Monday, June 09, 2008

Video Photo Montage: Carmel Sunset

Besides all the timelapse photos I took in Carmel in April, I also had about 75 shots from the beautiful sunset Evelyn and I enjoyed at dinner. Like the baseball pics, the question then is what to do with them.

Traditionally, one picks out the 2 or 3 best ones. That's fine, but it's not going to capture the experience. So I decided several weeks ago to try making a video.

This is my third attempt. The first two efforts were simple rapid-fire image sequences. This can work (most of my baseball video is done that way), but the problem here is that the images are all framed differently, and a third of them are vertical. They just made me dizzy.

So... I decided to individually zoom and position each frame. This is way too much work, but after a while I got much better at it.

The most important lesson I learned is to use the horizon to fix the vertical position AND use the sun to fix the horizontal position whenever possible. This creates a much more natural look.

I also found a few different ways of dropping in the vertical frames without disturbing the flow.

The Procedure

My basic procedure to first manipulate the still images.
  • Throw away bad ones.
  • Adjust color and exposure. For a sequence like this, the images have to be consistent, and need to get gradually darker through the sequence.
  • Straighten. I normally try to avoid straightening, but unstraightened horizons look terrible in a sequence.
Then, save them in reduced size in a separate directory. In this case the originals are 8 megapixel 3264 x 2448. They will be going to 640 x 480 video. I saved them as larger 1200 x 900 to give room for zooming. Next time I would give myself even more room and use 1632 x 1224 (i.e. exactly 1/4 the original).

If I wanted to use them as an actual image sequence (like the baseball game) I would use Canon Digital Photo Professional to rename and resequence them. In this case I didn't need that and I just used Google's Picasa to resize them.

Next I imported the images into Sony Vegas Pro, not as a single sequence but as individual stills. Vegas then allows you to put all of them on the time line as a still sequence -- the frame duration is setable in the Edit preferences. The default of 3 seconds seemed like forever, so I changed it to one second. But I wound up back at 3 seconds before I was through.

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