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Killing myself over a stop motion project...

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Walter W ThompsonKilling myself over a stop motion project...
by on Jan 1, 2012 at 6:02:01 pm

So I'm trying to figure out how best to edit a few jpeg sequences (around 2,00 pictures total) into a high quality movie. I've plugged the image sequence into quicktime pro 7, transcoded it to Pro Res 422, and edited in Final Cut 7, but the quality of the images has decreased dramatically.

I've read on this forum that After Effects is the way to go when trying to create a stop motion movie w/ jpegs. I've tried multiple times, but keep getting frames of color bars, odd dimensions. etc. I'm clearly a novice at this stuff!

I would ideally like to edit in FCP, as that is what I'm most comfortable with, but am open to ANY suggestions.

Thanks,


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Erik WaluskaRe: Killing myself over a stop motion project...
by on Jan 1, 2012 at 6:38:05 pm

You should probably post on the FCP forum if you haven't done so already. After Effects can probably handle your jpeg image sequences much easier. Could you explain in more detail the problems you are having with AE, such as what format you are importing (pro res or image seq) and what comp settings and render settings, effects, etc. that you are using within AE. Color bars indicate that there is footage missing. Did you perhaps move or rename any of the images after importing?


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Walter W ThompsonRe: Killing myself over a stop motion project...
by on Jan 1, 2012 at 7:39:39 pm

I haven't actually posted anything on the FCP forum yet, probably a good idea!

I'm importing high quality jpegs taken with a Canon t2i (5184x3456) The frame rate needs to be 15fps. All I'm trying to do is create the best quality quicktime that I can transcode to Pro Res 422 and edit in Final Cut.

The photos are labeled in ascending order, but some numbers are missing, as I took the pictures in Lightroom with a tethered camera, and sometimes the flash didn't fire.


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Erik WaluskaRe: Killing myself over a stop motion project...
by on Jan 1, 2012 at 10:00:45 pm

The fact that some of the image numbers are missing from the sequence would account for the color bars since after effects considers those to be missing frames from the sequence and substitutes a placeholder (color bars) in for those images. Use the "force alphabetical order" option when importing the sequence and it will overlooks the missing frames.

Check that the image sequence frame rate is set to 15fps in the interpret footage dialog in the project window. If not, then set it to "assume this frame rate" and enter 15fps.

Then you can drag it to the new comp icon at the bottom of the project window and change the comp size to the size you want to export for editing in FCP (1280x720?)and set the frame rate to that of your FCP project(29.97fps?). Then resize the image sequence to fit in the comp size.

Now just send it to the render queue and render it out in pro-res or whatever format you want and the final movie should play at 29.97fps (or whatever you set it at) but the image sequence is still 15fps, which you can confirm by stepping through frame-by-frame and you should see that each frame plays twice (30/15=2).


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Jonathan ZieglerRe: Killing myself over a stop motion project...
by on Jan 2, 2012 at 2:40:57 pm

I find it best to process all images in photoshop first. Ps is way better at properly resizing images and maintaining quality. I've also had luck with After Effects image sequences and QuickTime (after processing in photoshop). Can you post what you have?

Jonathan Ziegler
http://www.electrictiger.com/
520-360-8293


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Walter W ThompsonRe: Killing myself over a stop motion project...
by on Jan 2, 2012 at 3:25:40 pm

Will running them through PS help to maintain quality in Final Cut? I pretty much have the project finished in FCP 7, I just can't get the quality that I'm looking for.

I have literally never worked in AE before, so it's all very new to me. I have a Composition that has all of my footage and audio, I just need to add text. The quality of the images seems to keep in AE, I just have no clue what I'm doing beyond importing, interpreting, and dragging to the timeline.

The project I'm working on is a LEGO stop motion proposal video for my girlfriend which I'm planning on showing her tomorrow afternoon, so it's getting to be crunch time!

Thanks so much for your time,


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Jonathan ZieglerRe: Killing myself over a stop motion project...
by on Jan 2, 2012 at 4:04:10 pm

Well, I would have processed the video files in photoshop to fit into a 1920x1080 frame cropping the difference between a 3:2 and 16:9 frame. Then load the sequence into AE to get the 15fps then render out to QuickTime (pro res) and finally import to your fcp timeline at 15fps. From there, add your titles, lower-thirds, audio, etc. and run the final thru compressor. I've done the majority of my time lapse work this way. For stock I only ever use AE since it just exports straight from the timeline. This a great way to turn time lapse from DSLRs into 4k footage, too.

Jonathan Ziegler
http://www.electrictiger.com/
520-360-8293


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Walter W ThompsonRe: Killing myself over a stop motion project...
by on Jan 2, 2012 at 4:23:22 pm

Is there an easy way to batch process (crop) a few thousand images in Ps at the same time to fit a 1920x1080 frame? I shot all stills with a Canon t2i.

When you say 'add lower thirds' does that mean I can bring the cropped part of the images back in FCP?

Sorry I'm such a novice! This stuff is pretty complicated!


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Jonathan ZieglerRe: Killing myself over a stop motion project...
by on Jan 2, 2012 at 5:42:57 pm

Hey, whoops, my bad. "Lower-thirds" is a name for the graphics (ie: the person's name during an interview) that appear in the lower-third of the frame (that's what I was told anyhow and it sounds reasonable).

