Libretro ffmpeg

By Squarepusher

Lion King running on libretro ffmpeg with around 5/6 shaders stacked - hence the low framerate (my GPU can't keep up)

Lion King running on libretro ffmpeg with around 5/6 shaders stacked – hence the low framerate (my GPU can’t keep up)

This core isn’t particularly new – maister has been dabbling on/off with a libretro ffmpeg port for a good two years now. The problem was that up until now it was never really particularly useful except for morbid curiosity.

The main achilles heel has always been that video rendering was software-based through libretro. Software-rendered video is still awfully slow compared to hardware-accelerated rendering, and launching a movie player with no hardware acceleration would definitely not compare favorably to pre-existing media players.

Now that it has made the leap to libretro GL, its usefulness has increased by a lot. The most noteworthy aspect of this core is that there is a core option enabling/disabling temporal interpolation. Through motion blur it will ‘fake’ a higher framerate in movies (fake 60fps).

The Matrix running on libretro ffmpeg with waterpaint-mudlord shader - looks like The Matrix meets Waking Life/A Scanner Darkly.

The Matrix running on libretro ffmpeg with waterpaint-mudlord shader – looks like The Matrix meets Waking Life/A Scanner Darkly. (in case you think the video quality leaves much to be desired – remember that the input source here is a low-quality SD Xvid video circa mid ’00s.

Another very appealing aspect of the ffmpeg libretro core is (of course) the mere virtue of it running inside RetroArch, which means for ports that have shader support, shader passes can be applied ontop of the image. We’re pretty confident no other movie player right now is offering 8-pass shader stacking right now – never mind it being dynamically configurable from a built-in menu. Also included (an option of most interest to otakus who like to watch anime) is ASS subtitle support.

Despite the very cool nature of this ffmpeg port, it should be noted that this is fundamentally a very backwards way of implementing a movie player. While most movie players are high-latency affairs that depend on buffering and advanced A/V synchronization strategies, this ffmpeg core instead depends on a low-latency frontend (ie. RetroArch in this case) in order to deliver good audio and video. Something which might simply be too tall an order on Android given the high-latency audio/video drivers on that platform.

Terminator 1 with bsnes-gamma-ramp applied. What you can't see is how smooth this looks with temporal interpolation turned on.

Terminator 1 with bsnes-gamma-ramp applied. What you can’t see is how smooth this looks with temporal interpolation turned on.

An attempt will be made by me to get this running on mobiles and anything in fact supporting libretro GL – this might have to involve baking in ffmpeg as a static library since on the mobile platforms ffmpeg is not available or can be installed as a dependency.

All in all, the temporal interpolation option really makes a big difference in the movies I’ve tried it with, and overall it’s an exciting and promising indicator that libretro doesn’t necessarily have to be confined to merely emulators or games.

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One comment

  1. jerry

    Have a problem on libreto FFmpeg, after 15 seconds of playing a movie, it freezes. and give a msvcrt.dll error, how can a fix this

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