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I have a (broken) PC, where VLC plays videos on only the left half the screen, which seems related to OpenGL/drivers (see here). On the other hand, ffplay doesn't have the half-window problem, but can open only some videos I want to play.

So, similar to How can I pipe output of ffmpeg to ffplay?, I thought of piping VLC to ffplay; and I got this far (I'm using this video):

$ cvlc Rent_an_Ambassador.ogv --sout '#transcode{vcodec=IYUV}:std{access=file,mux=raw,dst=-}' | ffplay -f rawvideo -s 398x224 pipe:-
Warning: call to srand(1369860697)
Warning: call to rand()
Blocked: call to unsetenv("DBUS_ACTIVATION_ADDRESS")
Blocked: call to unsetenv("DBUS_ACTIVATION_BUS_TYPE")
[0x98f4b64] dummy interface: using the dummy interface module...
[0x9903254] mux_dummy mux: Open
[rawvideo @ 0x98bf890]Estimating duration from bitrate, this may be inaccurate
Input #0, rawvideo, from 'pipe:-':
  Duration: N/A, start: 0.000000, bitrate: N/A
    Stream #0.0: Video: rawvideo, yuv420p, 398x224, 25 tbr, 25 tbn, 25 tbc

So, basically ffplay it picks up that VLC's IYUV should be yuv420p, as I read in Libav user questions and discussions - Re: Scale image from 4:2:2 to 4:2:0

Note that YUV420P is a.k.a. I420 and IYUV.

... unfortunately, the video output is all wrong:

bad video

Note that if I don't specify the size for ffplay, it fails with:

picture size invalid (0x0)
    Last message repeated 1 times
[rawvideo @ 0x9c6f890]Could not find codec parameters (Video: rawvideo, yuv420p)
[rawvideo @ 0x9c6f890]Estimating duration from bitrate, this may be inaccurate
pipe:-: could not find codec parameters

So, my question is:

  • Would anyone know of a proper command line for piping from vlc to ffplay - using raw video?
  • Is there a way to make vlc play audio as usual, and pipe its video output as raw video to ffplay (so as to avoid the overhead of muxing video and audio into a new format, which ffplay would have to additionally demux?)

EDIT: Here's one command line that does provide proper video with test file as above (via The VideoLAN Forums • Sending YUV data to a pipe under windows):

cvlc Rent_an_Ambassador.ogv --vout=yuv --yuv-yuv4mpeg2 --yuv-file=/dev/stdout | ffplay pipe:-


  • ffplay segfaults when I try to unpack some other videos with vlc
  • For yet a third category of videos, vlc will not export FPS setting - so ffplay will start, show a frame, and then freeze display (and you'd have to continually scroll the mouse button, so the video window refreshes). Note here that you cannot force ffplay frame rate for timeless containers - and when doing --yuv-file (instead of --sout) the --sout-transcode-fps will not apply (from the vlc side of things)
share|improve this question
It irritates me that ffplay wouldn't be able to play something VLC can. Especially Ogg Theora (?) video. Is there a chance you could supply a small test sample? – slhck May 29 '13 at 21:31
Thanks for the comment, @slhck - the video is linked in the post (it's from Wikimedia Commons). Actually, both vlc and ffplay can play this file fine - the question is about what format to choose, so one pipes decoded output from vlc into ffplay... Cheers! – sdaau May 29 '13 at 21:34
Have you tried adding in the --rawvid-chroma parameter to the call to VLC? Try adding --rawvid-chroma=YV12 before the pipe (you can also try UYVY or I422, but I think the parameter should be YV12 for YUV240p. – Breakthrough May 29 '13 at 21:50
Thanks for the comment @Breakthrough - tried it now, but doesn't work, and probably it shouldn't (note that --rawvid-chroma is option for "Raw video demuxer" == "player"; however here VLC plays "OGV", not "raw video") .. that is why the chroma should have been fixed with vcodec=IYUV in the very first attempt, but for some reason isn't. Cheers! – sdaau May 29 '13 at 22:15

Have you tried disabling hardware video acceleration in VLC? This might fix the half-screen problem.

enter image description here

Yes I realize this isn't the question asked, but it seems to be an XY Problem.

share|improve this answer
Thanks for that @DarthAndroid - of course I have, among the first things :) Doesn't work - the linked Slitaz post confirms that loading 'nvidia' driver for X11 was what solved the issue; but on my system, radeon.ko.gz is loaded, and X11 doesn't accept it in its setup; which is why I'm looking at this workaround (which actually works - for those pipes that don't segfault with avi as in OP edit)... Basically, I just want to use vlc as audio player and video demuxer/decoder - and ffplay as basically just a "projection screen" :) Cheers! – sdaau May 29 '13 at 22:44

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