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Stream your Windows desktop using ffmpeg

datePosted on 10:26, November 3rd, 2011 by Many Ayromlou

I’ve already covered how to do this with vlc a while back in parts 1 followed by part 2. I just found out that something very similar in results can be done with ffmpeg. ffmpeg has recently added support for directshow filters which now allows one to capture the screen and stream and/or save it. Here is how you can do this:

1.) Grab a copy of the Screen Capture DirectShow source filter from Unreal Streaming Technologies. It’s about half way down that page. They have both the UScreenCapture X86 Edition and the X64 Edition (depending on your OS installation). I used the 64 bit filter on a Windows 7 64 bit installation.

2.) Install the filter and make sure you make the following changes to your windows registry using regedit. The default frame rate for UScreenCapture filter is 10 f/s and we need to boost this to 30 frames/sec. You need to find the key HKLM\SOFTWARE\UNREAL\Live\UScreenCapture and insert a DWORD value of 30 for FrameRate (You have to create FrameRate, it does not exist by default). Once you’ve done the registry tweak, reboot.

3.) Install the latest greatest version of ffmpeg for your windows version from Zeranoe. I grabbed the 64 bit Static build since I didn’t want to deal with libraries and such. Extract it and stick it somewhere on your hard drive. Remember the path to this folder since we will need it later.

4.) Open a command line window and cd to the directory where you extracted ffmpeg into, find the bin directory and cd into it. This is were the ffmpeg executable resides. In my case (I extracted the ffmpeg files into “Program Files” directory) it is C:\Program Files\ffmpeg-git-059707e-win64-static\bin.

5.) If you’ve made it this far, hand in there, we’re almost home. Now you need to issue the command that gets the screen streaming going. But first we need to find out the name of the Screen filter device. So issue the following command:

ffmpeg -list_devices true -f dshow -i dummy

In the output look for a device called “UScreenCapture“. Hopefully if everything is working with the directshow filter you have a entry in the list. That’s the name of our device that we need to pass onto ffmpeg. While you’re there also look for your audio device entry as well. Mine was the truncated word “Stereo Mix (Realtek High Defini” (Yes mine was missing the end of that line). Jot that down somewhere as well. I will show you how to get audio going as well.

6.) So first step is to get video going. Assuming you have a “UScreenCapture” device (You could use another directshow filter if you like, this will work with most of them. I just used the Unreal filter for the heck of it), here is the command to start encoding and sending video:

ffmpeg -f dshow  -i video="UScreenCapture"  -r 30 -vcodec mpeg4 -q 12 -f mpegts udp://aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd:6666?pkt_size=188?buffer_size=65535
  • -f dshow specifies that you’re going to be using a directshow device as your input.
  • -i video=”UScreenCapture” is the name of the input directshow device which we picked up in step 5.
  • -r 30 is the frame rate.
  • -vcodec mpeg4 is our video codec of choice.
  • -q 12 is a quality measure for the encoding process (1 is the best and 30 the worst). We’re doing VBR encoding so this measures the compression ratio vs. picture quality.
  • -f mpegts is our output filetype. In this case mpeg-2 transport stream. Yes, we’re encapsulating mpeg4 video inside a mpeg-2 transport stream…..why?….google it.
  • udp://aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd:6666?pkt_size=188?buffer_size=65535 this last bit specifies the address and port number of the recipient machine (aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd is the ip address of that machine and 6666 is my arbitrary port number). We’re also instructing ffmpeg to create smaller 188 byte size udp packets (which is the size of the transport stream packets) to decrease latency and our buffer size is 64kb.

7.) On the receiving machine you should be able to use vlc, ffmpeg or mplayer to catch the stream. In vlc simply open the Network stream rtp://@:6666 , in ffmpeg you can use the command ffplay -i udp://:6666 or using mplayer you can issue the command mplayer -framedrop -double udp://:6666 .

8.) Now to optionally add sound to the whole thing we can use this command on the encoding machine (instead of step 6). You need to know the device name for your sound card and you probably want to turn the volume down (at least initially) on the decoding machine.

