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Creating Prints from Video Frames

Creating a still from a video frame

Creating a still from a video frame is pretty easy from your editing software. What you'll need is a video clip loaded in a nonlinear editing application and a image editing application like Adobe Photoshop to clean the file up.

  1. Move your playhead so it is on a video frame that’s representative of what you want. Try to avoid very fast-moving footage, or it may get blurry.
  2. Choose File > Export (or another similarly named feature). You'll need to choose an option for Still Images or Frame. If you don't see these, use the QuickTime Conversion option and choose Still Image from the format pop-up. You must then click the Options button to specify a format (like TIFF).
  3. Choose a destination to write the file and give the file a unique and descriptive name. Be sure that the file has the correct file type extension so it's easier to open in an image editor. We recommend using an uncompressed format like TIFF or PSD (instead of a JPEG or PNG).

Once the file is written, you can choose to use it as is. We however usually find it necessary to open the image for further processing. Using an application like Photoshop, you can fix issues like contrast, resolution, and pixel aspect ratio.

  1. Open the file using Adobe Photoshop. If using non-square pixels you may get a warning.
  2. Choose Image > Image size to check the pixel aspect ratio. Uncheck the Constrain Proportions checkbox, but make sure the Resample Image box is checked. Set the canvas size is set to either 1920 X 1080 or 1280 X 720 and click OK. Then choose View > Pixel Aspect Ratio > Square (you'll find this command in the Image menu for older versions of Photoshop).
  3. Resize the image to a desired output size. If you're a purist, uncheck the Resample image box and type in a resolution between 200-300 pixels/inch for print purposes. Otherwise you can type in any size you want (keeping in mind that enlargements may get soft or pixelated).
  4. Your video frame likely look very washed out. This is because video works in a different color space than photos. Choose Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels and click OK. “Clamp” the Input Levels. Set the white point to 16 and the black point to 235. You can then move the middle (gray) slider as desired to fix exposure. Click OK to apply the adjustment.
  5. Try boosting the color using either a Hue/Saturation or Vibrance adjustment layer. Don't overdo it, but a little drag to the right can really help.
  6. Choose File>Save As and specify a destination and format. We recommend sticking with either a PSD or layered TIFF file for both compatibility and future editing.

For more on the fusion of photography and video, check out From Still to Motion.

© 2010 Richard Harrington LLC