Saturday, December 2, 2006

Lumix FZ30 Shoot: Hybrid Movie Clip From Video, Still Files

Software info:
Apple Quicktime
Hardware Review:
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30
Also, check out my own review here.

It's about time to start the "trial and error" phase of joining still images, movie clips and audio!

Writing from Glen Burnie, I'm trying something else with the Lumix FZ30. I shot some low-resolution images and I'm currently pasting the images together and then splicing the movie files for a walk-around of my albino Honda sea turtle.

Getting bored with driving up and down Route 2, trying to find one of those fake trees for the holiday (NOT for me; for my best friend and my godchildren), I gave up on the effort and turned to learning the cut and paste process. Hopping out of the albino, I grabbed the Lumix and started shooting some stills in the "" (unlimited shooting) setting. Dropping the camera's resolution rate back to the smallest "EZ" setting and switching the jpeg size to the smallest available, I began by making a movie file in-camera.

Holding my position, I turned the camera to "shutter priority," which was set on 1/25th second, the closest shutter speed that matches the movie camera frame rate (1/24th second). Grabbing a bunch of images as I started moving my position, I walked to the side of the car, stooped shooting stills, and switched again to shoot a small movie clip. The process of shooting still images (at about 2 frames/second or so), switching to a movie clip, and back to stills continued for the walk-around, until I was behind my car, with a trickle of battery power to spare. Adding a short bit of footage to finish, I burrowed back in the Panera Bread, which has wi-fi for free, for a little web-surfing at cable speed.

Joined Still image movie clip
Opening the finder and clicking on the still images, each image size was 2048 pixels wide, while my movie rate is 640 pixels wide! So, there will be several layers of post-production to make the still movies and movie clips all the same pixel size.

Being a still photographer for my whole adult life and still learning about things like iMovie and Quicktime Pro, here's the method I went through (and my processor is still cranking out down-conversion while I write):

  • Copy the files to the desktop.
  • Mark the movie clips to visually exclude them.
  • Create folders and drag all the sequenced still images into each one.
  • Using Quicktime Pro, make image sequences out of images in each folder.
  • Using iSquint, resize the movie file from current size (2048x1536) to 640x480, the same size of the movie clips.
  • Since the new files are .mp4 (for iPod video), open in Quicktime and save as .mov files.
  • Drop all the smaller clips in iMovie and place them in order.
  • Export all the sequences into one movie.

FZ30 Movie Clip frame grab
Desktop screenshot of the file size of a Quicktime movie, shot as a movie file with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30. Dimension size for the movie clip is NTSC standard, 640x480, and the clip length is only 19 seconds while the size of the clip is 22.7 MB.

The final file size was 78.2 megs and 2'00", so I optimized the file for posting online, by running it back through iSquint for Macintosh OS X. The desktop screenshot of the file size of a Quicktime movie, joined through the iSquint proggie, using still images and movie clips. Original file size, once at over 200 MB, is dropped to 14MB for 2 minutes of footage. I've been using it more and more as a movie clip resizing tool since I also have a video iPod, and the quality of the resized clips are decent enough, while the program is very stable:

Final FZ30 Test Clip Size

Yup, that's a lot of steps, and I haven't even gotten to the audio portion yet! As I learn Final Cut and Macromedia Flash, PostProd is certain (hopefully) to be streamlined. The next thing to learn is adding audio to the still-image movie files. So far, I haven't gotten any royalty-free music, but I tried adding some of the iMovie sound effects (like the revving engine) and haven't figured that out. And I'm getting frustrated tonight, so I'm ready to shut this down. With more work in post, you can bet that audio like cool music will be added, as I begin mastering multimedia production.

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