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Chapter 4. Capturing and Importing Media > Understanding Your Import Settings

Understanding Your Import Settings

How Xpress Pro imports moving images, stills, or audio into the application depends on the settings you create in the Import Settings dialog box prior to import. Since there are a variety of images you can import into Xpress Pro, you should create multiple import settings for your most common import preferences.

Before importing anything into Xpress Pro, you need to check your import settings to make sure they're configured for what you want to import.

The Image tab of the Import Settings dialog box addresses the following questions that apply to moving images and stills (Figure 4.41):

  • Do you want to import the image with square pixels or nonsquare pixels? Do you want to resize the image or not? DV and 601 video use nonsquare (bilinear) pixels, whereas most still and graphic images you use on your computer use square pixels. So when you import an image into Xpress Pro, you need to tell the application how to handle its square or nonsquare pixels, to avoid unwanted distortion. The options are as follows:

    601, Non-Square: This is the option to choose for importing other DV clips. You can also select this choice for any image that has DV video's dimensions of 720 x 480 (NTSC) or 720 x 576 (PAL) and has nonsquare pixels. If the image has square pixels—meaning that it's probably a still image created in a desktop program such as Photoshop—the image needs to have dimensions of 720 x 534 (for NTSC DV), 720 x 540 (for NTSC 601), or 768 x 576 (for standard PAL).

    Also select this option if you want to scale up or scale down any image with a 4:3 aspect ratio that is smaller than a full DV frame (so that it fills the DV screen). Do not select this option if your image does not match the 4:3 aspect ratio, or the imported image may look distorted.

    Maintain, Non-Square: Use this option to crop any nonsquare images that have a width of more than 480 (NTSC) or 576 (PAL) pixels (such as an image in an NTSC standard frame of 720 x 486). Also use this on nonsquare images that have dimensions smaller than that of DV and that you do not want to scale up or scale down to fill the frame.

    Maintain Square: Use this option for icons and titles that you create in a still graphic program using square pixels—those that do not have the square-pixel-compatible dimensions mentioned for the 601, Non-Square option. This options tells Xpress Pro to not scale your image up or down, even if it does not fill the screen.

    Maintain and Resize, Square: Use this option if you are importing a square pixel image that does not have the dimensions mentioned for the 601, Non-Square option and that you do want to scale. This option stretches the width or the height to match the width or the height of the DV frame.

  • Do you want to import the image with RGB or CCIR 601 color? If you are importing a video image, choose CCIR 601 color. If you are importing a still image created in an RGB environment, choose RGB. If you are importing a still image that has a gradient, choose RGB Dithered.

  • What file field order do you want to use? Choose Non-Interlaced if you are importing a still. Choose either Lower Field First or Upper Field First if you are importing video. The choice depends on the type of video you're importing; DV video is always imported using Lower Field First.

  • Do you want to use alpha channel information or ignore it? If you want to include alpha channel information (opacity and transparency information), choose Use Existing or Invert Existing. Otherwise, choose Ignore.

    (For more information on alpha channels, see the sidebar “Alpha Channels Explained” in Chapter 9.)

Figure 4.41. Use the Image tab on Import Settings dialog to tell Xpress Pro how to handle any size, pixel aspect ratio, color space and alpha conversions upon import (avove). Review your options on the OMFI tab of the import settings dialog before importing any OMFI media (below).


The OMFI tab of the Import Settings dialog box presents the following options (Figure 4.41):

  • Use the Source File's Resolution: If you select this option, then you are choosing to ignore the resolution set on the Import tab of your Media Creation settings and import the source file at its own resolution. However, this is a misleading choice because Xpress Pro (without Mojo) can import a file only at DV 25 411 or 15:1s.

  • Use the Current Import Resolution: If you select this option, every import uses the resolution you set on the Import tab of the Media Creation settings dialog box.

  • Ask Me to Set the Resolution for Each File That Is Different from the Current Import Resolution: This option is useful to avoid a mistake such as importing a 15:1s file as a DV 25 411 file (which is a useless upgrade). When you select this option, Xpress Pro opens a dialog box if you try to import a file that has a different resolution than the one you set on the Import tab of the Media Creation settings dialog box.

Importing Stills at Higher than DV Res

Normally, when you import a still image or graphic into Xpress Pro, the application creates a master clip of the same resolution as your project (usually DV resolution). If you want to import and use a still at a higher resolution, you need to use Xpress Pro's Avid Pan & Zoom effect, found in the Image category on the Effect palette.

