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Learn how to export different types of movies. And see the different methods of exporting a QuickTime movie and image sequences.
Welcome to the tutorial How to Export a Movie. In this tutorial, I'm going to show you the different ways that you can export our scene. Before we begin, let's take a look at a few changes that I made. The first change I made is that I changed the camera zoom-in so that the camera zooms into the character at this framing. The other thing I changed is that instead of having the leg kick upwards, I just had the character shift its body position slightly as we zoom in before he starts saying his dialogue. That's just because I think it'll make a tidier render, so that the scene that we're rendering looks a little bit more finished. Before you start exporting, you should try to consider the destination of this export. For example, if you want to create a small video for YouTube, then obviously you would create a smaller resolution file. However, if you would like to export this scene into a third party software or perhaps composite it into a larger body of work, obviously your considerations would then be different. To begin, let's go to the File Menu at the top and select Export > Movie. What's we're looking to render here is a QuickTime movie, so a .mov. The Export to QuickTime Movie dialogue box opens. What you can do is browse for a location on your computer as to where you would like to save this file and in the same field, you can rename your file. I could name this QTScene for QuickTime Scene. Then in the Display Source section, you can decide which display you would like to export. We didn't really get into this, so let me show you that quickly. I'm just going to cancel this, go to the Module Library and from our Favourites tab, we can grab a Display module. I'm going to drag and drop it in the Network View, and I'll connect the helmet to it. As well, let me go into my character group, and drag and drop a Display module into this group as well. I will drag a wire from the composite to this display. Let's now exit the group. Then what I'm going to do is go to the Windows Menu at the top and select Toolbars > Display.
We'll see here that a new drop-down menu has appeared in the Top Toolbar. By connecting a Display module to various elements in your scene, you can decide what you want to see. By default, the Display All will display everything that is in your scene that is enabled. It will display everything at this moment, except the helmet. If we want to isolate a single element, then we can choose one of the other displays from the drop-down menu. The first display is just the Scene Display, so it'll look exactly the same. The second one, Display 2, is the one that we put in our character group. Then Display 1 is actually our helmet and because it's disabled, you can't see it. If I select the helmet and use the keyboard shortcut [A] to enable, all of a sudden we see our helmet here. If we go to the Timeline and scroll across, well first, we would have to disable the camera peg and then scroll across, we'll see our animated helmet. Something you can also do of course is rename your displays, so that they make more sense. This could be like Display_Helmet, so we know when we see it in this drop-down menu what we're actually looking at. That's the same for the Display 2. This could be Display_Hero, so we know we're just looking at the hero when we select this from the list. Let's go back to Display All, let's exit our group, disable the helmet one more time, and re-enable the camera peg. Then go back to the File Menu and select File > Export > Movie. Now from the Display Source section from the Export From Display Module drop-down list, we could select any of those displays and that's what would be rendered in this movie. For the Export Range, we could either export our entire film, so that would be all frames and in this case, it would be 75 frames, or we could make a selection. For example, we might only want to render frames #1 to #30. Then from the Scene Resolution drop-down list, you can select half your scene resolution, a fourth of it, and this is often used to do tests because if you have a large scene such as we do, which is 1920 x 1080, if you do a render at, say, a fourth of the scene size with all of the effects composited and say for example that our scene was quite long, then at least if you render at one fourth the scene resolution for a test, it'll render much faster. Now let's click on the Movie Options button in the Options section.
Here, you can choose if you want to export the video and the audio. For example, you might just want the audio, so you could unclick the video and vice versa, you might just want video with no audio for some reason. You could do that. You could also go into the Settings for the video and change any of the parameters here as well as the Compression Type, which by default is Animation. One thing that's important to note is that, say for example we wanted to just export our character without any of the background elements. In order to ensure that there is a transparent background, from the Compressor Depth drop-down menu, you would have to select Millions of Colours +. That plus is what gives you that alpha channel, so that there would be a transparent background and not, say, a black or white background if you're bringing this QuickTime movie into a third party software to say, composite it with other elements. I'm going to click OK and then OK again. Actually, let's change the Export Range so that we're exporting our entire film and let's rename our movie, as that disappeared when I closed the Export to QuickTime Movie dialogue box for the first time. I'm going to name it QuickTime Movie EX for QuickTime Movie Example and then browse to a different location as well on my computer. Let's create a new folder called Renders so that we can easily find all the renders that we're going to create for the tutorial. Then click on the OK button. You'll generally see a little Export Movie progress bar.