ffmpeg -f dshow  -i video="UScreenCapture" -f dshow -i audio="Stereo Mix (Realtek High Defini" -r 30 -vcodec mpeg4 -q 20 -acodec libmp3lame -ab 128k -f mpegts udp://141.117.224.74:6666?pkt_size=188?buffer_size=65535
  • -f dshow specifies that you’re going to be using a directshow device as your input (VIDEO).
  • -i video=”UScreenCapture” is the name of the input directshow video device which we picked up in step 5.
  • -f dshow specifies that you’re going to be using a directshow device as your input (AUDIO).
  • -i audio=”Stereo Mix (Realtek High Defini” is the name of the input directshow audio device which we picked up in step 5.
  • -r 30 is the frame rate.
  • -vcodec mpeg4 is our video codec of choice.
  • -q 20 is a quality measure for the encoding process (1 is the best and 30 the worst). We’re doing VBR encoding so this measures the compression ratio vs. picture quality. I went with 20 instead of 12 from step 6 since the audio encoding slows the machine down a bit.
  • -acodec libmp3lame is our video codec of choice
  • -f mpegts is our output filetype. In this case mpeg-2 transport stream. Yes, we’re encapsulating mpeg4 video inside a mpeg-2 transport stream…..why?….google it.
  • udp://aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd:6666?pkt_size=188?buffer_size=65535 this last bit specifies the address and port number of the recipient machine (aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd is the ip address of that machine and 6666 is my arbitrary port number). We’re also instructing ffmpeg to create smaller 188 byte size udp packets (which is the size of the transport stream packets) to decrease latency and our buffer size is 64kb.

Ninite: Number 1 application you need in Windows…..

datePosted on 11:47, October 23rd, 2009 by Many Ayromlou

There are a lot of fantastic free software packages out there for the PC if you’re running windows. VLC, Firefox come to mind. The problem is that it takes a long time to install all of them on your PC. You know the routine, click, wait for download, double click, next, next, next, etc……Well, why? Head over to Ninite’s website, choose the applications you want and let them create a custom “Meta Installer” for all the applications in one package. Run the installer and wham, you got all those free/opensource apps downloaded and installed on your machine in one shot, with minimal clickage :-). No sign-up required, Free for personal use, Just in time for Windows 7 Upgrade (or potentially downgrade). Now if only someone would make something like this on OSX, so I can install Final Cut Pro Studio without having grass grow under my seat, that would be nice :-).

FastPictureViewer RAW Codec Pack….FREE

datePosted on 17:01, October 22nd, 2009 by Many Ayromlou

If you’re using any one of Windows XP, Vista or 7 Platforms in 32 or 64 bit mode, you might be interested in the FastPictureViewer RAW picture codec pack from Axel Rietschin Software Developments. They are FREE for personal and educations use and give you fast access to preview RAW images taken by just about any digital camera capable of shooting RAW in Explorer. It even supports the slideshow function in Photo Gallery and Photo Viewer. The fact that it supports 32 and 64 versions of Windows is a bonus since most camera manufacturers — atleast up to now — have been very slow in supporting 64-bit windows. Here is a list of supported RAW Formats:

  • Adobe Digital Negative (.dng)
  • Canon Raw Image (.cr2, .crw)
  • Fuji Raw Image (.raf)
  • Hasselblad Raw Image (.3pr, .fff)
  • Kodak Raw Image (.dcr, .kdc)
  • Leica Raw Image (.raw, .rwl)
  • Minolta Raw Image (.mrw)
  • Nikon Raw Image (.nef, .nrw)
  • Olympus Raw Image (.orf)
  • Panasonic Raw Image (.rw2)
  • Pentax Raw Image (.pef)
  • Sigma Raw Image (.x3f)
  • Sony Raw Image (.arw, .sr2, .srf)

For a Photographer — specially if you own an SLR and shoot RAW — this little Gem is a must.

National Film Board of Canada’s New Iphone/Ipod Touch App….

datePosted on 11:20, October 22nd, 2009 by Many Ayromlou

I usually don’t tend to write about apps, but this one got my attention. Download the FREE NFB app and you get access to over a thousand films, documentaries, animations and trailers on your IPhone or Ipod Touch. I think (hope) that this move will be the trickle before the storm that will finally open the flood gates of media archives being made available to people everywhere. It is a real shame that these works are usually housed/guarded in some concrete bunker, being only available to specialists. I will not bore you with my opinions on archives/copyrights/rights management of our collective cultural treasures by the “high priests”……Let’s just say I’m crawling out of my skin in joy that NFB has taken the (hopefully) first step :-).

Yes, we all know Windows task manager sucks. So I set out to find a decent replacement and that’s when I came across System Explorer. It’s FREE and it rocks. Here are the major features:

  • Detailed informations about Tasks, Processes, Modules, Startups, IE Addons, Uninstallers, Windows, Services, Drivers, Connections and Opened Files.
  • Easy check of suspicious files via VirusTotal or Jotti service.
  • Easy search details about file/process via online databases.
  • Security Extension for automatic check of processes,modules and selected files.
  • “New Task…” dialog with integrated AutoSearch and AutoCompletion.
  • Action History for monitoring processes activities.
  • Performance graphs for monitoring usage of system resources in time.
  • System Snapshots for easy finding of system changes.
  • System Report builds rich text report containing major informations about your System.
  • Multilanguage and Plugins Support.
  • Can be used as Task Manager replacement.

