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Quickly Edit Streams with the FFmpeg CLI

 ·   ·  ☕ 2 min read

Using FFmpeg to edit stream vods

FFmpeg is a tool that helps you work with audio and visual files. It can significantly improve the speed of quick edits to a video or stream by editing a copy of the original instead of re-encoding your entire video.

For example if you’d like to grab a 5 minute long clip from your source.mp4 video that starts at the 5 minute mark until the 10 minute mark you’d run something like the following to save the new clip as modified-copy.mp4.

ffmpeg -i ./source.mp4 -ss 00:05:00 -to 00:10:00 -c copy modified-copy.mp4

Lets break down what these different flags mean:

  • -i ./source.mp4 is used to specify an input source. In this case we’re referring to a video file named source.mp4.
  • -ss 00:05:00 is used to set a start time offset. This will skip the amount of time specified forward in the input source and then begin the edited clip.
  • -to 00:10:00 is used to set an end time for the clip. This will cause the exported clip to only include content up to the provided time in the input source.
  • -c copy is used to specify a codec. In this case the copy codec is used to help improve the speed of encoding. copy is a special value in FFmpeg that tells FFmpeg not to reencode your video.

Note: You may leave off either -ss or -to parameters to start from the start of the input source or to include all content until the end of the input source.

FFmpeg is available for macOS, Windows and Linux distributions.

You can find out more about using FFmpeg at the official site.

Sam Wronski
Sam Wronski
Maker of things, currently helping build cloud things @ Google. World of Zero is a personal project disconnected from my professional work. Lets make something awesome together!