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Using CinePaint

The motion picture film editing process is very different than what you may be accustomed to with video editing. However, if you understand how to use Adobe Photoshop and how to scan 35mm slides then you already understand the fundamentals of CinePaint.

If you wanted to retouch 35mm slides, rather than 35mm motion picture film, you would scan your slides and could store them in a folder as several sequentially numbered images. In fact, if you have a digital still camera then you probably already have folders of sequentially numbered JPEG or TIFF images because that's how digital cameras typically work. Now imagine doing that not with just a few slides, but with 144,000! That's how many 35mm frames are in a 100-minute 24fps motion picture.

Motion picture editors often use a sophisticated kind of editor called a compositor. That is able to do more advanced editing tricks than video editors like Final Cut Pro. By the way, compositors typically manipulate movies stored in the format of individual frames at high resolution, rather than stored as a DV or Quicktime file like video editors. Apple offers the most popular compositor on the market, called Shake. CinePaint isn't like either of those programs.

So, if CinePaint isn't Final Cut Pro and isn't Shake, what is it?

The Hollywood movie studios have thousands of different motion picture tools they use. Sometimes when working on a movie you need to reach in and retouch individual frames. The most common reason is dust or other defects from the film scanning process. CinePaint has a flip book (see CinePaintFlipbookUserDocumentation) that enables users to advance quickly through a sequence of numbered images and a flipbook player to preview short movie scenes. CinePaint is the ultimate tool for tweaking a frame of film by hand. At a Hollywood studio a team of "dust-busters" may click through each movie frame looking for defects. Dust can be covered up by cloning the same region from an adjacent frame. When you need a painstakingly restored high resolution digital motion picture master that's when to think CinePaint.

You may be thinking, Hey! I'm not George Lucas. What good is CinePaint to ordinary computer users who aren't working on the next blockbuster motion picture? CinePaint is more versatile than it first seems.

Remember our example above talking about digital cameras and the sequentially numbered images they create? Rather than retouch those in Photoshop you could use CinePaint instead. And, because CinePaint can work quickly with numbered images you may find it faster. Even if you only need to retouch one image, CinePaint can still do the same tasks as Photoshop. You don't even have to use the motion picture features of CinePaint.

CinePaint has another distinctive feature besides the frame manager and flipbook. It can operate at 16-bit color depth. If you are thinking, what's the big deal, my monitor is 24-bit, then you are missing something. The best a 24-bit monitor can do is to display 8-bit images. That's because when filmmakers talk about 8-bit images that's 8-bits per channel, or 24-bit RGB. Although you can't display a 16-bit image (48-bit RGB) on your monitor in full color, the higher quality can be visible when printed to film. On the subject of image quality, movie frames are typically scanned at 2k resolution. That is, about 2,000 pixels wide. That is a much larger image than the typical television image at 640 pixels, or a Quicktime video that might be 320 pixels.

Maybe you are thinking, Ok, I see how I can use CinePaint with still images, but I really want to try the motion picture stuff! Can I fake it using a Quicktime video just so I can try it out? The answer is yes.

In Apple Quicktime Pro

  1. Open the movie you want to transcode
    2. Choose {File}{Export}
    3. In the dialog choose {Movie to Image Sequence}
    4. Press the {Options...} button
    5. Choose the image type you want to use
    6. Press {Ok} and {Save}

Now you have a numbered sequence of image files similar to what you would have created had you scanned a 35mm motion picture film. But, of much lower quality than film! Note that to export Quicktime movies to images you may need to purchase an upgrade to Quicktime Pro. The export feature is not available in the free Quicktime version.

In Virtualdub

One of the nifty video tools on Windows is Virtualdub:http://www.virtualdub.org/. Virtualdub can also extract an image sequence in .tga or .bmp and has even really simple methods to collect them together again to a video file.

Extract images:

  1. Open the movie you want to transcode
    2. Choose {File} {Save image sequence...}
    3. In the dialog set the {Filename prefix}, the {Directory to hold images} and {TARGA} for output (TARGA is lossless compressed).
    4. Press {Ok}

And now the real fun:

Collect images:

  1. Open the first picture you want to encode to a movie.
    2. Choose {File} {Open video file...}
    3. In the dialog choose the first picture and press {Open}

That's all. VirtualDub collects all pictures to a movie because they are sequentially numbered. So now you can choose {Video} {Compression...} and so on as usual. And don't forget to add the Audio stream again unless you wish a silent movie ;-).

Please direct user and developer questions to the appropriate [[mailing lists]].



copy and past -- Sun, 14 Aug 2005 12:05:22 -0700 reply