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I own a Nikon D700, which has in-camera support for taking time-lapse photos, but I need advice on the easiest and best software solutions for processing the resulting heap of images. I accept that the best software may not be the easiest, and vice versa. Open-source would be great, but I'm open to commercial solutions as well. I've tried Picasa's movie-making feature, but found it to be kludgy and missing many useful options. What do you recommend?

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9 Answers 9

up vote 20 down vote accepted

If you are on a Mac, one of the best ways is using Automator, which you can use to do basic cropping/editing and conversion to video (although this part usually requires Quicktime Pro).

There is a good walkthough here: How to Make a Time-Lapse Video from Stills

Also, a great open source solution is to use ffmpeg, but it is a much more technical path to take, so keep that in mind.

There are lots of examples out there, here's one example: Creating Time Lapse with ffmpeg

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+1 for ffmpeg. It makes it as simple as one command to make a video. Superb. –  NickAldwin Jul 23 '10 at 17:50
"as simple as one command" is relative. If you have no experience with that sort of thing, figuring out a command like ffmpeg -i %03d.jpg -r 15 -croptop 180 -cropbottom 180 -s hd1080 -vcodec libx264 -vpre hq -crf 16 rollins_1080.mp4 (example command for turning set of time lapse images into a movie) might be near impossible –  davr Jul 24 '10 at 4:40
+1 for ffmpeg I've used this in the past with great results. –  Alastair Jul 26 '10 at 11:26
Thanks, I will try ffmpeg. Fortunately, I'm comfortable with the commandline, and those options look like exactly what I was looking for. –  Naseer Jul 30 '10 at 19:09
It can be as simple as ffmpeg -r 30 -i _DSC%04d.jpg timelapse.mp4 for 30fps, although I like to have ffmpeg resize my frames to 1080p frame size so I use ffmpeg -r 24 -i _DSC%04d.png -s hd1080 timelapse.mp4 and obviously get 24fps (-r). –  Mark K Cowan Jun 23 '14 at 1:04

You answer lies in Lightroom and this free software plugin for lightroom http://lrtimelapse.com/

NOTE: this will only work for short timelapse segments. Anything over 500 images will make Lightroom crash.

The great thing about using lightroom for a timelapse is that you can easily crop,edit thousands of images with a simple click. You can then make a slideshow.

Here is a blog post that shows how to install the slideshow video templates for lightroom:


If you want to take your timelapse photography a step further you can make gradual changes and deflicker the timelapse within lightroom with the lrtimelapse plugin.

LRTimelapse will take your movies to the next level. It allows you to continuously change Adobe Lightroom or Camera RAW development parameters over the time enabling sort of key-frame animations like in video-processing. The great advantage over post processing in your favorite video production software is the way higher quality of pre processing on a RAW-file basis. Of course you can work with JPG as well.

Examples and use cases

  • Alter white balance and other parameters over the time (for example for sun sets)
  • Make the "Holy Grail" - (day to night transition) easy peasy
  • Deflicker Make Ken-Burns effects (pan/zoom) Fade in / fade out
  • Continuously saturate / desaturate
  • and many more...
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Thats some slick software. –  rfusca Jun 21 '12 at 17:23
Note that the free version is limited to 400 stills. Non-free is 89€ ($118 USD at the moment). –  tyblu Jan 5 '13 at 2:36
thank you for this new information. At the time I posted this there was no limit in the amount of stills you could use. –  xtarsy Feb 7 '13 at 9:10

Ha. Nobody mentioned free windows alternatives.

I've been using windows live movie maker with good results. It is as simple as dragging your pictures into the timeline, selecting them, setting a time for each (24 fps is around 0,04 seconds per picture) and exporting :)

(It auto-adds black vertical bars to your 3:2 or 4:3 aspect ratio pictures if you export to 16:9 HD video, but you may prefer cropping them beforehand. I've used image magick for windows for batch cropping - add a comment if you want more details about this)

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I'm not sure if a blog post would be appropriate for this kind of work. Information on the web is sort of spread out. I'm available for that :) –  JoséNunoFerreira Jun 20 '12 at 15:04
I'd love to see a blog post on timelapse ....pop into the chat and we can discuss. –  rfusca Jun 20 '12 at 19:12
I'll be home in about 4h, will do! –  JoséNunoFerreira Jun 21 '12 at 16:28

For Windows, you can use VirtualDub. It is free and open source.

To create a timelapse, you need all of your photos numbered in order, without any gaps in the sequence. Then just go to File > Open, and pick the first image. VirtualDub will then load all of the images.

To set the frame rate, go to Video menu > Frame rate. You can also add filters if you want to change the output video, on Video > Filters. If your photos are higher resolution than the output you want, you can use a resize filter. You can also use filters to crop if you don't want the whole frame.

You can set the compression on Video > Compression. The options available will depend on what codecs you have installed. You can just use uncompressed format, then use other software to compress it as required.

Then to save the video, use File > Save as AVI.

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You could also install DivX (there is a free version that will suffice) and it will become available in the list of compressors in the VirtualDub compression dialog. DivX is basically a variation on MP4 and most players that support MP4 will also support DivX. Could avoid the extra compression step if that is an issue. –  Octopus Sep 12 '13 at 19:14

Try Time-Lapse Tool Software for Windows. It provides lot of featuries such as:

  • Zooming and panning your frames
  • Add soundtrack to movie
  • Render your movie to different video formats or publish to YouTube
  • Easy to apply image effects
  • Free Community Edition available

(Note: I am affilated with Timelapse Tool.)

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This looks like spam to me, are you connected to Timelapse Tool in anyway? –  Håkon K. Olafsen Aug 15 '13 at 10:30
It depends that do you consider as spam. This is an answer to the question. This tool works wery well to build timelapse movies. So give it a try. And yes, I'm connected to this tool. –  AiDevs Aug 15 '13 at 10:47
Have a look at the last topic in photo.stackexchange.com/help/behavior - Quote: "Post good, relevant answers, and if some (but not all) happen to be about your product or website, that’s okay. However, you must disclose your affiliation in your answers." –  Håkon K. Olafsen Aug 15 '13 at 11:08
Håkon, missed this point, sorry. I noticed that Paul added information about this. Please give a try to the our app and let me know if you find it useful (or not) –  AiDevs Aug 15 '13 at 11:45

Personally I find that using Adobe Premiere Pro to make timelapses is best for me. It offers super flexibility titles audio and the ability to mix in true video. Additionally you can create faux pans if you import your images larger than your video resolution.

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I hope You scrolled this much down, because I found my final answer to this. There is a new kid in town it seems! It's called Time Lapse MovieMonkey and it's quite awesome! It did the job of creating my latest time lapse movie really really really fast. And I didn't have to read the instructions. It's simple and intuitive, but has enough advanced settings. And it's free (for real).

Check it out: http://www.appsforpeople.net/time-lapse-movie-maker-moviemonkey.html

enter image description here

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Are you associated with the company? It is ok if you do, our rules just say you have to disclose that. –  Paul Cezanne Aug 21 '14 at 12:48

I've been having good luck with Sequence (for Mac):


I've so far only used its more basic capabilities.

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You could try Blender, it is open source but personally I think there would be a learning curve for it.

It also has video editing capabilities so if you aren't able to fork out for the commercial offerings it could be alternative for you.

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I'm too dumb to get Blender to make time-lapses for me. How do you do it? –  tyblu Jan 5 '13 at 2:37

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