Pixel Perfect

     A picture or graphic scanned or saved at 72 dpi (dots per inch) is good enough for a web page or a computer screen, but not good for a video. And definitely not good for either if you’re going to enlarge it for presentation software or expect it to fill a video’s screen. You can get away with resizing a modestly sized .jpg or .gif image of one solid color because a computer knows to fill in the enlargement gaps with more of the exact same color. A photograph, a multicolor pattern or a graphic won’t fare as well since the computer has to stretch or guess at what shapes and colors go in the expansion gaps. We’ve probably all seen what happens to a modest web image when it gets blown up for a video or a slide presentation. I’ve told my students who are creating their own art to set the canvas to 6×9 inches. If you are exporting a PowerPoint slide for use in your story, get the highest quality that you can with PICT’s, BMP’s or TIFF’s.  Bernajean Porter frequently has attendees at her presentations chant, “720 x 534!” to make sure everyone knows how big a picture needs to be in pixels to have the quality to make it in a digital story.
  Ahpdpre_1   As part of the rehearsal dinner video for my daughter’s wedding, I scanned their 5×7 inch preschool class picture at 300 dpi and saved it as TIFF because I wanted to zoom in and pan from her face to my son-in-law. (Yes, they went to preschool together. No, though they were friends all along, they never even considered dating each other until well after college.) If you watch the movie I’ve linked here, you’ll see that there are enough picture elements (pixels!) to withstand the zooming in and movement without turning into jagged lines and blocky features. Download AHPDpre.mov

     A DV camcorder automatically gives you the quality you need, but if you set your still camera’s quality down low to fit more images on that memory stick, you’ll pay for it in your video – especially if you do any movement or zooming. Kick the quality way up and download the pictures more often or buy a bigger memory card/stick. They’re almost always on sale somewhere in the Sunday newspaper ads. A good story deserves quality images.

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