Viewing a V4L webcam with mplayer…

January 16, 2007 | General | By: Mark VandeWettering

This took me a few minutes, but I figured it out, and archived it here so I wouldn’t need to spend that time again.

mplayer -cache 128 -tv driver=v4l:width=640:height=480:outfmt=i420 -vc rawi420 -vo xv tv://

It works.

Me, via a Logitech Communicate STX webcam

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Addendum: You can specify which video device by adding it to the tv options:

mplayer -cache 128 -tv driver=v4l:width=640:height=480:outfmt=i420:device=/dev/video1 -vc rawi420 -vo xv tv://


Comment from Alexei Colin
Time 1/4/2008 at 6:24 pm

Thank you for this post!

Pingback from USB OTG goes webcam : Location-aware mobility
Time 3/19/2008 at 2:09 am

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Comment from Ashish
Time 6/12/2008 at 10:18 pm

I am hoping this will save a lot of time…………Thanks in Anticipation

Comment from Gabriel
Time 6/21/2008 at 8:52 am

Mine needs the frame rate. This works:

mplayer -fps 30 -tv driver=v4l:width=640:height=480:device=/dev/video1 tv://

Comment from Richard
Time 9/1/2008 at 7:40 pm

Has anyone get this working with a Logitech Quickcam on N800? If yes, where can I find the kernel module?

Comment from Matt R.
Time 11/8/2008 at 3:13 pm

Worked first time, thanks! (Using it with a Logitech Communicate STX USB webcam and the gspca driver for it, which provides a v4l interface.)

Comment from Brett
Time 12/23/2008 at 12:39 am

Need to use ‘v4l2’ driver on Hardy 8.04 (Linux thor 2.6.27-7-generic #1 SMP Fri Oct 24 06:42:44 UTC 2008 i686 GNU/Linux):

mplayer -fps 30 -cache 128 -tv driver=v4l2:width=640:height=480:device=/dev/video0 tv://

This is rockin!! Long live mplayer!
Still one of my fav apps for almost a decade. 🙂


Comment from Greg
Time 1/10/2009 at 11:04 pm

Brett’s line works with Debian Etch (4.0) as well with the backports kernel (Linux scratchy 2.6.26-bpo.1-686 #1 SMP Thu Dec 18 23:55:11 UTC 2008 i686 GNU/Linux)

Comment from Greg
Time 1/10/2009 at 11:10 pm

Should have probably given this link instead:

Comment from Wendell Archibald
Time 1/17/2009 at 6:40 pm

Your command line works fine with Centos 5.2 – Logitech Quickcam Pro 4000 Webcam
Mplayer installed from rpmforge using yum

Comment from Martin O’loughlin
Time 2/14/2009 at 2:11 pm

Brett’s command line
mplayer -fps 30 -cache 128 -tv driver=v4l2:width=640:height=480:device=/dev/video0 tv://
works beautifully on my aspireone running ubuntu 8.10

Comment from Alex
Time 3/10/2009 at 6:49 pm

Brett’s suggested command line works great with the built-in HP Webcam on HP DV5Z configure to buy systems. Slackware 12.2 (Linux version detects it automagically and loads all necessary modules. In low light a lower frame rate and smaller frame scale seems to reduce choppiness. Awesome!

Comment from Linulin
Time 8/23/2009 at 2:21 pm

Some web-cams (at least ID 046d:092f Logitech, Inc. QuickCam Express Plus) might also requires setting brightness and contrast parameters or manually changing them using 3/4 and 1/2 keys respectively. Otherwise, with default parameters, just black windows is displayed.

Comment from Dody
Time 11/17/2009 at 4:50 pm

This is something I was looking for for a long time. Would be possible to see video stream from USB-AV/DV converter? Basicly I use 1.3ghz analog video downlink from my RC plane to Receiver witch is connected to notebook through USB video converter. I would love to see this stream on my nokia N800.
What software needs to by installed to nokia?
Can anybody advice me please?

Comment from Chris
Time 1/14/2010 at 9:43 am

For me, on Ubuntu 9.04 with a” Logitech Webcam C200″ (recognized as “UVC camera”) I need to run:

mplayer tv:// -tv driver=v4l2:width=640:height=480:device=/dev/video0 -fps 30

and it works great!

Comment from someguy
Time 4/22/2010 at 8:02 pm

Same as Chris.
Toshiba L355 laptop built-in Chicony CNF7051 cam/ Debian Sid:
mplayer tv:// -tv driver=v4l2:width=320:height=240:device=/dev/video0 -fps 30

Comment from marcelo
Time 6/11/2010 at 7:18 pm

This work on my HP Webcam 101 (notebook) on Suse 11.2 (Linux suse112 #1 SMP 2010-03-16 21:25:39 +0100 i686 i686 i386 GNU/Linux)
But i must use v4l2, not v4l.
Linux Rocks!!

Comment from magwas
Time 8/5/2010 at 3:00 am

Thank you. Mine actually works simply with
mplayer tv://
it is a Plantronics Plantronics Blackwire C220 M

Comment from edoc
Time 8/7/2010 at 6:07 pm

I was able to get my Philips Pixel Plus SPC900NC to work on the first try using a slightly modified version of magwas’s command.

The problem was that there was a continuous stream of complaints about being unable to set the volume, so I tried this:

# gnome-mplayer tv:// –softvol

Then the problem was that the first case had captured the device.

How do I force the release of the device so that I may resume testing — without having to reboot the computer each time, please?


Comment from wp
Time 10/24/2011 at 2:34 pm

mplayer -vo caca tv:// -tv driver=v4l2:width=960:height=720:device=/dev/video0 -fps 30

Comment from anmol rana
Time 12/14/2011 at 7:43 am

i have cm-t3530 (omap3530 based) kit from compulab. it works on linux kernel 2.6.32 and has an angstrom linux image installed over it. i need to play my logitech quickcam messenger webcam.

how shall i install mplayer on my arm kit.

i am new to this. please elaborate details.