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Theora and Vorbis Encoding Guide

The Theora video format, Vorbis audio format, and Ogg container format were developed by as free and open-source media formats. FFmpeg can create these formats by using the external encoding libraries libtheora and libvorbis.

To use these encoders make sure your ffmpeg build has been compiled with --enable-libtheora --enable-libvorbis or see the output of ffmpeg -codecs. If you want to compile ffmpeg to support these encoders see the various FFmpeg Compilation Guides for detailed instructions.

libvorbis is usually recommended over the experimental, native FFmpeg Vorbis audio encoder (-codec:a vorbis -strict experimental) since it does not provide comparable quality to libvorbis.

Variable Bitrate (VBR)

ffmpeg -i input.mkv -codec:v libtheora -qscale:v 7 -codec:a libvorbis -qscale:a 5 output.ogv
  • -qscale:v – video quality. Range is 0–10, where 10 is highest quality. 5–7 is a good range to try. If you omit -qscale:v (or the alias -q:v) then ffmpeg will use the default -b:v 200k which will most likely provide a poor quality output.
  • -qscale:a – audio quality. Range is 0–10, where 10 is highest quality. 3–6 is a good range to try. Default is -qscale:v 3.

Note: if you omit -codec:a libvorbis then ffmpeg will default to the native FFmpeg flac audio encoder for ogg/ogv output container.

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