The Ultra ffplay guide. Watching youtube(and others), using subtitles, audio volume and separate log file

FFplay is a media player with a console interface. It uses ffmpeg libraries to work with codecs. Many options that are valid for ffmpeg also work in ffplay. For example, sound settings (e.g. -af volume\channels), video buffer settings(e.g. -vf subtitles) and more.

In Linux repositories, it is usually present along with ffmpeg, so it can be installed with a simple command

sudo apt install ffmpeg

But, probably, it would be better to compile it on your machine with good settings. It will be more optimized. In addition, you can choose a lot more options that will become available. For example, encoding and decoding on gpu. Although the latest versions in the repositories include support for nvidia, but support may not be available for some other video cards.

The main options ffplay

A simple start to watch a video looks like this

ffplay example.mp4

The window size can be simply stretched by mouse OR can be set with additional options, for example, if you want to use aliases.

ffplay -x 1280 -y 720 example.mp4

Configuration banner while ffplay starts shows the compilation settings and ffmpeg version.

You can hide the configuration banner using following command

ffplay -hide_banner example.mp4

To rewind the video use the ← and → arrows of keyboard. This rewinds the video for ten seconds.

↑ and ↓ arrows rewinds the video for 1 minute. PgDn and PgUp for 10 minutes.

If you want to go to a specific point, use this command

ffplay -ss 01:13:50 example.mkv

This is a Hours : Minutes : Seconds format.

ffplay -ss 3600 example.mkv

And this is seconds format.


You can control the sound volume with this command

ffplay -af volume=2.2 example.mp4

This will increase the sound volume 2.2 times. Use a value of 0.5 to double decrease the volume

ffplay -af volume=0.5 example.mp4

To select an audio track, use this command and specify the index

ffplay -ast 2 example.mp4

Keep in mind that you need to specify the number of the stream. Numbering starts from zero. Their number is noticed when ffplay starts. Video and subtitle streams are also counted. Often 0 is video stream, and 1, 2… are audio streams. Then usually the subtitle numbers are noticed.


Using subtitles

ffplay -vf subtitles="/path/" example.mp4

From container

ffplay -vf subtitles="example.mkv" example.mkv

If the container has multiple subtitle tracks, you can specify an index

ffplay -vf subtitles="example.mkv:si=3" example.mkv

The third subtitle track will be selected.

Youtube and other media resources

FFplay, can’t independently play video from sites. It can only connect to direct transfer, play the video stream directly. So, if you have a link to a direct media stream (something like a radio), you can use just http protocol, like ffplay http://adress.

But, ffplay supports pipes, so a direct stream of media data can be connected to its stdin. All you need is a program that can extract videos from sites. So you can connect the stdout of this program to the stdin ffplay.

In this situation, an excellent choice would be youtube-dl. I already have an article about it.

It supports hundreds of sites!

So, you can play not only YouTube videos, but also from any other media resource!

Here’s what it looks like.

youtube-dl -o - -f 22 https://youtube_link | ffplay -hide_banner -loglevel panic -i -

How to write a log in a separate file

This may be necessary when we want to extract information about a media file through some scripts.

FFREPORT=file=/tmp/ffreport.log:level=32 ffplay example.mp4

There are many levels there. But this is the most basic. It displays the same thing that we see in the console when ffplay is running.

Some useful hotkeys (while ffplay is playing)

Right click on the video

This is imaginary video progress. Try it! The more right to click, the closer to the end of the video!

Space or "p" key 

Pause and unpause.

Left and Right arrow buttons

Rewinds video 10 seconds backward and forward.

Up and Down arrow buttons - As above, but for 60 seconds
PgDown, PgUp - for 10 minutes (Or from chapter to chapter if it available)

If you pause, you can rewind video frame by frame. This is useful if you want to take a screenshot. So, the key for this

Pause and then press 's' key

We must be able to exit the ffplay

q, ESC

Now that’s all. I would be grateful for any comments.