First, to prep, drag all of your images into a single folder (they probably already are, but just to be sure). Now, in Photoshop go to your General Prefs (on Mac, it's Photoshop >> Preferences >> General), change the "Image Interpolation" to "Bicubic Sharper" and click on Ok. Next, go to File >> Scripts >> Image Processor. Select the folder that has your images in it. Next, select the folder you want it to go to or create one (if you pick save to same, it will make a new folder in the folder and save converted files there). For file type, choose JPEG, set quality to 8 or 9. Make sure to check "Resize to fit..." and set width to 1920 and height to 1280 (remember, 5184x3456 is 3:2 and 1920x1080 is 16:9 so you want to get the most from your frame - if you use 1920x1080 in the image processor, you'll get images that are 1620x1080 with pillarbars). Leave the save as PSD and TIFF options off. Add copyright info if you like here, too, but since the final will be a video, you can add that in your NLE or AE. Hit run, then, depending on your machine's speed, go get coffee or lunch. ;)

when you load your image sequence in AE and drop it on a 1920x1080 timeline, it will cut off the top and bottom by 100px on both. You really shouldn't have any major motion going on here anyway that close to the top or bottom of the frame. You can always do a sort of pan n scan if you feel you are missing something. Heck, even film was about a 4:3 ratio so cropping was quite common.

Jonathan Ziegler
http://www.electrictiger.com/
520-360-8293


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Walter W ThompsonRe: Killing myself over a stop motion project...
by on Jan 6, 2012 at 3:14:27 pm

Thanks to all who offered advice on how to enhance the quality of my stop motion project. I wound up doing using automate in Ps to make each individual still image 1920x1080, then brought them into QT Pro as an image sequence and exported as ProRes 422. Worked like a charm! Here's a link to my proposal video.

Thanks again, everyone!



Walter W Thompson
FIREPIT PICTURES
walter@firepitpictures.com


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Jonathan ZieglerRe: Killing myself over a stop motion project...
by on Jan 6, 2012 at 4:54:34 pm

That is awesome! Thanks so much for posting the video. I showed my wife and she cried. ;) I really hope she says yes! nice video!

Jonathan Ziegler
http://www.electrictiger.com/
520-360-8293


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Davide MarchesiRe: Killing myself over a stop motion project...
by on Jan 26, 2012 at 10:35:32 pm

Hello everyone, I hope as well your proposal went well.

My problem similar to Walter's, thus I thought I could ask here too. Basically I have some sequences of pictures I imported in AE. Frame rate is set at 24 fps and the resolution of the original stills is 4256x2832 (shot with Nikon D700). Initially I thought I would go about it resizing and/or cropping the bunch of pictures in Photoshop and then importing the pictures with new dimension of 1920x1080, perfectly fitting HD 16:9 presets. I guess it'd work perfectly this way (or the way Erik described too). On the other hand, now I'm thinking to add some simple simulated camera movements to the footage through anchoring and moving the centre of the video up or down, left or write. In order to do that, the video has to be a little bit larger than 1920x1080 of course. Although it would still be acceptable to enlarge a 1920x1080 footage in order to do what I want, it seems pointless to me to scale down the images/footage size in Photoshop if afterwards I will have to enlarge it again, that would leave me with a very unnecessary loos of quality.

I am also very new to After Effects and just dragging the image sequence with its original size (4256x2832) in a composition of 1920x1080 is giving me some problems (i.e. the preview won't load all the way, but just partially and the exported .mov file is really stuttering a lot in QuickTime and, I believe, in Final Cut Pro too). Oh, yeah, my goal is to get sequence of footage I can edit on FCP.

Do you have any suggestion on how I could do this?


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Jonathan ZieglerRe: Killing myself over a stop motion project...
by on Jan 26, 2012 at 11:41:15 pm

Sounds like you might be better off creating a video at the full resolution (4256x2832) and then drop that into your 1920x1080 timeline. You will need to crop no matter what because neither share the same proportions (unless you want pillarbars). In that case, just create the video from the original files in Quicktime, save to a self-contained movie and import into After Effects. You can also just make the video in AE, but I like Quicktime Pro better for image sequences made to video. I don't have a technical explanation, but they just seem to work better. I also generally use ProRes422 (not HQ, but you can use it if you like). The files are huge, but there you go.

Now, you can crop and such in Photoshop first if you like, but I think you'll have more overall versatility. If memory is a problem, consider making a low-res version for editing in Compressor as well.

Jonathan Ziegler
http://www.electrictiger.com/
520-360-8293


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Davide MarchesiRe: Killing myself over a stop motion project...
by on Jan 27, 2012 at 7:52:04 pm

Thanks for your ideas, Jonathan. I believe that if I if I decide to work with videos at full resolution, I could just use the motion controls of FCP without needing to use After Effects. Or do you think that importing the big files into AE and then using it to convert them would work better?

The only problem would be previewing them in Final Cut Pro, I think it would be impossible to run them smoothly (just like the tests I made with QuickTIme Pro were impossible to play at a normale pace on my computer). I'll have a try.


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Jonathan ZieglerRe: Killing myself over a stop motion project...
by on Jan 27, 2012 at 9:26:20 pm

If you make them large i don't see any reason to bring into AE. You can make an image sequence in AE if you want too. I was thinking of potential memory issues is all.

Jonathan Ziegler
http://www.electrictiger.com/
520-360-8293


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