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Large Still Images into PE - One Workflow

Jun 19, 2009 8:04 AM

Tags: #premiere #large #batch #actions #scale #automate #still_images

Everyone wants the highest quality that they can obtain when doing their videos. It’s natural to want the best. Well, when dealing with still images, bigger is not necessarily better, for two reasons. First, overly large still images can really tax a system and second, one is limited to the frame size of the video, so these have to be resized somewhere - this resizing can be in the NLE (Non Linear Editor) program, or in an image processing program like PS (Photoshop), which does a better job anyway. Doing this in PS, or PSE, will result in better resized images, and they are easier for the NLE to work with. Quality is as high as your Project’s Preset will allow, and you are more efficient, with fewer crashes, slowdowns and hangs. It is a win-win situation.

 

Here is my normal workflow when dealing with still images. This workflow is for NTSC 4:3 720x480 with a PAR (Pixel Aspect Ratio) of 0.9. If your Project’s Presets are different, use those specs to resize to.

 

Since I shoot my still images in RAW, I Copy my files from the CF card to my system and catalog these images by location, subject and date (if necessary). I’ll do a quick conversion and Save_As Adobe DNG for backup. I then process these RAW images in PS with the ARC (Adobe Raw Converter), correcting them and then doing a Save_As PSD into a sub-folder. All of this is in my still photo library.

 

Normally, I will edit these PSD’s to find the images that I wish to use in a Video Project, and will Copy the selected images to another folder. You’ll see that I work with a lot of Copies, so my original files are always untouched and stored elsewhere. This guards against anything happening to them.

 

At this point, I’ll decide how I wish to use these selected images in my Video Project. Let’s just say that they are all horizontal images, and are still full-size from my camera. As stated, my Video Projects are DV-NTSC 4:3 720x480 PAR 0.9. [Remember, your Video Project may vary, so you will need to plug in the dimensions for YOUR Video Project in that case.] I also will have done my Cropping on each image individually, to get them to 4:3 Aspect Ratio. I do this my eye and by hand, rather than via an Action, because I want full aesthetic control.

 

In PS, I have a set of Actions for Video. An Action is like a Script, but less powerful and less involved in the writing. As I have already done all of my image enhancements and additional processing before I did my Copy to the selected folder, I only have to worry about my Action resizing these selected images for use in my Video Project. My Action here is to resize to 720x480 with a PAR of 0.9, and I normally use the Action that does this with a particular resizing algorithm, Bicubic-Smoother (though I also use Bicubic-Sharper on occasion).

 

For the next step, I go to my folder structure (remember, this folder contains copies of my selected still images in PSD format), and create a new sub-folder "[Project Name]_720x480." Back in PS, I choose File>Automate>Batch. Here I set my Source Folder, my Destination folder and the Action to perform. In my case, it’ll be the Destination Folder, that I just created, [Project Name]_720x480, and my Action will be my NTSC 4:3 720x480 Smooth. I check to have the Open command by-passed, because I do not need to see this take place on my monitor. When I hit OK, PS grabs all files in my Source Folder, runs the commands of my Action and does a Save_As for all files into my Destination Folder. I can process hundreds of large images down to a great 720x480 PAR 0.9 via Bicubic-Smoother interpolation, in moments. Now, I’m ready to go. Last, I Copy my Destination Folder to my Video Project’s folder hierarchy (usually on another HDD), and then Import these processed stills into my NLE.

 

What if I need to pan on one, or more of these images, while they are zoomed out completely? I don’t have enough pixels in my horizontal dimension to do this. I am just filling the frame with my still. Well, if I find that there are such images, I go back to my folder with the full sized images in my still images library, and select the ones that need to be larger. I run another Action on these, but it’s one that resizes to something larger than 720x480, say 1000x750. Now, I have another Destination Folder with the name [File Name]_1000x750. I’ll Copy this over to my Video Project, and Import these into the NLE. Here, I can go to Project Panel and remove the 720x480 versions if I so choose, but since a Premiere Project file (.PRPROJ or .PREL) is only an XML database, I may just leave them. It does not contain any media files, just links to where they are on the system and to what operations are performed on them.

 

By doing my resizing in PS, rather than in Premiere, I have accomplished two things:

 

1.) I have better quality resized images, using the algorithms in PS, plus have a choice of several interpolation methods to work with.

