Skip to main content

Banuba SDK C++ API overview

Banuba SDK provides a C++ interface, but it is pretty complex and may look inconvenient, so a wrapper called "Offscreen Effect Player" (OEP) exists to simplify its usage. This wrapper manages the setup rendering context necessary for the Effect player rendering and provides a convenient interface for conversion of rendering results to different image formats.

This document describes each interface in short but focuses mostly on OEP. It only covers live video stream processing.


See more relevant info about how OEP works on mobile platforms on the corresponding pages:

All the code demonstrated in this document is just for reference, it contains only the necessary parts to show some API usage, so it shouldn't be seen as completely safe (e.g. null pointer checks are omitted for simplicity).

C++ native interface (C++ API)

All headers with all declarations are shipped with each SDK archive regardless of the target platform. The place where headers are located depends on the platform. Usually, this is an "include" folder, but in the case of Apple platforms, this is the "PrivateHeaders" folder inside the frameworks.


In addition to the C++ API, Banbua SDK also provides a C API. The main and the most important feature of the C API is backwards compatibility. If you use the C API, you can be sure that with the release of new versions of the Banuba SDK, all functions will work equally well on both old versions and new ones. The text below will describe the C++ API, but be aware that the same rules apply to the C API. All code examples are duplicated for the C++ API and for the C API.

All headers with all declarations are shipped with every SDK C API archive regardless of the target platform. Where the headers are located varies by platform, usually in the "include" folder, but in the case of Apple platforms, it's in the "PrivateHeaders" folder inside the frameworks.

SDK initialization

Before using the Banuba SDK it must be initialized. utility_manager class serves this purpose. One static method should be called to do this. It must be called only once.

This initialization method accepts a list of resources paths and a client token. Resource paths are paths where any SDK resources (scripts, shaders, models, etc.) are located. Effects may also be located on these paths, but the user can provide another location for effects. The provided paths will be used as search locations for the requested in the code-level resources.

NOTE: Banuba SDK consists of the code represented by frameworks or libraries and resources. Resources are represented as Neural Network (NN) models, scripts, shaders, etc., and Effects. For instance, in Android and iOS, the Banuba SDK resources are integrated into the Android aar module or the iOS framework, and the path to that resources is known to the Banuba SDK Resource Manager by default. But if you want to separate resources from the code of Banuba SDK it is necessary to provide the path to the new location of resources to the utility_manager during the initialization. Considering that Effects are always delivered as a separate resource of the Banuba SDK, the path to the Effect's resources (folder with effects) should be always provided in the list of paths.

#include <bnb/recognizer/interfaces/utility_manager.hpp>

/* ... */
// somewhere in main() or other initialization function
std::vector<std::string> paths{
bnb::interfaces::utility_manager::initialize(paths, token);

The following sample demonstrates how to set resource paths for the macOS platform (the application in macOS is represented as a package, all paths should be set in relation to the package location):

CFBundleRef bundle = CFBundleGetMainBundle();
CFURLRef bundleURL = CFBundleCopyBundleURL(bundle);
char path[PATH_MAX];
Boolean success = CFURLGetFileSystemRepresentation(bundleURL, TRUE, (UInt8*) path, PATH_MAX);

std::vector<std::string> paths{
std::string(path) + "/Contents/Frameworks/BanubaEffectPlayer.framework/Resources/bnb-resources",
std::string(path) + "/Contents/Resources/effects"};
// And there should be an appropriate C API/C++ API initialization call here

Also, there is a corresponding cleanup/release method, which should be called before terminating the program.

#include <bnb/recognizer/interfaces/utility_manager.hpp>

/* ... */
// one of the last lines of main() or somewhere in cleanup function

The abovementioned utility_manager has several other useful static methods, one of them is set_log_record_callback() you may be interested in. See corresponding comments in utility_manager.hpp for details.

After initialization, effect_player object must be created. This is the main object for interaction with Banuba SDK.

#include <bnb/effect_player/interfaces/effect_player.hpp>

// somewhere in initialization code
std::shared_ptr<bnb::interfaces::effect_player> effect_player =

See effect_player_configuration declaration for fields description.

The next step is to initialize the rendering surface for the effect player.

