The Basics - FCP Stills to PhotoShop

FCP Stills to PhotoShop
By Ken Stone

This article is being displayed here until the 2-pop Library is restored at the 2-pop web site.

There maybe times when you want to grab a video frame for use in another application, such as art in a PhotoShop file or as a background menu in iDVD or DVD SP. To do this, in FCP, make your TimeLine active and place your play-head over the exact frame that you want to 'grab' as a still.

Look at the image in your Canvas window. If it looks sharp then skip down to the next paragraph. If the image looks blurry, jiggles or displays a 'comb like' effect, it will need to be 'De-interlaced' . This condition is most often caused when the camera, subject or both are in motion. The closer the subject is to the camera or the faster the movement, the greater the amount of interlace artifacting. In your effects browser go to 'Video Filters' open the 'Video' folder and find the 'De-interlace' filter. Drag it to the TL and drop it on the clip that you are taking your still from. You will notice that the red 'render' line comes on in your Time Line, pay it no mind. Now check the quality of the image in your Canvas window, it should have improved. You will also notice that the image on your NTSC monitor has stopped jumping around.

Next > file menu > export > QuickTime (if these items are grayed out, go to your TL and select the clip then go back and the items will be available). You will get a 'Save' dialog box. From the 'Format' drop down menu choose "still image". From the new dialog box click on 'options', then choose Photoshop format. BMP, Jpeg, PICT, QT Image, TIFF and other formats are also available. Leave the "Frames per second" field blank. From this second box there is a second 'option' available, choose 'best depth' click okay and then Save.

If you have used the 'De-interlace', Command z from the keyboard to remove the De-interlace filter, the red render line will disappear.

When you open the FCP still in PS there could be two different isssues. First, there could be a thin black stripe along the left and right hand borders, also, at the bottom, a 1 pixel line of white and at the top a one pixel line of black. If this is the case you'll need to crop these out using the 'Crop' tool in PS. Second, when you go to 'Save' this file you will have only PS, PICT, and TIFF's as available formats to save in. Open your 'channels' palette in PS and look at the last item at the bottom of the list, should be channel #4. This is the 'Video Alpha' channel carried over from FCP which adds an Alpha channel to all clips on the Timeline. Click and drag channel # 4 to the little 'trash can' at the bottom right of the channels palette. Now you will be able to save the file in any format including Jpeg. Unless you have a need for the Alpha channel, trash it .

One last chore. The Still image that you took from the TimeLine is comprised of rectangular video pixels (taller than wide). Photoshop will now be displaying these rectangular pixels as square pixels. Square pixels are the standard for PS and computer bitmapped files as rectangular pixels are for video. Because of this your FCP still will look distorted in PS. To correct this problem open the Image Size box in PS. First, uncheck the 'constrain proportions' box. Then change the width size from 720 to 640, leave the height of 480 as is, Save. This will re proportion the image so that it will now be correct in PhotoShop.




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