Fun With Video in Linux Using MPlayer

Fun With Video in Linux Using MPlayer

5 Comments on Fun With Video in Linux Using MPlayer

MPlayer has some features that you may not have noticed if you only use it to watch your videos or if you use a different video player. I use VLC as my video player because I like to shuffle large playlists and it works well, but if you check in the Bash Programming  category of my blog you will find a post called “Media Shuffle Bash Script” which uses MPlayer. It is a very old script but I am sharing it as an example of bash programming, but the script does work.

I use MEncoder to convert video and it installs MPlayer with it. In an Ubuntu based operating system it can be installed with the following command:

sudo apt-get install mencoder

To install MPlayer without MEncoder use the following command:

sudo apt-get install mplayer

MPlayer Output Drivers
MPlayer can route the video through different drivers. Some of these will show the video in interesting ways. To list the output drivers available to MPlayer:

mplayer -vo help

A list will be displayed like this one:

mplayer: Symbol `ff_codec_bmp_tags' has different size in shared object, consider re-linking
MPlayer SVN-r33713-4.6.1 (C) 2000-2011 MPlayer Team
Available video output drivers:
        xmga    Matrox G200/G4x0/G550 overlay in X11 window (using /dev/mga_vid)
        mga     Matrox G200/G4x0/G550 overlay (/dev/mga_vid)
        tdfxfb  3Dfx Banshee/Voodoo3/Voodoo5
        3dfx    3dfx (/dev/3dfx)
        vdpau   VDPAU with X11
        xv      X11/Xv
        gl_nosw OpenGL no software rendering
        x11     X11 ( XImage/Shm )
        xover   General X11 driver for overlay capable video output drivers
        sdl     SDL YUV/RGB/BGR renderer (SDL v1.1.7+ only!)
        gl      OpenGL
        gl2     X11 (OpenGL) - multiple textures version
        dga     DGA ( Direct Graphic Access V2.0 )
        fbdev   Framebuffer Device
        fbdev2  Framebuffer Device
        svga    SVGAlib
        matrixview      MatrixView (OpenGL)
        aa      AAlib
        caca    libcaca
        v4l2    V4L2 MPEG Video Decoder Output
        directfb        Direct Framebuffer Device
        dfbmga  DirectFB / Matrox G200/G400/G450/G550
        xvidix  X11 (VIDIX)
        cvidix  console VIDIX
        null    Null video output
        xvmc    XVideo Motion Compensation
        mpegpes MPEG-PES to DVB card
        yuv4mpeg        yuv4mpeg output for mjpegtools
        png     PNG file
        jpeg    JPEG file
        gif89a  animated GIF output
        tga     Targa output
        pnm     PPM/PGM/PGMYUV file
        md5sum  md5sum of each frame

The Fun Part
You may have seen some ASCII art which is pictures or video displayed using text characters. MPlayer can do this with the videos you want to play.
To display the video using ASCII:

mplayer -vo caca <video file>

If you have seen the Matrix you would be familiar with the Matrix effect. This output driver looks really nice and is resizable.
To display the video using the matrix effect:

mplayer -vo matrixview <video file>
(Remember to replace <video file> with the file to play)

About the author:

Bill Payne started working as a paid professional software developer at the young age of 12 years old developing simple games and other applications for pre-packaged computers. Bill has since developed software for many industries such as direct sales and the the stock market. Bill has now started sharing his many years of software development experience through a blog on the MPSHouse website and one on one lessons.


  1. Richard Mattingly  - 27 March , 2012 - 3:33 pm
    Reply /

    Is there a way to do this with Windows 7?

    • bill  - 15 April , 2012 - 9:58 am
      Reply /

      I am pretty sure you can render video as ASCII in VLC.

  2. executive  - 7 September , 2012 - 5:49 am
    Reply /

    You’re so awesome! I don’t believe I’ve truly read anything like this before. So wonderful to discover another person with a few genuine thoughts on this subject matter. Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This web site is something that is needed on the internet, someone with some originality!

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