The following call may or may not be present and its argument varies depending on the platform. See our platform-specific examples for details. In general, when OpenGL is used as a rendering backend, it is not required, it is mentioned here just for completeness, this particular example is for Metal API used on macOS.

if (effect_player->get_current_render_backend_type() == interfaces::render_backend_type::metal) {

In order to finalize render surface initialization the following methods must be called:

effect_player->surface_created(width, height);
effect_player->surface_changed(width, height);

Please note that any of these methods must be called from the render thread (i.e. where graphics context is active). surface_created() and should be called only once surface_changed() - each time when the rendering surface size changes (and for the first time right after surface_created(), otherwise the initialization will not complete).

Now initialization is finished and the SDK is ready to load any effect. It draws input frames as is when an effect is not loaded (actually a special empty effect is activated).

Working with the SDK

As it was mentioned above, effect_player is the main object that provides SDK functionality.

Loading an effect

Banuba SDK provides 2 methods for effect loading: synchronous and asynchronous. As its name says, synchronous will block until the effect is completely loaded (it may take noticeable time), asynchronous will not. Another significant restriction to the synchronous method is that it must be called from the rendering thread, so application UI will be blocked for effect loading time and this doesn't fit all cases. An asynchronous method has no such restrictions, so it is recommended. The synchronous method is provided just for completeness.

So, both mentioned methods are implemented in effect_manager class as its corresponding methods, required object itself can be retrieved from effect_player:

// synchronous method
// asynchronous method

Both methods accept just a single argument - effect folder name relative to one of resource directories passed during SDK initialization.

Please note some technical specifics - effect will not be activated until you start pushing the frames into SDK.

NOTE: Another method of effect_manager to pay attention to is set_effect_size. The sizes passed to effect_player_configuration also initializes the size of the frame buffer for effect rendering, while the surface determines the rendering size of a screen view (surface_created and surface_changed). Usually, the surface size and the effect frame buffer size have the same dimensions. In some cases when the surface has an extremely high resolution but its physical size is very small, it is not necessary to render the effect in the same dimensions as the surface because it is a waste of battery power (the bigger the effect's framebuffer the more work has to be performed for rendering, consequently more battery is consumed) since such a high quality of effect will not be noticed on the small physical screen. You can manage the sizes of the effect's frame buffer separately by provisioning smaller dimensions for it using the following call:

effect_player->effect_manager()->set_effect_size(width / 2, height / 2);

SDK input

As input, Banuba SDK supports several pixel formats:

  • RBGA (including variations like RGB, ARGB, etc., see pixel_format declaration for the full list of possible options)
  • YUV NV12
  • YUV i420

For YUV formats, both Full and Video ranges are supported. Supported color encoding standards are BT.601 and BT.709.

The frames passed to the SDK should be represented as full_image_t object. Unfortunately, there are no factory functions for that in the public interface, it should be constructed directly from bpc8_image_t or yuv_image_t objects which represent specific input formats in turn. See bnb/types/full_image.hpp header file for possible constructors and any other details.

Later, created full_image_t can be passed as effect_player input. effect_player has several methods to accept the input, but the simplest of them is push_frame(), it accepts only full_image_t. See effect_player declaration in bnb/effect_player/interfaces/effect_player.hpp for the complete list of possible input methods, just search for "push".

The following example demonstrates how to create full_image_t from YUV i420 planes and pass it to SDK:

using namespace bnb;
width, height, camera_orientation::deg_0,
false, // mirroring
0 // face orientation

Please note that no strides are supported, it is assumed that stride is always equal corresponding width for all planes.

SDK output

In the native C++ API, there is no such thing as output. Banuba SDK just renders image to some surface (prepared during initialization steps), reading the desired image from the surface and converting it to the appropriate format is on you. The image is rendered in RGBA and there are no options to change it.

Also there is an opportunity to enable/disable the "future frame filtration" mode (method set_recognizer_use_future_filter):

// enable future frame filtration mode
// disable future frame filtration mode

If the mode is enabled, a smoother recognition result (antijitter) is produced. However, it adds inconsistency in pushed/popped frames (a one frame lag). Applied only in push_camera_frame/pop_frame_data methods, when offline mode is disabled.

Example: push frame 1 - pop frame 1, push frame 2 - pop frame 1, push frame 3 - pop frame 2, ...

