How to extract the frames from a video using VLC

VLC has the ability to extract the frames from a video and will handle virtually anything you can throw at it. This tutorial will show you how.

See this tutorial if you are using an old version of VLC (pre-Rincewind).

1. Create a folder to store your frames and copy the path to it. For Mac OSX/Linux users, this must be the full path (no ~).

2. Click Tools -> Preferences in VLC.

3. Under “show settings”, click “all”.

4. Under “Video”, select “Filters”. Tick “Scene video filter”.

5. Expand “Filters” and select “Scene filter”,

6. Paste the path from earlier into “directory path prefix”.

7. Decide what proportion of the frames you want to export. For example, if you want to export 1 in 12 frames, type “12″ in the “recording ratio” box.

8. Click “save”.

9. Click Media -> Open Video and find your video. Patiently let the whole thing play.

10. Click Tools -> Preferences. Under “show settings”, click “all”. Under “video”, select “filters”. Uncheck “Scene video filter”. Click “save”. This is so that VLC won’t generate thumbnails the next time you play a video.

11. Open the folder you created earlier. The thumbnails should be there.

49 Comments

  1. George


    November 23, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    Excellent thanks now I can make animated gifs from videos!
    Just to clarify, You can play any part of the video you like you don’t have to play the whole thing, it just captures what you play.

  2. kali


    February 8, 2013 at 4:41 am

    thank you for this helpful strategy! it worked really well but it didn’t the last few times i did it? what could have gone wrong since then?

  3. lissie


    February 23, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Interesting. This worked beautifully the first time, but the second time, it wont work. Same day, different disc (same file format). I checked settings, they should be the same…

  4. lissie


    February 23, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Try this: http://www.tvcrit.com/tvcrit3/framegrab/VLC9/

  5. Lola


    June 25, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Hey, I only managed to get one frame even though I set it to 12

  6. Gus


    August 14, 2013 at 6:13 am

    OK, thanks, this worked. But not exactly as you say.
    To get it to work you have to FIRST open the video/file you want to extract frames from, then do steps 1-9 like above. And after you click save (step 9), just press play.

    If you open a file after step 9, i think it resets the prefernces and that’s why it wasn’t capturing anything.
    So, FIRST-Open file…SECOND-Do steps 1-9…THIRD-Press Play.

  7. Georgia


    August 17, 2013 at 8:56 am

    hey can someone explain to me the recording ratio? I want to export every frame, so what do I do? I don’t quite understand.

  8. Andrzej


    August 20, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    @Georgia: then type 1 into that box.

    ok, so VLC exports frames in 72ppi. i’d like it to be 300. any ideas?

  9. t.riddle


    October 27, 2013 at 5:43 am

    I wanted it to record every frame of this video that was only 3 minutes and 6 seconds long. So, really, I wanted 186 pictures. I put it on “1″ but instead I’m getting 5,000+. That frame rate comparison, good sir, is dead wrong. Care to give a better number while my computer is still freaking out and spitting out even more pictures? Oh look it’s already over 6k.

  10. S


    November 5, 2013 at 2:59 am

    ^^ Putting 1 means that you have asked for 1 out of every 1 frame to be saved. in order to have one per second, you would need to know the FPS.

  11. Kim


    November 11, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    This does not work. Doing step 8 and then step 9 and going back to the preferences resets changes. Please test for yourself before you post this crap online.

  12. Neo


    November 14, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    Most frames are being written out as empty png’s. Anyone know why. It looks like its multi threaded and does not wait to finnish writing before displaying next frame on OSX 10.85

  13. DB


    November 29, 2013 at 4:06 am

    Follow the steps, it works.

    In step 11, when you open the video preferences again, the process of opening the preference clears “scene” from the video input, which you entered in step 8. If you want to capture frames again, just enter “scene” here again (repeat step 8) and click save–the other settings are still the way you left them, so they will apply to every capture you do this way unless you change them. Then go play your video.

    Regarding number of frames captured, most videos have approximately 30 frames per second, so if you want one frame for each second of the video, you’d enter 30. Because 30(frames)*60(seconds)=1800, there are 1800 frames in one minute of video (again, assuming your video has 30 frames per second). So, if you want one frame for every minute of the video, you’d enter 1800.

    Tip: you can speed up the video by hitting the “+” key on the numeric keypad and slow it down by hitting the “-” key. I was able to speed my video up to 4X and still capture the frames. The speed you can run at depends on your computer, just try it.

