You know the story. You search for ages, looking for an image that you are sure you took of an event. The client is impatiently emailing you, desperate for the shot that no one else captured.
Then you remember you shot that scene while filming, not photographing. What are you going to do?
In this article we’ll show you how to capture still images from video.
Photoshop for Video?
I know, I know – I was surprised by this too. I have photographed live bands and musicians for a decade now, and not once did I think about using Adobe Photoshop.
There have been many times where I needed to pull a still image from a video. This was somewhat common, using a still as a thumbnail or reference shot to go with the clip.
I used the in-program tool inside Premiere Pro, which gave me a decent sized shot. I knew it could be better, but I didn’t know how to make it happen.
Recently, I found out two ways to extract a still image from video in Photoshop and wanted to share them with you. The best thing about opening them in Photoshop is you are placing them in software that allows further editing.
First of all, you want to drag and drop, or open the video clip in Photoshop. Wait for it to load, and you are ready to start.
Option 1 – When You Don’t Know Which Frame
After opening the video in Photoshop, you are given a timeline at the bottom. In the bottom left-hand corner, there is an arrow.
This is the button to ‘Render Video’. Click on this to get the ball rolling.
You will see a Render Video dialog box open. The first thing you want to do is change the ‘Adobe Media Encoder’ to ‘Photoshop Image Sequence’.
Next, choose the file format you want to extract the file as. You do this by clicking on the drop-down menu button titled Format.
NB: You don’t need to worry about the size too much. This is because Photoshop allows you to scale an image easily later.
Then look at the bottom where it says Range. This gives you the amount of frames found in your video. The frames are all the still images that make up your video.
If you captured a 10 second video, shooting at 24 frames per second (fps), then you will have 240 frames. If you know which frame you want, you can enter the start and end frames easily.
NB: Most of you wont know which frame it is exactly. This is not a problem, but just consider that you don’t need to extract all of them. If the still you want is in the first quarter of the clip, just export the first 25% of frames.
Make sure you have a suitable location for your image to be saved to. Once it is all set, press render.
It will take a few minutes, but then you will have another dialog box pop up.
Save the files as the highest resolution. Press OK. Navigate to the specified folder to make sure you have the images.
Option 2 – When You Know Which Frame You Want
In a blank Photoshop window, go to File>Import>Video Frames to Layers. This will open an Import Video To Layers dialog box.
You will be asked to open your file. Find it, select it and press OK.
Here, you can select every frame ‘From Beginning To End’. Or, if you have a better idea of which frame you want, you can choose ‘Selected Range Only’.
To use the ‘Selected Range Only’ option, you first need to select an area of your video clip. You do this by clicking-and-dragging the two end points under the preview video.
The frames will end up as layers, found under the Layers panel on the bottom right.
Delete the ones you do not need, and save the file.
And there you have it. Two very easy ways to pull a still image from a video. Have a go now!
You’ll be surprised at how quick and easy it is to capture still image from video.
Looking for more great Photoshop tutorials? Check our guides on how to add a shadow or create a reflection in Photoshop! We have a great new article on how to create a cinemagraph too.
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
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