FFmpeg for Audio-Visual Archivists

The half-day FFmpeg for Audio-Visual Archivists workshop for beginners, lead be Joshua Ng and Reto Kromer, has been held twice during the IASA Conference and the Joint Technical Symposium in Hilversum, Netherlands, on 3 October 2019.


In the last years has been built an ecosystem of free and open source software for long-term digital preservation. One of the tools is FFmpeg, a solution for processing, transcoding, filtering, analysing and playing audio-visual files. Due to its extensive and actively developed codec library, FFmpeg has been integrated as a crucial element into many film and video archives worldwide.

This workshop will present why FFmpeg is relevant to archivists and how it can be applied for digital preservation of the the cultural heritage. Participants will learn how to install the software on their computers and master the audio-visual files. They will use the applications to perform several tasks, including lossless transcoding, technical inspection, timecode burn-in, compression for access and quality control. Lessons and hands-on will alternate. Content include:

  • a refresher on digital audio and digital video
  • file structure: container, codec, raw data
  • different file formats for different purposes: archive master, mezzanine files for postproduction, access files
  • audio-visual data transformations