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I have a video file of 30 minutes, but I want to extract a video from 00:09:23 to 00:25:33.

I can define the startposition with -ss, but I couldn't find one for the end position. Any help please?

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6 Answers 6

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Install ffmpeg

Make sure you download a recent version of ffmpeg, and don't use the one that comes with your distribution (e.g. Ubuntu). Packaged versions from various distributions are often outdated and do not behave as expected.

Or compile it yourself. Under macOS, you can use Homebrew and brew install ffmpeg.

How to cut a video, without re-encoding

Use this to cut video from [start] for [duration]:

ffmpeg -ss [start] -i in.mp4 -t [duration] -map 0 -c copy out.mp4

Use this to cut video from [start] to [end]:

ffmpeg -copyts -ss [start] -i in.mp4 -to [end] -map 0 -c copy out.mp4

Explaining the options

The options mean the following:

  • -ss specifies the start time, e.g. 00:01:23.000 or 83 (in seconds)
  • -t specifies the duration of the clip. The format of the time is the same.
  • Instead of -t, you can also use -to, which specifies the end time.
  • -map 0 maps all streams, audio, video and subtitles

You have to understand that normally, -ss resets the timestamps of the input video after the cut point to 0, so by default it does not matter if you use -t or -to. If you want -ss to not reset the timestamp to 0, the -copyts option can be used. This makes -to behave more intuitively.

For example:

ffmpeg -ss 5 -i in.mp4 -t 30 -map 0 -c copy out.mp4

This seeks forward in the input by 5 seconds and generates a 30 second long output file. In other words, you get the input video's part from 5–35 seconds.

Or:

ffmpeg -ss 5 -i in.mp4 -to 30 -map 0 -c copy out.mp4

This achieves the same thing as above, since the timestamps get reset to 0 after seeking 5 seconds in the input. The output will still be 30 seconds long.

If we instead use -copyts, and we want the part from 5–35 seconds, we should use:

ffmpeg -copyts -ss 5 -i in.mp4 -to 35 -map 0 -c copy out.mp4

Finally, we've used the -c copy option. -c copy copies the first video, audio, and subtitle bitstream from the input to the output file without re-encoding them. This won't harm the quality and make the command run within seconds.

For more info on seeking, see https://trac.ffmpeg.org/wiki/Seeking

How to cut a video, with re-encoding

Sometimes, using -c copy leads to output files that some players cannot process (they'll show a black frame or have audio-video sync errors).

If you leave out the -c copy option, ffmpeg will automatically re-encode the output video and audio according to the format you chose. For high quality video and audio, read the x264 Encoding Guide and the AAC Encoding Guide, respectively.

For example:

ffmpeg -ss [start] -i in.mp4 -t [duration] -c:v libx264 -crf 23 -c:a aac -b:a 192k out.mp4

You can change the CRF and audio bitrate parameters to vary the output quality. Lower CRF means better quality, and vice-versa. Sane values are between 18 and 28.

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  • 1
    On ubuntu 12:10, -c:v and -c:a didn't work. I had to use "-acodec copy and -vcodec copy" instead. Apr 2, 2013 at 14:21
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    @Samuel Then you're using an outdated version, which isn't even real FFmpeg, but the Libav fork. See: stackoverflow.com/a/9477756/1109017
    – slhck
    Apr 2, 2013 at 14:45
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    Thanks for this! if you don't specify a duration, will it go to the end?
    – Jeff
    Mar 31, 2014 at 17:03
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    @Prateek When copying the video bitstream (instead of re-encoding), you can only cut at keyframes. If there are keyframes at seconds 1, 2, and 3, but you want to cut at second 1.5, then ffmpeg will wait until second 2 before it can start cutting. That makes it inaccurate.
    – slhck
    Jul 3, 2015 at 12:36
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    -to does not always "start from" -ss even without -copyts, @Maggyero I use to move the -to option to configure the input instead of the output so it is just another solution. ffmpeg -ss [start] -to [stop] -i in.mp4 -c copy out.mp4 Like this my stop time is correct despite the start time. I wonder if it is also the reason why @lustig moved -ss to the output while they did not know why. The answer does not even mention -copyts ! It should, as it is the simplest solution here ! I prefer reordering the arguments, but i guess it is not simpler.
    – Link-akro
    Aug 23, 2020 at 8:54
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I think you can use the following command now.

ffmpeg -i inputFile -vcodec copy -acodec copy -ss 00:09:23 -to 00:25:33 outputFile

Have a look also ffmpeg Doc, or this wiki page.

