Getting FFmpeg running properly on Debian Lenny

We have been using FFmpeg quite a bit lately for a number of projects.  One such project has us encoding uploaded videos into a variety of formats including mpeg4 for iOS devices.  So we fired up FFmpeg, to run a test transcoding with the following command:

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ffmpeg -i test.mp4 -acodec libfaac -ab 128kb -vcodec mpeg4 -b 1200kb -mbd 2 -flags +4mv+trell -aic 2 -cmp 2 -subcmp 2 -s 320x180 -title X final_video.mp4

We were immediately greeted by an Unknown encoder ‘mpeg4′ error.  There are apparently some licensing issues between ftp-masters and FFmpeg.  Not being a lawyer, I cannot advise on the legality of the following workaround, so this is for informational purposes only.

Turns out we can get ‘full’ installs of FFmpeg from the debian-multimedia repo.  This was as simple as first opening our sources list:

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$ nano /etc/apt/sources.list

Adding http://www.debian-multimedia.org lenny main, installing the debian multimedia keyring:

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$ aptitude install debian-multimedia-keyring

Run an upgrade $ aptitude upgrade, and you should be set.  Running that same FFmpeg command output our video.

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