FFMPEG Adds Support For Magic Lantern RAW Video – On The Way For A Smoother Workflow


About a year ago the Magic Lantern team took they RAW video recording into the next level providing their own native format – MLV (Magic Lantern Video). While this format could be used to record RAW video the workflow to getting it to PRORES format was a bit cumbersome.

Yesterday, FFmpeg did the first commit to their code-base which to support the MLV format. This could mean great things for the Magic Lantern team. Mostly because FFmpeg is the engine running the video part of many open source programs.

ML’s g3gg0 shares how this came to be (and highlight the importance of open-source royalties-free formats in the process):

the FFMPEG team applied for Google Summer of Code (GSoC) for raw bayer support in their libraries.
i talked to peter and suggested him to look at our video format as some open source raw video format that is free of any royalities.
so they could continue to improve their raw support with already existing footage in this simple video file format.

One of the programs that uses FFmpeg is the very popular VLC which probably means that we will see a VLC package capable of playing MLVs soon. But it does not stop there. The pro-level open source editing program  Lightworks (go check it out if you have not done so until now – it as used for Mission Impossible 4, King’s Speech and a few others) is also using FFmpeg. Does this mean native support of MLVs in one of the leading video editors? I hope so!

dmilligan of the ML forums does a great job in describing the potential impact:

It means that a library that is widely used by a number of programs that do video will have native support for MLV. Which means any of the programs that use that library will defacto have support for MLV. Which means that you will be able to playback MLV files with any of these already existing programs. Almost all open source video applications use this library (called ffmpeg).

Two big questions are still open:

  1. Will bringing MLV into FFmpeg make editing/workflowing MLVs faster? and
  2. what will the performance of FFmpeg’s MLV processing be? How much hardware will it need?

If I had my way with this I would love to see MLVs wildly adopted by the big commercial folks like Adobe and apple, maybe this move will push them in the right direction.

[FFMPEG now officially supports Magic Lantern Video via planet5d]

  • Marc Jones

    FFMpeg also has pretty decent ProRes support built in as well (this is what tools such as 5dtoRGB use for instance), so a single library can be used to do the whole conversion shebang.