Posts from August 2006


An "automatic" screenshot taker is something that I've always wanted, but the commercial offerings leave much to be desired and the only other option seems to be the "manual" approach. I am of course talking about screenshots from video files rather than screenshots of your desktop, that sort of thing is well covered.

One of the problems with making your own is that the options are fairly limited on just how you go about opening video files and pulling out the candy frame goodness. For Windows users, the option is to use DirectShow which I can only describe as The Crystal Maze for it's Byzantine ways of operating are beyond mortal ken. The other option is to use a pre-built library such as ffmpeg or similar. This was out as well as not only was it a whole new way of working for me (Windows development files were few and far between) it was a whole new set of a programming challenges which made the learning curve more of a learning cliff.

"during testing I had a number of problems with this"

So I turned forlornly to existing media-players in the slim hope that one of them would have the abilities required for scripting a makeshift screenshotter. Media Player Classic has limited command line support, VLC is more geared towards client/server setup and I couldn't even figure out whether that route would lead to any semblance of success, BSPlayer... The list goes on as to the number of players which don't supply a full body of command line options.

The silver lining, the angel of hope was MPlayer. If you're prepared to wade through a bit of fudge to get there, MPlayer provides everything you need to script a screenshotter:

  • jump to any part of the file from the command line
  • output into different (static) formats such as PNG and JPEG
  • can output file information (length, dimensions etc.)

With these three functions MPlayer is almost all you need. Almost.

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