Batch Process FFMPEG

An incredible use case for simple Bash scripting is the ability to batch process ffmpeg tasks. First off, I’ll assume you guys have got a basic understanding of FFMPEG, what it is, how to install and use it, that kinda thing. If not, feel free to check out the basics. FFMPEG is absolutely amazing. It can convert a chicken sandwich to ProRes. So once you’ve got the basic single-file convert down, how do you batch convert?

Shell Scripts

This is new for me, and I’m happy to learn new stuff. So upon a basic introduction, shell scripting looks incredibly powerful. I’m easing my way into Python because Blender is written in Python, but apparently Python is something you can integrate into shell scripts as well, so all the better!

More good news, someone had the same issue as me, and got a pretty rad response on StackOverflow. The 2nd answer below the ‘correct’ one uses something called parameter expansion that I don’t really know a lot about. But from my limited understanding, I gather that it’s a way to take the existing filename and stick it on to the ffmpeg file export. So let’s say you have vacayFootage.avi that you want to convert to .mp4. Parameter expansion grabs the file name and sticks it onto the resulting export so you’ll get vacayFootage.mp4 without the hassle of having to name a thousand files by hand, each time you convert a file. So here’s an example of how you would batch process ffmpeg commands:

for i in *.avi; do ffmpeg -i "$i" "${i%.*}.mp4"; done

So like a true professional, I pasted that Stackoverflow answer into a shell script, modified the lines a bit to match my needs, and boom! It worked! I was able to convert about 500 files in just a few minutes with a single line of code… So awesome!

So Many Possibilities…

So with that fancy new script… and learning about how read is a cool Python command that can be used to collect user input… I’d love to write a shell script that can work for anyone. Just enter the directory where all your media is, choose your output options, select your output directory, and boom! Batch encodes for all! Gotta get on that… right after I learn Python.