 

2.) I have lessened the processing load on my NLE and on my system, while doing the editing

 

I get higher quality and lower resource overhead - hence my reference to "win-win."

 

Now, back to my aesthetic control. I do not do any automatic zooming or panning. If one allows the NLE to do this, then they will want to probably process all of their images to 1000x750 (remember, this is for an NTSC 4:3 Project, so you will need to calculate what YOUR Project will require).

 

The two programs that I use are Photoshop and Premiere Pro, but Photoshop Elements can do the same things, though the exact commands might be different. Premiere Elements will handle the resized still images, just like Premiere Pro and the only difference will be the terminology used when one wishes to Import the still images.

 

I also keep all of my images in .PSD (the native format of PS), and do not convert to JPEG, or other. If one’s camera shoots only JPEG, I suggest writing the Action to do the Save_As to .PSD, as another JPEG compression will cost one quality. Yes, the JPEG’s will be smaller, but remember we are looking for the ultimate quality, so larger file sizes are just part of that equation.

 

One does not have to deal with all of the Copies, as I do. However, this allows me to go back to the originals, or to the processed full-sized .PSD’s at any step along the way. There is only one thing worse than not being able to go back to an intermediate version with full Layers and Adjustment Layers, plus any Alpha Channels, and that is finding out that you’ve lost your original RAW and DNG backups! That’s why I do a lot of Save_As and also work from Copies all along the way.

 

Hunt

 
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 20, 2009 7:01 AM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    Amazing article Hunt! Thanks!!!!

     
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    Aug 16, 2009 8:30 PM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    Thanks for sharing. That's some great information. Unfortunately, I may have read your post too late. I am all but finished with a lengthy slideshow using large still images in PE 4. I did not resize my images before I started the project. Can I resize them now in Premiere? Or do I have to start the whole project over using new, reduced files?

     
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    Aug 18, 2009 3:59 PM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    Okay, that makes sense. My computer hasn't showing signs of slowing yet, so I think I'll try burning it tonight just to see if it can make it through with the larger files before I try substituting the files.

     

    Out of curiosity while I was waiting to hear back with your suggestions, I tried recreating the project with only a handful of pictures. Instead of reducing the pixels of each picture in PS, I just exported them with Picasa 3 and used Picasa's automated feature to reduce the file size (Image Size Options: > Resize to: > 800 pixels and Image Quality: > Automatic). However, when I previewed the slideshow in Premiere, the resolution was still poor. Does that mean that Picasa's automated feature isn't sufficient for this problem?

     

    And if I batch process all the pictures in PS, will it correctly size both horizontal and vertical pictures in the same batch? Or do I need to process them in two separate batches?

     

    Thanks for your help!

     
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    Aug 22, 2009 7:42 PM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    I'm a newbie to video and have only done a couple of small projects in Premiere Elements.  I now have access to PPro and have a project that will involve a lot of stills  - both digital and scans of 4x6 prints.  When I import to either PE or PPro, I assume I need to resize to 740x480 and change the Pixel Aspect Ratio to 0.9 in Photoshop before it import.  What should I do about pictures that are already cropped to 4x6?  Thanks!

     
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    Aug 24, 2009 12:32 PM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    Thanks for your help!

     
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    Sep 30, 2009 10:22 AM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    Hey Hunt,

     

    [I'm following on from by PRE7 crash thread].

     

    I see you mention Project presets and resizing to reflect them. Now I had started off in PRE7 using output from my Sony XR200 ie AVCHD format and had set the project up accordingly.

     

    But I must admit I'm more than a little unsure as to what the project presets are for.  Most seem to associated with input format which of course doesn't make a lot of sense when considering a slideshow of stills as none are in any 'video' format. If the resulting video is only going to be shown on a PC/website then what difference does PAL/NSTC make? (Too many questions!)

     

    <Awaits link fest on video formats...;)>

     

    Cheers,

    Si

     
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    Dec 20, 2009 3:30 PM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    I have always found that when working with stills in Premiere, it is best to have them as close to the size they actually appear on-screen. For example, since you are only displaying them at 20-30% of their actual size, perhaps you should be saving them out of Photoshop at closer to 320 x 240 resolution (or 240 x 320 in your case). Just a thought.

