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Using still photographs in Adobe Pro 1080p

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Jennifer Rolle
Using still photographs in Adobe Pro 1080p
on Nov 3, 2019 at 5:52:31 am

Hello, all... I'm working on a documentary using a large number of still photographs and other printed images in the spirit of Ken Burns' "Civil War." I've been downloading TIFF file formats from various archival organizations that will be added to my interview footage. I'm concerned that they will appear blurry when projected. I'd be so grateful for any tips and information to avoid this. Many thanks!



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John Pale
Re: Using still photographs in Adobe Pro 1080p
on Nov 3, 2019 at 6:11:08 pm

Tiff is just fine. Make sure they are of sufficient resolution. If you are doing zooms and moves on them, at least twice the resolution of your editing timeline would be ideal. DPI doesn’t matter.

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Tod Hopkins
Re: Using still photographs in Adobe Pro 1080p
on Nov 4, 2019 at 8:19:40 pm

I have many criticisms of Adobe Premiere, but it's handling of still images is not one of them. The biggest issue you face is the quality of the original image. I must admit that I have never seen Premiere noticeably degrade an image. In fact, it is remarkably good at scaling up so never dismiss a low res image until you've seen it in the timeline.

Things to keep in mind:

There are limits. Premiere will have problems with images greater than 5000 pixels in either dimension. This is not a hard rule and varies with image format, total pixels, and available VRAM, at least.

That said, you can work with very, very large images. I've worked with images as large as 10,000 pixels, but it wasn't easy. You will first loose the ability to preview in the source monitor. Then you will have trouble with playback in the timeline. And eventually, you won't be able to render the clip at all and rendering will lock up. My rough understanding is that this is tied to the limits of the available VRAM to hold the uncompressed image canvas for rendering.

I work on Macs and generally have better luck with PNG than TIFF or JPEG. They all work, but for a variety of reasons, PNGs work better on Mac. I don't convert unless I have problems.

Aspect. Images tend to be vertical. Video is landscape. If you plan on filling the frame, realize that many images, like standard studio portraits, just don't work.

Size. You will have a devil of a time convincing people you need really big images! You are always going to need to crop and move. Your images should be at least 50% larger than your finished resolution. I always ask for the highest resolution available and pre-crop and scale for Premiere if necessary.

DPI does not matter! Pixel dimensions only. 2500+ wide or bigger. If people are asking you about scanning, your answer is 1200dpi for a photo and 6000+dpi for a transparency or slide. And they will say they can't, and you'll have to compromise at 600dpi (for the photo) and you'll say "okay" and they will feel like they've won.

The motion tool is great but it is a bit limited. Don't forget other effects like Basic 3d (z-rotation), crop (with softening), drop shadow.

A mild Guassian blur can do wonders! If you have a face, place a soft edge mask around the eyes. This will dramatically increase rendering, so do any blurs or soft edges last! You can, of course, do this work in Photoshop first and in many cases that's better, though less efficient.

Vignettes are incredibly useful for still images. A subtle vignette improves almost any still. Do not use the "Vignette" tools though. Instead use a "Brightness and Contrast" effect with an oval mask. Much more powerful. I have one saved as a preset.

I have other questions, reach out. I work with still all the time.


Tod Hopkins
Hillmann & Carr Inc.
Washington, DC

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