17 Replies Latest reply on Dec 27, 2011 1:32 PM by Stan Jones

    Can the screen be cropped to and exported at a custom aspect ratio?

    singerm2

      I think I'm needing Premier to do something it's just not designed to do. What I need to do is to take five or six different screen and audio captures of the same event (a 3D virtual reality instructional session), each representing a different person's view of that event, assemble those in a split screen, synchronize them to the designated "main" capture's audio, delete the other audio tracks, and add CG title labeling each one. The effect is like looking at a display showing six security camera images. From what I can determine, it is possible to do those things in Premier.

       

      However, what I then need to do is to crop out any extra space to the left and right of that split-screen image and export the file as a .mov with the aspect ratio produced by the cropping so that the videos are as large as possible and are not distorted from resizing them to fit the standard aspect ratio. Depending on the size of the screencaps, the resulting .mov might have nearly a 1:1 ratio. What is critical for this is that the video be as large as possible and the "black" space be as small as possible so that the person who comes in later to analyze these composite videos can see everything  as clearly as possible. I also need to crop on the fly; because these images aren't always captured at the same size, it is impossible to preset a size for the resulting video.

       

      We've been using a screen capture tool to do this that works but is a pain; clips can only be moved and resized by mouse-drags, and the software has to import to and export from its own proprietary format, which is very slow. However, ever piece of "real" video editing software I've looked at only seems to export in TV or film aspect ratios. Quicktime Pro looked for a bit like the best bet, but it doesn't seem to be able to handle multiple audio tracks (which are necessary since I have to synchronize tracks by ear much of the time).

       

      Is what I'm describing--exporting .mov files while preserving custom aspect ratios that are created by cropping during editing--something Premier can do? If so, would it be something fairly easy for complete novices to do?

        • 1. Re: Can the screen be cropped to and exported at a custom aspect ratio?
          Stephen_Spider Level 3

          "...would it be something fairly easy for complete novices to do?"

           

          no.

           

          "...We've been using a screen capture tool to do this.."

           

          trouble.

           

          So... how many screens are you wanting to show at the same time? And how is your target audience watching this video... on what devices?

          • 2. Re: Can the screen be cropped to and exported at a custom aspect ratio?
            Jim_Simon Level 8

            Stephen_Spider wrote:

             

            "...would it be something fairly easy for complete novices to do?"

             

            no.

             

            I'm glad you said it.

            • 3. Re: Can the screen be cropped to and exported at a custom aspect ratio?
              singerm2 Level 1

              Stephen_Spider wrote:

               

              "...We've been using a screen capture tool to do this.."

               

              trouble.

               

              So... how many screens are you wanting to show at the same time? And how is your target audience watching this video... on what devices?

               

              I'm not sure why you'd call this "trouble." The person who set up the process before me simply used the software (ScreenFlow) that was available and was already being used for the screen capture.

               

              As I said, there are five or six screens shown simultaneously, depending on the test group. The composite video is exported as a .mov file and played back for analysis full-screen in QuickTime on a Mac (and maybe on a PC as well - I'm not sure what all of the research team are using). Any solution that changes those parameters won't work: all videos have to be imported with their audio tracks for synchronization, all but one audio track then has to be deleted, and the composite video has to be cropped while maintaining the largest possible size and original aspect ratio of each screen.

               

              And as far as "easy," I didn't think it would be. From what I can tell, the screen capture software will do the cropping easily because it is screen capture, not video production, software and is agnostic about the size or screen ratio of the final product. Premier, understandably, isn't. However, some on the team are wondering if using a "real" video editor will speed up the process, so that's why I'm asking.

              • 4. Re: Can the screen be cropped to and exported at a custom aspect ratio?
                Stephen_Spider Level 3

                So your thinking six clips playing side by by side. So picture six monitors packed side by, full size would be 18000 to 22000 horizontal pixels, which there isn't a monitoring solution for, and I doubt a system that could play such a clip. So to fit six full screen captures on an HD size monitior, you have to shrink each screen 6 to 1  to end up with a clip that about 320 pixels wide. Then are all of your screen capturers going to be of consistant size? That's a wrinkle.

                 

                So trouble with screen capture clips are just what I've seen on this forum with the video clip not having consistant frame rates. Not exactly optimum for synched track editing.

                 

                So best advice, do a small test project now. Try to go through the steps you envision with test clips. See if you can make anything like what you are thinking.

                 

                .mov may not be your best export file format. But you Should test a number of codecs and bit rates.

                 

                Have Fun..

                • 5. Re: Can the screen be cropped to and exported at a custom aspect ratio?
                  medeamajic Level 2

                  On a Mac based system ScreenFlow might work best but on the PC side FRAPS might work best. You can do what you want to do with Premiere Pro once you record the screen capture. As Stephen_Spider mentioned you might need to crop and even resize the images. FRAPS can record at 1/4 the screen resolution and still have decent results. PP CS 5.5 can play several layers (6 PIPs) of the FRAPS codec at 1/4 resolution in realtime.

                  • 6. Re: Can the screen be cropped to and exported at a custom aspect ratio?
                    singerm2 Level 1

                    medeamajic wrote:

                     

                    On a Mac based system ScreenFlow might work best but on the PC side FRAPS might work best. You can do what you want to do with Premiere Pro once you record the screen capture. As Stephen_Spider mentioned you might need to crop and even resize the images. FRAPS can record at 1/4 the screen resolution and still have decent results. PP CS 5.5 can play several layers (6 PIPs) of the FRAPS codec at 1/4 resolution in realtime.

                     

                    Thanks, but we cannot change the screen recording process. According to the study's protocols, the virtual world has to be full-screen or almost nearly so during the session, and that full screen has to be captured for analysis. Resizing the screen captures is not a problem (especially since I already said I'm doing that), but if you're saying that Premier can only play back up to six screen captures simultaneously if they're captured at 1/4 screen, then that's a deal-breaker right there.

                     

                    By the way, here's approximately what each of the completed composite videos looks like:

                     

                    Screencap 1Screencap 2
                    Screencap 3Screencap 4
                    Screencap 5Screencap 6

                     

                    Each screencaptures is resized to the largest consistent size that will fit into this format, and then the resulting video is cropped to the outside border. If there are only five screencaptures, I simply center the single one on the bottom on the "center line."

                     

                    And, to be clear (though I've said this several times already), this is something that is already being done. We probably have more than 60 of these .mov files, each around 45 minutes long, with five or six synchronized screen captures in each. Frame rate etc. has not been any issue with these, and neither has playback of the .mov file from HD or DVD.

                     

                    Message was edited by: singerm2

                    • 7. Re: Can the screen be cropped to and exported at a custom aspect ratio?
                      Stephen_Spider Level 3

                      No one said it was limited to 1\4 size screen. Again, as editors we are making assumptions about the size output, and what devices are available for an audience to watch a video.

                      Your target resolution and screen composition will dictate size\resolution of the clips.

                       

                      You say 1/4 size is a deal-breaker, but we've already established that fullscreen captures would need to be resized to about 1\6 to fit six on a standard display, side by side.

                       

                      If you are only using portion or quadrants of the screen the math changes, but you are still using 6 clips with a horizontal pixel count of about 320 for a HD display.

                       

                      You also state that you want no matting on the top or bottom of the final product. Again using A HD monitor as a model, your looking at something like a 1920pixels W X 214 pixels H.

                       

                      What is your target display size? And do you plan to have all six clips lined up horizontally?

                      **************************************

                       

                       

                      edit , okay you gave more information while I was typing

                       

                      Make a custom sequence with pixel dimensions and a square pixel aspect ratio (1.0) that accommodates your six piece composition without matting. Edit Video. Export Media with same pixel dimensions and aspect ratio with the codec of your choice. Experiment with bitrate.

                      • 8. Re: Can the screen be cropped to and exported at a custom aspect ratio?
                        singerm2 Level 1

                        Stephen_Spider wrote:

                         

                        You also state that you want no matting on the top or bottom of the final product. Again using A HD monitor as a model, your looking at something like a 1920pixels W X 214 pixels H.

                         

                        What is your target display size? And do you plan to have all six clips lined up horizontally?

                        **************************************

                         

                         

                        edit , okay you gave more information while I was typing

                        Damn, Jive forum sortware is miserable for not showing edits.

                         

                        If that's the process, that won't work. We'll just continue to use our current software. Thanks.

                        • 9. Re: Can the screen be cropped to and exported at a custom aspect ratio?
                          medeamajic Level 2

                          I wish I could see a screen capture of what you have. Not a movie screen capture just a still image. You can capture at full resolution with FRAPS and crop it.  You might be able to play 6 layers at full resolution if you have the right GPU.

                          • 10. Re: Can the screen be cropped to and exported at a custom aspect ratio?
                            singerm2 Level 1

                            medeamajic wrote:

                             

                            I wish I could see a screen capture of what you have. Not a movie screen capture just a still image. You can capture at full resolution with FRAPS and crop it.  You might be able to play 6 layers at full resolution if you have the right GPU.

                             

                            It is really frustrating to have to restate the same things repeatedly.

                             

                            While I cannot show a still of one of the compostive videos (since all study data is confidential), the mock-up I drew above is pretty accurate as far as format. We cannot change the way the screen capture is done. That means we cannot use any software other than what is currently used - not FRAPS, not anything else. Screen captures must be done of the full screen, and while they subsequently can be resized, they cannot be cropped.

                             

                            We do not need the "right GPU" to play back the six-capture composite videos we are currently creating and have been creating for months. A 45-minute composite .mov file right now plays off of DVD on every machine it's take to.

                             

                            We've already  established that Premier is not a tool that will work for us. Thanks.

                            • 11. Re: Can the screen be cropped to and exported at a custom aspect ratio?
                              Stan Jones Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                              I understand your frustration with people trying to change your workflow. I understand research protocols and why that poses some limits.

                               

                              We've already  established that Premier is not a tool that will work for us. Thanks.

