Placing images in the timeline of Pinnacle Studio

on Saturday, October 31, 2009

Studio is pretty conventional in the way it handles still graphics, which is a good thing. You can import pictures into the program and drop them in the timeline, just like almost every other video program available. Studio also makes it easy to use graphic images on top of video.
Studio’s media album has a special section just for still graphics. You can open it by clicking the Show Photos and Frame Grabs tab. By default, the album shows images in your My Pictures folder, but you can browse to a different folder if you wish by clicking the small folder icon.
To use a picture in your movie, simply drag it from the album and drop it on the video track of the timeline. The default duration for a still graphic is four seconds. To change the duration, select the clip in the timeline and click the Open Video Toolbox button. The video toolbox window appears above the timeline. Type a new time into the Duration field at the top of the toolbox window. Alternatively, you can just click-and-drag on the edge of the still clip in the timeline to adjust its duration.

Using images in your movie project


iMovie can use any picture that has been imported into iPhoto. In fact, importing the image into iPhoto first is mandatory — so if you haven’t imported your still graphics into iPhoto (as described in the previous section), do so now. When that’s done, you can start using still images in iMovie:
  1. Open iMovie and the movie project in which you want to use a still image.
  2. Click the Photos button. A collection of pictures that looks eerily similar to your iPhoto library will appear in the iMovie window.If you’ve gone to the trouble of organizing photos into different albums in iPhoto, you can switch between those albums using the menu above the image browser.
  3. Click the clip that you want to use in the movie to select it.
  4. Adjust the duration of the clip using the duration slider, which bears the images of a little tortoise and hare. The default duration for a still clip is five seconds, but if you want it to display for less time, move the slider towards the bunny, er, I mean hare. If you want the clip to appear slow and steady, move the slider towards the tortoise. At about this time, you’ll probably notice that your still graphic is moving in that little preview window in the upper-right corner of the screen. You’ll also notice the words “Ken Burns Effect” just above. No, the Ken Burns Effect doesn’t make Ken’s smiling mug appear in your movie. It makes the camera appear to slowly zoom in or out on the still image, providing a visual continuity of movement that is otherwise broken by using a still image amongst moving video clips. (Ken Burns, the well-known documentary filmmaker responsible for such films as The Civil War, uses this trademark effect in a lot of his films.)
  5. Click the Start radio button near the top of the screen. This allows you to adjust the zoom level at the beginning of the clip.
  6. Adjust the zoom slider. If you don’t want to zoom in on the image at all, drag the slider all the way to the left so that the zoom factor says 1.00.
  7. Click the Finish radio button near the top of the screen. This allows you to adjust the zoom level at the end of the clip.
  8. Adjust the zoom slider again. If you don’t want to use a “Ken Burns” zooming effect, make sure that the zoom factor at the Start and Finish of the clip are the same.
  9. Click Preview to preview the results of the effect. If you aren’t happy with the effect, continue tweaking the zoom settings and previewing the results.
  10. When you’re done making adjustments, drag the clip and drop it down on the timeline or storyboard to insert it in your movie.
You can still adjust clips after they have been dropped into the timeline or storyboard. Select the clip, click the Photos button, and then adjust the duration or other attributes in the Photos panel. Click Apply when you’re done making changes.

Organizing photos with iPhoto


In the interest of simplification, iMovie uses Apple iPhoto for organizing still photos. This makes a lot of sense if you think about it; these two programs work together pretty seamlessly. If you already use iPhoto to organize your still images, you can move on to the next section. But if you haven’t used iPhoto yet, you’ll need to before you can use stills in iMovie. I recommend that you have iPhoto version 2 (or later) installed on your computer. iPhoto comes preinstalled on any Mac that ships with OS X. If you don’t have the latest version, visit to download this free program. Follow the instructions on the Apple Web site to download and install iPhoto. For more on using iPhoto, check out iPhoto 2 For Dummies by Curt Simmons, published by Wiley Publishing, Inc. When the program is installed, you can begin organizing your stills:
  1. Launch iPhoto by clicking its icon on the OS X Dock. Alternatively, you can open it from the Applications folder on your hard disk.
  2. Choose File➪Import. The Import Photos dialog box appears,
  3. Browse to the folder that contains the picture or pictures that you want to import.
  4. Select the picture and click Import. To select multiple pictures, hold down the Ô key while clicking each picture file you want to import.The picture appears in the iPhoto library. After the picture is imported into iPhoto, it’s ready for use in iMovie as well.
  5. You can now quit iPhoto if you want by pressing Ô+Q.

Getting the colors just right


I described how TV screens and computer monitors don’t show colors exactly the same way. The biggest problem is that some colors in computer graphics simply cannot appear on a TV. These colors are often called illegal or out-of-gamut colors. Although this isn’t a super-serious problem, you should still fix any out of gamut colors in your images before using them in video programs.
Unfortunately, the ability to easily fix out of gamut colors is usually only found in more advanced, expensive video-editing programs. Adobe Photoshop, which retails for about $600, is one such program. To fix the colors in an image, simply open the picture in Photoshop and choose Filter➪ Video➪NTSC Colors. This filter removes all colors from the image that are out of gamut for NTSC TVs. A lower-cost option that also enables you to fix out-of-gamut colors is Photoshop Elements, which is available for a much more affordable price of about $100. You might even be able to get it for free with some digital cameras.
If your image-editing program doesn’t have a video color filter, I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over it. But if it does, fix those out-of-gamut colors so that the image looks better in the final video program.