Friday, August 23, 2013

PE: Numbered Stills in Time Lapse and Other Animations


Premiere Elements "Time Lapse Video Basics" are featured in a July 2013 blog post here and represent a flexible and effective way to create Time Lapse video using Premiere Elements. The essentials of the approach described involve taking individual sequentially ordered photos into Premiere Elements where the duration of each is shorten (downward to 1 frame if necessary) to create the Time Lapse effect.

The shortcut version of the above can be found in the concept of Numbered Stills feature which results in the duration of each numerically ordered photo automatically being set to 1 frame and imported in sequential and numerical order into Premiere Elements as 1 video file. The key to getting this to work is the file name for each photo which has to be the same except for the file's number which must have the same number of digits for all the files. The Numbered Stills feature is also seen applied to animations not related to Time Lapse. Still image file formats such as .png, .bmp, .psd, .tif as well as .jpg can go through the mechanics of the Numbered Stills scheme. Numbered Stills basics for use in creating Time Lapse videos and other animations in Premiere Elements will be the focus here.


Time Lapse

Using Premiere Elements 11* Add Media/Files and Folders, browse to the group of  photos to be used. In this Time Lapse video example, they are 10 jpg photos (1920 x 1080 pixels) in sequential numerical order.

In the Add Media dialog that opens, (1) click on just the first photo of the series. In this particular example it is file 001.jpg. Then (2) click on the box next to Numbered Stills option to place a check mark there. Then (3) click Open. Refer to Figure 1.

Figure 1. Premiere Elements 11 Add Media Dialog. Numbered Stills Setup For Time Lapse Video Project.

At this point, Project Assets will display a single video file using the name of the first photo in the series (in this case, file 001.jpg). Refer to Figure 2.

Figure 2. Premiere Elements 11. Properties Of Numbered Stills Video (File 001.JPG) In Project Assets.

Each photo of the 10 photos went into the video with a duration of 1 frame (equivalent to 0.033 seconds NTSC or 0.040 seconds PAL), giving the video that arrived in Project Assets a total duration of 10 frames (0.333 seconds NTSC or 0.400 seconds PAL).

The video file type is described as JPEG and assumes the frame rate of the project settings. Its duration can be altered with Time Stretch or Time Remapping. Although Time Remapping has a Frame Blend option, ghosting resulted when the swiftness of the video was slowed down by Time Stretch or by Time Remapping with Frame Blend applied. The fixed photo duration of 1 frame can often create too fast a Time Lapse effect which needs slowing down.

Numbered Stills option appears to work with a series of either .psd, .tif, .bmp, .png, or .jpg. The .jpg photos used above were each converted into .psd, .tif, .bmp, and .png versions, put through the Add Media/Files and Folders/Add Media dialog Numbered Stills process, and some properties for the resulting video from each looked at. Refer to Table 1.

Table 1. Premiere Elements 11. File Size And Average Data Rate for Numbered Stills Video Properties Related To File Formats For Source Photos

Tip: Expand the Expert workspace Timeline with the zoom out (-) zoom in (=) slider above the Timeline so that the placement of the video on the Timeline can be seen. Expansion of the Timeline also avoids accidental overlaying if a second series is created and dragged to the Timeline next to the first series.

Animations in General

Some Major Points
  • The key to getting the Numbered Still feature to work is the file name for each photo which has to be the same except for the file's number which must have the same number of digits for all the files.
  • The file names of a series do not have to start with file or file They just need to be in series, same number of digits in the number part, and all have to have the same file extension.
GIVEN a hard drive folder containing 17 sequentially and numerically sorted photos with the first 10 as .jpg (from file 001.jpg to file 010.jpg) and the last 7 as .png (from file 011.png to file 017.png) as shown in Figure 3. The jpg are personal photos; the png were created in Photoshop Elements using its Content to create the sequential images which were saved in png format.

Figure 3. Premiere Elements 11. Hard Drive Folder With Sequentially Numerically Order Photos, File 001.JPG to File 010_JPG Followed By File 011.PNG to File 017.PNG
THEN Premiere Elements 11 Add Media/Files and Folders/ and then the Add Media dialog and its Numbered Stills option, and 
  • Select file 001.jpg
  • Check mark next to Numbered Stills option
  • Open
The resulting video in Premiere Elements 11 Project Assets represents only the first 10 jpg files. That video can be dragged to the expanded Timeline. If the same was repeated, but this time with file 011.png selected, the resulting video in Premiere Elements 11 Project Assets represents only the next 7 .png files of the 17 files ordered in the hard drive folder. This png video can be dragged to the expanded Timeline and be included next to the video from the .jpg series without any problems.

Note: One should be able to get all 17 of the files (from file 001.jpg through file 017.png), if one imported them in Premiere Elements without the Numbered Stills feature and worked with them as described in "Time Lapse Video Basics" July blog post referenced in the Introduction.

If one knows that a 1 frame photo duration will achieve the wanted animation effect, all well and good in favor of the shortcut. It offers the lowest setting possible for the program. This setting often has a too fast effect for the Numbered Stills video. Time Stretch or Time Remapping can be used to slow it down. In Premiere Elements 11 the Frame Blend option for smoothing slow motion is not available in the Expert nor Quick workspaces. It is in the special Time Remapping workspace. But in the search for smoother slow motion, beware of unwanted ghosting effects (no pun intended since the little animation demo below shows a baseball at at the pitcher's mound and a catcher's mitt at home plate and no signs of a pitcher or catcher). Focus on the "curved ball" pitch.

In the video below compare the "curve ball" for the first pitch versus the "curve ball" of the second pitch.  This first "curve ball" has slow motion effect and no Frame Blending; whereas the second "curve ball" has the same slow motion effect but with Frame Blending applied.


This video above which was uploaded to this blog post is an AVCHD.mp4 (1920 x 1080 @ 30 progressive frames per second) file from a Premiere Elements 11 NTSC/DSLR/1080p/DSLR 1080p30 project. The Timeline content consisted of:
  • Numbered Stills video (file 011.png) that was created using the sequentially numerically ordered file 011.png through file file 017.png that are shown at their hard drive save location in Figure 3 and
  • Duplicate of Numbered Stills video (file 011.png).
Each was taken into the Time Remapping workspace, and the "Extremely Slow (1/8x)" setting used for the slow motion effect for each, the Frame Blend option was used for only the Duplicate.


Although some prefer the Numbered Stills approach for setting up for Time Lapse video in Premiere Elements, it is not my preferred approach since I do not believe it offers the flexibility and effectiveness of the "other" way which I have described in  Premiere Elements "Time Lapse Video Basics" July 2013 blog post.

*The principles described are applicable to versions 4, 7, 8.0/8.0.1, 9.0/9.0.1, 10 as well as 11.
Projects were run on Windows 7 Professional SP1 64 bit computer.