In this post, I’ll share how I use OBS Studio and ffmpeg to create short MP4/WebM video snippets for my blog posts. Using the <video> tag with the autoplay and loop attributes makes them look like GIFs. However, modern video formats result in much smaller file sizes.

The Matrix effect is powered by the cmatrix PowerShell module

The above 30 second video has the following properties:

Frames per second10
Resolution1024x576 (16:9)
Size316 KB (MP4)
294 KB (WebM)
Bitratedynamic

Most of my video content showcases CLI output or me interacting with an application. So I much prefer small file sizes over quality. The content area of my blog is less than 1000 pixels wide, so a video width of 1024 pixels is more than enough. 10 FPS looks choppy but is good enough for my purposes. Using dynamic bitrate reduces the file size even further.

OBS Settings

In OBS Studio, under Settings Video, set the resolution and FPS.

OBS Video Settings

Under Settings Output Recording:

  • Set the Recording Format to mp4
  • Set Encoder to x264
  • I chose CRF Rate Control on 23 for simplicity. Try lower values to increase quality.
  • The CPU Usage Preset placebo will slow down encoding significantly and murder your CPU. But it will result in better compression.
  • I usually use Tune stillimage because the picture in many of my videos don’t change much in-between frames

OBS Output Settings

Remove Audio

Most of my videos don’t have any sound. To save a few kilobytes, I use ffmpeg’s -an option to remove the audio stream from the container:

ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -c copy -an output.mp4

The -c copy codec option causes ffmpeg to copy all streams to the output file instead of re-encoding them.

Transcode to WebM

To transcode input.mp4 to WebM, I use the following command:

ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -c:v libvpx-vp9 -crf 31 -b:v 0 -an output.webm

It re-encodes the video using the VP9 codec, with its default CRF value of 31. The option -b:v 0 forces a dynamic bitrate. We remove the audio stream again using the -an option.

Create Thumbnail

We select exactly one frame using the option -frames:v 1 option. The -ss option allows us to set the time for capturing the thumbnail. The following command captures the thumbnail from 25 seconds into the video:

ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -ss 00:00:25 -frames:v 1 output.jpg

Thanks for reading! Your mileage may vary, so I encourage you to read the ffmpeg docs and play around with the settings.