We moved the project completely to since will close its project hosting in the begin of 2016. Further on, we're working again on an update for this wrapper.


This software has been unmaintained for a long time. Due to major changes in the API, it won't compile currently with modern versions of FFmpeg. We need some time to update this project for the most recent FFmpeg version.

There is no exact equivalent of pyffmpeg existing, but we do recommend that you have a look at projects like OpenCV and Media Lovin Toolkit - as they are generally able to similar features.


FFmpeg is a software package containing libraries and utilities for encoding, decoding and converting audio and video files. It includes libavcodec, a leading audio/video codec library that can work with most video and audio formats. This library generally uses its own codec. And thus it does not depend on your operating system installed libraries. Using FFmpeg and libavcodec you can develop applications that can parse and display video files and be sure they will work on most platform, including of course Linux, Macintosh, and Windows boxes.

The libavcodec and libavformat libraries of the FFmpeg project are quite complex to use, especially from Python. PyFFmpeg provides a simple object oriented interface to those libraries. PyFFmpeg is a wrapper around FFmpeg's libavcodec, libavformat and libavutil libraries whose main purpose is to provide access to individual frames of video files of various formats and codecs (such as mpg, mp4, mov, avi, flv, mkv, wmf, and webm). It also provides access to audio data.



PyFFmpeg is distributed under LGPL-3.0. See COPYING file as part of each release and the repository.

PyFFmpeg 2.2 alpha

Support for FFmpeg version git-35d7d6f (Mar 2011) is provided by the PyFFmpeg 2.2 alpha development version.

PyFFmpeg 2.1

We have recently performed a complete rewrite of PyFFmpeg. Now, PyFFmpeg can work with NumPy, Python Imaging Library (PIL), and Cairo. It supports video and audio decoding. It also supports reading from Internet streams.

Download PyFFmpeg 2.1 (DEPRECATED LINK)

Example for PyFFmpeg 2.1

from pyffmpeg import FFMpegReader

## create the reader object

## open an audio-video file"yourfile.mpg")

## define a function to be called back each time a frame is read...
def obs(f):
  display(f[2]) # you have to write your display function


Other examples can be found in the example directory of the package.


PyFFmpeg supports Python Imaging Library (PIL), but functionality is limited to RGB color space for frames and audio decoding is not possible while PIL support is activated.


NumPy as the scientific computing package for Python is required for audio and video decoding with PyFFmpeg. However, the dependency of PyFFmpeg on NumPy is optional, so that PyFFmpeg can be used only with PIL for easy access to frames of a video track in RGB without audio decoding.

PyFFmpeg 1.0

PyFFmpeg has stayed in minimal status where it could be used to extract individual frames from video files and create PIL image objects from them.

While there were several Python libraries that offer to play video files most of them did not provide any API to extract individual frames, and this is the reason PyFFmpeg was created.

A more complex wrapper around FFmpeg has been implemented within PyMedia. However, PyMEDIA is now based on and old version of FFmpeg, and probably also need some minor rewrites.

Example for PyFFmpeg 1.0

Here's a simple example that extracts the first frame from a video file and saves it in .png format. You'll need PIL to run it.

import pyffmpeg

stream = pyffmpeg.VideoStream()'myvideo.avi')
image = stream.GetFrameNo(0)'firstframe.png')


The project has a user questions and a development discussions mailing lists.

Authors and Contributors

Bertrand Nouvel founded the project in 2007. Currently, the project is maintained by Martin Haller (@mhaller).

There some more contributors and if we get permission to name them here, we will do it.

Support or Contact

Please report an issue if you found an error or if you would like to contribute an improvement or extensions for PyFFmpeg.