Quickly Identify Video File Attributes

Posted by admin on November 3, 2009 under Tech Tips | 4 Comments to Read

If you want to gain quick insight into the basic properties of a video file from the Linux command line, there’s a few really easy methods. The information you might be interested in are audio and video codecs, resolution, frame rates, bitrates, etc.

Using mplayer, you can see some basic information about a video file. For example, the following video is using the WMV3 video codec at the resolution of 1280×720 (720p), the bitrate of 3000 kbps, etc.

mplayer video.wmv -vo null -ao null -frames 0 2>&1 /dev/null | egrep "(VIDEO|AUDIO)"
VIDEO: [WMV3] 1280x720 24bpp 1000.000 fps 3000.0 kbps (366.2 kbyte/s)
AUDIO: 44100 Hz, 2 ch, s16le, 96.0 kbit/6.80% (ratio: 12003->176400)

The audio rate is shown to be 44100 Hz using 2-Channel stereo, but the codec is not listed. You can get additional information with the -identify option.

mplayer video.wmv -identify -vo null -ao null -frames 0 2>&1 /dev/null | egrep "(^ID|VIDEO|AUDIO)"
VIDEO: [WMV3] 1280x720 24bpp 1000.000 fps 3000.0 kbps (366.2 kbyte/s)
AUDIO: 44100 Hz, 2 ch, s16le, 96.0 kbit/6.80% (ratio: 12003->176400)

Another great tool for identifying video attributes is idvid. idvid comes with the tovid package, so be sure to install it from your repository. It is a bit slow, but the output is very clean and easy to interpret.

idvid video.wmv
Video identification script
Part of the tovid suite, version 0.31
Analyzing file: 'video.wmv'. This may take several minutes...
File: video.wmv
Width: 1280 pixels
Height: 720 pixels
Aspect ratio: 1.77:1
Frames: 63352
Duration: 00:35:13 hours/mins/secs
Framerate: 1000.000 frames per second
Video format: WMV3
Video bitrate: 3000000 bits per second
Audio track 1 (Stream 0.0, AID 0):
Codec: wmav2
Bitrate: 0000 bits per second
Sampling rate: 44100 Hz
Audio is compliant with the following formats:
Not compliant with (S)VCD or DVD
Video is compliant with the following formats:
Not compliant with (S)VCD or DVD
This video does not seem to be compliant with (S)VCD or DVD
standards. If you burn it to a video disc, it may not work.

Finally, another tool that works very well is exiftool. It’s available in the libimage-exiftool-perl package. The output is also very straight forward, and easy to interpret. It’s also a lot faster than idvid because the tool only displays metadata, which in some cases can be misleading. Mplayer and tovid actually probe the video, providing very accurate information at the cost of speed.

exiftool video.wmv
ExifTool Version Number : 7.30
File Name : video.wmv
Directory : .
File Modification Date/Time : 2009:04:20 09:21:58
File Type : WMV
MIME Type : video/x-ms-wmv
File ID : 12341234-1234-1234-1234-123412341234
File Size : 823200182
Creation Date : 2009:03:31 02:52:55Z
Data Packets : 102833
Play Duration : 35:16
Send Duration : 35:13
Preroll : 3000
Flags : 2
Min Packet Size : 8000
Max Packet Size : 8000
Max Bitrate : 3122812
Is VBR : False
Audio Codec Name : Windows Media Audio 9.2
Audio Codec Description : 96 kbps, 44 kHz, stereo 1-pass CBR
Video Codec Name : Windows Media Video 9
Video Codec Description : Professional
Audio Codec ID : Windows Media Audio V2 V7 V8 V9 / DivX audio (WMA) / Alex AC3 Audio
Audio Channels : 2
Audio Sample Rate : 44100
Stream Type : Video
Error Correction Type : No Error Correction
Time Offset : 0 s
Stream Number : 2
Image Width : 1280
Image Height : 720
Title :
Author :
Copyright :
Description :
Rating :
Image Size : 1280x720

As always, comments and additional tips are welcome!

Be Sociable, Share!


  • lefty.crupps said,

    Does exiftool allow a user to modify a file’s metadata?

  • gmendoza said,

    exiftool does allow you to modify the metadata from various file types. From what I can tell, it can only read most of the video formats, though. Check out the man page for exiftool, as it shows a detailed table of what data types are supported. Most of the writable types are just image formats. If you find something that does, please let me know!

  • Hannes said,

    Pointing me to these features of mplayer was very helpful.

    Thank you!

  • kohlscareer said,

    There is certainly a great deal to learn about this
    topic. I really like all of the points you have made.

Add A Comment