Tuesday, December 31, 2013

PE: Snow for Christmas


"How do I create a falling snow effect for my Premiere Elements video?" is a frequent question. The answer to that question will be offered as a demo on how the following Premiere Elements 12 one minute movie was created with its falling snow effect embellished with a snow scene still, title template, and soundtrack.


Part 1. Creation of the Snow.psd in Photoshop Elements 12 Full Editor

File Menu/New/Blank File
Preset: Film & Video
Size: NTSC DV (can be changed depending on project settings for Premiere Elements 12 project.)
Width: 720 pixels
Height: 480 pixels
Resolution: 72 pixels/inch
Color Mode: RGB Color
Background Contents: White (leave it at White for now)

  • Set the Color Picker to the defaults (hit D on computer main keyboard): Black Foreground Color and White Background Color. Then Alt + Backspace key so that the document is filled with Black.
  • As the Alt key is held down, double click the Background Layer in the Layers Palette to change that to a regular layer (Layer 0).

With Layer 0 highlighted (it is the only one in the Layers Palette), go to Filter Menu/Noise/Add Noise and use the settings:
Amount: 75%
Distribution: Gaussian
Check mark next to Monochromatic
Click OK.

Then Filter Menu/Blur/Gaussian and use the settings:
Radius: 1.5 pixels
Click OK.

Set the Blend Mode of Layer 0 in the Layers Palette to Screen.

Then with Layer 0 selected, Enhance Menu/Adjust Lighting/Levels and use settings
From left to right (black - gray - white), in fields provided,
90 - 1.00 - 120 respectively.

With the Magic Wand Tool
(Tool Options settings are: Tolerance 32 with check marks next to Anti-alias and Contiguous)
Click on a spot in the "Black" area to select everything but the snow, and then hit Delete.

Deselect via Ctrl+D. Place photo underneath the snow layer in the Layers Palette, check out the snow, and then remove the photo that was used to check out the snow.

Next, File Menu/Save As
a. Name: Snow.psd
b. Format: Photoshop (*.PSD, *PDD)
c. Save In: personal choice for hard drive save location.

Part 2. Creating Falling Snow in Premiere Elements 12 (Expert Workspace), Using Snow.Psd Created in Photoshop Elements 12 Full Editor

Import the Snow.psd file into Premiere Elements 12, using Add Media/Files and Folders/Project Assets. In Project Assets, right click the file's thumbnail, and select Duplicate.
At this point, two files are in Project Assets
snow-1.psd Copy
Drag the snow-1.psd file to the start of the Timeline Video Track 2, and with the mouse cursor drag out the file so that its duration is 1 min (00;01;00;02).

Next, scale the snow-1.psd file on Video Track 2 to 300%. To do this, go to Applied Effects Tab/Applied Effects Palette/Motion Panel expanded/Scale property (with check mark next to Constrain Proportions.)

STEP 3. 
Then comes the keyframing of the Position property of the snow to create the falling snow. Here go to Applied Effects Tab/Applied Effects Palette/Motion Panel expanded/Position property. The specific sequence to follow is:
a. Highlight the snow-1.psd on Video Track 2.
b. Timeline Indicator at the start of Video Track 2, at 00;00;00;00.
c. With the mouse cursor, click and drag the image in the Edit Mode monitor upward until the bottom (white line in Figure 1) of the file's bounding box is sitting on the bottom of the Edit Mode monitor (black box) space. See Figure 1.
Figure 1. Snow-1.Psd Monitor Image After Dragged Upward As Far As Possible Without Moving The Image Off Screen (Out Of The "Black Box" Area.
d. With snow-1.psd selected on Video Track 2, go to Applied Effects Tab/Applied Effects Palette/Motion Panel expanded and click on the Toggle Animation (stop watching looking) icon to initiate the keyframing. Then move the Timeline Indicator to the end of the Timeline content  00;00;01;00;29. Next, click and drag the image in the Edit Mode monitor downward until the top of the file's bounding box is sitting on the top of the Edit Mode Monitor (black box) space. The snow-1.psd image was dragged downward as far as possible without moving the image off the screen (out of the "black box" area). Render the Timeline content by pressing the Enter key of the computer main keyboard to get the best possible preview.

One layer of snow has been created so far. You can stop here. But, to make it more snowy, another layer of snow was added, using the snow-1.psd Copy on Video Track 3.To do this,
  • Drag snow-1.psd Copy from Project Assets to Video Track 3.
  • Drag out the file so that its duration is 1 minute.
  • But, for this file, scale to 200% instead of 300%.
  • Then create the falling snow as you did for the first layer of snow.
If there is any confusion in selection of the file being worked on, then do the snow-1.psd Copy work in a blank area of the Timeline. When finished, position it over snow-1.psd on Video Track 2. Render the Timeline content to view the finished falling snow effect.

Part 3. Embellishments on the Basic Principles

1. The Timeline content that is represented in the export shown at the top of the blog post included
  • Video Track 4 Premiere Elements Titles & Text/Holidays andEvents/blinking_tree_lights_frame
  • Video Track 3. snow-1.psd Copy (Scaled 200%)
  • Video Track 2 snow-1.psd (Scaled 300%)
  • Video Track 1 personal jpg photo (3264 x 2448 pixels)
  • Soundtrack: Premiere Elements 12 Music Score Atmospheric/Is It Love
2. Premiere Elements 12 on Windows 7 Professional SP1 64 bit was used with project preset of NTSC/DV Standard. The export for the Timeline content was Publish+Share/Computer/AVCHD/MP4 - NTSC DV Standard.

3. If a video of just the falling snow was needed for use in another project, only Video Track 2 and 3 were used, and the following export choice was made in order to preserve the transparency of the Timeline content. To do that

with Presets = NTSC DV
But, under the Advanced Button/Video Tab of the preset, the key settings were Video codec = Animation and Depth - 32 bit. Also, to avoid an audio track with the export, uncheck Export Audio in the Export settings there.


There are all sorts of variations on this work; and, the principles are applicable to versions of Premiere Elements other than just 12.

Our 2011 work on a snow file creation and its application to video had its roots in the following flickr article.
This blog post updates our 2011 work and expands upon it.

We may update this blog post further at a later date.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all who have taken the time to read my Premiere Elements writings. Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season. Happy New Year 2014.


After publishing this blog post and watching the video again, I noticed that I forgot to mention that
I experimented with Dip to White video transitions at the end. More on that another time. Needs work.