Extract AC3 Dolby Digital with FFMpeg

Posted by admin on February 21, 2013 under Tech Tips | Be the First to Comment

If you have a source video file encoded with an AC3 Dolby Digital audio stream, you can extract the audio in it’s native format using FFMpeg.

The following example shows how to identify the available audio streams of the file video.avi. Just use ffmpeg without any output options, and you can see there are two streams (0.0 and 0.1), the second is AC3 audio.

ffmpeg -i video.avi
Input #0, avi, from 'video.avi':
Duration: 01:17:57.64, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 1587 kb/s
Stream #0.0: Video: mpeg4, yuv420p, 672x576 (snipped for brevity)
Stream #0.1: Audio: ac3, 48000 Hz, 5.1, s16, 448 kb/s
At least one output file must be specified

The following command will extract the AC3 audio stream to a file called audio.ac3.

ffmpeg -i video.avi -acodec copy audio.ac3
Input #0, avi, from 'video.avi':
Duration: 01:17:57.64, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 1587 kb/s
Stream #0.0: Video: mpeg4, yuv420p, 672x576 (snipped for brevity)
Stream #0.1: Audio: ac3, 48000 Hz, 5.1, s16, 448 kb/s
Output #0, ac3, to 'audio.ac3':
Stream #0.0: Audio: ac3, 48000 Hz, 5.1, s16, 448 kb/s
Stream mapping:
Stream #0.1 -> #0.0
Press [q] to stop encoding
size= 255799kB time=4677.51 bitrate= 448.0kbits/s
video:0kB audio:255799kB global headers:0kB muxing overhead 0.000000%

Verify the file was created. The output below shows that this stream is about 250Mb.

ls -lh audio.ac3
-rw-r--r-- 1 username gmendoza 250M 2010-02-21 09:47 audio.ac3

You can now use ffmpeg again to show that audio.ac3 only contains the ac3 audio stream.

ffmpeg -i audio.ac3
Input #0, ac3, from 'audio.ac3':
Duration: 01:17:57.46, bitrate: 448 kb/s
Stream #0.0: Audio: ac3, 48000 Hz, 5.1, s16, 448 kb/s
At least one output file must be specified

Now that you have extracted the audio stream, you can do anything you wish with it. Enjoy.

Convert 3gp Videos to XviD AVI

Posted by admin on February 13, 2010 under Tech Tips | Read the First Comment

3gp is the container format used when recording video with many mobile phones, which can be a pain when trying to view them using a number of multimedia players. Fortunately, converting videos from 3gp to XviD AVI is easy with FFmpeg.

Usually, there’s not much to the quality of these types of source video files, so many of the more complex video and audio options aren’t needed. A simple FFmpeg command that retains as much quality as possible would look like the following.

ffmpeg -i video.3gp -acodec libmp3lame -vcodec libxvid -qscale 2 -f avi video.avi

Extract Audio from Video Files to WAV using FFmpeg

Posted by admin on December 15, 2009 under Tech Tips | 4 Comments to Read

Previously, I described how to Extract Audio from Video Files to WAV using Mplayer. Another method using FFmpeg instead of Mplayer was also pointed out in the post titled Add Stereo Audio Tracks to MKV Files, and I figured it would be useful to outline the quick one-step process in a post all by itself.

Here’s an example of extracting the audio from a video file called video.mkv and saving it to a file called audio.wav. This very well could have been an AVI, MPEG, or any other video format that FFmpeg can decode.

ffmpeg -i video.mkv -acodec pcm_s16le -ac 2 audio.wav

It should also be mentioned that your source video file may have multiple audio channels or streams. For example, you may have both English AC3 and DTS channels, but you may also have other audio streams for other languages, directors comments, etc. If you want more control over which stream you are using, first identify them all with ffmpeg.

ffmpeg -i video.mkv
[snipped for brevity]
Input #0, matroska, from 'video.mkv':
Duration: 01:30:38.78, start: 0.000000, bitrate: N/A
Stream #0.0(eng): Video: h264, yuv420p, 1280x720, PAR 1:1 DAR 16:9, 23.98 tbr, 1k tbn, 47.95 tbc
Stream #0.1(eng): Audio: ac3, 48000 Hz, 5.1, s16
Stream #0.2(eng): Subtitle: 0x0000
Stream #0.3(heb): Audio: mp3, 48000 Hz, stereo, s16
Stream #0.4(heb): Subtitle: 0x0000
Stream #0.5: Attachment: 0x0000
Stream #0.6: Attachment: 0x0000
At least one output file must be specified

From the example above, you see that Stream #0.0 is labeled as being an English video stream with h264 encoding. Stream #0.1 and #0.3 are both audio streams, but #0.1 is English AC3 5.1 and #0.3 is Hebrew MP3 stereo. Simply reference the stream id with the -map option in the following format.