To use Avid Pan & Zoom, you apply the effect to any clip (which will serve as a placeholder) in your Timeline. Then you open the Effect editor and click the Avid Pan & Zoom's Other Options button at the upper left. This opens a window in which you can navigate to the higher-resolution still that you want to import

(For more information about effects and using the Effect editor, see Chapter 9, “Working with Video Effects.”)


Importing Audio: Special Concerns

The main thing to worry about when importing an audio clip into Xpress Pro is the file's sample rate. For example, audio files on standard CDs use a sample rate of 44.1 kHz. However, editing projects usually use 32-kHz or 48-kHz audio. Hence, when you import a CD file into Xpress Pro, the application asks if you want to convert the file's sample rate to your project's sample rate; generally, you should answer yes.

Before importing or converting any audio files, however, you need to check the following related option in your Audio Project Settings dialog box:

  • Render Sample Rate Conversion Quality: This setting governs the quality of any sample rate conversion you may perform during work on your project, and you should keep High and Slow selected. That said, you might choose Low and Fast when you have hundreds of files to convert and the clock is ticking.

Importing Stills and Graphics: Special Concerns

When you import a still image into Xpress Pro, you need to address two still-related import settings in addition to the other import settings:

  • When you import a still, how long do you want the resulting clip to last? To answer this question, enter a number of seconds in the Single Frame Import Duration box. This tells Xpress Pro how long to make the subclip or sequence that it creates when the program imports a still image.

  • Do you want to combine a group of stills into an image sequence? If the answer is yes, select Autodetect Sequential Files. If a group of still images in the same folder have sequential names (name.1, name.2, and so on) (Figure 4.41), then importing the first of these images will tell Xpress Pro to create a sequence, with the images appearing one after the other in the order that they appear in your folder.

Importing Photoshop and other Multilayer Files

You can import an Adobe Photoshop file—or any multilayered still from another graphic program—into Xpress Pro in several ways. When you import such files, you have two main decisions to make:

  • Do you want to include alpha channels? Alpha channel information is information that you can create in programs such as Photoshop to govern what is opaque and what is transparent in your image. In the Import Settings dialog box (Figure 4.41), you can choose whether to ignore this information when you import a still graphic.

    If you choose to include alpha channel information in your imports, then Xpress Pro applies Matte Key effects to every layer above the background layer in your imported Photoshop image (Figure 4.42).

    Figure 4.42. If you configure your import settings to invert existing or use existing alpha channel information, then Xpress Pro applies the Matte Key effect to all layers above your background (lowest) layer.

    If you choose to ignore the alpha channel information, then the image will be 100 percent opaque (Figure 4.43).

    Figure 4.43. If you configure your import settings to ignore alpha channels, then each of the Photoshop layers that Xpress Pro imports will be totally opaque, which is usually undesirable.

    If each layer is opaque, you can see only the top monitored layer in the Composer.

    (For more information on alpha channels, see the sidebar “Alpha Channels Explained” in Chapter 9.)

    (For more information on the Matte Key effect, see “Using the Matte Key Effect” in Chapter 9.)

  • Do you want to include layers? When you import a Photoshop file, you can choose to ignore any layers in the image— flattening the image into a simple subclip (Figure 4.44)—or you can choose to include some or all of the layers in the import.

    Figure 4.44. When you import a Photoshop file as a flattened image, Xpress Pro combines all layers of the image into a one-layer subclip. When edited into the Timeline, the clip takes up only one track.

    The cool thing about including layers is that Xpress Pro treats the Photoshop file as a sequence with individual tracks; you can edit and manipulate the layers individually in the Timeline.

To import a Photoshop file into Xpress Pro:

1.
On the Settings tab of the Project window, double-click your active (check-marked) Import and check your alpha channel settings in the Import Settings dialog box.

2.
Choose File > Import and point Xpress Pro to the Photoshop file, or drag and drop a Photoshop file into an open bin.

Xpress Pro displays a dialog box asking you how to treat any layers in the image (Figure 4.45).

Figure 4.45. When you import a file that contains layers (such as a Photoshop file), Xpress Pro asks you how to treat the layers. Your choices are to import all of them (Sequence of Layers), none of them (Flattened Image), or some of them (Select Layers).


3.
Click Sequence of Layers to import all layers, Flattened Image to combine all layers into one, or Select Layers to import chosen layers.

4.
If you choose Select Layers, Xpress Pro opens the Select Layers dialog box, allowing you to select the Photoshop layers you want to import into the application (Figure 4.46).

Figure 4.46. When you click the Select Layers button, Xpress Pro opens the Select Layers dialog box. Select the Photoshop layers you want to include in the import and click OK.


Xpress Pro imports your Photoshop file as either a subclip (if it's a flattened image) or a sequence (if it contains layers).

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