Unraveling the Origins of a Video - A Guide to Source Discovery

Daniel Opitz
Daniel Opitz
09 May 2023


In this digital age, videos often circulate on social media platforms without clear attribution or information about their origins. Whether you stumble upon a captivating video or want to verify the authenticity of a viral clip, finding the source can be a challenging task. However, with a few simple steps, you can uncover the origins of a video and gain a better understanding of its context. In this blog post, we will explore a method that involves downloading the video, converting it into screenshots using ffmpeg, and performing a reverse image search to locate the source.

Step 1: Download the Video

The first step is to download the video from the social media platform where you initially encountered it. Numerous online tools and browser extensions allow you to save videos from popular platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. A quick web search will provide you with several reliable options. Once you have downloaded the video file to your device, proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Converting Video to Screenshots using FFmpeg

FFmpeg is a powerful multimedia tool that enables you to manipulate audio and video files. We will use FFmpeg to extract screenshots from the downloaded video.

Open a command prompt or terminal window on your computer and navigate to the folder where you have saved the video file.

Then, enter the following command:

ffmpeg -i video_file_name.mp4 -vf fps=2 out%03d.png

Replace “video_file_name.mp4” with the actual name of the video file.

The command will extract keyframes from the video, effectively creating a series of “screenshots”. The screenshots will be saved as sequentially numbered PNG files.

The -vf fps=2 parameter sets the frame rate to 2 frames (screenshots) per second. By specifying a lower frame rate, we can capture fewer screenshots from the video, making it more manageable to review and analyze them later. Choosing an appropriate frame rate depends on the duration and content of the video. Adjusting it to a slower rate can be helpful when dealing with longer videos or to reduce the number of screenshots for a more focused analysis.

Step 3: Upload Screenshots to an Image Reverse Search Engine

Now that you have obtained a series of screenshots from the video, it’s time to leverage the power of image reverse search engines. These specialized search engines analyze the visual content of an image and provide possible matches or related results. There are several popular image reverse search engines available, such as Google Images, Yandex, and TinEye.

Choose your preferred platform and upload the screenshots one by one.

Once the reverse search engine processes the images, it will display a list of search results, which may include visually similar images or websites where the same images appear.

This process can help you trace the origin of the video by finding instances of the screenshots or visually similar images on the internet. Analyze the results carefully and explore the suggested sources to gain more information about the video’s origin and context.

In practice, the first video screenshot file will already give a good search result. Sometimes you may need to pick a different image from a more interesting part of the movie to get a better result.


Finding the source of a video is an exciting thing that helps us verify information and understand the context behind the video and photos.

Remember to respect copyright and usage policies when sharing or utilizing the information you discover during your investigation.

Happy source hunting!