ffmpeg -i video.mkv -map 0:1 -acodec pcm_s16le -ac 2 audio.wav
[snipped for brevity]
Output #0, wav, to 'audio.wav':
Stream #0.0(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, stereo, s16, 1536 kb/s
Stream mapping:
Stream #0.1 -> #0.0
[snipped for brevity]

Now that you have a PCM WAV file, you can manipulated it however you like, e.g. encode to MP3, OGG, FLAC, etc.

lame -V0 -q0 --vbr-new audio.wav audio.mp3
oggenc -q6 audio.wav
flac audio.wav

Convert Video Files to DVD

Posted by admin on November 11, 2009 under Tech Tips | Be the First to Comment

If you have a video vile that you wish to convert and burn to DVD, you can do so from a Linux command line very easily. We will use FFmpeg for the video conversion, DVDAuthor to create the DVD file system structure, and Growisofs to burn the DVD.

Using FFmpeg, simply specify your input file, the target format, resolution and an output file name. While the following is an over simplified example, it will more than likely work very nicely in most scenarios. The source video file is movie.avi, the target will be formatted for NTSC, and a standard DVD resolution of 720×480 will be used to create a new video file called movie.mpg. There are many additional options that FFMpeg can use to increase quality, so be sure to check out the documentation.

ffmpeg -i movie.avi -target ntsc-video -s 720x480 movie.mpg

Next, you will need to take your new movie.mpg file, and create a DVD file structure that you will burn to disc. Just create a folder that will serve as the parent directory of your DVD. I Like to name it after the title of the movie. Then you will use dvdauthor to create a title set and table of contents and no DVD menus. The movie will just play. :-)

dvdauthor -o MOVIE_TITLE/ -t movie.mpg
dvdauthor -o MOVIE_TITLE/ -T

The dvdauthor -t option creates a title track in the VIDEO_TS directory. If you list the contents after running the first command, you’ll see the corresponding VTS_01_0.BUP, VTS_01_0.IFO, and VTS_01_X.VOB files. The -T option creates a table of contents for all title sets in the file system, which are listed as VIDEO_TS.BUP and VIDEO_TS.IFO.

You are now ready to burn the DVD. In the following command, we will use the -Z option to burn an initial session to the disc, the -dvd-video option to generate a DVD-Video compliant UDF file system, and the -V option to give the disc a Volume ID. This Volume ID is read by your computer to and displays as a nice human readable title typically underneath the icon representing the disc. The -dvd-video and -V options are actually part of the mkisofs (genisoimage) command sets, so they do not show up in the growisofs man pages.

growisofs -Z /dev/dvdrw -dvd-video -V MOVIE_TITLE MOVIE_TITLE/

Notice, you do not need to generate an ISO file to burn the DVD. This would only waste space if your intention is not to distribute or store the video as a disc image. To create the image however, that’s as easy as the following.

genisoimage -o MOVIE_TITLE.iso -dvd-video MOVIE_TITLE/

Add Stereo Audio Tracks to MKV Files

Posted by admin on September 26, 2009 under Tech Tips | 17 Comments to Read

If you have Matroska Video (MKV) files encoded with AC3 Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS audio tracks, you may want to simply extract the audio, convert it to a 2-channel stereo format like WAV, MP3 OGG, etc, and then add it back into the MKV as a separate audio track. This is useful when your media player (e.g. Western Digital Media Player WDAVN00) will not downscale the audio from a digital format like AC3 or DTS to stereo when you don’t have a receiver or TV with a built in Dolby Digital decoder.  Now you’ll have the choice of either audio format depending on your technical requirements.

The great thing about the Matroska multimedia container is that you can easily manipulate these files without having to re-encode, saving lots of time. I’ll be using mkvextract to extract the AC3 audio, ffmpeg to convert ac3 to mp3, and finally mkvmerge to add and remux the new audio track to the MKV container. All of these are available to a number of platforms, but in my examples, I’m using Linux.  Check out the MKVToolnix and FFMpeg websites for more info on the software.

