ffmpeg is a powerful but sometimes daunting free and open source video command line tool. Developer Sam Lavigne has found a way to make it easier to explore its complex filter processing tools – giving it a node-based patching interface for trying out filters in a browser. And Sam is looking for testers.

Getting ffmpeg to do one thing at a time from the command line is really not all that tough. And that in turn works on any stream, whether it’s a file or live video stream. But you could easily miss out on combinations of what all those filters can do – including sophisticated color and exposure processing, scaling, simple drawing, blending. Combine those with lots of detection tools and whatnot, and you could hack some really interesting stuff here.

FFmpeg Explorer gives this a node-based UI that will be familiar to users of tools like Max, TouchDesigner, and Houdini. (Or, uh, people familiar with jack cables!) Patch together a useful combination, and the tool gives you a command line output to use. It’s great for more complex combos and what-if scenarios.

You can test the tool here:


Note that this is an in-development tool, so Sam shares it looking for testers who can provide feedback. I’m guessing that we can trust CDM readers to be good testers. Oh, and let us know if you find any interesting applications, too.

Via Mastodon, which should be a good way to follow Sam, too.

Even since I’ve had this in my inbox to write about, they’ve added some extra features like custom video upload. And you can now use it to output GIFs – very cool.

The “punching a N*zi” video is still up top. And if you have qualms about that, here’s a special modded version of Wolfenstein 3-D by Ramsey Nasser that plumbs ethical questions therein. (Being a teenager in the USA and not here in Germany, my copy of Wolfenstein was definitely fully this one, emblems and all. I remember being really hit hard with the early DOS violence. Different times. “My face is bloodied and the screen is blinking red” probably turned out to be an apt metaphor for how adult life would sometimes feel, though.)

See also Sam’s upcoming course for the School of Poetic Computation on critical video processing: