How to turn a series of numbered images into an mpeg or avi movie using free software

This is mainly oriented towards Unix systems (MacOSX / Linux / Unix) but some things also work on Windows

It is assumed that the image files are something like name001.jpg, name002.jpg, name003.jpg, etc.
Here is a quick summary and links to fuller information: for more extensive discussion and other options see here, with specific information about using ffmpeg here and about ppmtompeg here.

Step 0: Getting the image files in the right format

It may be necessary to convert your image files before encoding them. For example, mencoder seems to need jpgs. The most convenient command for this is "convert", part of the ImageMagick package that comes with most Linux distributions and for the Mac can be downloaded using fink.

   to convert a single ppm image to jpg:  convert -quality 100 image123.ppm image123.jpg

For a series of images, use something like:

   for f in *.ppm; do convert -quality 100 $f  `basename $f .ppm`.jpg; done
   (if this doesn't work on the command line, put into an ascii file e.g., script then run  using 'sh script').

Option 1: Use 'convert'

convert is part of the ImageMagick package, which comes with many Linux distributions. For Mac it can be downloaded using fink.

mpeg: To convert images to an mpeg movie it is necessary to also install mpeg2encode, which is available from the same places (note, this may be in the 'unstable' branch of fink). To convert a series of numbered ppm files to an mpg movie:

 convert -delay 6 -quality 95 test*ppm movie.mpg

-delay and -quality flags are optional. If -delay is set >4, it will add extra frames to make the movie run more slowly, thereby increasing the size of the file. The default quality is 75 and maximum is 100.

animated gif: e.g.,

convert -delay 20 test*ppm movie.gif

After this, the animated gif can be converted to mov format using quicktime pro.

Option 2: Use mencoder

To convert a series of jpg files to an avi movie that can be displayed by, for example, Quicktime Player with no add-ons, use:

mencoder "mf://*.jpg" -o movie.avi -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mjpeg

Useful discussions are on Wikipedia and here.

Other Possibilities

 ffmpeg or ppmtompeg (discussed here) or mjpeg.