How to Create Video Thumbnails Using VLC 1.0

Apparently creating video snapshots, thumbnails, whatever you want to call them with VLC 1.0.2 or later has really changed, and everything out there that I found simply didn’t work.

When I tried to use the documentation I found available the lovely error message came up saying:

The command line options couldn’t be loaded, check that they are valid.
Press the RETURN key to continue…

So I’m on a Windows XP virtual machine but this same thing applies to Linux and Mac OS X. So how can you easily from the command line script the creation of a thumbnail, snapshot, image, etc. from a video?

Here you go!

"C:\Program Files\VideoLAN\VLC\vlc.exe" --video-filter scene -V dummy
    --scene-height=128 --scene-width=128 --scene-format=jpeg --scene-replace
    --scene-ratio 24 --start-time=6 --stop-time=7 --scene-prefix=thumb
    --scene-path="C:\thumbs"  C:\videos\video_file.mp4 vlc://quit

Now you are probably asking, can you please explain what all those flags and arguments mean? OK.

  • –video-filter : This adds post-processing filters to enhance the picture quality, for instance deinterlacing, or distortthe video. In this case we’re using the scene filter for snapshots.
  • -V : Specifies a video output module. We don’t want the video to actually play so it’s set to dummy
  • –scene-height : The height of the snapshot in pixels
  • –scene-width : The width of the snapshot in pixels
  • –scene-format : Format of the image. Can be jpeg or png.
  • –scene-replace : Replaced the resulting image each time. Remove this flag to have the file named in sequential order.
  • –scene-ratio : Ratio of images to record. 3 means that one image out of three is recorded.
  • –start-time : Start at this position in seconds
  • –stop-time : Stop at this position in seconds
  • –scene-prefix : Name the image file with this name. If scene-replace is not specified the file will be named prefixXX.
  • –scene-path : Path on file-system to store the snapshots
  • C:\video\video_file.mp4 : path to video input file
  • vlc://quit : Quit once the process is finished

So, all the best as you try to script the creation of your thumbnail images!

More info: This is working with VLC 1.0.3.

7 Replies to “How to Create Video Thumbnails Using VLC 1.0”

  1. Thanks! The VLC wiki was totally wrong (says to use image-out-format) so this helped.

    I am trying to use this to generate frames in an interval, but for some reason a number of the frames come out corrupt or all messed up. Wish I knew why.

  2. Yeah sorry Zeno, I’m not quite sure what the problem might be there. I needed this only for creating thumbnails and this command worked fine.


  4. These commands are very confusing. I didn’t understand anything. Could you explain better? Are it all these commands required?

  5. Thanks SO MUCH. You are the only correct person on the entire internet! I’d been searching for hours for things like:
    vlc command line snapshot
    cvlc snapshot

    …because the feature is called “snapshot” in the program and the long help suggests there are similar command line options.

  6. I am having issues with windows 7 and the –scene-replace option failing to replace the image. I am using a “run as admin” command prompt and still think it is having issues with overwriting prompt stopping it.

    Any suggestions?

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