Creating thumbnails from video files with Python

I need to create thumbnails for a video file once I've uploaded to a webapp running python.

How would I go about this... I need a library that can basically either do this for me, or that can read the image frames out of video files (of several formats) automatically.


A simple combination of PyMedia and PIL would do the trick for AVI, ASF, or MPEG files. PyMedia lets you extract the frames (using the decoder() routine), while PIL has a simple thumbnail() routine.

You can use ffvideo

from ffvideo import VideoStream
pil_image = VideoStream('0.flv').get_frame_at_sec(5).image()'frame5sec.jpeg')

I could not install ffvideo on OSX Sierra so i decided to work with ffmpeg.


brew install ffmpeg


apt-get install ffmpeg

Python 3 Code:

import subprocess
video_input_path = '/your/video.mp4'
img_output_path = '/your/image.jpg'['ffmpeg', '-i', video_input_path, '-ss', '00:00:00.000', '-vframes', '1', img_output_path])

You could use the Youtube API for storage and transcoding and grab the feed thumbnails for free. Honestly, that's the easiest way to handle online video and I'm not just shilling a 3rd party service, I'm a very happy user of that API and the internal video paths I was able to delete thanks to it.

import cv2
vcap = cv2.VideoCapture(filename)
res, im_ar =
while im_ar.mean() < threshold and res:
      res, im_ar =
im_ar = cv2.resize(im_ar, (thumb_width, thumb_height), 0, 0, cv2.INTER_LINEAR)
#to save we have two options
#1) save on a file
cv2.imwrite(save_on_filename, im_ar)
#2)save on a buffer for direct transmission
res, thumb_buf = cv2.imencode('.png', im_ar)
# '.jpeg' etc are permitted
#get the bytes content
bt = thumb_buf.tostring()

"threshold" is an integer. When you get a video frame it can be very black, white etc to get some good thumbnail you can specify the mean value of all the pixel in the frame.

Look into PythonMagick, a Python interface to ImageMagick. That should have what you need. (Disclaimer: I haven't used the Python interface before, but I know ImageMagick is good mojo.)

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