If using Ubuntu Linux, install the relevant mkvtoolnixmkvtoolnix-gui and ffmpeg packages.

sudo apt-get install mkvtoolnix mkvtoolnix-gui ffmpeg libavcodec-unstripped-52

To view the existing tracks of the MKV, use the mkvmerge -i option. In the following example, you see my “Cool.Video.mkv” file has an MPEG4 video in track 1, an AC3 Dolby Digital audio file in track 2, and subtitles in track 3.

mkvmerge -i Cool.Movie.mkv
File 'Cool.Movie.mkv': container: Matroska
Track ID 1: video (V_MPEG4/ISO/AVC)
Track ID 2: audio (A_AC3)
Track ID 3: subtitles (S_TEXT/UTF8)

Using mkvextract, extract the AC3 Dolby Digital audio from track 2, saving it to a file called audio.ac3.

mkvextract tracks Cool.Movie.mkv 2:audio.ac3
Extracting track 2 with the CodecID 'A_AC3' to the file 'audio.ac3'. Container format: Dolby Digital (AC3)
Progress: 100%

ls -lh audio.ac3
-rw-r--r-- 1 gmendoza gmendoza 432M 2009-09-26 11:58 audio.ac3

Convert the 6-channel ac3 file to a 2-channel stereo MP3 using ffmpeg. If you prefer a higher audio bitrate, adjust the -ab value as desired. e.g. 256, 384, etc, and adjust the audio rate to your liking as well.

ffmpeg -i audio.ac3 -acodec libmp3lame -ab 160k -ac 2 audio.mp3
[output omitted for brevity]

ls -lh audio.*
-rw-r--r-- 1 gmendoza gmendoza 432M 2009-09-26 11:58 audio.ac3
-rw-r--r-- 1 gmendoza gmendoza 87M 2009-09-26 12:08 audio.mp3

To simplify things, you could actually skip the digital format extraction process by running ffmpeg against the MKV file directly.

ffmpeg -i Cool.Movie.mkv -acodec libmp3lame -ab 160k -ac 2 audio.mp3

If you prefer encoding with more advanced options, you could extract the audio as a 2-channel WAV file instead, and then process it with LAME, Oggenc, or some other encoder of your choosing. The following shows the extraction to WAV, and then conversion to various formats for fun, e.g. MP3, OGG, and FLAC.

ffmpeg -i Cool.Movie.mkv -acodec pcm_s16le -ac 2 audio.wav
lame -V0 -q0 --vbr-new audio.wav audio.mp3
oggenc -q6 audio.wav
flac audio.wav

Use mkvmerge to combine the original MKV with the MP3 audio track to create a new file called Cool.Movie.New.mkv. Make sure you have enough disk space for both the original and new MKV file.

mkvmerge -o Cool.Movie.New.mkv Cool.Movie.mkv audio.mp3
mkvmerge v2.4.1 ('Use Me') built on Dec 13 2008 21:03:46
'Cool.Movie.mkv': Using the Matroska demultiplexer.
'audio.mp3': Using the MP2/MP3 demultiplexer.
Warning: 'audio.mp3': Skipping 32 bytes at the beginning (no valid MP3 header found).
'Cool.Movie.mkv' track 1: Using the MPEG-4 part 10 (AVC) video output module.
'Cool.Movie.mkv' track 2: Using the AC3 output module.
'Cool.Movie.mkv' track 3: Using the text subtitle output module.
'audio.mp3' track 0: Using the MPEG audio output module.
The file 'Cool.Movie.New.mkv' has been opened for writing.
Progress: 100%
The cue entries (the index) are being written...
Muxing took 270 seconds.

Verify that the audio track has been added. You can see Track ID 4 has been successfully added.

mkvmerge -i New.Cool.Movie.mkv
File 'New.Cool.Movie.mkv': container: Matroska
Track ID 1: video (V_MPEG4/ISO/AVC)
Track ID 2: audio (A_AC3)
Track ID 3: subtitles (S_TEXT/UTF8)
Track ID 4: audio (A_MPEG/L3)

That’s really all there is to it. There are quite a few options available when editing MKV container files. For example, I wanted nice descriptions for my tracks since various media players will read and display them for you during menu navigation. I recommend using the mkvmerge gui application as shown in this screenshot.


It’s really just a front-end application to mkvmerge, and the following text shows the commands that were used to specify the language for each tag, re-order the audio tracks, disable subtitles by default, and give useful descriptions to each Track ID.

mkvmerge -o "Cool.Movie.New.mkv"
--language 1:eng
--track-name "1:Cool Movie (MPEG4)"
--default-track 1:yes
--display-dimensions 1:40x17
--language 2:eng
--track-name "2:Dolby Digital 5.1 (AC3)"
--default-track 2:yes
--language 3:eng
--track-name "3:English Subtitles"
--default-track 3:no
-a 2 -d 1 -s 3 Cool.Movie.mkv
--language 0:eng
--track-name "0:2-Channel Stereo (MP3)"
--default-track 0:no
-a 0 -D -S audio.mp3
--track-order 0:1,0:2,1:0,0:3

mkvmerge -i Cool.Movie.New.mkv
File 'Cool.Movie.New.mkv': container: Matroska
Track ID 1: video (V_MPEG4/ISO/AVC)
Track ID 2: audio (A_AC3)
Track ID 3: audio (A_MPEG/L3)
Track ID 4: subtitles (S_TEXT/UTF8)