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I have taken 30,000 still images that I want to combine into a timelapse movie. I have tried QuickTime Pro, TimeLapse 3, and Windows Movie Maker, but with such a huge amount of images, each of the programs fail (I tried SUPER ©, but couldn't get it to work either...?). It seems that all of these programs crash after a few thousand pictures.

The images I have are all in .JPG format, at a resolution of 1280x800, and I'm looking for a program that can put these images into a timelapse movie in some kind of lossless format (raw/uncompressed AVI would be fine) for further editing. Does anyone have any ideas, or has anyone tried anything like this with a similar number of pictures?

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have you tried something like Adobe Premiere, or Final Cut Pro? –  Mahmoud Hossam Feb 23 '11 at 1:00
    
Have you tried using a lossless video codec like HuffYUV? –  Hydaral Feb 23 '11 at 5:46

14 Answers 14

up vote 30 down vote accepted

Avidemux can create movies from a bunch of images. http://fixounet.free.fr/avidemux/

You could also use mencoder, but is a bit harder to use, with all the command line options 'n all. I've been using this:

mencoder mf://*.jpg -mf fps=xxx:type=jpg -ovc x264 -x264encopts bitrate=yyyy:threads=2 -o outputfile.mkv

I use

xxx = 25 and 
yyy = 1200

which produces vids that are just fine. Add tunes to the movie by inserting:

-oac copy -audiofile audiofile.mp3
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Avidemux ROCKS! Quick insert of 33.000 images. Quick save to uncompressed AVI - and it gets automaticly split into 4GB AVI chunks. But all of them are playable! –  Swift Feb 23 '11 at 23:03
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+1 for Avidemux, I've done tons of video editing using MeGUI, and didn't even know such a good alternative existed! –  Breakthrough Feb 25 '11 at 19:15
    
Thanks. Worked well. –  Tarik Oct 2 '13 at 6:50

If you do some basic calculations you'll see that you are probably running out of memory if you are trying to keep the movie uncompressed.

Each frame is 1,024,000 pixels. At 32 bits per pixel that's 32,768,000 bits (4,096,000 bytes or 3.9 MB).

If we multiply that up by 30,000 frames you need 117187.5 MB (114.45 GB) of memory to hold the whole movie in memory in one go - no wonder QuickTime Pro is failing.

You could try reducing the resolution but that might still fail.

You will need to build the movie up in smaller chunks and then stitch the whole thing together. I would expect that there are applications that do this without loading the entire movie into memory. The final movie will also have to be compressed - again as it would occupy 114 GB on the hard drive. A movie only occupies a single DVD after all while your movie is 20 minutes long (at 25 frames per second).

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2  
AFAIK, there is no video editing program in the world that stores any uncompressed clip entirely in memory before parsing/saving. –  Breakthrough Feb 22 '11 at 21:40
    
@Breakthrough ~ But how do you composite it into a compressed clip? –  jcolebrand Feb 22 '11 at 21:42
    
@Breakthrough - that's probably true, but the OP is wanting an uncompressed movie. –  ChrisF Feb 22 '11 at 21:43
2  
@ddrachenstern and @ChrisF - there is a difference between immediate storage and long-term storage. There is no video editing program that stores the entire length of the uncompressed video data in memory. Even when you scroll through the preview, it will recreate the data from what it has stored on the hard disk from the various media sources (and maybe a bit more for caching). Other then that, when you finally "render" a project, then you get the full video output (usually as a stream). The full video output can then be saved as-is (e.g. uncompressed/RAW), or streamed to an encoder. –  Breakthrough Feb 22 '11 at 21:56
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Sorry, when I made my first comment, I just wanted to point out that the problem is not a lack of memory. I also meant that while a program may store some uncompressed video data in memory (e.g. for previewing), it never stores the entire video stream (again, due to the issues you brought to light in your answer). This is just the way these programs are made, so this shouldn't be an issue. Sorry for any misinterpretations! –  Breakthrough Feb 22 '11 at 22:01

Try PhotoLapse; a review of it is given on Lifehacker.com here.

enter image description here

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1  
Here is an Video showing this tool in action: vimeo.com/1226517 –  Darokthar Feb 22 '11 at 21:29
    
I had a typo. I allready tried Photolapse, but it fails in the rendering process. If I lower to 10.000 images, it completes the AVI file - but the file is useless, and cannot be played. –  Swift Feb 23 '11 at 22:06
    
@Swift I understand you need the files to be at their original size. I've always batch downsampled images using Irfanview prior to creating the timelapse avi. Hopefully you find the solution you need! –  JYelton Feb 23 '11 at 22:14

Yes, I know that this thread is over a year old. I've been using this for over 2 years though, and it works great with 10,000+ images:

1080p@24fps, no sound

ls -1v | grep JPG > files.txt
mencoder -nosound -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg4:vbitrate=21600000 -o windowsill_flowers_7.avi -mf type=jpeg:fps=24 mf://@files.txt -vf scale=1920:1080

4k@90fps, no sound

ls -1v | grep JPG > files.txt
mencoder -nosound -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg4:vbitrate=21600000 -o windowsill_flowers_7.avi -mf type=jpeg:fps=90 mf://@files.txt -vf scale=3840:2160

I had to mess around with the codec a lot before getting something that youtube would recognize, though. An sample using the 2nd block can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4G_aaPG2QWk

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I use Google's Picasa. It's also a very good photo organizer in my opinion. Here is how.

