Convert Audio/Video Files in Ubuntu (13.10 …) & Windows 8 Using ‘FFmpegYAG’

‘FFmpegYAG’ is a free utility (a GUI for ‘FFmpeg’) that lets you easily convert audio/video files into other formats (including the ability to move into a different ‘container’ -- without having to re-encode).

It is available for both Microsoft Windows and GNU/Linux (pre-built ‘deb’ packages are available for Ubuntu and Debian) platforms, and comes with a specially built ‘FFmpeg’ version that supports x246’s 10-bit encoding which reduces the output file’s size without losing quality, and HE-AAC (a variant of AAC codec that is optimized for encoding audio tracks into low bitrates, such as for streaming), according to its author.

All of its features are available from a single window so you do not have to navigate through a tab after a tab for adjusting different settings, prior to encoding a file. Though this idea (implementing ‘everything’ into a single window) might seem scary, in truth however, ‘FFmpegYAG’ looks very simple.

'FFmpegYAG' running on Ubuntu 13.10

It supports displaying previews and whenever you crop, resize or change the aspect ratio, the preview section updates the changes immediately. You can select between a variety of video and audio codecs (MGEG 1/2, MPEG4, Xvid, VP8, x246, MP3, MP2, OGG Vorbis, AAC, HE-AAC, FLAC,WAV …) or you can choose the ‘copy’ option under audio/video codec settings section which copies the data and puts it into a container without encoding as well.

It also lets you change the FPS, audio channels and the frequency too. You can skip encoding selected tracks by removing the ‘check’ mark under ‘Video’,  ‘Audio’ and ‘Subtitle’ section as well. Container support includes MKV, MP4, MOV, MPEG, WebM, Ogg, ac3, mp3 and a few others.

It has built in presets under ‘bitrate’, ‘frame size’ etc but you can manually override them by simply entering your desired value under each field. However, when changing the ‘Bitrate’ (under both ‘Video’ and ‘Audio’ tracks) make sure not to remove the ‘k’ argument, otherwise it might give you errors while trying to encode.

Leave the 'k' intact under 'Bitrate' - 'FFmpegYAG'

As shown below, it also seemed to be multi-threaded which significantly reduces the encoding times, because it can use all the available CPU cores.

'top' showing that most of my 4 cores are being used by 'ffmpeg ...'
‘top’ showing that most of my 4 cores are being used by ‘ffmpeg …’

Installing it on Ubuntu 13.10, 13.04, 12. 10, 12.04 and Debian 7 …

1. First go to this page and download the appropriate ‘FFmpeg-Hi’ package, (they are named using the distribution’s name, version and the CPU instructions set -- 32-bit/64-bit). Once the download completes, double click on it and follow the on-screen instructions of Ubuntu Software Center for installing it.

Note: Your existing original ‘FFmpeg’ installation should not be affected by installing this version (as far as I know).

2. Now go to this page and get the ‘FFmpegYAG’ package. Again, once the download completes, use Ubuntu Software Center for installing it. That should do it.

Any issues? …

For some reason it adds two icons on the Dash and nothing happens when you click on one of them. There is no way to tell which is which, but one opens up the application. Every time you open it, you will be asked which version of ‘ffmpeg’ built that you want to use, if unsure, go for the ‘ffmpeg-hi8-heaac’ built, because most hardware multimedia players might struggle while trying to play (decode) 10-bit encoded x264 multimedia files.

Selecting the proper 'ffmpeg' built in 'FFmpegYAG'
When unsure, go for the second option …

It does not support enabling ‘two pass’ encoding currently which otherwise significantly improves the quality for the same file size (at the expense of encoding times of course). It also does not show a progress bar, though it outputs, among other things, the current location (‘time’) of the file that is being encoded so you can get a reasonable idea of how long it might take to finish, but a progress bar is more user friendly.

'FFmpegYAG' showing the current encoding location

I also found the ‘marker’ (start/end times) to be a bit confusing, but it is not a big concern. Other than that, for a new application, it worked extremely well. So hopefully, ‘Ronny’ (the developer) would add/fix these in the future releases (thank you for creating it!). If you use Windows then visit this page to get it.

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