Video at hillmancurtis.com is generally shot with a digital camcorder and then transferred over a Firewire connection to a video capture card. Once the video is stored on the computer, I'll use an appropriate tool to process it. Either Premiere or AfterEffectsboth from Adobeworks well for turning video into vector. Use whatever software you preferjust make sure it is capable of outputting sequential bitmaps.
After importing the movie into Premiere or any other tool, scrub through the clip until you find the frames containing the motion you want, as discussed earlier and in detail in Chapter 4, "hillmancurtis.com Navigation." I try to find the most compelling motionan interesting swagger or perhaps a dramatic leapthat I can use and reuse on the stage in Flash. In effect, I'm creating digital puppets that can be used later in a Flash movie to illustrate a specific action.
Although you can't maintain a full 30 frames per second as with traditional video, you can use a higher number of vector video frames than you could if you were exporting bitmap video frames. For that reason, I tend to isolate a longer sequence of video, really focusing in on a compelling and expressive motion.
The next phase of pre-Flash production is to reduce the number of colors in the video. Doing so saves me a lot of trouble later on, when I'm processing the images in Flash.
To reduce the number of colors, all I need to do is apply a couple of standard filters in Premiere. First, I reduce the video to black and white. Then, I apply levels and manipulate the image to a high contrast.
Here's how to do it:
Open a new project in Premiere, import a video clip, and drag it to the Timeline. (See the section "Preparing the Video" in Chapter 4, "hillmancurtis.com Navigation," for details.)
After setting the work area bar to reflect the in and out points of your selection, use the selection tool to marquee the clip on the Timeline.
With the video clip selected, choose Clip > Filters (or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-F / Cmd-F). This opens the Filters dialog.
From the list of Available Filters on the left, double-click Black & White. This adds it to the right side of the dialog. You can also select Black & White and then click Add.
Now, double-click Levels.
Use the Levels filter in the software to reduce the number of colors in your video before bringing it into Flash.
In the Levels dialog, locate the white triangular slider on the Input Levels slider and drag it to the left to increase the brightness of the image. Then drag the gray triangular slider to the right to up the contrast (see (see figure 06:01).
Obviously, no one setting is right for all videos , so this step takes a fair degree of experimentation. Feel free to try seemingly outlandish choices: You can always go back to your source material.
When you're satisfied with how you applied the filters, click OK. A bright blue bar above the preview video clip in the Timeline will indicate that filters have been applied.
Choose File > Export > Movie, and when the Export Movie dialog appears, click on the Settings button and enter the settings. You'll be exporting as Bitmap images (again, see "Preparing the Video" in Chapter 4 for details). Remember, Premiere automatically labels the bitmaps numerically upon export.