I'm a newbie to all this, so bear with me.
I want to make time lapse 1920X1080p movies using jpeg stills from my camera. My questions are
1) is there affordable software to do this on a midrange PC
2)with this software can you downconvert the size/compression to view the movie on a less-than-1920X1080p monitor
3)is there Blu-ray geared software out yet
Bert Alan: I'm a newbie to all this, so bear with me.
I can answer only part of this.
Nikon Capture 4 will control a D70 and similar via a standard USB connection. You can control most of the camera function directly from a PC, including vital stuff like shutter/aperature priority and white balance.
It also has a very good built-in module for time-lapse - just enter the time between frames, click the button and leave: The frames are automatically down-loaded onto the PC, a blessing since most memory cards will not be able to store sufficient frames.
There are a number of video programs which will convert your images into a video stream: I use Discrete Combustion 3. The Nikon frame is 3008*2000 - a 64% reduction provides a very good HD video clip. You can of course, leave the SLR frame 1;1 and use the the video software to make a pan and scan ... can look very good, as if you have a motion comntrol rig fitted to your camera. You can also use most NLE video editor programs such as Adobe Premier to make the video - set the stills as 1 frame duration then batch import all the images. You don't get as much control but its okay.
Biggest location/shooting problems:
Most digital cameras have auto-white balance. For best results, you should consider using a pre-select such as daylight 5600 or tungsten settings: This prevents unusually colour changes happening frame to frame.
On day to night shots, I have had good results using aperture priority - the camera uses the speed and ASA to compensate. The transition is smooth - the day stuff starts at 1/250 and slows down to 8 second exposures at night. Becareful to make the duration between shots lonegr than the expected time-exposure/frame transfer to the computer. Ifyou don't, the camera will drop frames.
Most of the problems using laptops center around battery consumption - the new Sony Vaio has an 8.5 hour long life battery which is a dream - I'd love to run one of these but I simply cannot afford it. If you are near a car, you can power a laptop from the cigarette lighter socket. I'm experimenting with different external batteries - One suggestion is to use sealed motorbike batteries - I have no idea if this will be good or not. Any suggestion or work-arounds welcomed.
One thing I've done a couple of times is to book myself into a high hotel with views over the city where I live ... I discuss with the hotel staff before booking in, telling them I'm a photographer and need a room with a good view - to date, the hotels are happy to help: One even allowed me to visit on a quiet day first to find the right room and view, then book the room for 2 months down the road. It gave me the opportunity to use the hotels power supply to drive the system, and to keep in the dry. The bonus is you get an excellent night out, can dine in the restraunt, watch cable TV and relax in airconditioned luxury - all whilst the camera and computer securely clicks through the shot unattended. It's a pity shoots are not always like that.
The next thing on my to-do list is construct a hard suitcase, so I can load all the kit into the one bag and use the handled/wheeled case to move the rig discretely and easily - besides the tripod and two camera bodies, I have the computer, camera battery charger/s, cables and remote electronic cable release, plus a 200Gig external hard disc - if you are shooting and converting the material into HD video clips, your laptop can quickly run out of space. So having everything in the one case should make life much easier - I know I can just grab the suitcase and run, knowing everything I need will be in there.
There is a commercail market for good HD-time-lapse - at present, many video libraries are okay for SD 720*576 video but have limited HD material ... since most countries have or are switching to HD, this means the demand is hotting up. The 1080p24 format can be used anywhere world wide - most libraries I have talked to are okay with this format. If a client needs 1080i60, they do a 3:2 pulldown to get it up to speed. And because its progressive, the quality holds through the conversion.
Please remember too that a digital camera has a limited shutter life, anywhere between 50,000 - 200,000. In practice, if you are shooting a lot of material, you will be replacing your camera/swapping out the shutter once a year.
Hope this helps a bit: HD-time-lapse is still a little in infant development so any shared experience will be useful.