Ken Scott
Digital Chaotics LLC

FFMPEG is the de facto industry standard tool for converting between nearly all video file formats. In fact, it’s very likely that FFMPEG is running behind the scenes of many desktop video tools – both open source and commercial products. There are two very good reasons for that:

  • it really is the best thing out there
  • it’s free

I use FFMPEG, and with a little help and fortitude, so can you.

FFMPEG can be downloaded here:

Download the version that’s right for you, install it, and ensure that it’s in your PATH. (google:  “add to path Windows”  “add to path Mac”  “add to path Linux”) You are now all-powerful, at least where video conversion is concerned.

FFMPEG is a command line tool.  Unlike most desktop apps, you can’t just double-click it.  You have to use the command line to make it run, feeding it the correct parameters to control its behavior.  It’s not hard.  Don’t be afraid.  It’ll be okay.  I promise. It’s virtually impossible to damage anything. 99.99% of the time it’ll work just fine.  Really, the worst thing that can go wrong is that you’ll run out of disk space, which is easily fixed by deleting whatever files were created, getting a bigger hard drive, and trying again.

FFMPEG is incredibly powerful, so it has bazillions of command-line options.  I hate having to remember them all, so I have a number of scripts that I run to perform certain tasks.  I’ve included several of them in the answers for several of the FAQs.