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Chapter FOUR. HILLMANCURTIS.com NAVIGATI... > STEP 02 preparing the VIDEO

STEP 02 preparing the VIDEO

When I first started designing Flash spots, my illustration skills were somewhat undeveloped. In fact, they were non-existent. I had come from a Photoshop and Director background—both bitmap tools—and rather than sit down and learn how to control a Bézier curve, I decided instead to force my limited skillset on Flash. My lack of ability in the area of vector illustration combined with my love of film and film titles pushed me in a bitmap-driven, cinematic direction with Flash. Although I have since learned to work the vector tip, this cinematic direction remains a huge part of my style. The trick here usually is to shoot video in short spurts and hope you capture something compelling.

For the hillmancurtis.com navigation page, however, I was able to find film edit effects—random film leaders, splices, and grain—on a video source CD-ROM. The film effect clip I use in this file is from a royalty-free video clip collection by Radius and can be found and purchased at http://www.digitalorigin.com/products/filmtextures.html.

How you manage to get the film or video is not as important as how you go about processing it for use in Flash. Having found the video source, my first step was to import it into Adobe Premiere. Premiere is a desktop digital video editing tool used for everything from video production for CD-ROMs to offline editing for broadcast. It's a good all-around digital video editor, and that's why I use it. Again, regardless of your choice of video editing tools, the logic will remain the same. You will export digital video as sequential bitmaps.

You must digitize your video before you can take advantage of this and other video editing programs. Many computers come with a low-quality video digitizer standard. Other options include purchasing a video digitizing card, which ranges from $300 to $5,000, or finding a service bureau that will digitize your footage for you. Finally, if you don't have either a video camera or a digitizing card, you can purchase license-free digital video that comes on a CD-ROM. http://www.photodisc.com is one site that offers such discs, and the hillmancurtis.com site (http://www.hillmancurtis.com) has a download area for video as well.

The Premiere 5 work area shares some features with Flash 3. There is a Project window, which acts much as the Library does in Flash. This is where your assets reside, whether imported into or created within Premiere. The Monitor window is much like the "stage" in Flash. This is where you can view your project. And the Timeline is a linear, layer-based Timeline where you can apply your video cuts and effects.

To prepare a digitized video clip in Premiere for use in Flash, follow these steps:

Choose File > Import > File, and select the digitized video file.

Drag the video from the Project window onto a layer of the Timeline.

The video appears in the Timeline as well as in the monitor window as shown in figure 04:02.

Figure 04:02.

By clicking and dragging the Timeline playhead, you can scrub through my video clip. Scrubbing is sort of like manually forwarding or rewinding through the clip.

Scrub until you find a small portion of the video to use as the loop.

When you find a section of the video you are happy with, set the work area bar to reflect the in and out point of your selection as shown in figure 04:03.

Figure 04:03.

Choose File > Export > Movie, and when the Export Movie dialog appears, click on the Settings button.

The Export Settings dialog is where you can set the output file type, audio and video compression, frame rate, movie size, and rendering options. For this example, you need only focus on the file type output, frame rate, and frame size.

For file type output select Windows Bitmap Sequence (or Pict Sequence for Macintosh) and choose Work Area as the Range option (see figure 04:04). When you're done, click Next.

Figure 04:04.

Enter a frame size in pixels and specify the frame rate.

For my frame size I input 80 by 60, which was the button size I came up with when laying out the design in FreeHand. In the Frame Rate box, I selected 10, which means that I will export 10 individual bitmap frames per second (see figure 04:05).

Figure 04:05.

What you want to do here is choose a frame rate that will give you relatively smooth motion, but will not export too many frames. Think of it this way: Each frame is going to cost you in size in your final Flash movie. You want an immediate download, or as close to an immediate download as you can get, and that translates to the fewer frames the better. Because I had set my work area to cover just under 2 seconds, setting my frame rate at 10 means I'll end up with roughly 18–20 bitmaps. I can work with that.

Now, let's complete the export operation.

Before exporting, create a folder in which to save the bitmaps. Then, click OK to display the Export Movie dialog and enter a base name for the bitmaps. Click Save to save the files in the folder.

Premiere saves each frame of your digitized video as an individual file, named sequentially. For example, if I choose "filmClip" as my base name, the first three frames would be called filmClip01.bmp, filmClip02.bmp, and filmClip03.bmp.

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