Rescuing a Truncated Recording Using ffmpeg

tl;dr: Well, it’s cheating because it’s not ‘rescuing’ what isn’t recorded, just retrieving and appending

Last night I played a few rounds of some cooperative gameplay with some good friends, and as usual I recorded the session for posterity.

Hans Volter's on fire and about to die
“Oh man, oh god!”, Hans is about to croak.

However, when looking over the file created, neither VLC nor ffmpeg could determine a duration. I used ffmpeg to create a new file (ffmpeg -i old.mkv -c copy new.mkv), and when it got to about the 1 hour 50 minute mark in the stream copy, it printed the following error:

invalid return value 0 for stream protocol
[matroska,webm @ 0x55eb60b609c0] Read error
Invalid return value 0 for stream protocol

It’s possible that I ran out of space during recording, so it behoves me to make sure my disks are more clear — hopefully the process of migrating to a combined fileserver will help there! — before I start recording.

Fortunately, I also stream to Twitch and so I could create a ‘highlight’ of the latter part of gameplay- about 45 minutes’ worth. The quality isn’t as good (max bitrate 3500kbit), but it’s better than nothing. So that it can be seamlessly appended, I decided to upscale the size from 720p to 1080p using ffmpeg:

$ ffmpeg -i ~/downloads/211006613-69819912-48eb80ad-009f-42d5-83aa-f68dda7b7612.mp4 -vf scale=1920x1080:flags=lanczos
-c:a copy -crf 20 -preset slow ~/mounts/storage/video/2017-12-19\ 22-04-59b.mkv

frame=105361 fps= 24 q=28.0 size= 2402802kB time=00:29:16.20 bitrate=11208.1kbits/s speed=0.408x

(Conversion in progress! Using -vf scale=1920x1080:flags=lanczos to scale and -crf 20 to ensure quality stays reasonable)

After that, it should be a simple matter of using the concat demuxer, assuming the files are similar enough (both are pixel format yuvj420p)– I previously had issues when trying to create an auto-highlighter/clip creator that minimised re-encoding.

For posterity!