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In this paper, we propose the use of motion vectors embedded in MPEG bitstreams to generate so-called ldquomotion flowsrdquo, which are applied to perform video retrieval. By using the motion vectors directly, we do not need to consider the shape of a moving object and its corresponding trajectory. Instead, we simply ldquolinkrdquo the local motion vectors across consecutive video frames to form motion flows, which are then recorded and stored in a video database. In the video retrieval phase, we propose a new matching strategy to execute the video retrieval task. Motions that do not belong to the mainstream motion flows are filtered out by our proposed algorithm. The retrieval process can be triggered by query-by-sketch or query-by-example. The experiment results show that our method is indeed superb in the video retrieval process.