How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Frames
Last month I made reference to Kubrick’s last film, Eyes Wide Shut. This month to find an interesting piece of trivia I visited my favourite movie web site, The Internet Movie Database: www.imdb.com, and searched for “stop motion.” Another Stanley Kubrick film was returned on the top of the list: “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.” Spooky – or merely a coincidence?
A common question from Premiere users is “How do I create stop-frame motion in Premiere?” Stop-frame video is sometimes called a “strobe” effect. I am sure you remember going to clubs in the 1970’s and 1980’s where a strobe light made all the dancers appear as still in time. At least my dancing looked better this way!
You can capture video using File>Capture>Stop Motion; but what if the clip is already imported? Well, its easy to accomplish – without resorting to filters or effects or exporting single frames of video as pictures and reimporting. Its all in the magic of the ‘Frame Hold Options’ dialog box.
The first step is to place the video clip you wish to have ‘stop framed’ in your Premiere timeline.
By right clicking (MacOS: control click) on this clip on the Timeline and go to Video Options>Frame Hold. (this can also be accessed from the menu Clip>video effects>Frame Hold…
The Frame Hold Options dialog box appears:
The key part to creating the stop motion effect is to adjust the frame rate. This does not alter the original clip, just the rate of playback in the final movie. In the ‘Alternate Rate’ section, place a new frame rate. For instance, if you would like to have a single frame per minute, the alternate rate is 1. For two frames every minute, the alternate rate is 2.
The good news is that audio will play back at normal speed. All we are adjusting is the video component of the movie.
A poster frame can be held during the duration of a completed video clip using the Frame Hold Options dialog box. Just specify “Frame 0” in the Hold frame popup. You can also hold the In point or Out point as the hold frame. The Poster frame special frame in clips. This poster frame is used in the Storyboard feature of Premiere as a user-specified frame that represents the content of the complete clip. It is marked using the Clip>Set Clip Marker>0 (Poster Frame). It can be placed anywhere in the clip. If the frame doesn’t freeze, make sure that you set the marker on a clip and not on the Timeline ruler.
The de-interlace option is important. With a single frame of interlaced video, it may appear jittery or washed out.
You may also need to apply frame blending, which interpolates between available frames to create intermediate frames that can make motion seem smoother. This also creates an interesting ghosting effect. You may or may not want this effect.
According to the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com) originally, “Dr Strangelove” filmed in 1963, was to have a custard pie fight and at one point, the President took a pie in the face and fell down, prompting George C Scott’s character to exclaim, “Gentlemen! Our gallant young president has just been struck down in his prime!” Kubrick had already decided to cut the pie fight before the Kennedy assassination, but this line (or possibly even the whole sequence) would certainly have been cut due to its eerie similarity to real events. Spooky.