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Reducing Digital Still Photos for Use in Videos (and the web)

Today's digital still cameras produce images that are much higher resolution than is required for use in videos and DVD's. The NTSC video frame size is 720x480 so digital stills need to be reduced in size. Many video editing programs can automatically shrink the stills to 720x480 but in doing so may not do the best job and in fact I often hear from people who say, "I have a high resolution still camera but the photos look like heck when I use them in my videos."

The problem is that if you take a high resolution photo and shrink it down to a much smaller size in one step you will lose a lot of detail. The secret is to sharpen and reduce in several steps. Look at the examples below. The images on the left were made by taking a high resolution image and reducing in one step. The images on the right were made by reducing in several steps, with sharpening applied before each reduction. Typically I apply the sharpen filter and then reduce the photo by about 20-30 percent, do more sharpening, more reduction, and so on, until I get it down to my final desired size. Different types of content may react differently, so experiment to find what works best for your particular material - in some cases "sharpen edges" may work better than "sharpen":

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Visitors since August 11, 2004