if/how this version can play iTMS-encrypted music and/or videos?

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Anyone know if/how this version can play iTMS-encrypted music and/or videos?

      No, it won't decrypt/break DRM for you.

      For music - I suggest you just pay the upgrade fee already to get it into iTunes+ format (higher quality, DRM free). All tracks should be DRM-free soon enough. Else, see below.

      For video - you'll have to find a program called "requiem" - the official distirbution site is on Freenet though, so I suggest you grab a copy off a torrent and grab the freenet link contained in the readme file. Just to

      • by ncc74656 (45571) *

        For video - you'll have to find a program called "requiem" - the official distirbution site is on Freenet though, so I suggest you grab a copy off a torrent and grab the freenet link contained in the readme file. Just to avoid a malware infested download.

        Last time I checked, this didn't work with the latest version (8.0.2) of iTunes. You'll need to find iTunes 8.0.1 somewhere and install that. I haven't checked to see if you can downgrade iTunes from 8.0.2 to 8.0.1 and get Requiem working; I have only one

  • by mczak (575986) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @11:30AM (#27135241)
    Multithreaded h.264 decoding is what I'm missing. Still only slice-based multithreading support, which doesn't work with 95% the content out there, which means you can't get real time decoding of full hd content on A64 X2 (core2 cpus are probably fast enough even with one core, at least the faster ones). ffmpeg-mt branch fixes this, I wonder when this will be merged (still seems to be a bit buggy).
    • by the_crowbar (149535) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @11:53AM (#27135729)

      If you have an Nvidia 8400 or better card and driver version 180.xx (I think .37 is newest) you can use the VDPAU api to offload the video decode to your GPU. Just Google it to find the mplayer patches or maybe binaries. There are also some MythTV unofficial builds with it. It can allow a Sempron to easily play high bitrate h.264 video (i.e. BluRay).

      Cheers,
      the_crowbar

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by PitaBred (632671)
      It's definitely still buggy. I've played with the ffmpeg-mt branch a few times, but it throws up decoding errors while playing and so on. It's definitely not ready for prime-time, but it is promising.
    • Ditto that sentiment. I'm very sorry to tell my OSX/Linux using friends that, no, your brand new $2000 Macbook Pro cannot play this 1080P x264 file because the decoder will only use one core and it's not fast enough to keep up. Unfortunately, until the ffmpeg-mt branch becomes stable and gets merged back in (and now it will be months before that happens) you have to use Windows or wait for http://www.coreavc.com/ [coreavc.com] to be ported to your platform.

      Even in the face of a preference for open source, just about ever

      • by mikael_j (106439)

        Ditto that sentiment. I'm very sorry to tell my OSX/Linux using friends that, no, your brand new $2000 Macbook Pro cannot play this 1080P x264 file because the decoder will only use one core and it's not fast enough to keep up.

        Are you serious? I've never had any problems with decoding 1080p h.264 video on my iMac (white 24"), and I've never heard of anyone else with that problem (admittedly I haven't googled with the intent of finding people with that specific problem, considering all the problems people manage to have I have no doubt that there are those who have somehow managed to have that problem so please don't use google to find a handful of people who happen to have this particular problem just to "prove" that I couldn't p

        • by Sancho (17056) *

          I've been playing back 1080p content over a network on my Mac Mini for almost a year. Yeah, the Mini with a 1.83GHz processor and crappy Intel graphics. It's choked on exactly one, particularly high bitrate file. Everything else works great.

          Maybe there's just some crappy playback software out there that's choking? I know Perian has issues with MKV files, and I suspect that Perian+MKV is a common combination with many Mac filesharers.

    • Multithreaded h.264 decoding is what I'm missing. Still only slice-based multithreading support, which doesn't work with 95% the content out there, which means you can't get real time decoding of full hd content on A64 X2...

      That's not true. I have an Athlon X2 4200+ (Socket 939, one of the originals), and it plays 1080p H.264 content without a hitch, and that's without GPU accelerated video decoding.

      • by mczak (575986)
        Depends on encoding options really. Baseline profile (I think apple movie trailers use that exclusively) should be fine, but there's no way you're going to decode high profile 1080i50 content on a X2 4200+ with ffmpeg (if it's not slice based). Even in benchmark mode (nosound etc.) of mplayer I was only able to reach something like 70% of realtime with some selected 1080i clips (that was without deinterlacer, 1080p24 might be slightly better but it's not going to be fast enough neither). Oh and that was a 2
  • FFmpeg in SUPER (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DynaSoar (714234) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @11:32AM (#27135295) Journal

    FFmpeg is extremely powerful and versatile. Those words are, for the newer user, synonymous with difficult and confusing when the program is based on command line or a very simplistic front end. FFmpeg is very fully implimented (along with MEncoder, ffmpeg2theora and RealProducer) in the free audio and video format and parameter conversion front end software SUPER, from erightsoft.com. Free to download and use but not FOSS: small loss since it is, after all, intended for the majority of users who'd have trouble running such as FFmpeg native, those users hardly likely to want the source anyway. There are very few functions of the internal programs not implemented (setting a max output file size is one of the few). SUPER is extremely powerful while having every available function made as obvious as possible (and all have float-over hints), making it also useful as a training device for learning audio and video compression and conversion. The authors of SUPER clearly and repeatedly insist that their program is simply a front end, and that all credit for the power inside their program go to the programs they've built their around, and the authors thereof.

    A minor beef is they require you to use IE with security settings low in order to download it as well as participate in the (very well attended by the authors) chat area. The 5 year span since the last FFmpeg release is a complete surprise to me, a daily user of SUPER, because there's so much more of that program available through the front end than I ever use.

