Saturday, August 15, 2009

Stills from videos and slow motion playback

The previous video that I uploaded in Vimeo was not converted well and only parts of the video shows clearly. This is not really the fault of Vimeo since I uploaded it at the full resolution of 1920x1080, 60p while the recommended resolution is only 1280x720. So for this week I uploaded another super macro video shot on flowers, this time at the more modest 30p, 1920x1080 which Vimeo could handle before.

Here is the link to the latest video on Vimeo.

The Sanyo marketing department has been highlighting the Xacti series as a dual camera implying that the still photos are as good as the videos. The HD2000 will produce still photos of up to 12M resolution but they somehow do not look that striking to my untrained eyes.

Anyway, lately I discovered that I can get very good stills by capturing the frames from a video, even though that they are just 2M resolution, taken from 1920x1080 mode videos. (These are good "capture the moment" for me, just for casual viewing but maybe not good enough for professional photographers! They would be using dedicated cameras or DSLR's anyway.) Thus there is no need to be distracted to snap photos while recording your video, you can get your stills from the video itself. From my playing around so far, I found that the best stills can be taken from the video shot at the highest resolution of 1920x1080, 60p and 30p. Those shot at 60i will yield shots that are ghosted for moving subjects and those with panning actions. Of course those taken in bright sunlight will fare better as well.

Here are some examples.

The first two below are taken from videos shot at 60p.

The next two below are from video taken at 30i. The first picture shows ghosting of moving flag and the second shows ghosting while panning.

These two below are from videos taken at 30p. Note the pigeons freezed in mid-flight.

I found that the best way to choose the still shots to be captured is to view your videos in slow motion playback. Didn't know that there is such a mode since this is not highlighted in the manual. Here's how.
1. Select and play your video.
2. Move joystick up to pause the video.
3. Move joystick right for about 1 second to start slow motion playback.
4. At the point you want to capture the still, move joystick up to pause the video.
5. Press the white camera button to capture the still shot. You'll be ask if you want it in 16:9 or in 4:3 ratio.
6. Press the SET button to capture the shot.
7. While paused, you can also move the joystick right to forward select frame by frame.
The slow motion playback moves at about 1/4 speed and it is best for videos shot at 60p where the playback is very smooth. Those shot at 30i and 30p is not as smooth and there is ghosting or shadows for those shot at 30i for moving subjects or panning, maybe because of the interlacing. These ghosting is very apparent when viewing on the LCD screen but when viewed on a HDTV, this is not so apparent. Don't know why so maybe the experts out there can give an explanation.
Happy capturing your stills.
Ronald Kwok