So how do I make a movie out of a bunch of still frames? In my case, I'm spoiled. Since I work in the special effects industry, I get to make all my movies on Discreet Smoke and Avid DS (I admit it's overkill, but using professional equipment makes things so much easier). My friend Francois makes all his time-lapses on Apple Shake and uses Iridas Framecycler to preview the results - again, not accessible to everyone.

The nice part about using professional software to create movies is the ability to actually improve on the quality of the images through color correction, timewarping and editing. You can even select a section of your frames to focus on a certain part. You can even animate cropping and scaling to create a pan & scan in your movie (in effect simulating a camera move).

Obviously this is beyond the scope of this document. Below are a few methods to get good results on the cheap.

1. QuickTime Pro

What I'd suggest as an alternative is to use QuickTime Pro to convert the frames to a portable movie file (it's 30$). QuickTime is a relatively ubiquitous viewer, and QuickTime pro has some pretty nifty features for its price. You also get access to some very efficient compression codecs (such as the phenomenal h.264). It's not free, but saving on the hassle is worth it.

2. Freeware JPEG to AVI or JPEG to MPEG software.

These might well be worth a try, but as usual, don't expect freeware to be perfect. Some of them might be good, but practice has shown that freeware doesn't necessarily mean trouble-free.

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