Previewing Your Movie

on Monday, November 30, 2009

I could start and end this section by simply saying “Click Play” under the preview window in your editing program. If you want to see a bigger preview in Apple iMovie, click the Play Movie Fullscreen button. If you are using Pinnacle Studio, alas, you are limited to the tiny, inflexible size of the Studio preview window.
Of course, truly previewing a movie means a whole lot more than just clicking the Play button. To perform a truly effective preview, you must
  • Draw a properly critical eye on the movie.
  • Decide whether just previewing the movie on your computer screen is sufficient, or whether you need to preview it on a TV monitor. The next two sections address both of these subjects.
Warm up that coffee, sit back in your director’s chair, and get ready to see what kind of movie magic you hath wrought.
You should also make sure that you preview your movie on the same type of equipment that your audience will use. This includes testing it in the player software that your audience will use if you plan to share your movie on the Internet or a recordable CD.

Freezing Frames from Video


The first part of this chapter shows you how to use still pictures in your movies. But there will also be times when you might want to freeze a video image for posterity, so to speak. You may want to grab still pictures from video to help promote your movie, or you may want a still image of someone or something, and the video clip is the only image you have. Just keep in mind that the resolution of video images is really, really low compared to even the cheapest digital cameras, so frame grabs from video will have a lower quality. The lower quality will be especially apparent if you print the frame grab because image details will look blocky and pixelated. To freeze a frame of video and turn it into a still picture:
  1. Open the video clip that has the frame that you want to freeze. If you don’t have a video clip of your own, you can use the sample video clip on the companion CD-ROM. In Pinnacle Studio, you must place the clip in the timeline before you can freeze a frame. To add a video clip to the timeline, simply drag it from the album to the timeline.
  2. Move the play head to the frame that you want to freeze.
  3. Grab the frame. In Apple iMovie, choose File➪Save Frame As. A Save As dialog box appears. In Pinnacle Studio, choose Toolbox➪Grab Video Frame. The Grab Video Frame toolbox appears. Choose the Movie radio button next to Grab From, click the Grab button, and then click Save to Disk.
  4. Save the frame. In iMovie, name the picture and choose a format in the Format menu. The available formats are JPEG and PICT, but if you’re not sure which format to choose, I recommend JPEG.
In Studio, name the file and choose a format from the Save As Type menu. Several formats are available, but I recommend the JPEG format for the greatest versatility.
After you have grabbed a frame of video, you can use the image on a Web page to promote your movie, use it as a background image for a DVD menu, or share it as you would any other still photo.

Making an overlay graphic


Pinnacle Studio treats still graphics as if they were titles. As explained, you can put titles in either the video track or the title track of the timeline. If you put a title in the video track, it will be a full-screen title. If you put the title in the title track, it will be an overlay title, which means the words will appear over a video image.
Because Studio treats still photos like titles, you can use the title track to overlay your own custom graphics over a video image. To try it, follow these steps:
  1. Open Microsoft Paint by choosing Start➪All Programs➪Accessories➪Paint.
  2. In Paint, choose Image➪Attributes. The Attributes dialog box opens.
  3. Enter the height and width of the video image used in your video project, and then click OK. If you’re working with a DV-format project, make the image 720 pixels wide and 534 pixels high if you are working with NTSC footage, or 768 pixels wide and 576 pixels high if you are working with PAL footage.
  4. Draw an object. Any old object will do, so let your creative juices flow.
  5. When you are done drawing, choose a color from the color palette that was not used in your drawing (or whatever object you actually drew in Step 4).
  6. lick the Fill tool
  7. Click a blank area of the image to fill it with the new color.
  8. Save your picture and then close Paint.
  9. Open Pinnacle Studio and the project in which you want to use the overlay graphic.
  10. Click the Show Photos and Frame Grabs tab on the left side of the album.
  11. If your drawing doesn’t appear in the album, click the folder button at the top of the album and browse to the folder in which you saved your Paint graphic. By default, Paint saves files in the My Pictures folder.
  12. Drag the overlay graphic from the album and drop it on the title track of the timeline. The overlay image should now appear over the image in the video track, You’re probably wondering how Studio knows how to make the background of an overlay graphic transparent.
When you place a graphic in the title track, Studio looks at the color of the pixel in the upper-left corner of the image and removes that color from the entire image. For example, if the upper-left pixel is black, all black pixels become transparent, whereas pixels that are blue, red, yellow, or other colors will remain. You may need to experiment with some different background colors for the best results. I have found that black works best most of the time.