Jesus Jesus - 1 year ago 892
Node.js Question

AWS Lambda making video thumbnails

I want make thumbnails from videos uploaded to S3, I know how to make it with Node.js and ffmpeg.

According to this forum post I can add libraries:

ImageMagick is the only external library that is currently provided by
default, but you can include any additional dependencies in the zip
file you provide when you create a Lambda function. Note that if this
is a native library or executable, you will need to ensure that it
runs on Amazon Linux.

But how can I put static ffmpeg binary on aws lambda?

And how can I call from Node.js this static binary (ffmpeg) with AWS Lambda?

I'm newbie with amazon AWS and Linux

Can anyone help me?

Answer Source

The process as outlined by Naveen is correct, but it glosses over a detail that can be pretty painful - including the ffmpeg binary in the zip and accessing it within your lambda function.

I just went through this, it went like this:

  1. Include the ffmpeg static binary in your zipped lambda function package (I have a gulp task to copy this into the /dist every time it builds)
  2. When your function is called, move the binary to a /tmp/ dir and chmod it to give yourself access
  3. update your PATH to include the ffmpeg executable (I used fluent-ffmpeg which lets you set two env vars to handle that more easily.

Let me know if more detail is necessary, I can update this answer.

The copy and chmod (step 2) is obviously not ideal.... would love to know if anyone's found a better way to handle this, or if this is typical for this architecture style.

(2nd Update, writing it before the first update b/c it's more relevant):

The copy + chmod step is no longer necessary, as @Allen pointed out – I'm executing ffmpeg in Lambda functions directly from /var/task/ with no trouble at this point. Be sure to chmod 755 whatever binaries before uploading them to Lambda (also as @Allen pointed out).

I'm no longer using fluent-ffmpeg to do the work. Rather, I'm updating the PATH to include the process.env['LAMBDA_TASK_ROOT'] and executing simple bash scripts.

At the top of your Lambda function:

process.env['PATH'] = process.env['PATH'] + "/" + process.env['LAMBDA_TASK_ROOT']

For an example that uses ffmpeg: lambda-pngs-to-mp4.

For a slew of useful lambda components: lambduh.

The below update left in for posterity, but no longer necessary:


I downloaded the static ffmpeg binary here. Amazon recommends booting up an EC2 and building a binary for your use on there, because that environment will be the same as the conditions Lambda runs on. Probably a good idea, but more work, and this static download worked for me.

I pulled only the ffmpeg binary into my project's to-be-archived /dist folder.

When you upload your zip to lambda, it lives at /var/task/. For whatever reason, I ran into access issues trying to use the binary at that location, and more issues trying to edit permissions on the file there. A quick work-around is to move the binary to /tmp/ and chmod permissions on it there.

In Node, you can run shell via a child_process. What I did looks like this:

  'cp /var/task/ffmpeg /tmp/.; chmod 755 /tmp/ffmpeg;',
  function (error, stdout, stderr) {
    if (error) {
      //handle error
    } else {
      console.log("stdout: " + stdout)
      console.log("stderr: " + stderr)
      //handle success

This much should give you an executable ffmpeg binary in your lambda function – but you still need to make sure it's on your $PATH.

I abandoned fluent-ffmpeg and using node to launch ffmpeg commands in favor of just launching a bash script out of node, so for me, I had to add /tmp/ to my path at the top of the lambda function:

process.env.PATH = process.env.PATH + ':/tmp/'

If you use fluent-ffmpeg, you can set the path to ffmpeg via:

process.env['FFMPEG_PATH'] = '/tmp/ffmpeg';

Somewhat related/shameless self-plug: I'm working on a set of modules to make building Lambda functions out of composable modules easier under the name Lambduh. Might save some time getting these things together. A quick example: handling this scenario with lambduh-execute would be as simple as:

  shell: "cp /var/task/ffmpeg /tmp/.; chmod 755 /tmp/ffmpeg",

Where promises is an array of promises to be run.

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