FFMPEG: get a thumbnail from a video with PHP

Here’s a simple tutorial in order to extract a thumbnail from a video using FFMPEG and PHP.

First of all let’s install FFMPEG ( you probably already got it if you know what kind of kick-ass video manipulator it is ):

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sudo apt-get install ffmpeg

Then let’s set up our script: the main problem is the use of the shell_exec() function, in order to run a shell command inside PHP.

If you don’t know anything about cmd(), shell_exec() or shell escaping please don’t use this tecnique and go ahed to php.net to read some documentation about it.

At least, you also need to have shell_exec() enabled in your server, so shared hosting won’t fit your requirements.

Here’s the way:

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<?php

$video = 'path/to/video.flv';
$thumbnail = 'path/to/thumbnail.jpg';

// shell command [highly simplified, please don't run it plain on your script!]
shell_exec("ffmpeg -i $video -deinterlace -an -ss 1 -t 00:00:01 -r 1 -y -vcodec mjpeg -f mjpeg $thumbnail 2>&1");

so you’ll be able to see your thumbnail of the video at the location you specified.

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