Audio and Video


HOW TO PLAY VIDEO WITH VLC FRAME BY FRAMEBefore I go through steps a video can be play with VLC frame by frame, it would be better to introduce Video Lan Player which was formerly continued as an open source educational project by It was then thrown out to the community of open source software developers, which persistently added numerous features and aspects that an industry standard media player should unify in single package one of which is video frame manipulation i am going to discuss. In addition to that it was brought absolutely free even the efforts made were so huge. Our main focus here is to discuss one of those preeminent features which let you have a control over the playing of a video by VLC frame by frame so that you can extract frames from video.

If you want to personally perform the same function I am doing, along the way in this article, it would be better to have VLC pre installed in whatever the operating system you are familiar with. Click here to Download VLC player. In the second part of this article i would also tell you how to extract frames from video using this open source media player.

Why to Play Videos with VLC Frame By Frame?

The snapshots taken with VLC frame by Frame method are high quality chunks  of  video that might of different interest to every different person.

To extract frames from video there may be following reasons:

  • Most of the graphics designer combines frames of a video to produce an animated GIF to express different concepts with moving images.
  • Forensic auditors mostly inspect crime scenes by keenly observing video captured from CCTV cameras in slow speed. A millisecond accuracy of keeping eye on video being observed can change the game.
  • Quick snapshot of a particular video frame may be of interest to you due to particular emotion (a smile, a cry, innocence of a baby or animal etc) it is reflecting at that specific time.

Lets Run Video Frame By Frame In VLC

Uses are countless but above mentioned are just some of them. Now let’s get to the actual work you are waiting for.

In VLC player you can perform a same function either operating through a menu or with a shortcut. To visualize a video in VLC frame by frame first you need to play it either by dragging video file right on top of VLC player or the other way you can go to a menu on left top which is Media -> Open File. Then navigate to the place video file is located at.

Shortcut Key for Playing Video in VLC Frame By Frame

Once the video starts playing you can press ‘E’ key and you would encounter that the video is stopped. Actually VLC has prepared video to be played frame by frame. Now each time you press the ‘E’ key video would be forwarded one step ahead just a single frame.

Define Your Own Shortcut Key To Run Video in VLC Frame By Frame

‘E’ Is defined as a default shortcut key to play videos on VLC frame by frame when the VLC player is deployed for the first time after its installation. But VLC media player gives you a freedom to configure your own shortcut key for any function like manipulating video frame in this case. If you wish to do so navigate to a menu Tools > Preferences > Hotkeys, and a new window with huge list of keyboard shortcuts would be in front of you.

Now go through that list and find out where the Next Frame in the list is located. Fortunately every shortcut key name is sorted in alphabetical order, so it is not that difficult to quickly find out shortcut keys in the list. Once you double click the shortcut name, a new popup dialog window would suggest you to press the new key or a combination of keys for the shortcut you want. After that Pressing save button would permanently write the changes to the configuration.  Next time when you wish to run video in VLC frame by frame the new shortcut key would be available to use.

Customizing Shortcut Key for Playing Video in VLC Frame By Frame

Play Video in VLC Frame By Frame With a Dedicated Button

As I already told you that each function inside VLC player can be done with two methods.  This time I am going to do the same function with a dedicated button that is assigned to run video frame by frame. But that button should be activated first to appear in playback toolbar. Clicking Customize Interface option under Toolbar menu will open Toolbar Editor Window containing each and every control you see below the video being played.

From that list choose Frame By Frame button control and drag it on line 1 or 2 as shown in the picture.  Now close the toolbar editor and frame by frame button would appear in front of you along the other playback controls.

Custom Shortcut Key for Playing Video in VLC Frame By Frame

Now you have full freedom to go through any video in VLC frame by frame either through keyboard shortcut or through a toolbar button. Both of these ways are equivalently effective.

Extract frames from video And Save It

As you learnt in the above section play the video on VLC frame by frame now it’s time to know how to capture snapshot of a particular frame that you stopped the video on.

To take snapshot you can either use free dedicated snipping tool to capture the screenshot of frame or you can use the built-in VLC Take Snapshot control as shown in steps defined below.

Once you reach the video frame you can press Shift + S hotkey to extract frames from video.

Also here is an alternative way to grab a snapshot of video frame via clicking Take Snapshot option under video menu.

Another very easy and comfortable way to take snapshot of the video currently being played currently is to go to the Video menu and then navigate to Take Snapshort and click on it.

You may also notice that while taking snapshot of each video frame, if it is successful, a small thumbnail of the image along with entire directory path where the file is saved, would be shown to you instantly and then will fade away in a moment. See picture below:Extract frames from video - Video Frame Thumbnail Shown

VLC automatically save that snapshot to your default video folder which is C:\Users\username\My Pictures both on Windows 7 and Windows XP?  If you are Mac user all the snapshots would be saved to the Desktop and if you are a Linux it would be saved in the home folder of that particular user.