How to Decrease Video Sizes Using FFmpeg in Linux
by Suparna Ganguly

Decreasing video sizes becomes necessary when space is limited in cloud services, disks, or personal storage drives. You can easily hold onto larger files by chopping them down to a lower size.

The world of open-source video editing tools is huge. So, choosing one can be tricky. This article explains how you can efficiently decrease video sizes using FFmpeg in Linux.

What is FFmpeg?

So, what is FFmpeg? FFmpeg is a free and open-source command-line utility used in handling audio, video, other multimedia files, and streams in Linux. It has widespread use in video scaling, format transcoding, basic editing, standards compliance, and video post-production effects.

It can create GIFs, edit videos, and record also. You can convert videos at up to a minuscule level while maintaining the quality to a great extent. 

MPEG video standards group brought inspiration in defining the name of this media handling software project, while “FF” stands for “Fast Forward”. FFmpeg functions as a backbone of several software projects and renowned media players – YouTube, Blender, VLC, and iTunes, to name a few.

How to Install FFmpeg

Want to get hands-on with it? Let’s install FFmpeg.

Basically, you have to use the following codes for Ubuntu, Arch Linux, and Fedora respectively.

# Debian/Ubuntu sudo apt-get install ffmpeg # Arch Linux sudo pacman -S ffmpeg #REHL/CentOS/Fedora sudo dnf install ffmpeg sudo rpm install ffmpeg sudo yum install ffmpeg


And FFmpeg will be in your Linux distro.

Basic Usage of FFmpeg

To convert a media file using the default settings of FFmpeg, type:

ffmpeg -i

The above command will change the specified format into the output format given. 

How to Decrease Video Sizes Using FFmpeg

Going to the basics: Not all video files are created following the same procedure. Hence, file sizes tend to be different. For example, the avi video file extensions are larger than mp4 files.

Takeaway? The smallest mp4 file of a video will be smaller than the smallest avi file of the same video. However, the quality will vary with each of these varied file sizes. Mp4s are not the smallest size you can expect. Various containers for Windows media videos and flash videos (FLV and WMV) are the winners.