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Python Video Processing: 6 Useful Libraries and a Quick Tutorial

Python Video Processing

What Is Python Image and Video Processing?

It is quite common to manipulate, analyze, and enhance images and videos using the Python programming language. Not only is it easy to learn and read, but it’s an incredibly flexible language that can be used in tons of different ways, including processing videos. Developers can use various Python libraries and frameworks to edit, convert, and analyze visual media.

Through these processes, developers can automate editing images and videos, detect and recognize objects or faces, and track movements. Python, being a highly versatile and accessible language, has become a preferred choice for developers and researchers.

This is part of a series of articles about video optimization.

In this article:

Python Video Processing

Python Libraries for Image and Video Processing

Thanks to Python’s wide range of applications and use cases and its incredibly active open-source community, there are many libraries available for media processing. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular ones out there.


Pillow is an open-source Python Imaging Library (PIL) fork that adds image processing capabilities to your Python interpreter. This library enables opening, manipulating, and saving many different image file formats, making it useful for quick image processing tasks.

It supports a range of image operations, such as cropping, resizing, and color manipulation, and provides extensive file format support. It’s particularly well-suited for tasks that require quick fixes to images or for batch processing large numbers of images with minimal hassle.


OpenCV (Open Source Computer Vision Library) is a powerful, open-source computer vision and machine learning library that facilitates image and video processing. Widely used by developers and researchers, OpenCV provides extensive tools and functionalities for tasks such as object detection, motion tracking, and video manipulation.

When used with Python, OpenCV simplifies video processing through its intuitive API, allowing developers to read, modify, and analyze video frames efficiently. With OpenCV, you can implement advanced video processing techniques like real-time filtering, frame extraction, and feature recognition, enhancing the functionality and performance of your video applications.


Scikit-image is built on SciPy and designed to work with special NumPy arrays. It provides a collection of algorithms for image processing in Python. It focuses on simplicity and integrates well with scientific Python libraries, making it useful for researchers and developers in image analysis.

The library includes algorithms for segmentation, geometric transformation, color space manipulation, and analysis. Scikit-image is designed with a focus on education and usability, simplifying the process of complex image processing tasks through its documentation and user-friendly interface.


PyAV is a Pythonic binding for the FFmpeg libraries, offering direct access to many media processing capabilities. Unlike other libraries that wrap around FFmpeg, PyAV aims to provide a complete and native interface to FFmpeg’s video/audio processing abilities.

The library can convert video files into different formats, decode videos for frame-by-frame processing, and encode new video content. PyAV is suited for projects that require direct and detailed interactions with media files.


Imageio provides an easy way to read and write image data like animated images, video sequences, and volumetric data. Unlike other libraries focused on image manipulation, Imageio is centered around file input and output.

It’s designed to be user-friendly, making it accessible for beginners while still powerful enough for advanced users. Imageio integrates with other Python libraries for scientific computing, allowing for manipulating and analyzing images as numerical arrays. This library is useful for tasks that involve reading from or writing to specific image and video formats.

Python Video Processing

Processing Images and Videos in OpenCV

Setting up a script in Python for video processing can be somewhat challenging, with tons of options available for library choices and implementations. For this tutorial, we’ll explore how you can use OpenCV to create your own Python Video Processing scripts.

Reading Image and Video Files

The first stage in processing images and videos is to read them. Let’s see how to do this with OpenCV. Here’s a simple code snippet to read and display an image using OpenCV:

The next step is writing or saving images and videos back to a file. To save an image with OpenCV, we just need to use the .imwrite() function:

When dealing with video processing, you may capture frames from a camera or modify video files and want to save the result. Here’s a way to capture video from the default camera, process it, and save it:

This code snippet captures video frames using cv.VideoCapture() defines the codec and creates a VideoWriter object. It then flips each frame horizontally for processing and writes the modified frame to an output file using cv.VideoWriter(). After manipulating and saving the video data, the user can press the ‘q’ key to close the window.

Manipulating Videos to Resize, Crop, and Rotate

Efficient video manipulation is a critical aspect of media optimization. It enables developers to tailor video content for diverse platforms and user experiences. OpenCV allows developers to easily resize, crop, and rotate videos, ensuring optimal presentation and performance.

Resizing Videos

With OpenCV, resizing a video is straightforward:

This script reads an input video, resizes each frame to 640×480 pixels, and writes the resized frames to a new video file.

Cropping Videos

Cropping videos can help focus on specific areas of interest within a frame. Here’s how to crop a video using OpenCV:

This script crops a 320×240 pixel region from each frame, focusing on a specific area of the original video.

Rotating Videos

Rotating videos is essential for correcting orientation issues. Use OpenCV to rotate video frames as follows:

This script rotates each frame 90 degrees clockwise, adjusting the video orientation as needed.

Processing Videos at Scale

Processing videos one by one with simple scripts is convenient for small projects. However, tools like OpenCV can only go so far once your project grows beyond simple video processing.

Cloudinary, an image and video API platform, offers incredibly powerful solutions for managing, processing, and delivering media content. Its Python SDK simplifies video processing, enabling developers to handle large volumes of video data efficiently.

It provides dynamic transformations and adaptive delivery, ensures videos are optimized for various devices and network conditions, and works entirely in the cloud, allowing your project to scale up as needed. With Cloudinary, developers can perform real-time media manipulations and deliver high-quality content with minimal effort.

Processing and Transforming Videos with Cloudinary’s Python SDK

Using Cloudinary’s Python SDK, developers can easily integrate powerful video processing features into their applications. Below are some examples of how to use Cloudinary’s Python SDK for video transformations.

First, install the Cloudinary Python SDK and configure it with your Cloudinary account credentials.

Since Cloudinary operates entirely within the cloud, we’ll need to upload our videos to our own Media Library to manipulate them. Thankfully, it’s pretty simple:

Transforming Videos

Cloudinary supports a variety of video transformations, such as resizing, cropping, and applying filters. Let’s check out how to apply a transformation to resize our video:

For more complex transformations, such as cropping or rotating, the process is equally simple:

Streaming Optimized Videos

Cloudinary ensures optimal video delivery by automatically adjusting quality based on the user’s device and network conditions. This is essential for providing a seamless viewing experience.

By incorporating Cloudinary into your media workflow, you can process videos efficiently at scale, ensuring high performance and quality across all platforms. Cloudinary’s powerful tools and Python SDK make it an invaluable resource for developers aiming to optimize video content and enhance user experience.

Unlock the full potential of your digital content with Cloudinary’s advanced editing and optimization tools. Sign up for free today!

Last updated: Jun 2, 2024