How to Take Batch Screenshots or Screencaps in VLC Media Player
VLC Media Player
Hello and welcome to my somewhat brief, yet quite informative tutorial on how to take batch screenshots with VLC Media Player. The version of VLC that I’m using is 2.1.5 – Rincewind. As far as I’m aware, previous versions of VLC do this differently, so my tutorial will not work for you if you are not using 2.1.5. Apologies in advance for that!
EDIT 10/29/2017: A new version of VLC has been released: 2.2.6 Umbrella. This tutorial WILL work with this version! The preferences interface looks a little different now, but you can still click 'all' on the bottom left of the program and from then on everything works the same. If you have any questions, let me know!
Also, please note that I am assuming you know the basics of locating a program, opening a program, and potentially putting a DVD in the disc drive of your computer. This tutorial will not cover those things, so if you don’t know how to do those, please ask a friend or consult Google. I am using Windows 7, and I am assuming Windows 8 will be similar; however, if you're using iOS or Linux, things may look a little different to you. I cannot answer questions if you're using one of those operating systems since I have no experience with them.
ALSO NOTE: I cannot respond to comments any longer. Please search for the VLC official forums for tech help, as I am not a professional and I only wrote this article years ago to help others take simple batch screenshots. I never imagined it would become so popular, and while I am very grateful for it, I cannot give any further advice or help. I will also not read or reply to unhelpful or not constructive comments. I do not know much about this program save for what I wrote, so please remember this!
What Is VLC Media Player, and Why Should I Use It over Windows Media Player?
VLC Media Player, which can be found on VideoLAN’s website here, plays video files and plays videos off of DVDs and Blu-rays much like Windows Media Player can. However, many people prefer the simplicity of VLC Media Player, as well as the stability. Personally, I haven’t used Windows Media Player in years, but I do recall it crashing from time to time, and I haven’t experienced crashing when watching a video in VLC Media Player.
Whether or not you should use VLC Media Player over Windows Media Player really just boils down to preference since they can both do pretty much the same things, but since I don’t use Windows Media Player, this tutorial will just be for VLC.
Why Take Screenshots of a Video?
There are many reasons why you'd want to take batch screenshots of a video:
- Maybe you really liked a few of the scenes in a short film and you'd like to share them with friends.
- You want to create an animated .gif image for use somewhere on the internet.
- You want to take images from a favorite video and make wallpapers for your computer or smartphone.
Of course, your reason doesn't have to be one of those; you could very well have a reason that's unique to you -- it doesn't matter! This tutorial should help you get closer to achieving whatever goal that is.
How to Take Batch Screencaps with VLC, Step 1
Create a folder on your desktop by right clicking anywhere and choosing ‘New’ and then ‘Folder’. Name it whatever you’d like, and then open the folder. Click inside the address bar and copy everything that’s there, either by right clicking and selecting ‘Copy’ or by hitting ‘CTRL + C’.
How to Take Batch Screencaps with VLC, Step 2
Have a video file or a DVD ready. If you’re using a video file that is already saved to your computer, make sure you know where it is located and can open it up easily. I will be using a video of a cat I found on a stock video website, and it’s located in a folder on my desktop. Now you can open up VLC Media Player.
How to Take Batch Screencaps with VLC, Step 3
Select ‘Tools’ all the way up on the taskbar, and then ‘Preferences’. Now you’ll see what's in the image above in front of you.
EDIT 4/18/2015: This screen will look a little different in 2.2.1 Terry Pratchett. Don't worry! Still click the 'all' under 'show settings' and from then on this tutorial will follow exactly the same.
Click the button next to ‘All’ under ‘Show Settings’. It’s all the way at the bottom of the window that has just opened. Next, scroll down using the scroll bar and select ‘Filters.’ (#1 on the following image.) Then, over to the right, select the square check box that says ‘Scene Video Filter’. (#2 on the following image.) If you’ve done this correctly, you should see the word ‘scene’ in the text box below. (#3 on the following image.)
How to Take Batch Screencaps with VLC, Step 4
Now, go back to the menu on the left and double click the word ‘filters’. This expands into a further, more indepth menu. Here, you’ll scroll down until you see ‘Scene Filter’ and click it. After clicking ‘Scene Filter,’ you’ll notice to your right that there are a few new options. First, you can choose what format VLC will save your images as. PNG files are very large, but they’re also the best quality. I recommend leaving this as is, unless you’re planning on taking screenshots of an entire movie. Doing that in PNG format would slow down any computer significantly, and so in that case you should change the setting to JPG or JPEG format. Since I’m assuming you’re not grabbing images from an entire movie right now, stick with PNG.
Next, you’ll see ‘Image width’ and ‘Image height’. Leave these at -1 each to ensure VLC does not resize any screenshots. I have never changed this setting, myself; if I find my screenshots too large, I resize them later using an image editing program.
The next option is filename prefix. By default, this is ‘scene’. You may keep this as is, or change it to whatever you’d like.
‘Directory path prefix’ is very important. Remember the folder you opened up earlier? The text in the address bar that you copied goes in this box. Make sure it looks correct; if anything is wrong here, VLC won’t know where to save the screenshots. (I’ve accidentally messed up putting the folder’s location here before, and wasted my time having to run the video file again and actually get my screenshots the second time! Be careful!)
Finally, ‘Recording ratio’ tells VLC how often to capture an image. My setting, 65, tells it to take an image every 65 frames. The lower the number, the more images you end up with. Experiment until you find what you like!
How to Take Batch Screencaps with VLC, Step 5
Click the play symbol on the bottom of VLC, all the way to the left. Choose whether your video is a file or on a disc, and hit ‘add’, then ‘play.’ Your video should now be playing. If it’s long, I recommend minimizing (NOT CLOSING) the program and doing something else. The video may pause briefly every few seconds to take an image; don’t worry about this.
How to Take Batch Screencaps with VLC, Step 6
When your video has finished playing, open up the folder with your images! If any appear corrupted, delete them; sometimes VLC cannot capture an image in a batch and it ends up appearing corrupted. In my experience, this hasn’t happened much, but if it does happen to you, adjust the ‘Recording ratio’ and play the video again.
How to Take Batch Screencaps with VLC, Step 7
BEFORE watching another video, go back to ‘Filters’ in the ‘Preferences’ menu and uncheck ‘Scene Video Filter’, so that VLC doesn’t screencap that video.
What program do you use to watch videos?
Hooray! You’ve successfully taken batch screenshots with VLC Media Player. Enjoy!