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Graphic style guidelines

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Sean ODea
Graphic style guidelines
on Jun 26, 2009 at 3:53:09 pm


I'm new to creating my own graphics and would like some advice.

I'm editing together a video that is primarily text graphics and graphics will be created in Photoshop using a PowerPoint presentation as the starting point.

I converted all the PPT to PSD files but am finding that there's too much information on the resulting files I will use in the video.

Is there some sort of rule of thumb or principle guiding how much text a single full screen graphic should have when the end result is either a DVD or video delivered via the web?

Thanks in advance for your advice.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Graphic style guidelines
on Jun 26, 2009 at 5:01:48 pm

Coincidentally, I was going thru old files yesterday and came across a reprint from an old Kodak fact sheet paper called "Audiovisual Notes". The title was how to make legible slides, but the principles are the same as for what we do.

Digest version:

rule of thumb - lettering should be no smaller than 1/25 the screen size. Viewing distance - should be viewable at 8 times the height of the image. Measure your screen, multiply that by eight, sit back that far and see if you can read it. For projections, using a 4 foot by 6 foot screen with a four-foot-high image means an audience can 9or at least SHOULD) be able read it as far back as 32 feet. This is called the "8H"rule.

For CRT tv's of typical 19-inch size, viewed in a classroom situation, video graphics need to be twice as big and bold, approx. 1/12 the height of the screen instead of 1/25th, so you're looking at 1/8 or 1/4 the size of the whole screen for type.

Color rules: keep background darker and text lighter, secondary items like a graph should be a little darker than the text. The eye finds it hard to focus on bright reds and blues or greens next to each other at the same time, so bright hot green-red bar graphs are not advised as they cause eyestrain.

My own procedure also involves double-checking all my screen graphics on a B&W TV or a screen with a blue gun or monochrome setting. Because then you see like a person with color blindness sees, and you see that two colors that you thought looked very different, really have the same brightness value and blend into each other too much for good contrast.

Google up a site and web design app called "color theory" to get a custom mix of colors scientifically selected to work well together. Another way to go is to buy a cheap color wheel at the art store and use that to pick triadic complements for your themes. Less fancy way to describe that would be; on that wheel, pick your main color, then if that is the top of a triangle, the other two corners of your triangle point to shades that go well as the secondary colors.

Powerpoint is notorious for using non-broadcast-safe colors and levels, so you will want to turn on your warnings in Photoshop and your NLE to watch for that. Also screen proportions will be off slightly from TV standard, watch for that.

As to fonts, well, I really like sans-seriff fonts for video work, and I rarely use seriffed fonts like Times except for the very largest item on a screen. I don't always use shadow, but almost always add edge coloring to text. I find for powerpoints, it is helpful to set all the text with ahrad dark edge and to cast a shadow, to help it punch out of the background more and fight the edge crawl of aliasing, since the ppt screens are relatively low-rez to start with.

In terms of lines of type on screen at once, I tell my clients no more than five lines per screen/slide, preferably less, and you should let the lines build rather than pop up all at once. If it is important to keep them up longer, I like to gray the previous text as the new bullet comes in, so you can still read what's been covered, but know exactly where everyone else is right at the moment.

When exporting ppt, jpegs work but I like the higher quality of TIF or Targa. If you have the actual Powerpoint program on your system, export out a blank slide (no text) using the same theme as the actual slides, and this will give you a way to cheat and re-edit in layers later on the timeline with cropping tools, or back in photoshop. If you don't have powepoint, you can often composite a blank background slide from cropping together parts of the other slides in the stack, or using the clone stamp or healing brush in Pshop...

Just kind of some random thoughts, and others may differ or have more... You can find better tutorials in the tutorial section of the COW. Harrington, for one, always has some good tricks.

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Sean ODea
Re: Graphic style guidelines
on Jun 26, 2009 at 6:56:48 pm

Thank you!

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grinner hester
Re: Graphic style guidelines
on Jun 29, 2009 at 11:58:48 am

Most of the time ppt files are created by folks with no broadcast beckground. This means illegal colors, fonts too small and overall bad design, more often than not. When using ppt files for braodcast, it's best to look at them as a guidline for data... something to refer to as you create your own graphics for broadcast.

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