Webcam fun with GStreamer

I have yet to find a proper linux tool for recording video from a webcam while showing it on screen at the same time. The typical hack is to use mencoder to encode, and mplayer to play the encoded file, but the latency is typically a full second or more:

{ tail --follow=name -n +0 --retry "lulz.avi" | mplayer -cache 320 -vo x11 -; killall -INT mencoder; } & mencoder tv:// -tv width=640:height=480:fps=15 -ovc lavc -o lulz.avi

GStreamer does to video/audio what Bash does to text and NetPBM does to images, and it’s just as brilliant (possibly more). So let’s instead use it instead:

gst-launch-0.10 v4l2src ! tee name=videoout ! queue ! videorate ! video/x-raw-yuv,fps=15 ! queue ! theoraenc quality=60 ! queue ! muxout. pulsesrc ! audio/x-raw-int,rate=22000,channels=1,width=16 ! queue ! audioconvert ! vorbisenc ! queue ! muxout. oggmux name=muxout ! filesink location=lulz.ogg videoout. ! queue ! ffmpegcolorspace ! ximagesink

Voila. While long and seemingly convoluted, it’s not really worse than the mplayer line, and it works a lot better.

While a gst pipeline looks scary to begin with, it’s really self explanatory when you start reading it. Still, I’ll do a little dance about it:

#Get a v4l2 video source, split it and put one end though a 
#theora codec and send the other to videoout (defined later)
v4l2src ! tee name=videoout ! queue ! videorate ! video/x-raw-yuv,fps=15 \
        ! queue  ! theoraenc quality=60 ! queue ! muxout.   

#Get audio from a pulseaudio stream, run it through the vorbis encoder
pulsesrc ! audio/x-raw-int,rate=22000,channels=1,width=16 \
         ! queue ! audioconvert ! vorbisenc ! queue !muxout.  

#Mux the audio and video together, and put it in "media.ogg"
oggmux name=muxout ! filesink location=media.ogg  

#Put the other end of the video split out on the screen
videoout. ! queue ! ffmpegcolorspace ! ximagesink

Easy to see why this is one of my new favourite toys.

1 thought on “Webcam fun with GStreamer”

  1. Hey, I know this has been up a while but I’ve been trying to get a webcam streaming to icecast and I went around with ffmpeg2thoera, ffmepg, vlc, etc and this method is the best!! Thanks!

    Gabe

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