FFmpeg is a free and open-source project consisting of a vast software suite of libraries and programs for handling video, audio, and other multimedia files and streams. At its core is the FFmpeg program itself, designed for command-line-based processing of video and audio files, and widely used for format transcoding, basic editing (trimming and concatenation), video scaling, video post-production effects, and standards compliance (SMPTE, ITU).
FFmpeg includes libavcodec, an audio/video codec library used by many commercial and free software products, libavformat (Lavf), an audio/video container mux and demux library, and the core ffmpeg command line program for transcoding multimedia files.
FFmpeg is part of the workflow of hundreds of other software projects, and its libraries are a core part of software media players such as VLC, and has been included in core processing for YouTube and the iTunes inventory of files. Codecs for the encoding and/or decoding of most of all known audio and video file formats is included, making it highly useful for the transcoding of common and uncommon media files into a single common format.
The name of the project is inspired by the MPEG video standards group, together with "FF" for "fast forward". The logo uses a zigzag pattern that shows how MPEG video codecs handle entropy encoding.
FFmpeg is published under the GNU Lesser General Public License 2.1+ or GNU General Public License 2+ (depending on which options are enabled).
The project was started by Fabrice Bellard (using the pseudonym "Gérard Lantau") in 2000, and was led by Michael Niedermayer from 2004 until 2015. Some FFmpeg developers were also part of the MPlayer project.
On January 10, 2014, two Google employees announced that over 1000 bugs had been fixed in FFmpeg during the previous two years by means of fuzz testing.
In January 2018, the ffserver command-line program – a long-time component of FFmpeg – was removed. The developers had previously deprecated the program citing high maintenance efforts due to its use of internal application programming interfaces (API).
The project publishes a new release every three months on average. While release versions are available from the website for download, FFmpeg developers recommend that users compile the software from source using the latest build from their source code Git version control system.