Capture a MediaStream From a Canvas, Video or Audio Element

The captureStream() method makes it possible to capture a MediaStream from a <canvas>, <audio> or <video> element.

This enables a video or audio stream from any of these elements to be recorded, live-streamed via WebRTC, or combined with effects or other MediaStreams in a <canvas>. In other words, captureStream() enables MediaStream to pass media back and forth between canvas, audio or video elements — or to an RTCPeerConnection or MediaRecorder.

In the following demo (available from the WebRTC samples) a MediaStream captured from a canvas element on the left is streamed via a WebRTC peer connection to the video element on the right:

(There are links to more canvas and video examples below.)

The captureStream() code is simple.

For <canvas>:

var canvas = document.querySelector('canvas');
var video = document.querySelector('video');

// Optional frames per second argument.
var stream = canvas.captureStream(25);
// Set the source of the <video> element to be the stream from the <canvas>.
video.srcObject = stream;

For <video>:

var leftVideo = document.getElementById('leftVideo');
var rightVideo = document.getElementById('rightVideo');

leftVideo.onplay = function() {
  // Set the source of one <video> element to be a stream from another.
  var stream = leftVideo.captureStream();
  rightVideo.srcObject = stream;
};

But why?

The captureStream() method makes it possible to record or live stream from canvas and media elements:

  • Record and stream game play from a <canvas>
  • Capture video from a camera, then add additional content or effects
  • Create picture-in-picture effects from multiple videos via a <canvas>
  • Combine video and images (from files or a camera or both) in a <canvas>
  • Live-stream video played from a file
  • Use a recorded audio or video message for a video or voice mail

Essentially, captureStream() enables JavaScript to construct and "inject stuff" into a MediaStream.

The small print

  • Attempting to use captureStream() with a media element that implements content protection via Encrypted Media Extensions will throw an exception.

  • When capturing from a <canvas>, the maximum frame rate is set when captureStream() is called. For example, canvas.captureStream(10) means that the canvas outputs between 0 and 10 fps. Nothing gets captured when nothing gets painted on the <canvas>, and 10 fps is captured even if the <canvas> gets painted at 30 fps. There is a bug with more discussion filed on the captureStream spec.

  • The dimensions of a captureStream() video match the <canvas> it was called on.

Demos

Canvas

Video

Support

  • Canvas captureStream(): Firefox 43 or above; Chrome 50 and above with chrome://flags/#enable-experimental-web-platform-features enabled, or Chrome 52 and above by default.
  • Video and audio captureStream(): Firefox 47; Chrome 52 and above with chrome://flags/#enable-experimental-web-platform-features enabled, or Chrome 53 and above by default.

Find out more