By default, future frame filtration mode is enabled in Banuba SDK. If the mode is enabled, a smoother recognition result (antijitter) is produced, however adds inconsistency in pushed/popped frames (one frame lag). Applied only in push_camera_frame/pop_frame_data methods, when offline mode is disabled.

As the SDK does not setup anything related to rendering (it is user's responsibility to do so), calling the drawing function is also user's responsibility. This function must be called from the rendering thread (i.e. where graphical context is available).

while (effect_player->draw() < 0) {

This function returns -1 when no newly processed frames are ready, so it should be called in a loop to be able to draw new frames.

NOTE: Using the method set_render_consistency_mode of the effect_player you can change how the effect_player renders the results collected from the Recognizer. Please see the consistency_mode for details. The loop above is not effective, and it is necessary because the default consistency_mode of the effect_player is set to synchronous. You can change render consistency mode to asynchronous_consistent_when_effect_loaded and the rendering will render without necessity to wait new recognizer results, so loop can be replace to if construction just to handle rendering failure.

Communicating with effect

Banuba SDK provides an Effect API, which allows customizing an effect on the fly (change colors, textures, etc. or even load new features to it, like background replacement). The list of available methods/options vary depending on effect itself. But any method provided by the effect can be called using eval_js()/eval_js_sync, see bnb/effect_player/interfaces/effect.hpp for details.

With eval_js() you are able to execute arbitrary JS code and get the result of its execution, see its declaration for details. In this method you pass the script to the call:

effect_player->effect_manager()->current()->eval_js("Background.texture('bg_colors_tile.png')", nullptr);

Offscreen Effect Player

Offscreen Effect Player (OEP) is a wrapper around C++ interfaces made to hide complexities described above and simplify its usage, especially in video streaming applications, where Banuba SDK should be a part of the whole video processing pipeline.

OEP is implemented as a separate submodule which consists of a set of interfaces and provides some (but not all) default implementations for them. OEP sources are in the public repository on GitHub. See its README for details about the repository structure and interfaces purposes, it has a pretty good description. This repository should be added as submodule to your project.

As the OEP module doesn't have the implementations for all the provided interfaces, some of them must be implemented on the application side. See the corresponding demo apps (for example OEP-desktop) for possible (and ready to use) implementations.

Banuba SDK initialization

Before moving on to initializing the OEP, we first need to initialize the Banuba SDK itself. The client token is passed to Banuba SDK and resource paths.

#include <bnb/recognizer/interfaces/utility_manager.hpp>

// somewhere at the beginning of main() or other application initialization function
std::vector<std::string> dirs{
bnb::interfaces::utility_manager::initialize(dirs, <#Paste your Banuba client token here #>);

OEP initialization

Unlike the native C++ interfaces, OEP provides a slightly different way for SDK initialization. Instead of creating only one object, you should create a couple of them, but they are required only to initialize each other.

#include <interfaces/offscreen_effect_player.hpp>

// implementations on app side
#include "render_context.hpp"
#include "effect_player.hpp"

/* ... */
// somewhere in main() or other initialization function

// Frame size
constexpr int32_t oep_width = 1280;
constexpr int32_t oep_height = 720;

// create render_context instance
// (app/platform specific, must be implemented on app side)
// NOTE: each instance of offscreen_render_target should have its own instance of render_context
auto rc = bnb::oep::interfaces::render_context::create();

// create offscreen_render_target instance
// (default implementation is provided, but can be reimplemented)
// NOTE: each instance of offscreen_effect_player should have its own instance of offscreen_render_target
auto ort = bnb::oep::interfaces::offscreen_render_target::create(rc);

// create effect_player implementation instance
// (app specific, must be implemented on app side, but implementations from example are fine)
// NOTE: each instance of offscreen_effect_player should have its own instance of effect_player
auto ep = bnb::oep::interfaces::effect_player::create(oep_width, oep_height);

// create offscreen_effect_player instance
// (implementation is in OEP module, this is the main object to work with)
auto oep = bnb::oep::interfaces::offscreen_effect_player::create(ep, ort, oep_width, oep_height);

// ... any other application-specific logic ...

Please note that there are no static method calls to destroy/cleanup, unlike in the native C++ interface. All the required things are hidden behind the provided interfaces, so there is no need to worry about them.