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    ffmpeg -i inputFile -c copy -ss 00:09:23 -to 00:25:33 outputFile simpler version
    – nwgat
    Nov 20, 2016 at 16:37
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    I had to use ffmpeg -ss 00:01:00 -i video.mp4 -to 00:02:00 -c copy -copyts cut.mp4 version (with -copyts), otherwise it cut incorrectly (with black screen in the beginning). Thanks for the 2nd link though. Jan 12, 2018 at 15:51
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    This is great, the last thing I wanted was calculating the duration from endpoints. May 11, 2018 at 9:50
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    The -to option answers the question that was actually asked. The rest of the answers are either impertinent or obsolete. May 15, 2018 at 15:35
  • @Necronomicron but timestamps may not be appropriate with that variant.
    – jarno
    Apr 2, 2020 at 23:33
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This is odd that no-one suggested the trim filter.

Drop everything except the second minute of input:

ffmpeg -i INPUT -vf trim=60:120

Keep only the first second:

ffmpeg -i INPUT -vf trim=duration=1

Drop everything except from second 13 to second 58:

ffmpeg -i INPUT -vf trim=13:58 OUTPUT
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    Yes, good to mention trim and atrim. I usually use these when filtering, but users should note that filtering requires re-encoding.
    – llogan
    Apr 7, 2015 at 17:28
  • You are my hero. I badly needed a filter that did this.
    – fahadash
    Dec 24, 2016 at 5:55
  • Is this losless or does this re-encode the video?
    – fap
    Dec 8, 2021 at 19:10
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    @fap The comment above yours literally answers this. Jul 22, 2022 at 15:44
  • The trim filter also takes named arguments start and end. Using named arguments lets you omit the others, as in trim=end=X (from start to X) and trim=start=X (from X to end). If you want a colon in X (e.g., the time 5:39), you need to escape it, as in trim=end=5\:39 so that it doesn't get interpreted as the field separator. Jun 22, 2023 at 20:31
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You can use these two methods which work for Windows and Linux.

There are two ways how to split video files by ffmpeg. The first one is good in itself, more than that - it is faster, but sometimes creates output files with certain flaws. So for those cases there is the second way of splitting video files: it is considerably slower, the output files are bigger, but it seems they are always of the same quality level as input files used.

Way 1:

ffmpeg -ss <start> -i in1.avi -t <duration> -c copy out1.avi

Way 2:

ffmpeg -ss <start> -i in1.avi -t <duration> out1.avi
  • <start> – the beginning of the part of a video ffmpeg is to cut out. Format: 00:00:00.0000, meaning hours:minutes:seconds:milliseconds.

  • <duration> – the duration of the part of a video ffmpeg is to cut out. Same format as above.

Examples:

ffmpeg -ss 01:19:00 -i in1.avi -t 00:05:00 -c copy out1.avi
ffmpeg -ss 01:19:00 -i in1.avi -t 00:05:00 out1.avi

ffmpeg cuts out a part of the video file starting from 1 hour 19 minutes 0 seconds. The duration of the video sequence cut out is 5 minutes 0 seconds.

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  • Ok, thnx. Will check out the docs and give it a try tomorrow.
    – juGGaKNot
    Oct 3, 2013 at 19:18
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    -sameq does not mean "same quality" and has been removed from ffmpeg. Use -codec copy instead. Also, don't forget about the -to option.
    – llogan
    Oct 3, 2013 at 20:47
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    I corrected the commands in your quote, as they were quite outdated. Please don't copy-paste information without properly quoting it.
    – slhck
    Oct 4, 2013 at 10:08
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I use the following syntax to cut video with ffmpef:

ffmpeg -sameq -ss [start_seconds] -t [duration_seconds] -i [input_file] [outputfile]

-t is used to set the duration in seconds - you can't specify the end time but this should work for you.

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    Why are you setting FFmpeg to re-encode the file? Note that -sameq does not mean "same quality" at all.
    – slhck
    Jan 11, 2012 at 21:18
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You can use this

ffmpeg -sameq -ss clip_start -t duration  -i  original.ogg  clip.ogg

Here you have to give duration of video. ie. 00:25:33-00:09:23

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    As I mentioned on the other answer: With your command, you're re-encoding the file, which is absolutely not necessary and results in reduced quality and increased processing time.
    – slhck
    Jan 11, 2012 at 21:18

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