[FFmpeg-user] How does the decoder know to make a frame ready for receiving?

Mark Filipak markfilipak.imdb at gmail.com
Wed Feb 14 04:21:02 EET 2024

I'm top posting and if someone doesn't like it, that's your problem.

A, this is why some of the code needs to be dynamic 'build up-tear down' code. Static code just 
can't do the job. --Mark.

On 13/02/2024 20.37, A wrote:
> Let's say I have a video with I, P and B frames. My understanding is
> that these frames are sorted by DTS when in the file (but not
> necessarily by PTS).
> I go through the packets in the file (which are in DTS order I
> assume), and feed them to the decoder. If it's an I-frame, the decoder
> can make it available right away to the caller of
> avcodec_receive_frame().
> However, if it's a B frame, how does the decoder know whether to
> buffer the frame internally or make it available to the user? Since
> the decoder has to make frames available to the user in PTS order, how
> does it know this frame is the *frame with the lowest PTS since the
> previously made-available-frame*?
> A trivial example: let's say we have the following frames in DTS order:
> DTS:  1  2  3  4  5  10
> PTS:  1  9  7  5  6  10
> TYPE: I  P  B  B  B  I
> We are feeding them to the decoder in DTS order by calling
> avcodec_send_packet(). Note that we don't have uniform gaps between
> DTS or PTS because the stream has variable frame rate.
> We need to display the frames in the following order:
> PTS=1, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, ...
> That means avcodec_receive_frame() needs to return frames in that
> order. IIUC, avcodec_receive_frame() returns frames in increasing PTS
> order.
> Now when the decoder gets fed the {DTS=3,PTS=7} frame, somehow it
> needs to not make this frame available to avcodec_receive_frame().
> Instead we must return AVERROR(EAGAIN) to the user when the user calls
> avcodec_receive_frame().
> When the decoder gets fed the {DTS=4,PTS=5) frame, somehow it needs to
> realize that this is the frame with the lowest PTS that it will ever
> encounter in the future. And it needs to make it available to the user
> when the user calls avcodec_receive_frame().
> My questions:
> 1. How does the decoder guarantee that the frame it is returning will
> be the lowest PTS it will ever encounter in the future?
> Does it rely upon monotonically increasing DTS and maintain a set of
> frames in increasing PTS and just make one available to the user when
> the lowest in the set has PTS <= DTS (since for any frame PTS >= DTS)?
> Could the decoder not run into a situation where it has to hold a lot
> of frames in memory because it can't determine it is safe to make any
> available to avcodec_receive_frame()?
> 2. Is it possible to know the PTS of the next frame without reading it
> from the stream? Assuming the stream will not be corrupted, etc.?
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