Another important thing to note is that you might need to call surface_changed() method after initialization at least once. It is a very good idea to call it on window resize event or a similar one that will be called in any case on application startup, but after effect player initialization.

Working with OEP

As mentioned above, offscreen_effect_player is the main object (referred as oep variable in this document) that provides an access to SDK functionality. OEP doesn't provide the whole possibilities available through effect_player interfaces only the most common ones. But if something missing is required, it can be accessed through the application-specific effect_player implementation because it has access to effect_player Banuba SDK C++ interface.

Loading an effect with OEP

Unlike the native C++ interface, loading the desired effect with OEP doesn't require accessing other objects. OEP provides only one function for effect loading, and it behaves as an asynchronous one.


Notes in the same section above are also true here, e.g. effect will not be activated until you start pushing the frames into SDK.

OEP input

List of supported pixel formats is the same (at least for now) as for "plain" effect_player mentioned above, so please refer to the corresponding section in this document for details.

But it is worth noting that OEP accepts different objects as input compared to "plain" effect_player but these objects can be created much easier than full_image_t required for effect_player - a factory function with straightforward interface is provided for it. Created objects should be passed to process_image_async() function.

#include <interfaces/pixel_buffer.hpp>
#include <interfaces/offscreen_effect_player.hpp>

using ns = bnb::oep::interfaces::pixel_buffer;
/* ... fill the planes data ... */
std::vector<ns::plane_data> planes{y_plane, u_plane, v_plane};
pixel_buffer_sptr image = ns::create(planes, bnb::oep::interfaces::image_format::i420_bt709_full, image_width, image_height);

auto process_callback = [](image_processing_result_sptr result) { /* image processing result callback */ };
oep->process_image_async(image, bnb::oep::interfaces::rotation::deg0, false, process_callback, bnb::oep::interfaces::rotation::deg0);

Refer to the interfaces/pixel_buffer.hpp header for details about available constants and types.

OEP output

Compared to native SDK interfaces, OEP provides an extensive set of output options. First of all, it is worth mentioning that it is possible to get a processed image as a buffer in the desired format or as texture and you should not worry about rendering at all - everything is covered by the interfaces. Moreover, OEP provides an option to rotate the output image.

There is one important thing to understand - in the case of buffer output irrespective of the requested format, GPU-to-CPU memory synchronization will happen, and this is the most time-consuming operation in most cases.

Also note that instead of SDK interfaces, "future frame filtration" mode is disabled in OEP to avoid frames inconsistency.

The list of supported output formats at least the same as input, i.e.:

  • RGBA (including variations)
  • YUV i420
  • YUV NV12

Both full and video ranges in either BT.601 and BT.709 standards are supported.

The information above is the true only for the default implementations provided, the actual output formats support may vary depending on the offscreen_render_target implementation.

The example of getting output as a texture:

auto process_callback = [](image_processing_result_sptr result) {
if (result != nullptr) {
auto render_callback = [](std::optional<rendered_texture_t> texture_id) {
if (texture_id.has_value()) {
auto gl_texture = static_cast<GLuint>(reinterpret_cast<int64_t>(*texture_id));
// do anything with this texture, e.g. render it

oep->process_image_async(image, bnb::oep::interfaces::rotation::deg0, false, process_callback, bnb::oep::interfaces::rotation::deg0);

Example of getting output as a buffer looks similar:

auto process_callback = [](image_processing_result_sptr result) {
if (result) {
auto image_callback = [](pixel_buffer_sptr output_image) {
if (output_image) {
// do anything with output_image
// output_image->get_base_sptr_of_plane(0)
// output_image->get_base_sptr_of_plane(1)
// etc.
result->get_image(bnb::oep::interfaces::image_format::nv12_bt709_full, image_callback);

oep->process_image_async(image, bnb::oep::interfaces::rotation::deg0, false, process_callback, bnb::oep::interfaces::rotation::deg0);

Communicating with effect in OEP

As for the native C++ interface, eval_js() is the way for effect manipulation. But the only difference is that no intermediate objects should be retrieved to call this, as it is a part of offscreen_effect_player interface.

oep->eval_js("Background.texture('bg_colors_tile.png')", nullptr);