1) File > Add Folder to Picasa... > add the folder with your photos.

2) Right click your added folder in the left 'Folders' menu and > Select All Pictures

3) From the top menu > Create > Video > From Selection...

4) Now you're in the video maker > Video Tab > Transition Style > Time Lapse

5) You can Load an Audio Track, change the dimensions (I normally use 1024x768), add slides with text ini the Slide Tab...

6) Video Maker > Video Tab > Create Video. You can sign in with you google account and upload it to youtube from here too.

Back in the library, you can right click the video > locate in disk to see where the video was saved. Another good thing about using Picasa is that you can select all the pictures and go to the top menu Picture > Batch Edit > I'm Feeling Lucky. It will correct the contrast and colour of all the photos at the same time.

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Use FFmpeg

This will create a video slideshow (using video codec libx264) from series of png images, named named img001.png, img002.png, img003.png, ...

(each image will have a duration of 5 seconds, change the variable according to your choice)

ffmpeg -f image2 -r 1/5 -i img%03d.png -vcodec libx264 out.mp4

** note that you can use whatever extension according to your choice as ffmpeg supprts a wide variety of extensions

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Just a note of warning: do not think you can bypass ffmpeg's printf syntax and just use *.jpg or something for more complex patterns. It will actually overwrite each and every one of your image files with the first one! I tried it myself. –  Christian Jan 2 '13 at 16:34
    
I was stuggeling with this as well. I turns out you can do this but need to set the glob style flag. ffmpeg -pattern_type glob -i 'time-lapse-files/*.JPG' time-lapse.mp4 –  arno_v Dec 31 '13 at 12:25

Have you tried VirtualDub?

When you open an image in virtualdub it will ask to load the whole sequence. From there - adjust the frame rate, add some filters (crop, sharpen), choose an encoder, and save your video.

I suggest you experiment at first with a lower number of images, and, if you are pleased with the result, do the whole batch.

Edit: Here is a simple tutorial on this. All you have to do is find a suitable lossless codec, like this one: MSU Lossless Video Codec.

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I faced a similar problem a while ago when I tried making a timelapse for a create-a-thon at a local hackerspace. I run OS X, so I'm not sure how viable it is to use this on Windows, but I used MEncoder.

This is the command I used in terminal:

mencoder mf://*.jpg -mf w=800:h=600:fps=5:type=jpg -ovc copy -oac copy -o buildmadison.avi

There's two problems with this:

  1. It's AVI.
  2. All it does is slosh the images together into a single file with no compression. Of course, it's fast as heck, and it actually works!

Afterwards I ran it through another utility to convert it to a halfway decent format.

MEncoder is part of the MPlayer project, located here: http://www.mplayerhq.hu/

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VirtualDub has got to be the best. You dont need sophisticated softwares to merge your image sequence into a .avi video format, all you need is just a software that does that job for you and it only takes LESS than a minute to merge all the sequence of images into an .avi video format. I'd give 10 stars for this software.

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Just for fun, here's another way (no, I'm clearly NOT trying to refine my own process.) It turns out nothing on Windows wants to edit the output mencoder produces from my other answer. This is a more edit-friendly version using ffmpeg:

1080p@90fps, no sound, IMG_00000.JPG - IMG_99999.JPG
    ffmpeg -r 90 -i IMG_%05d.JPG -vcodec libx264 -vpre medium -crf 22 -threads 0 -vf scale=1920:-1 -r 15 -metadata title="foo"
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Sony Vegas should do that job, but I think that it'll be better if you load something like a thousand images per time.

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I want do be done before christmas too...so thats not an option. –  Swift Feb 23 '11 at 22:09

I had to do something like that before. I was successfully able to do it in quicktime pro by doing it 500 frames at a time. I would save those as an individual movie and then move on to the next. Then later I would combine all of the 500 frame segments into the final thing.

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Kind of a ripoff for at "professional" piece of software! –  Swift Feb 23 '11 at 22:08

I'd also vote for Virtualdub(have done actually this operation, can't remember if were these many). Is also easy later on to remove frames you don't want, etc. Maybe you could try using a lossless video format to render and store it, like camstudio codec. For a timelapse...maybe is also ok techsmith codec (TSCC), but that works only if you have purchased (or obtained an old version from a magazine) Camtasia, as it installs the encoding version of the codec. It makes really small videos. And probably is apropiate for a time lapse.

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I see this thread is kind of old, but I found that MakeAVI is the best program for me!

You can download it here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/makeavi/?source=dlp

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