                              I don't understand that conclusion. I don't see that there is any problem doing what you described, except that I do not think your instructions are clear regarding one or more steps that appear to vary from sample to sample. An example is the statement in the original post that the samples may not be the same [pixel] size. But that the finished piece will have each video be as large as possible.

                               

                              Stephen's post 7 (in the edited addition) describes the main scenario, but I suspect you still need another step that involves resizing the final output. That depends on how you interpret the sequence pixel size.

                              • 12. Re: Can the screen be cropped to and exported at a custom aspect ratio?
                                medeamajic Level 2

                                As Stan Jones stated you must be leaving out an important step in the equation. You also make to many assumptions in your responses. What I see in your diagram is 6 PIPs. Your diagram has an overall aspect ration of 1:1 as opposed to 4:3 or 16:9. Premiere can be set up to a 1200 X 1200 or even 800 X 800 (1:1) aspect ration. In theory for screen captures a monitor that displays a 4:3 aspect ratio at 800 X 600 might help for your needs. If it is to be re-sized then capturing at 1/4 resolution as FRAPS can do might yield a better result than having to re-size using Premiere or even FCP. You have even stated that you are worried about distortion from resizing. I mentioned FRAPS can capture at 1/4 resolution to educate you. I did not say you had to use it or you should use it. You state Premiere will not work. I as well as others would like to know what does work? I would love to see a screen grab of what you are doing and what NLE you are using. As far as the files being confidential make a simple mock up that does not use your clients clips. Show me and others exactly what you are doing. I don't doubt I can mimic what you are doing very easy using Premiere Pro CS 5.5 unless you forgot to tell us something. If your clients  screen capture monitors are 1920 X 1080 you could try try adjusting the resolution to 1280 X 720 for the screen capture sessions.

                                • 13. Re: Can the screen be cropped to and exported at a custom aspect ratio?
                                  Stan Jones Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                  In theory for screen captures a monitor that displays a 4:3 aspect ratio at 800 X 600 might help for your needs. If it is to be re-sized then capturing at 1/4 resolution as FRAPS

                                  His work flow is set by the research protocol. I think these sort of comments simply distract from his question, which is, given his requirements, how can PR do what he requires in post.

                                   

                                  I as well as others would like to know what does work?

                                  As he pointed out, he uses the screen capture program, and it is not convenient. But it apparently works.

                                   

                                  Premiere can be set up to a 1200 X 1200 or even 800 X 800 (1:1) aspect ration.

                                  Why not 3,840x3240? Position as desired. Crop in export, square pixels throughout, and size to the max possible on the target playback monitor. I am assuming (given the mov) that this is for computer playback. The export pixel size doesn't matter, right?

                                   

                                  I don't know if this works, but I don't see why not.

                                  • 14. Re: Can the screen be cropped to and exported at a custom aspect ratio?
                                    medeamajic Level 2

                                    All my comments are valid Stan. Singerm2 stated the aspect ratio was 1:1. Premiere Pro can do any aspect ratio at any resolution.  Keep in mind it has to play on other peoples monitors. The resolution of 3,840x3240 might be a bit to big, wouldn't you agree? That is why I posted 1200 X 1200 and 800 X 800. I know he has something that works but obviously he wants a better option or he would not be posting here would he? If the images are being distorted because of resizing then perhaps asking the client to lower the resolution might help get a better end result. Have you done a lot screen captures Stan Jones?

                                    • 15. Re: Can the screen be cropped to and exported at a custom aspect ratio?
                                      Stan Jones Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                      Keep in mind it has to play on other peoples monitors. The resolution of 3,840x3240 might be a bit to big, wouldn't you agree?

                                      The export is what has to play on other monitors. The resolution I suggested is the max of what he is starting with. I'm just suggesting a possibility that may get around some of the issues.

                                       

                                      If the images are being distorted because of resizing then perhaps asking the client to lower the resolution might help get a better end result.

                                      The client would have to redo their research protocol. He has made it clear that is not going to happen.

                                       

                                      Have you done a lot screen captures Stan Jones?

                                      Yes. More importantly, I've done research, and understand his starting point for the question. It was worthy exploring some options with him, but he has made the point clear. I just thought it more productive to focus solely on a point I did not see made: PR is agnostic to display aspect ratio when exporting mov. I assumed based on other comments that the source videos are square pixel aspect ratio and remain square throughout.

                                      • 16. Re: Can the screen be cropped to and exported at a custom aspect ratio?
                                        medeamajic Level 2

                                        PP CS 5.5 can crop, re-size and allow for any aspect ratio and any resolution. I myself would like to see what method is being used with a few screen shots. I think that is fair in order for us to see if PP CS 5.5 might work better than what he is using now.

                                        • 17. Re: Can the screen be cropped to and exported at a custom aspect ratio?
                                          Stan Jones Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                          I'm also curious.

                                           

                                          My curiosity is more focused on the methodology of the source samples being different pixel sizes. Ordinarily, you don't want that kind of variation. There may be a reason it can't be stadardized, or it could be a variable that is being studied.