  14. Kelsey


    December 11, 2013 at 1:07 am

    Okay so, I have looked through nearly every tutorial on the internet and I can’t get mine to work.
    I am missing the scene filter for some reason, and I have no idea how to get that to come up. Can someone help me please?
    I am literally pulling my hair out from frustration right now.

  15. Chad


    December 17, 2013 at 4:20 am

    Kelsey the scene filter has moved to filters and not output modules, but I cannot get this to work just the same

  16. geoff


    December 22, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    I have just downloaded the latest version of VLC for Windows 32 – 2.1.2 Rincewind and it works fine to do this.
    Steps:
    1 – Click Tools > Preferences and click radio button All
    2 – Scroll down and click the + sign next to Video to expand
    3 – Scroll down and click on Scene Filter and fill in the info for Directory Path prefix (where you want to save frames). Don’t click Save.
    4 – Scroll up and click on the word Video under Filters
    5 – Click the check box for Scene video filter and click Save.
    6 – Open and run a video and it will save .png’s
    7 – To stop saving frames go back to step 5 and uncheck Scene video filter.
    Easy really once you know where to find the settings.

  17. John Mazz


    December 24, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Excellent! Worked on VLC for Mac, (VLC 1.1.0).

  18. Anonymous


    January 9, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    I don’t want a bunch of pictures, I want the actual video clip. How can I do that?

  19. durrrrrrrp


    January 24, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    t.riddle, you are a retard, 3m6s = 186 seconds, 186*24 = 4464, a frame isn’t a second worth of video fool

  20. Jay


    January 29, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    It worked for me on a MAC OSX, but in Preferences/Video I had to enable FullScreen in order for it to work.

  21. Miketsukami-kun


    February 9, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    It works very well just what I needed but it’s a little different from what is up posted here there is no Scene Filter on Output modules, Scene Filer is on Filters maybe it was the results of the last update so everything is on Filters section and no it doesn’t reset after loading a video you have to manually deactivate it unchecking the Scene Filter option.

  22. Adam


    February 9, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    This worked perfectly. Now I can take a video of an object (or person), export as single frames, upload to 123D Catch and turn the pictures into a full 3D Model. I then take the 3D Model and fix it so we can then 3D Print the model. Thanks to everyone who posted on this link, very useful. Adam (www-inner-leaf.com)

  23. fwoeifj


    March 7, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    No longer works in VLC version 3+

  24. Roy


    March 12, 2014 at 2:50 am

    oh wow wtf, i tried doing this and it started doing it to every video i watched, it almost crashed my pc, good thing i was able to close it and reset the settings, sorry but this doesnt work for me as i had over 1000 screenshots from a few seconds of play time. Not for me

  25. Yasmin


    March 13, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    Does this work on Mac? Because the menu options are completely different for me. I can’t find the “show settings”, scene filter or anything.

  26. Lakshya


    March 21, 2014 at 4:52 am

    Can we have the images to be exported in grayscale format?

  27. Rich


    March 28, 2014 at 6:47 am

    This works well with VLC media player 2.0.1 Twoflower. The captured photos per frame depends on the number you input in the recording ratio. The lower the number you input, the more photos it captures. Thanks a lot!

  28. pedro


    April 1, 2014 at 12:12 am

    I have VLC 2.1.3 Rincewind and I dont have scene filter under Output modules. It only has Dircet3D DirectX Dummy and YUV output. Am I missing a plugin or an add-on? Please advise. Thanks in advance.

  29. Maria


    April 6, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    @pedro The option is under Filters instead of Output with the update

  30. simonbrown


    April 8, 2014 at 7:01 am

    @Maria: Thanks. I have updated the tutorial.

  31. JM


    April 27, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    This is very helpful, since I’ve been searching how to extract images from a video.
    Other sites just give instructions on how to take screenshots from the video then pasting them to a photo-editor application. But this one really saves a lot of time. Thank you very much!

  32. kp


    May 19, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Nothing happened, at all.

  33. xmiss


    May 23, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    You’ve just saved my life. For those who cannot make it work: after you set the scene filter, go back once more, do NOT expand “Filters” but just click on it, and make sure “Scene filter” is checked. This one step was missing (for me) from the instructions. It also helps if you make a playlist with your video BEFORE all this procedure, so when you are done with the settings, you just hit play and there you go. Magic!

  34. John S


    June 2, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    I couldn’t get this method to work on TwoFlower. Instead, try the method on this page that starts ‘With VLC1.1.0 and above’:
    http://superuser.com/questions/135117/how-to-convert-video-to-images
    You need to modify the example command line he gives you, to your specific settings. Note that the image size specs (in pixels) that you have set in VLC Preference, will apply to this frames that are output. Enjoy.

