[FFmpeg-devel] Experiences in using ffmpeg to transcode broadcast video

Mika Raento mikie at iki.fi
Wed Sep 24 09:43:40 CEST 2014

Dear all

This mail is meant mainly as a note to other potential users, but
possibly as input to development - time allowing I might be able to pick
up some of the pieces myself. It's also a thank-you for all the hard
work in ffmpeg.

I've successfully implemented a transcoding pipeline for producing
multi-bitrate fragmented mp4 files from broadcast DVB input. More
concretely, I'm taking in broadcast TS captures with either mpeg2 video
and mp2 audio (SD, varying aspect ratio) or h264 video and aac audio,
both potentially with dvbsub. From that I'm producing ISMV output with
multiple bitrate h264 video at fixed 16:9 aspect ratio and multiple
bitrate aac audio, with burned subtitles. The ISMV outputs are
post-processed with tools/ismindex and with the hls muxer.

There are number of limitations in ffmpeg that I've had to work around:

- I haven't gotten sub2video or async working without reasonably
  monotonous DTS. Broadcast TS streams can easily contain backward jumps
  in time (e.g., a cheapo source that plays mp4 files and starts each file
  at 0). The fix is to cut the TS into pieces at timestamp jump locations
  and using '-itsoffset' to rewrite the timestamps and then concatenate.
  I'm using the segment and concat muxers for that.
- Sub2video doesn't work with negative timestamps, so I use '-itsoffset'
  to get positive timestamps
- For HD streams, I need to scale up the sub2video results from SD to
  HD. Sub2video doesn't handle the HD subtitle geometries. I'm not
  enough of an expert to know whether that's the issue, or whether that's
  just the way it's supposed to work with SD subs (typical) with HD video.
- For columnboxing, I use the scale, pad and setdar video filters. These
  work fine, but their parameters are only evaluated at start, so I need
  to cut the video into pieces with a single aspect ratio first and
  concatenate later.
- Audio sync (using aresample) gets confused if the input contains
  errors, so I need to first re-encode audio (with '-copyts') and only
  after that synchronize.
- The TS PIDs are not kept over the segment muxer, so I given them on
  the command line with '-streamid'.

I think all of the above would make great out-of-the-box ffmpeg features

If somebody is interested I can provide private copies of my inputs for
playing with, since they are copyrighted material I can't easily
distribute them.

I've automated the above steps with a bunch of python, using ffprobe to
parse the video stream. The result manages to correctly transcode about
98% of the TS inputs that our commercial transcoding and packaging pipe
fails to handle (it would probably do even better on the rest).

Thanks for all the features of ffmpeg that did work out-of-the-box :-)


    Mika Raento

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