     

    If I do not plan on zooming in on a still, I find that using the "default scale to frame size" option in the General Preferences tab suffices for the web-only stuff I've been doing lately. I'm sure it's not as good as Photoshop's algorithm for resizing, but it does a pretty decent job and it's quick and easy.

     

    -BC

     
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    Jan 13, 2010 7:30 AM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    Dear Hunt,

    great article and thread.

     

    What do y think about my workflow, which is in general similar (as for my understanding) exept that i use as final result in PPro or Elements JPEG-files.

     

    1. in Lightroom (LR) import from camera RAW formate and convert to DNG and use the selected DNG for archiv.

    2. in LR and chose in LR on DNG-files i do changings, color corrections, curves, and final cut the pic in a way i want (independent from PRo Project format).

    3. after finishing i export in LR to new folder all pics automaticly in size 1920x1080 JPEG (quality +/- 60-70%). The result will be that all files will have the size: wide yy (various) x high 1080;

    4. creating PPro project 1920x1080.

    5. import new JPEG folder which was created described in 3.

    6. in PPro i use zooms, movements, music and so on. special effects i ony do described in 2.

    7. final export for examel MPEG 2 BR... my individual fotoshow is ready.

     

    Becouse of 3. export from LR in PPro projekt all files have - as i expected - high 1080, the wide is different, maximum 1920,  often smaller, depending how i cut them described in 2.

     

    May you may explain there difference in the pic quality is. Mention that those JPEG will not be printed but only used for a fotoshow on a LCD-TV.   

     

    I once in the past tried out exactelly your workflow and i also used .PSD as footage in PPro. The total project size grew up very big becouse of the lage .PSD.

     

    Thanks for your comments and point of view

    klfi from austria   

     
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    Mar 4, 2010 8:17 AM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    Bill,

     

    When you resize your images to 720 x 480 , what resolution do you use?

     

    Is there a way to compress the file to send via email?

     

    Randy

     
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    Mar 14, 2010 5:55 PM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    If you resize to 1920 x 1080i and make a HD video from it and then use Nero to make a normal DVD out of it,then I guarantee that the result is much better then if you work immediately in 720 x 480

     
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    Mar 19, 2010 3:14 PM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    This is an interesting thread.  I had one addition to suggest.  A poster named "Curt" posted a similar entry which was also based on Photoshop--one of the items Curt recommended, which is great if one works in raw, to process the still images in 16 bit mode through the processing and resizing, sharpening, and then prior to saving the image, converting back to 8 bit.  This approach allows photoshop the maximum amount of image detail to work with, and still end up with a 8 bit image for use in Premiere.

     

    I've been using this approach and I see a definite improvement in quality (assumes that the "quality" is in the original image).

     
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    Mar 19, 2010 5:47 PM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    I just finished a slideshow in Proshow Producer in a HD 1920 x 1080 project. Have rendered to a BluRayvideo 1920 x 1080. Imported this *.m2ts file in to Nerovision and made a DVD 720 x 576 from it. Quality is much superior then the previous show which I made with 720 x 576 pictures and burned to a DVD. Seeing is believing. If you don't take my word for it then try it!! Much better result by resizing the video then by resizing the pictures !! Believe it.

     
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    Apr 17, 2010 3:39 PM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    Hunt (and others)   ---  this is a very helpful thread.

     

    I have a question.    I'm doing a project   16x9 HD   HDV 1080i.  As I'm putting in hundreds of stills, I want to down res them before bringing them onto the project.   The images are all JPGs   ...  cropped to varying sizes.

     

    Excluding the video software, I have Photoshop (CS3), Photoshop Elements (7) and Lightroom (2.6) I can use.

     

    That size or resolution do I want to adjust them to?  (again, they have already been cropped t the size I want the image)   ???

     

    Of the three tools I have, which do you recommend I use (I have hunderds of images.  I can write an action in PS, if that's best)

     

    Please advise.

     

     

    Thanks,

     
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    Apr 17, 2010 5:35 PM   in reply to Wucky

    I always use VSO Image resizer to do a lot of pictures in one time.

