I need to reduce the file size of an mp4 video. I don't need color information at all but pixel brightness resolution must be preserved. Videos consist of white background with a few (important) black dots of about 5px diameter. I am confused about what the best method/output would be.

2 Answers 2


Without knowing the video properties, my generic answer is

ffmpeg -i in.mp4 -vf geq=lum='p(X,Y)':cb=128:cr=128 out.mp4

This will reset the color information, but pass the luma plane intact. Add -crf 0 for truly lossless re-encoding.

This is the faster way,

ffmpeg -i in.mp4 -vf extractplanes=y,format=yuv420p out.mp4

The luma plane is extracted, and then neutral chroma planes are added in the pixel format conversion. This 2nd step is added because otherwise ffmpeg will auto-convert pixel format to yuv444 which isn't widely compatible.

  • Awesome, that works. Is this the quickest way? If not, what information would need to know for a faster/better solution? Commented Mar 18, 2018 at 0:37
  • There's one potentially quicker way but I have to check whether it alters the luma.
    – Gyan
    Commented Mar 18, 2018 at 8:18

Much faster solution: ffmpeg -i in.mp4 -vf extractplanes=y out.mp4

  • What makes that faster? Can you explain the -vf option so that others can solve their own problems in the future? Commented Mar 18, 2018 at 22:38
  • User wants luma plane only, so this command do that efficiently. Also geq filter is GPL and slow in almost any scenario.
    – user12174
    Commented Mar 19, 2018 at 8:18

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