    I purchased DivXPro so I could convert everything to DivX, in order to play it on my DivX capable home DVD player. I found SUPER (with which I run FFmpeg almost exclusively for video) to be so much more powerful, flexible and faster, that I made the comment in the chat area that "SUPER does for free what others can't do for money". They liked that phrase so much that they adopted it as a motto. This is the sole association I have with the folks from erightsoft's SUPER project, just so your sure this is a testimonial, not an advertisement. One other small beef, they won't let you put it up for download elsewhere, even with the best of intentions on the sites with the best reputations. You can only get it from them.

    I'm quite confident that SUPER will make use of the greater power of the new FFmpeg. I'm less confident I and most of the other users who just want to make things go will learn all about them. For those that do want to learn about them, the SUPER front end provides an a priori description of what will happen if you select each.

    Bring it on -- no doubt erightsoft is already working on the new impplementation. In the mean time, check out the current version to find out how powerful FFmpeg already is. I'll bet you'll be surprised.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Have you ever considered going into marketing?

      "Last week I used ffmpeg on the command line, and I broke two of my fingers while trying to covert something to divx. Today, I clicked a button for a GUI frontend to ffmpeg, and like the thousands of other GUIs, it converts stuff to divx."

      "Also, Larry the Lawyer got me $300.000,- from the keyboard manufacturer"

    • by prozac79 (651102)

      SUPER is extremely powerful while having every available function made as obvious as possible (and all have float-over hints), making it also useful as a training device for learning audio and video compression and conversion.

      So true. I just finished converting my wedding videos from uncompressed DV to MPEGII and Super was the only application that provided me the options I wanted. I know that it is just a front end, but I got so frustrated with other applications (especially commercial ones) that did not give me the options I wanted. I'm not a big fan of templates that other programs seem to use (like "convert to iPod", "convert to DVD", etc.) because they always leave out one or two important options.

      Super has now earned a

    • the free audio and video format and parameter conversion front end software SUPER, from erightsoft.com. Free to download and use but not FOSS: small loss since it is, after all, intended for the majority of users who'd have trouble running such as FFmpeg native, those users hardly likely to want the source anyway.

      My cousin tried SUPER on his Acer laptop. He couldn't use it because his laptop's screen is 600 pixels tall, and the OK button ended up out of reach.

  • by Burz (138833) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @11:49AM (#27135651) Journal

    WTF? I am supposed to use Theora if I want an unencumbered codec??

    At least VLC supports it directly.

    Incidentally, VLC is not so hot on OS X these days. Instead of using FFmpeg for everything it can, it defers to Quicktime and its plugins for anything it can. Which means that most of the time you will not get an alternative method of decoding with the latest VLC versions; I can play many more files with earlier versions.

    • by discord5 (798235)

      Incidentally, VLC is not so hot on OS X these days.

      VLC is not so hot on windows these days either. Since the 0.9 versions it takes too damn long to start up, and I think Qt has something to do with it. For some reason it also stopped working properly on dual monitor setups on windows, and even though there's a workaround it's annoying at best.

      I've reverted back to using a recent version of media player classic and ffdshow. I haven't used 0.9 on OS X yet, but the 0.8 version works pretty well there.

      • Same experience here - I was using VLC religiously, but having tried Media Player Classic Homecinema and ffdshow I will not be going back any time soon. It's faster, a better range of videos are playable, it uses fewer resources and seems to do much better with media being played from slowish sources (e.g. over wifi, where VLC would screw up massively or do weird things with buffers).

    • In some cases (at least the test cases that I used), Theora looked better for low bitrate (~800kbps) streams than Dirac.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by MadMoose (23590)

      Try Movist on OS X, it lets you choose between FFmpeg and QT. And the interface is lovely.

    • Instead of using FFmpeg for everything it can, it defers to Quicktime and its plugins for anything it can.

      I see an option under "Input & Codecs" to "Use system codecs if available".

      The default on Windows is unchecked. I don't know if it's different on OS X...

  • AAC revival (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dishwasha (125561)

    It is interesting that his follows closely on the heels of the FAAC 1.28 Release [sourceforge.net] and FAAD2 2.7 Release [sourceforge.net] after an over 2 year haitus. On the other hand, the developer mailing list is quite active considering I get sourceforge-marked [SPAM] between 5-10 times per day.

  • Have they also improved the documentation? I've looked at using ffmpeg in my own image processing application, but after reading for a while I gave up and now I just use png (you can dump png images of a video stream using mplayer).

    In my opinion, a package with such a central role in the open source multimedia landscape should have exemplary documentation. A professor once told us that it is better to have a well-documented implementation that doesn't work than an undocumented working one, and there is some

  • wonder if this ffmpeg will let pytivo encode subtitles into the video on the fly... previously it was too slow, and the tivo timed out, canceling the transfer... annoying.

    basically wondering if it'll be faster in this case. :)

  • To be perfectly fair, these problems may not be ffmpeg's fault, but as others have mentioned about cryptic command lines, that may be the real problem here.

    MythTV has a companion program, nuvexport, which lets you get stuff out of MythTV and turn it into some other format, such as a DVD. It's really a script that calls other code, such as ffmpeg, under the hood and allows mere command-line mortals to get something done. For regular programming, movies, etc, ffmpeg does a find job. But for exercise videos

  • by PRMan (959735) on Tuesday March 10, 2009 @04:18PM (#27140109)

    Pinky: What do you want to do tonight, Brain?

    Brain: The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Half-way take over the world!

  • ...and mail them to Rush Limbaugh.
  • This is the one thing that has no linux support at this time.

It's time to boot, do your boot ROMs know where your disk controllers are?

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