Archive for the ‘FFhistory’ Category

FFhistory: Luca Barbato

Saturday, January 14th, 2023

He claims to have started his career by writing Altivec optimisations, being spotted by Gentoo developers and asked by them to apply his skills at certain opensource projects… Originally he worked on MPlayer but eventually, in 2005, he turned his attention to FFmpeg as well.

FFhistory: optimisations

Friday, January 13th, 2023

There has never been an official explanation for FFmpeg name but people agree it has something to do with being fast (Stefano Sabatini had an output of some program trying to decipher this acronym in his mail signatures but it was just a joke). So we need to mention the people who made FFmpeg really fast by providing various optimisations.

FFhistory: Måns Rullgård

Thursday, January 12th, 2023

Finally I can pay homage to a man whose contributions to the project are rivalling Fabrice’s and Michael’s. Of course I’m talking about Måns.

FFhistory: audio

Wednesday, January 11th, 2023

Today I’d like to talk about people responsible for the specific audio components. For example, FFmpeg had AC-3 encoder right from the start but the decoding had to be done via third-party GPLed library so somebody had to write a native decoder. Or who is responsible for the majority of speech codecs support in libavcodec? And who has made a terrible audio encoder that was still in use by a major video hosting (not me)? Read on to find out.

FFhistory: divas and rock stars

Tuesday, January 10th, 2023

Any sufficiently large project (not necessarily a software one) will eventually get one or more persons of significant talents and even more significant personality. Initially they’ll bring good work to the project but eventually they’ll feel they don’t get enough credit for it and then scandals start. This is usually called diva or rock star behaviour since the effect was most commonly (and easily) observed with these categories of people. FFmpeg though its history also had some people deserving the title: Ronald Bultje, Baptiste Coudurier and (to a lesser degree) Kieran Kunhya. Paul B. Mahol seems to try to get into the company or maybe he’s bored so today we’ll review just the first three guys.

FFhistory: early reverse engineers

Monday, January 9th, 2023

What attracted me to FFmpeg as well as e.g. video hosting providers was its ability to decode various formats that were often tricky to decode even on their native platforms let alone in other circumstances (for instance, I remember the official Indeo 5 decoder freezing Windows system when trying to play perfectly valid Indeo 5 videos encoded with a beta Indeo 5 encoder). So let’s remember the names of those who made the project truly versatile.

FFhistory: zeal and passion

Saturday, January 7th, 2023

Before moving to people who have contributed greatly to the functionality of the project let’s talk about the two people who have made an extremely large impact on the perceived image of FFmpeg. Of course I’m talking about Diego Biurrun (the passionate one) and Carl Eugen Hoyos (the zealot).

FFhistory: early contributors

Thursday, January 5th, 2023

There are still many prominent people worth separate posts but for now I’d like to give a shout-out to the various developers (mostly coming from MPlayer) who worked on FFmpeg before 2006. Why 2006? This was a time when the project started participating in Summer of Code program that drew some students in. Plus 2005-2006 was the time when a lot of video hosting sites were found (a couple of them even surviving to this day) and you can guess what technology they started to use…

So here’s the list and remember: if somebody is not listed here that means he is likely to appear in some other post. I’ll try to add some description of the work but in many cases if I have nothing to say assume it’s “provided bugfixes, tried to improve things and so on”.

FFhistory: Michael Niedermayer

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2023

And now is finally the time when we should discuss the man who made FFmpeg into what it is today: large, successful and toxic mess. The man who was the project leader for a long time and definitely-not-project-leader since. Of course I’m talking about Michael Niedermayer.


FFhistory: hosting and admins

Sunday, January 1st, 2023

As I mentioned in the prologue, not so long after FFmpeg went public it was spotted by MPlayer which offered developers, hosting and after a while the project was fully migrated from from SourceForge to

So the people responsible for hosting and administration of the server played a very important role in FFhistory. Here are the people I can think of:

  • Árpi (Árpád Gereöffy, the creator of MPlayer);
  • Diego Biurrun;
  • Reimar Doeffinger;
  • Janne Grunau (mostly a co-admin in libav times);
  • Dr. Attila Kinali;
  • Michael Niedermayer (has to do it since the times FFmpeg went independent);
  • Måns Rullgård (he’s also responsible for hosting almost all of non-x86 FATE machines and overall FATE infrastructure).

IIRC the hosting story went like this: at first Árpi was hosting and administrating everything, then he retired leaving the server in care of Biurrun-Kinali-Rullgâ triumvirate. The provider switched from a Hungarian one which owned favours to Árpi to a Swiss one that owned favours to Dr. Kinali. After the split FFmpeg had to search for a new hosting as the admins stayed with libav, so for a while Árpi managed to provide it. Eventually though he could not do it any longer and some Bulgarian ISP stepped in and the server is managed by another group of ex-MPlayer developers. Additionally Git hosting for FFmpeg is provided by VideoLAN (somewhat because of the split and fight for the project name).

Most of these people have contributed to the project more in various other roles so I’ll talk only about the two of them—Árpi and Attila.