What is the most efficient way to display decoded video frames in Qt?


What is the fastest way to display images to a Qt widget? I have decoded the video using libavformat and libavcodec, so I already have raw RGB or YCbCr 4:2:0 frames. I am currently using a QGraphicsView with a QGraphicsScene object containing a QGraphicsPixmapItem. I am currently getting the frame data into a QPixmap by using the QImage constructor from a memory buffer and converting it to QPixmap using QPixmap::fromImage().

I like the results of this and it seems relatively fast, but I can't help but think that there must be a more efficient way. I've also heard that the QImage to QPixmap conversion is expensive. I have implemented a solution that uses an SDL overlay on a widget, but I'd like to stay with just Qt since I am able to easily capture clicks and other user interaction with the video display using the QGraphicsView.

I am doing any required video scaling or colorspace conversions with libswscale so I would just like to know if anyone has a more efficient way to display the image data after all processing has been performed.


8/6/2009 11:05:09 PM

Accepted Answer

Thanks for the answers, but I finally revisited this problem and came up with a rather simple solution that gives good performance. It involves deriving from QGLWidget and overriding the paintEvent() function. Inside the paintEvent() function, you can call QPainter::drawImage(...) and it will perform the scaling to a specified rectangle for you using hardware if available. So it looks something like this:

class QGLCanvas : public QGLWidget
    QGLCanvas(QWidget* parent = NULL);
    void setImage(const QImage& image);
    void paintEvent(QPaintEvent*);
    QImage img;

QGLCanvas::QGLCanvas(QWidget* parent)
    : QGLWidget(parent)

void QGLCanvas::setImage(const QImage& image)
    img = image;

void QGLCanvas::paintEvent(QPaintEvent*)
    QPainter p(this);

    //Set the painter to use a smooth scaling algorithm.
    p.setRenderHint(QPainter::SmoothPixmapTransform, 1);

    p.drawImage(this->rect(), img);

With this, I still have to convert the YUV 420P to RGB32, but ffmpeg has a very fast implementation of that conversion in libswscale. The major gains come from two things:

  • No need for software scaling. Scaling is done on the video card (if available)
  • Conversion from QImage to QPixmap, which is happening in the QPainter::drawImage() function is performed at the original image resolution as opposed to the upscaled fullscreen resolution.

I was pegging my processor on just the display (decoding was being done in another thread) with my previous method. Now my display thread only uses about 8-9% of a core for fullscreen 1920x1200 30fps playback. I'm sure it could probably get even better if I could send the YUV data straight to the video card, but this is plenty good enough for now.

12/20/2016 4:01:15 PM

Depending on your OpenGL/shading skills you could try to copy the videos frames to a texture, map the texture to a rectangle (or anything else..fun!) and display it in a OpenGL scene. Not the most straight approach, but fast, because you're writing directly into the graphics memory (like SDL). I would also recoomend to use YCbCR only since this format is compressed (color, Y=full Cb,Cr are 1/4 of the frame) so less memory + less copying is needed to display a frame. I'm not using Qts GL directly but indirectly using GL in Qt (vis OSG) and can display about 7-11 full HD (1440 x 1080) videos in realtime.

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