I'm trying to extract key frames from a video clip. I tried the following command, but it extracts all frames.

ffmpeg -vf select="eq(pict_type\,PICT_TYPE_I)" -i 2.flv -vsync 2 -s 73x41 -r 30 -f image2 thumbnails-%%02d.jpeg

3 Answers 3


You can make this simpler using -skip_frame without the need for select video filter:

ffmpeg -skip_frame nokey -i 2.flv -vsync 0 -r 30 -f image2 thumbnails-%02d.jpeg
  • 3
    Amazing, takes less than 10s on a 20min video compared to more than 3 minutes with select filter !
    – mad
    Apr 8, 2018 at 15:23
  • 1
    Make sure to use -threads 1, compared to the default -threads auto it makes a cropdetect filter graph (ffmpeg -threads 1 -skip_frame nokey -i input.mkv -filter:v select='not(mod(n\,20))',cropdetect -an -f null /dev/null) 2x as fast on my system (60s down to 30s)!
    – genpfault
    Feb 9, 2019 at 3:36
  • I would not use skip_frame nokey. Have you even checked the output? On my files and build (aug 2019) I get improper time stamps, as in nokey gives me the preceding frame before the I frame, while the nonfiltered/all frames show the I frame at a later time stamp.
    – JasonXA
    Nov 21, 2019 at 4:57
  • The reason @genpfault suggests using -threads 1 is that otherwise the sequence of the output keyframes can be issued out-of-order. If you have some kind of post-hoc way of dealing with this problem, you can retain multi-threading. Also, it seems that it's still possible to get out-of-order keyframes, even when using -threads 1, but now in this case all such occurrences seem to be accompanied/flagged by an h264 decoder error illegal short term buffer state detected. Mar 3, 2020 at 1:48
  • 1
    Please do add an explanation on why -vsync 0 is important for this task. I didn't know what it did and I ended up with a lot of duplicate jpegs because the output matched the framerate of the input, and you need the -vsync 0 option to avoid that Nov 10, 2021 at 8:38

Example using the select and scale filters:

ffmpeg -i 2.flv -vf "select=eq(pict_type\,I),scale=73x41" \
-vsync vfr -qscale:v 2 thumbnails-%02d.jpeg

A few tips:

  • Filters should not come before the -i option, as they're an output option. I don't know where exactly you got the command from, but PICT_TYPE_I does not exist – it should be I.

  • In the scale filter you can replace 73 or 41 to have the filter automatically calculate the width or height to preserve aspect ratio: such as scale=73:-1 or scale=-1:41. This prevents stretching or squishing that can result from "forced" scaling.

  • Output quality can be controlled with -qscale:v (or the alias -q:v). Effective range is a linear scale of 2 to 31 and a lower value is a higher quality.

  • That your ffmpeg allows a filter before the input tells me it could be outdated. Download a recent static build for your operating system, or build it yourself according to the compilation guides if the above does not work.

  • 4
    If your goal is to extract the key frames losslessly, you can try the following: ffmpeg -i 2.flv -vf "select=eq(pict_type\,I)" -vsync vfr frame-%02d.png
    – Peltier
    Mar 7, 2015 at 14:11

if this errors:

Option vf (set video filters) cannot be applied to input url 1508.mp4 -- you are trying to apply an input option to an output file or vice versa. Move this option before the file it belongs to. Error parsing options for input file 1508.mp4. Error opening input files: Invalid argument

you can do this:

ffmpeg -i 263.mp4 -vf select=eq(pict_type\,PICT_TYPE_I)  -vsync 2 -s 480x320 -r 24 -f image2 thumbnails-%05d.jpeg


“-i” Parameters in advance

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