    Saves a lot of time and works very good

     

    Roald

     
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    Apr 18, 2010 12:15 PM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    Hello everyone,

         I have created a line diagram with text in AI and brought it into PPro (both Cs4) in the source monitor it is nice and clear but it looks blury in the program monitor and when output.  I have tried Jpegs, Tiff Targa BMP with no change. The image size is 1280x720 for DV NTSC widescreen. Any thoughts? I'm stuck.

     
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    Apr 23, 2010 5:04 AM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    So, I tried the VSO Image resizer and found it simple to use.  It seems to be fine, thanks for the

    recommendation.   I think Photoshop might provide better control, but for the purposes of this project, this VSO Image is convenient.

     

    Turns out I still have a problem with two of the images (jpg format)

    1) I bring them onto the timeline just fine.

    2) Then, I save as a clip ("share" tab) the entire project  (which is approx 3 1/2 minutes)  in MPEG2 1440x1081i 30 format.

    3) I then bring that movie clip onto a different ---  what will be the final --- project.   I bring on a few other segments as well  (finished project will run approx 20 mins and consist of six segments)

     

    Where two of the images are supposed to be shows a solid, bright orange screen, not the still images.  I've gone back and checked, the organe screen space is exactly where these two images are on the original projects ...  they even have transitions (cross dissolve) into and out of them!

     

    I have tried removing them and replacing them and changing the transitions, etc.  However, when I re-save  (share) the clip, where these images are still shows up orange. 

     

    I've seen this happen with a couple images on a different project.  Same story   . .    only a couple images create the issue, and I believe I've processed all that same  (did batch process to down res)

     

    Thoughts?

     
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    Apr 23, 2010 2:22 PM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    Hi guys, this is a great thread, I would like to make sure my understanding of it is correct. I shoot large format .RAW 3888x2892  for posters and such all conversions to .dng are done in Photoshop Elements 8, if I'am developing a ntsc 16:9 ratio standard def video in Premier Elements 8 should I resize the vertical to 1080 to keep vertical distortion to a minimum? Sometimes you can tell all is ok in the horizontal plane but somewhat overstated or even jagged in the vertical plane. Any help greatly appreciated!

     
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    Apr 24, 2010 3:39 PM   in reply to 1D Prophet

    1D Prophet

    I echo Hunt's comments on saving files.  "Asset Management" is important and can save gallons of tears later.

     

    Given the cheap price of storage, I almost always keep three sets of any decent (or possibly decnet) image:

    1) DNGs  (I shoot in raw and use the DNG converter  ... that also helps me rename the files in a logical sequence instead of DSC_xxxx blahonsense)

    2) PSDs (if using Photoshop).  If using Lightroom (which I love for 98% of the images I process), there are no PSDs, just rely on the catalog

    3) JPGs   (for printing, posting on web, or downrezzed for video)

     

    Chuck

     
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    Jul 29, 2010 3:29 PM   in reply to Wucky

    Good thread. I did switch my latest slide show project (stills only) to converting the jpeg's in PS (.psd's).  When doing this I lost the "Date Taken" in the metafile info and therefore cannot use the date format to chronologically organize my pics in the slideshow. Am I doing something wrong, or is this normal when you use Adobe Photoshop 8 to re-size / convert from jpeg's?  The .psd's seem to be an improvement overall.  Thanks in advance for any feedback.

     
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    Aug 10, 2010 10:32 PM   in reply to Schilfers

    Are you saying that burning a High Def image (or video) with a Blue Ray burner onto a 720x576 (where do you get DVD's that size?), allows you to play the DVD on a regular Non-blue ray DVD player, and that the quality is much better than the usual DVD limited quality? If correct, is the quality near that one sees on a computer at 1920x1080?

     

    kdoc

     
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    Oct 12, 2010 9:31 AM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    To batch convert in PSE7 users may find this helpful:

     

         1:     Select a bunch of images

     

    1.png

     

         2:     Select File> Export as New File(s)...

     

    2.png

     

         3:     Select a format, size and output location.

     

    3.png

    4.png

     

    Hope this helps for PSE8 as well.

     

    Cheers,

    --

    Neale

    Insanity is hereditary, you get it from your children

     
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    Oct 19, 2010 7:34 AM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    Thanks Bill:

    I appreciate your help. Have a great day!

    George

     
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    Oct 23, 2010 12:08 PM   in reply to nealeh

    neale;

    Thank you for your pictorial view.

    George

     
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