Making a mp4 movie from IDL

This is made easy using the new IDLffvideowrite object in IDL 8.


To see how a movie is constructed, see the routine

Note that this uses the IDL plot() object. 

Trying to make the same movie using IDL direct graphics (the plot procedure) seems to give a corrupted movie. Check out the routine


Unfortunately the mp4 movie created with IDLffvideowrite is not in a standard format. If you embed it in a webpage you will find that some browsers (Firefox and Explorer) will not allow you to play it. The problem seems to be that it has not been created with the H264 codec. The IDL manual advises you to install your own version of ffmpeg, and then replace some libraries in the IDL software tree. I tried this painful process but with no success.

Because of this I gave up using IDLffvideowrite and I now just write images to png files from IDL and then compile them into a movie using Quicktime Pro (which does create standard mp4 files).

Alternative formats

You can try the "webm" movie format by simply swapping the ".mp4" extension for ".webm" in the IDL code. However, this is not compatible with Apple's Safari browser - see my comparison webpage.

Page maintained by Dr Peter R Young.