  35. Gareth


    June 13, 2014 at 12:46 am

    I found i have to open VLC, do all the settings. Then drag the video in to VLC to get it to export the frames. From there it will export all video until i uncheck the scene video filter. Then i want to start exporting again i have check the box and drag the video file in.

  36. Leonard C


    July 7, 2014 at 9:07 am

    For those who couldn’t get it to work, even after setting the filter, make sure you run vlc as administrator if it isn’t already set that way. Thanks for the Tut Simon.

  37. Howard


    July 7, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    I just followed the tutorial as written today, using VLC 2.1.4 on openSUSE 13.1 KDE 32-bit. It worked exactly as stated.

  38. vortex


    July 13, 2014 at 9:30 am

    For me it did not work until I ran the program as administrator.
    However, it will keep generating empty pictures after I paused the video.
    File=.mov output=.png

  39. Joe Ganci


    July 13, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    Thanks! Very helpful!

  40. prizewinner


    July 16, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    Jasc Animation Shop 3 is old, but is still the best I’ve found for extracting still shots. It does it in minutes and you don’t have to play the video. The only drawback is, it’s so old you can oly extract from .avi.

  41. Bob


    July 27, 2014 at 4:55 am

    Most Frames are saved as empty files, how can I fix that??

  42. XCanG


    July 29, 2014 at 6:42 am

    I think is more usefull is VirtualDubMod. It may use filters, like as crop video, resize video. You may combine this filters (for example you edit 1280×720 video. At first you select first frame, that will using in animation and deleting before this frames and moving to last frames and deleting above this frames, in the next open filters and add (seems to be it) “uncrop” filter; next go to edit this filter and select how many pixels will be cropped at top, bottom, left and right in video, click Ok and add one more filter (also, seems to be it) “null transform” and go to edit; this filter will resize you image for more small or huge (small will decrease size of you GIF/APNG) after uncrop you may get 971×423 pixels, that’s not good and it would be better if it resize to 460×200 (same proportions); the last remaining step is to preserve frames, go to File->Export and Save as frames (or you may select Export to GIF, but I like APNG ang create APNG in APNG Anime Maker), select a folder, click save and wait to render)

  43. XCanG


    July 29, 2014 at 7:10 am

    >>>Most Frames are saved as empty files, how can I fix that??///
    Bob, if you open new format, like as MKV or MP4, this formats using optimization in frames.
    Source video content all pixels in frame1, frame2, … frameN
    This containers save only changes on frames. frame1 – is source, frame2, frame3… – is over frames (blend – over). If source 100×100, over may be 50×40, but content X and Y coordinates for offset over frames.

    Difficult to explain, but it’s easier to show. Look at my previous post and look at save. Save in VirtualDubMod render frames, which means that frame2 render how frame1+frame2, and frame3 render how frame1+frame2+frame3…
    Saved images will saving as all source frames.
    When you may creating GIF or APNG at first you put this source frames, but output file size will be big. For optimizations program for creating animation may be use including filters for creating over frames (APNG Anime Maker also use optimization filters with Tolerance (% of changing color in one pixel between current and previous frames)) if you using optimization, same information in frames will be deleted, several frames will be crop and offset.

    About you problem, I think that’s VLC open fideo frames and save over frames as over (not source), therefore you obtain black frames.

  44. Liz


    July 30, 2014 at 1:59 am

    Did all that and folder is empty. This didn’t work. I made sure it’s in the correct directory and did a search for the frames but nothing.

  45. Liz


    July 30, 2014 at 2:03 am

    Never mind. I went to the wrong place. Thumbnails are there.

  46. samuel


    July 30, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    all i want is all the frames in full quality. I followed the steps and my problem is that when i choose .png they are in full quality, but i dont get all the frames. When i put .jpeg i get more frames but the quality is much worse. how can i fix this?

  47. cathrine


    July 31, 2014 at 12:01 am

    i really need more ppi. Anyone know how i can do that???

  48. Caine


    August 5, 2014 at 2:01 am

    Thanks for this post, really helpful, it would have taken ages to realise that “Scene Filter” actually means “Export To Frames” on my own.

    People complaining about low ppi, get a better source. It is not the image resolution but the video dimensions that dictate image size, if you want to run some interpolation to upscale beyond the video dimensions you will need to batch the frames through a program like Photoshop or another image editor that has upscale algorithms or the output will look like shit.

  49. Oscar Becerra


    August 28, 2014 at 3:49 am

    My computer is in Spanish and I cannot figure ot where to write the 12, there is nothing that may translate into recording ratio

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