Wulf's Webden

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Speed Watching


What’s the best way to search for something visual in a video file? You can scrub backwards and forwards using the transport bar but that can be a bit hit and miss. An easier solution would be if it was possible to convert the video into a series of regularly spaced still images and, since a video is just a series of images, that isn’t too difficult to do.

I was looking recently for a quote that had come up in one of the videos at the Alpha course we are running at St Clement’s and hadn’t found it on my first look so I turned to the Internet for help, which led me to a page offering several options. The one I used was a commandline program I already had installed, the wonderful FFmpeg. The recipe was:

 ffmpeg -i videofile.mpg -r 1 image-%04d.jpeg

I tweaked this to use r = 0.1, which produced one frame per ten seconds or about 120 images from the video. It was then easy to browse through these and find exactly what I was after. Job done – and a useful new trick learned.


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