Most smartphones ship with software capable of taking advantage of all the device’s hardware. But the PinePhone isn’t most smartphones. It’s designed to be an open platform for developers and when it first began shipping there was only some very basic software available.

Among other things, there was no working camera app. Now there is. And up until recently there had also been no good method for recording video on a PinePhone. But now redditor UJC_theguy has come up with a method for recording 720p video at 30 frames per second.

It’s a kind of clunky solution that involves:

  1. Running the Megapixels camera app at least once to set up the camera (unless you know how to configure it manually).
  2. Installing ffmpeg and v4l-utils on your phone, if they aren’t already.
  3. Opening a terminal emulator and running a series of commands.

The first command sets up your camera to record 720p video at 30 fps and output it as MJPEG video file. Then you’ll run through a few more commands to find your media storage location and then use that in the final command, which lets you run ffmpeg to record a video file.

You can find the specific commands in the reddit post (I’m not going to copy and past them here because they might change, and you should really check out the source anyway). Note that UJC is running Mobian, but the steps should work with other Linux distros as long as they have the appropriate prerequisites.

MJPEG is a video compression file format created more than 20 years ago, and it’s not exactly an efficient media codec by modern standards. But it’s the first method for capturing video reported to work on the PinePhone that doesn’t involve running screen capture software to record the viewfinder of the Megapixels camera app.

You can see UJC’s sample video on YouTube or download the video for offline playback.


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