A few things before I get down to the technical nitty-gritty:
- I don't believe in automated capping jobs unless you're doing frame-by-frame capping of a certain scene. I think you miss way too many great caps and end up with way too many crappy ones.
- I don't like to remove the black letterbox that appears on many movie caps. However, if you want to do that, please make sure you crop the image before you convert it to .jpg or it'll look like crap.
- Try not to "improve" caps by upping the contrast/making them brighter/sharpening/etc. before you upload them for use. Anything you can do to a cap, the person using that cap can probably do just as well, but undoing the damage? That's a whole other story.
- Save caps at the highest quality you can without making the file size too large to handle. High quality is always preferable to high quantity. If space is an issue, it's better to be more selective with which caps to upload.
(I've changed the skin of PowerDVD to NeoXP, not because it looks the best - it doesn't - but because it has the longest progress bar, which helps when capping .avi files. Which I haven't been doing in PowerDVD lately, but I'll get to that later.)
In order to save caps into a directory, go to
Configuration - Player Settings - Advanced - Snapshot
Select "Capture to file" and select the folder where you want to save and name you want to give the caps. I always keep two folders on my Desktop specifically for saving PowerDVD caps in. I name pretty much all my caps the same way:
(In my version of PowerDVD, you HAVE to save the caps as .BMP files and convert them to another format later, though I think later versions of the program allow you to save directly as .jpg.)
In the same dialogue box, you can select the size of the caps. In order to get the correct aspect ratio, your best bet is following the following guidelines:
- For .avi files, use Original video source size.
- For DVDs, use Current video window size or Custom size (and then work out a size that keeps the ratio 4:3 for fullscreen DVDs, and 16:9 for widescreen DVDs).
I usually use the Custom size for movies and keep it at 1600x900 pixels at all times, while using the Current video window size for TV show capping, since my screen resolution is set to 1280x720 (keeping the window maximized while capping, naturally). If I cap a fullscreen TV show, I change it to Custom size and input the size (1024x768.)
- Space bar = pause
- C = cap
- T = one frame forward
- E = skip back a certain (pre-set) number of frames
- Enter = play
I basically only use the keyboard when capping, except for using the scroll wheel to put the DVD on fast forward. I usually cap on the x2 fast forward because I've found that if I cap at the regular speed I tend to over-cap. The drawback being that if you step through the file (with T), the program often skips to the next frame when you press C in order to capture a frame. (When you use E to go back and then press C, it always caps the current frame.) Because of this tendency to skip ahead a frame, I always keep the folder where the caps are being saved open so that I can delete the faulty caps as I go.
A few things that might annoy:
- If you suddenly start getting a block of info text in the top right corner, it's probably because you've activated the display by hitting D. Press D again to deactivate.
- If your file starts looping, you've probably activated the A-B repeat by pressing R. Press R again to deactivate.
When I'm finished capping, I use IrfanView to convert the caps to .jpgs. And if I've got over 1000 caps, I also rename the first 1000 so that they're in the right order once I upload them to the gallery. Go to:
File - Batch Conversion/Rename
and input the necessary information. As for the jpg quality, I usually use 97 for larger caps, like movie caps, and 100 for everything else.
Like I mentioned, recently, I haven't been using PowerDVD to cap .avi files. Instead, I'm using:
Unless you're doing an automated capping job (which I sometimes do for animations), I've only found a way to capture a cap to the clipboard. This is why I didn't use this program back when I was capping .avis regularly. However, now that I mostly use it for picspams and the occasional icon, I FAR AND AWAY prefer VDub to PowerDVD for .avis, simply because it will allow you to step through the file frame-by-frame.
- Right Arrow = one frame forward
- Left arrow = one frame back
- Alt + Right Arrow = skip forward a certain (pre-set) number of frames
- Alt + Left Arrow = skip back a certain (pre-set) number of frames
- Ctrl + Right Arrow = skip to end (I included this one because using this keyboard command by accident leads to much irritation and gnashing of teeth.)
- Ctrl + 1 = copy frame to clipboard
When I cap in VDub, this is basically how I do it:
Alt + Right Arrow to the correct scene ---
Right Arrow to the correct frame (Left Arrow if I missed it) ----
Ctrl + 1 to capture frame ---
Alt + Tab to switch to IrfanView ---
Ctrl + V to Paste ---
Ctrl + S / Enter to Save to jpg ---
Alt + Tab to return to VDub.
It may seem like a lot of work to do for every cap, but at least it saves you having to convert the caps, and you always get the exact cap you want, instead of having to try to pause on the exact right frame in PowerDVD. Plus, once you get the hang of it, it goes really fast.