Create Thumbnails From A Video With ffmpeg

January - 2022

Create Thumbs for a Full Movie


mkdir thumbs ffmpeg -i input.m4v -vf fps=1 thumbs/frame-%d.png

Can also try this for a single frame:

ffmpeg -i "input.mp4" -ss 1 -t 1 -vf fps=1 "output.png"

Notes on times:

  • The Matrix

    • Command: time ffmpeg -i input.m4v -vf fps=1 frames/frames-%d.png

    • Time Report: 793.27s user 24.66s system 279% cpu 4:52.12 total

    • Time: 13min. 13sec.

    • Source File Size: 1,455,652,078 bytes (1.46 GB on disk)

    • Source Dimensions: 839x352 (via MacOS Finder Get Info)

    • Total PNGs: 8182

    • Total Size: 2.2GB

    • Duration: 2:16:21

Frame Per Second Thumbnails

  • 1 frame/second at whatever size the video is:

    ffmpeg -i input.mkv -vf fps=1 thumbnail-%d.png

  • TODO:

    • Verify that the size really is just native out of the box. (Pretty sure that's the case.)

    • Figure out the proper way to set the output to .jpg. Right now it throws a warning and the first run look like it might have been more compressed than desirable.

Work In Progress - Scene Changes


WIP Timestamps

ffmpeg -i http://admin:Stupidpassword1@ -vframes 1 -f image2 -strftime 1 "%Y-%m-%d_%H-%M-%S_doorbell.jpg"

This will do the timestamp of when it was output (not the timestamp of the film)

ffmpeg -i input.mkv -f image2 -strftime 1 "%Y-%m-%d_%H-%M-%S_doorbell.jpg"

Nice try, but no... this is the timestamp of when

the conversion is done. Not the timestamp in the video.

Option 2 - Resized

  • This one sets a size based on one dimension and then automatically scales the other one.

    ffmpeg -i input.mkv -vf fps=1 -filter:v scale="640:-1" thumbnail-%d.png

  • NOTE: Currently this one makes way more than 1 per second.

  • NOTE: It looks like it makes one per frame of video which would be handy for fine tuning the picks

  • TODO: Figure out how to get this to be 1 frame per seconds

  • TODO: Figure out how to make 1 thumbnail per frame without the resize scale stuff.


  • The thumbnail-%d.png can use sprintf type formatting (e.g. %04d to add leading zeros to four digits)

NOTE: The items below were copied pretty much directly from:

Using -vframes option

  • Output a single frame from the video into an image file

    ffmpeg -i input.flv -ss 00:00:14.435 -vframes 1 out.png

This example will seek to the position of 0h:0m:14sec:435msec and output one frame (-vframes 1) from that position into a PNG file.

fps video filter

Output one image every second, named out1.png, out2.png, out3.png, etc.

ffmpeg -i input.flv -vf fps=1 out%d.png

Output one image every minute, named img001.jpg, img002.jpg, img003.jpg, etc. The %03d dictates that the ordinal number of each output image will be formatted using 3 digits.

ffmpeg -i myvideo.avi -vf fps=1/60 img%03d.jpg

Output one image every ten minutes:

ffmpeg -i test.flv -vf fps=1/600 thumb%04d.bmp

select video filter

Output one image for every I-frame:

ffmpeg -i input.flv -vf "select='eq(pict_type,PICT_TYPE_I)'" -vsync vfr thumb%04d.png

ffmpeg -i beck-loser.mkv -vf fps=1 thumbnail-%04d.jpg

ffmpeg -i beck-loser.mkv -vf "select='eq(pict_type,PICT_TYPE_I)'" -vsync vfr thumb%04d.png