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July 5, 2005 2:49 PM   Subscribe

Looking for cheap art. I want to take stills from a dvd and get a poster print for hanging on the wall. Can this be done in a clean nice looking manner, without a blurry unsightly pixelated mess?

Using WinXP. I would imagine I need some sort of dvd screenshot program (recommendations?). Main questions, I guess: How do I do this, and will I get enough resolution to make a decent looking poster?
posted by striker to Media & Arts (12 answers total)
No, you won't get enough resolution to make a decent looking poster. 720x480 at 72 dpi (DVD resolution) translates to about 4.5x3 inches at 150 dpi (the lowest "decent" print resolution). Blowing that up to poster size would be a mess.
posted by still at 2:58 PM on July 5, 2005

VLC is the Win32 DVD player of choice, and you can take screencaps off it with just Alt-PrintScreen.

Will you be able to achieve poster resolution printing? Not really, no. You need about 200 dots per inch on paper. An image out of a DVD is about 720x480, yielding only a 3.6x2.4 inch shot at normal resolution. You can of course drop to 100 dots per inch, providing 7.2x4.8, but you're still not going to fill a poster with that. Any lower and -- as mentioned, blurry mess. There are a couple interesting things you can do, though...

1) After you have a blurry mess, you apply a scanline filter at 50%. This essentially looks like half-bright horizontal lines going across your image, and vaguely looks like someone put a zoom on the TV itself (except without pixels). It looks like this.

2) Collage lots of small images together into one poster.

3) Use a more advanced zooming algorithm. I haven't used this *at all*, but if your chosen scene is from a fairly slow motion set, you might be able to merge multiple frames. Here's some beta code that does just that.

Hope I've given you some ideas!
posted by effugas at 3:06 PM on July 5, 2005

still, a small correction: Images from DVDs aren't 72 DPI. They're just 720x480 pixels at whatever the corresponding DPI is at the size you decide to print them at.
posted by zsazsa at 3:26 PM on July 5, 2005

The short answer is no, no matter what you try, you won't get a sharp poster size image out of a dvd capture. You may get something halfway acceptable, but not sharp.

I second the Rasturbator recommendation. Given the source of the image (capture), that's probably the best option for getting a cool poster sized image.
posted by bucko at 3:59 PM on July 5, 2005

I've heard about Genuine Fractals but I've never used it. They claim that you can scale an image 600% without loss of image quality. They have a free trial - could be worth a try.
posted by Wolfie at 4:43 PM on July 5, 2005

Believe me, GF still doesn't look that great. It just looks better (sometimes) than bicubic.

After you're done scaling and then having taken it to kinkos to get blown up to'll cost more than a poster.
posted by filmgeek at 5:48 PM on July 5, 2005

what i have done is take a photo of the screen (35mm film camera) and then get that printed on a large (about 2mx1m) sheet of "paper". it looks pretty good - it's mounted on board and hanging in our bedroom. using photography (and poor focussing!) has blurred it out in a rather natural way that looks very good. however, it was an abstract design to begin with.

in your case, you might display the image on a low physical resolution display (eg a TV), take a photo in focus, and then print that up so that you see the individual phophor dots. that would be amazingly cool, with the right kind of image.

thinking back, this was some time ago. i think it was printed like you would print a (traditional, film) photograph, rather than scanned and printed digitally. it cost maybe 30 or 40 pounds at a local pro photo processing shop - they were very nice about it, but i don't think they made any money on the deal!

as ever, make the limitations work for you...
posted by andrew cooke at 8:05 PM on July 5, 2005

I've taken DVD stills and used judicious Photoshoppery to create images that have charmed at least myself. If you can embrace the fact that your source imagery is wholly low-resolution, then perhaps you could at least have some fun with it.

An example, featuring Bruce Dern and Isabelle Adjani looking all 70's-like. This is just a thumbnail - the real image is 300dpi.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:36 PM on July 5, 2005

I've seen video stills lower than DVD res blown up to about 5 feet by 4 feet - much bigger than posters. The images looked great - at poster viewing distance. The closer you get, the easier it is to notice the crummy res. If you're holding it, it's hard to look past the crummy res and even see the image at all, but take a few steps back and the image is fine again.

What you will want to do is interpolate the still to a higher resolution (two to four times original res), which will make the image appear soft-focus instead of blocky. I use photoshop, but pretty much anythng will do it. It won't be perfect - it will look a cross between soft focus and blocky, which is an artefact you don't really want, so you might want to run it through an image filter (again, I use photoshop filters), looking for one that doesn't change the look of the image, but plays around a little at the pixel level, which in this case will simply further obfuscate the blockiness of the low res origins, making the image look better up close. Many of the filters do not scale (ie they create their effect in the same pixel dimensions no matter the image resolution - their "brush" remains, say, 6 pixels wide whether it is painting a 300x300 image or a 3000x3000 image). These can be useful for this - scale the image to a ridiculous res can effectively break the effect of the filter, meaning the filter does its thing, but at such a small scale it doesn't affect the look of the image, it just muddies the transistions between pixels,
posted by -harlequin- at 10:01 PM on July 5, 2005

ForTheRecord: Posters don't need to be sharp. The necessary resolution is not a function of print dimensions, because print dimensions are almost always linked directly to viewing distance - you don't bother printing a billboard for someone to curl up with to read in bed, and you don't print a page for someone to read from across the freeway.

Thus, you can use roughly the same amount of information in both cases if they will both encompass roughly the same percentage of the viewers field of view, despite the vast difference in print dimensions.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:21 PM on July 5, 2005

On the other hand, televisions don't have all that much information per screen, compared to most posters.
posted by hattifattener at 10:36 PM on July 5, 2005

If the poster will be viewed at about the same distance as a TV, you'll have basically no problem. If it'll be viewed closer, it will suffer.

To maximize image quality, I recommend upsizing using Bicubic Smoother in Photoshop (NOT Bicubic Sharper, that's best used for downsizing) and then sharpening it using a deconvolution tool such as Focus Magic. The appropriate radius to use will be approximately 2-3 if you are blowing it up 2X in each dimension. Beware of oversharpening; try 50% rather than 100%.
posted by kindall at 10:51 PM on July 5, 2005

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