Time lapse - Part 2 - Animating images

8th June 2009

In my previous post I described how to generate an image sequence for time lapse movies. In this post, I’ll discuss the different ways to turn those sequences into real video. In terms of ease of use, QuickTime Pro is my favourite. To create a film, it’s as easy as:

Then, simply choose the framerate you desire, and Robert’s your dodgy aunt.

This will produce a silent animation of the image sequence you created. I’m told that you can similar results using the open source app ffmpeg. A colleague of mine provided this little snippet for its use:

ffmpeg -sameq -i timelapse-%d.jpg timelapse.mpg


-sameq: keep the same quality of the input in the output,
so no extra compression is used
-i: take all files starting with ‘timelapse-’ and a number
(%d = digits) plus ‘.jpg’ in the current directory

However, once you have this film, it’s still likely that it is too large in dimensions for general viewing. In this case, you have two options:

  • Resize the source images before making the film

  • Resize the generated film

Both are valid approaches, and some simple searches around batch resizing images will provide solutions to the former. QuickTime Pro will resize the generated films provided you use the Export feature.

QuickTime Pro can also be used to add a soundtrack to a movie:

  1. Open both the video and a similarly lengthed audio track in QuickTime Pro.

  2. Go to the audio track, select all, then copy.

  3. Go to the video track, then use:

  4. Save.

Once you have a video which you are happy with, you need to choose where to display it. Vimeo, flickr and youtube all have HD playback, but in some cases require a paid membership. It is important to remember that each can have contraints on filesize, duration, or both, depending on the kind of account you have, so ensuring that your videos aren’t too big is important.

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