I have a video I made for physics class, which I intend to use to measure just how long an event took to take place. I can find the start frame and end frame easily using VLC's frame-by-frame feature.

However, VLC's timer seems only to be precise to a single second, giving me no more precise an answer than "5 seconds."

Is there a way in VLC, or any other program, to identify at precisely what time a particular frame in a video takes place?

I have easy access to Ubuntu and Windows, and acquire a Mac if need be.

If precise timer is not available, what number frame I am on will also work, since I know the framerate.

  • All right. For the moment I'm just going to give in and count frames by hand. However, the question is still open for future reference. Thanks!
    – Matchu
    Jan 13, 2010 at 18:42

6 Answers 6


Give Avidemux a try. It should be able to do what you want and is freely available for Windows and Linux.

  • I ended up counting frames, but then had to perform a similar task again, for which Avidemux was a great help. Thanks!
    – Matchu
    Jan 24, 2010 at 18:28
  • Worked perfectly, provides millisecond precision and doesn't have any issues going left and right. It's also free for Windows - to me this is ideal. Thanks for sharing :) May 12, 2020 at 17:39

I don't know if this feature was available at the time the question was asked, but the open source MPC-HC (Media Player Classic Home Cinema) video player definitely has both these features available now.

There is a context menu option to enable millisecond precision for time indicator, and you can easily step between frames in both forward (CTRL+Right) and backward (CTRL+Left) directions.

MPC-HC high precision timer

You can also jump to exact time point OR frame in video file via Navigate -> Go To... menu (or CTRL+G).

MPC-HC "Go To..." menu


Well, seconds are integers. Video players rarely go below them to more precise measurements.

But if you know at what frame you're currently at (which is fairly commonly displayed), and you know the frame rate, you can usually calculate it to much more of a second. Or you can skip frame by frame while on a time measurement, and the moment the next second "hits", switch to frame measurement and then calculate the percent of the next second in which the particular frame occurs.

... just some crazy ideas ... have never had the need for this, so all this is untested ...

  • 1
    I don't see a current-frame measurement on VLC, but I'm also fairly new with it. Is there a way to have VLC display it?
    – Matchu
    Jan 12, 2010 at 18:45
  • 1
    I think VLC cannot display them. VLC was designed as a network player, therefore the concept of frames is a little vague to it. However, most of these can superuser.com/questions/45803/…
    – Rook
    Jan 12, 2010 at 19:11
  • along with the steps to jump frame by frame are in there
    – Rook
    Jan 12, 2010 at 19:11
  • 1
    videos are measured, recorded and encoded in frames, not seconds. depending on the video, there might be 24 frames shown per second (US film style), 25 frames per second (PAL standard), or 30 frames per second (NTSC standard). you're right, tho, that video players usually don't get that precise. you probably need a video editor for that. Jan 13, 2010 at 4:53
  • Yep, I get the concept. So I'm in search of something that either shows frames or seconds, as stated. Thanks for clarifying for anyone else who needs it, though :)
    – Matchu
    Jan 13, 2010 at 17:51

This isn't free ($19), but Womble MPEG-VCR has frame accurate times with frame by frame stepping.

If you do a search use the key words "frame accurate", I'm sure there must be something freeware, especially for Linux.

Hope this helps.


Any professional NLV (Non-Linear Video editing) app should handle this. They normally support a standard called SMPTE timecode, which is something like 3 or 4 digits of precision per second. Software in this category would include Sony Vegas, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, etc.

For Linux, try Cinelerra (fairly outdated and horrible to install), KDEnlive, or Pitivi. I'm sure that Cinelerra will do it, should you be able to get it running, but not so sure about the others.


if you don't know the framerate what you also can do is measure the length of the video bar in milimiters, then the length of the duration you want to measure. If you know the total duration of the video then using a simple cross-multiplication you should find out the exact duration you want to know.

  • This answer yields awful precision.
    – user477799
    Jan 20, 2017 at 14:12

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .