#CreativeFriday – Pulling still images from 4k in Photoshop

The advancement in video on DSLR’s, as well as on mirrorless cameras is making amazing breakthroughs, we might actually soon be shooting our stills from a video recording. i.e. a real world example is shooting a wedding. Could we be shooting the wedding as a video, then taking the exact shot that will make the bride extremely happy, and having the ability to never missing “that shot”. This could also be applied to forms of photography as well, when getting the perfect shot can be so challenging.

The emergence of 4K footage has the basis for doing exactly this! or is it ?

I had a chance to work with the Canon 1DC a few weeks and, courtesy of Mr Anton Nelson (@AntonNelson) took the following footage of this bird.

The video above has been slowed down by 4 times and repeated so that you are able to see the action, when played you will see that the bird blinks, something that would be impossible to capture using normal techniques, even with a high speed shutter, or is not guaranteed.  Let us look at taking a frame out of the 4K footage out of the tools that we know.


The .MOV file is just opened up into Photoshop, just the same as a regular file

Initial shot

As the bird wasn’t moving, it will be simple to extract this frame from the sequence. Make sure the the play head (the red bar) on the timeline, is parked over the part that you are wanting to extract. Make sure that you have the exact frame, use the zoom in/out controls (marked Red below) to do this. You can now see the individual frames (marked Yellow below), (you can also split the clip at either side of the play head as well, then delete the pieces that are not required)


Next we need to mark the start frame point and the out frame point. Once the play head is in the correct place, then right click on the top blue handle and a fly out menu (marked Red below) should appear. Select “Set start of work area”.


Move the play head forward by one frame and do the same, by selecting the “Set end of work area”  (marked Red below).


Now that we have the one frame selected, we are able to extract it from the clip.

To extract the frame from the sequence, select from the menu tool bar, File / Export / Render Video. The following dialog box will be displayed. Notice that the initial selection will be for a video. However, we want to extract a JPG file. Open the combo box that currently says “Adobe Media Encoder” and select “Photoshop Image Sequence”.



This option will change the dialog box and enable the selection of images. Select format “JPG” and click on the settings to select the quality required (also change the name of the output). Notice the document size is 4K (i.e. 4096 pixels) and the work area (both from and to) is a single frame number (hopefully the one that was selected previously). Click on the Render button to create the JPG file.


See below the actual image that has been extracted from the movie file.



You are also able to use Lightroom for the extraction of a frame from a DSLR or AVCHD file

Just import the .MOV file into Lightroom (4 or 5) and open in the Library module (videos are not allowed in the Development module), locate the frame and choose “Capture Frame” (marked Red below). Lightroom will create the frame for you, you just need to export it.



So I hope you can see that there is a very useful side to the new 4K footage that we are starting to see output from these types of cameras.

There are a couple of technical challenges that i would like to point out. Most of the time when we are shooting video on the DSLR it will be a 1/50 second (twice 25fps), therefore you are shooting on a slow shutter speed. This helps with the fluid motion of video and creates a dreamy look to your film. This isn’t good for stills, it means that you will most likely create blurry shots, depending on what you are shooting.  So what is it good for, well many things, but to be honest to get sharp images out, then i would stay with things are are not moving (also verified by Mr Timothy Allen and Mr Anton Nelson has has tried this for real!).

So there you go, it’s a very viable option depending on what you are shooting and trying to capture. Have fun with that and why not try it for your self.


I want to shout out to Anton for supporting me and inspiration on crating this blog post, Anton is an experienced film maker and works with clients such as Paul Oakenfold, Ørjan Nilsen, Armada music.

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