It’s the best one I’ve come across and it actually makes me a bit jelous — you know, not having it in OSX and all — so go grab it and let me know what you think. It comes in installer or portable version (for your USB stick) and as always, if you know of a better progy, send me a comment.

Gbridge, a must have utility for MS Windows….

datePosted on 17:25, October 26th, 2008 by Many Ayromlou

Gbridge is a free software that lets you sync folders, share files, chat and VNC securely and easily. It extends Google’s gtalk service to a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that connects all your computers directly and securely. No matter if they are behind Firewalls, NAT or anything else for that matter. Here are some of it’s main features:

  • Access your files cross your computers, e.g. instant mp3 play, securely and easily through SecureShare.
  • Use AutoSync to copy big files and sync folders between your computers.
  • Use EasyBackup to auto backup your important directory to another computer.
  • Remote control your computer easily and securely through DesktopShare (build-in VNC) or Microsoft Remote Desktop.

Gbridge automatically forms a VPN among your multiple PCs no matter where they are. You can also extend the VPN to include your Gtalk friend’s PCs if both sides allow.

  • Great extension of Google’s Gtalk infrastructure, self-forming, zero-config.
  • IPv4 level compatibility while providing authentication, encryption and mobility.
  • P2P direct network connection, excellent privacy and great performance.
  • Dynamic DNS and private IP, solve the real world naming and connectivity issues for almost all network applications.

So grab yourself a copy or two, and don’t forget to send the link to all your friends.

FastCopy…..Lightning Fast….

datePosted on 16:43, October 26th, 2008 by Many Ayromlou

Just came across this program in my desperate search for a faster copying program. I recently purchased a “small” 4TB NAS from QNAP and I’ve been busily filling it up with my FLAC collection lately. The trouble with this is that it takes windows far too long to even start the copying process — let alone the actual file copy. Well that’s were FastCopy comes in handy, by bypassing MFC and only using Win32 API FastCopy is truly fast, even to a network device like QNAP. I’m now getting around 7.8-8.2 MB/s compared to 5-6 MB/s before FastCopy (this is on a 100 Mb/s connection). Don’t believe me, try it , it’s Free.

Serial Number Revealer will eventually save your day…..

datePosted on 11:03, September 13th, 2008 by Many Ayromlou

Have you ever had to reinstall Windows and all the software you own, just to find out that you’ve lost the serial number of some of those packages. Well go grab Serial Number Revealer right now and run it on your machine. It’s Free and can reveal the installed keys for more than 700 pieces of software, if any of them are installed on your machine. You can then save these in a text file and/or print them for safe keeping. While you’re there you might also want to grab Game Key Revealer, it does the same thing for your purchased games.

UNetbootin takes care of all your USB Linux installtion blues….

datePosted on 11:46, August 28th, 2008 by Many Ayromlou

I’d covered Fedora’s Live USB creator a while back. But for those of you wanting to install other flavours of linux on a USB stick (or a HD even), the process was lengthy and cumbersome. That was before UNetbootin, the Universal Netboot Installer. You see UNetbootin can be run from Linux or Windows and will enable you to install a fully functional linux distro to a USB stick or even a spare partition.

The current version has built-in support for the following distributions:

So go ahead and try some of those acquired flavors of Linux, or that FreeBSD you always wanted to install, but were too scared to. After all it’s only a USB stick, if it screws up just format and reinstall in 5-10 minutes using UNetbootin again.

UNetbootin can also be used to load various system utilities, including:

  • Parted Magic, a partition manager that can resize, repair, backup, and restore partitions.
  • Super Grub Disk, a boot utility that can restore and repair overwritten and misconfigured GRUB installs or directly boot various operating systems
  • Backtrack, a utility used for network analysis and penetration testing.
  • Ophcrack, a utility which can recover Windows passwords.
  • NTPasswd, a utility which can reset Windows passwords and edit the registry.
  • Gujin, a graphical bootloader that can also be used to boot various operating systems and media.
  • Smart Boot Manager (SBM), which can boot off CD-ROM and floppy drives on computers with a faulty BIOS.
  • FreeDOS, which can run BIOS flash and other legacy DOS utilities.

So have fun and happy installing…..

Move over to Gmail…..

datePosted on 20:46, April 7th, 2008 by Many Ayromlou

Lifehacker has a couple of great articles on how you too can cut those ties holding you back from Gmail heaven and move your Email accounts (and old Emails) to Gmail. So go ahead, head on over to Gmail, create an account, download this utility and start uploading your old Outlook/Outlook express/thunderbird mailboxes from your computer to Gmail. Next Read this article to figure out how you can have Gmail “suck” your other accounts dry using the POP protocol and/or consolidate your other email addresses into Gmail. Oh and it’s all FREE as usual, so enjoy.