Wednesday, January 1, 2014

PE: Falling Snow Against Video


In the just published blog post "PE: Snow for Christmas", the falling snow effect was demonstrated against a snow scene still in a Premiere Elements 12 SD project. Essentially it should not make a difference if the falling snow effect is against a still or video or if the falling snow effect is part of a SD or HD project.

Although the snow-1.psd created in "PE: Snow for Christmas" was created as 720 x 480 for a Premiere Elements 12 NTSC DV Standard project, it can still be used in a Premiere Elements 12 HD project once it is imported into and scaled in Premiere Elements 12 to fit the Edit Mode monitor space established by the HD preset.

A major difference between video and still to be remembered here is that one can alter the duration of a still (no motion) without applying a slow or fast motion effect to the clip but cannot do that with video if one contemplates altering the video duration to match the snow still clip duration. If the snow still clip is converted into a stock video, then this video consideration applies to it also.

It was never the intent to get into the subject of how to apply snow to the ground, either in this or the prior blog post on falling snow effect, The intent was only to suggest how to create a falling snow effect. However, one of the examples to be given in this blog post will touch on how to make a summer scene look wintery to be consistent with the falling snow effect applied to it.


The answer will be by example, and the example will include a snow.psd created in Photoshop Elements 12 with 1920 x 1080 frame size for use in a Premiere Elements 12 Windows NTSC/DSLR/1080p/DSLR 1080p30 @ 29.97 project. The falling snow effect will be demonstrated against two different videos, one of snowy scenes (25 seconds duration) and one of a summer scene (about 12.5 seconds duration).

Much of what is to follow is a repeat of steps in the "PE: Snow for Christmas" with some changes specific to the HD instead of SD focus. Repeats are to be tolerated to avoid the reader from jumping back and forth between this and the prior blog post "PE: Snow for Christmas".


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

File Menu/New/Blank File
Preset: Film & Video
Size: HDTV 1080p (can be changed dependin on project settings for Premiere Elements 12 project)
Width: 1920 pixels
Height: 1080 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.

STEP 4. 
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 field 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 NTSC/DSLR/1080p/DSLR 1080p30 @ 29.97 project, using Add Media/Files & 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.psd Copy
Drag the snow.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 25 seconds (00;00;25;00). That is done because the duration of the video (snowy scenes) to go on Video Track 1 has a duration of 25 seconds.

Next, scale the snow.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.)

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.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.Psd Monitor Image After Dragged  Upward As Far As Possible Without Moving The Image Off Screen (Out Of  The "Black Box" Area.
d. Next, with snow.psd selected on Video Track 2, go to Applied Effects Tab/Applied Effects Palette/Motion Panel expanded, and click on the Toggle Animation (stop watch looking) icon to initiate the keyframing. Then move the Timeline Indicator to the end of the Timeline content 00;00;25;00. Next, click and drag the image in the Edit Mode monitor downward until the top of the file's bounding bov is sitting on the top of the Edit Mode Monitor (black box) space. The snow.psd image was dragged dowward as far as possible without moving the image off the screen (out of the "black box" area). Render the Time 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.psd Copy on Video Track 3. To do this,
  • Drag snow.psd Copy from Project Assets to Video Track 3.
  • Drag out the file so that is duration is 25 seconds.
  • 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.psd Copy work in a blank area of the Timeline. When finished, position it over snow.psd on Video Track 2. Render the Timeline content ot view the finished falling snow effect.


Part 3. Results
25 Seconds Snowy Scene Video

The 25 seconds snowy scenes video clip was placed on the Timeline Video Track 1 directly underneath the snow clip (300% scaled, Position keyframed) on Video Track 2 and the snow clip (200% scaled, Position keyframed) on Video Track 3. The Premiere Elements 12 Audio Tab/Music Score/Atmospheric/Heaven soundtrack was on Soundtrack. That Timeline content was exported to an AVCHD.mp4 file, using Publish+Share/Computer/AVCHD/ with Presets = MPEG4 - H.264 1920 x 1080p30. The export is represented in the following video.


12.5 Seconds Summer Scene Video

When this 12.5 Seconds Summer Scene Video was used in the project instead of the 25 seconds Snowy Scenes one, the duration of the snow.psd and snow.psd Copy were dragged out to give a duration of 12.5 seconds, instead of 25 seconds, to match the duration of the video being used. See Part 2. Step 1. and Part 2. Step 4. After these .psd files had the 12.5 second duration, the snow content's Position property of the file was keyframed as described same as for the 25 second Snowy Scenes video.

The falling snow effect look a bit out of place with no snow on the trees or grounds. The export of that situation is represented in the following video.


So, in a mini test, we tried to turn a Summer Scene Video into a Winter Scene Video. We did this by applying the Channel Mixer effect to the video on Video Track 1 below the snow in Video Track 2 and Video Track 3. The Premiere Elements 12 fx Effects/Advanced Adjustments/Channel Mixer setting were as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Channel Mixer Effect Applied To Summer Scene Video To Make It Look Like Winter Scene.
The falling snow against this video to which Channel Mixer was applied looked more wintery, almost as if snow was on the ground as the snow continues to fall.


As I have said previously, lots of variations possible. But the basic scheme presented in our two blog posts on falling snow against a still or video should be a good starting point for lots of exploration and experimentation to benefit your specific Premiere Elements workflow.


Work In Progress