After the export is finished, we can go to the location where we saved our file and then you can right-click on the .mov file and select Open With, and let's select QuickTime Player by default. As you can see, it's quite small since we selected a fourth of the size. Then if we click on the Play button, you can see a small version of our animation. Now let's take a look at another rendering option. Let's go back to File > Export and this time, let's select SWF. In the Export to Flash Movie dialogue box, we see a lot of the same options that we saw in the Export to QuickTime dialogue box. We can browse for the location of where we would like to save our movie, as well as rename the file. We can select which display we would like to render. We can select the Export Range. Then in the Options section, we can change the Frame Rate, as well as the JPEG Quality. The highest quality would be 100 or the lowest would be 0. You can also protect your file from being imported into another project, as well as compress your movie. However, if you do compress your movie, although you will get a lighter file size, the quality will be compromised. Then down here, we have the ability to disable some of the effects. I mentioned in the Effects video tutorial that effects are bitmap-based, which isn't completely true. There are some vector-based effects that do exist in Harmony and we can see a nice concise list down here. These effects will be rendered as vector in an SWF. That's why you have the ability to deselect them if you don't want them seen in the video. Other things to note is that pencil lines that are created in your scene will be rendered as brush strokes in an SWF. However, the Auto-Patch, which we didn't really use, but you can use during deformation to make patches on the elbows and knees, so the joints or articulations also works in a SWF file. I'm not going to do an actual SWF render, so what I'm going to do is click on the Cancel button instead.
Now let's take a look at another rendering option. Let's go back to the File Menu and select Export, and this time, let's select Open GL Frames. If you recall, right now, we're in the Open GL Mode in the Camera View and that's defined when this white flower is depressed. If we depress the blue flower instead, we're in the Render Mode. In the Open GL Mode, you can't see any of the effects, whereas in the Render Mode, you can. You can see all those nice glows and all those soft edges for blurs. You basically see everything that you could see if you made an .mov render. When you export Open GL frames, what you're really doing is exporting an image sequence. In fact, you can also export a movie, but this would be the way to export a series of frames if you would like to. Once again, you can browse for the location where you would like your frames saved. Then in the Format section, if you select Frames, you can add a suffix to the file name. The file name, in this case, will be Preview and then let's say we have 75 frames in our scene and 75 are rendered, well you can start at 01 and go all the way to 75. However, you can also click on the drop-down list to select a larger number of digits. For example, if you know that you have something like a thousand frames, you might want to select 0001 so that all of your files have at least four digits after the file name. Then if you want, you can select Movie instead and click on the Movie Options button to bring up the same dialogue box that you see when you export a QuickTime movie. This .mov however will not have any effects or any anti-aliasing for that matter as it will be completely vector-based. I'm just going to cancel that. Then we have, once again, the ability to select whichever display we would like to render, as well as the resolution of our project. Once again, we have the option of exporting half the resolution, a fourth, to have a faster export, as well as creating a custom width and height. We can also select the frame range, that being from all of the frames, a selection of frames, just a single frame, that being the current frame, or a selection of frames, which you can also Select All or Unselect All. Or you can click on a frame, scroll down, hold the [Shift] button and click on another frame, which allows you to individually render selected frames. It's not going to export from frame #4 to #73, but it will export frames #4 and #73. You can add more than just two. You can also select #54, #51, etc. and those are the frames that the software will export.
Let's actually export some Open GL frames. Let's browse for a location. Let's go to that Renders folder that we created and click Save. Then under file name, let's name it Hero_Frames. Let's actually export some frames. We'll give them the suffix 01 since we only chose a handful. I think I may have forgotten to mention that you can also select the file type from this drop-down list and by default, it's a TGA, which is not a bad format as it supports transparency. We'll take from the Display All or actually, let's take from the Display_Hero just to show you something different. Let's make it maybe half the resolution or a fourth just so that it's faster and let's select a few extra frames. It looks like you don't actually need to hold down the [Shift] button. You can just click anywhere in the Selected Frames window and it'll select some extra frames. Then let's click on the OK button. Now if we go to that same folder, the Renders, you can see that the TGAs are listed here, 04, 33, 35, 51, 54 and 73. Of course, there's only space for two digits. You can preview those to see that there's only the hero that's visible with the black or otherwise transparent background. Let's click somewhere in the Camera View and then go back to the File Menu and let's export one more time from the Export Open GL Frames dialogue box. But this time, let's do a movie just because I'd like to show you the difference and let's call it Movie. Let's take it from the Display All this time. We'll keep it at a fourth of the resolution and we'll say All Frames, and then click on the OK button. Let's go back to that folder again and as you can see here, here's the QuickTime movie export and then here's our Hero_Movie. Let's open it with the default player, the QuickTime Player, and click on the Play button. Then let's compare that by once again playing the QuickTime move export. I don't know if it's obvious from your perspective, but I can see a clear difference between the QuickTime movie export and the Hero_Movie that was exported from the Open GL Frames Export window. For this .mov file, you can see that there's no anti-aliasing, so you can see that the black outlines around the character are quite jagged. Nothing looks soft. Even the effect here, you can see it a little bit I guess if we scroll back, and move this down or up. You can see that the shadow is what we would see in the Open GL View. It's not softened, it's not blended properly. It's just vector-based, but it wasn't converted into a bitmap, so it doesn't have any of that softness, whereas if we go to the QuickTime movie export, all of those effects exist. There's a softening, there's an anti-aliasing around the black lines and if we scroll back as well a bit so we can see more of the character, there we go, you can see that the shadow here is actually soft and is blended properly. It doesn't look like a dark grey, but actually looks like a dark blue when blended. So that's the difference between the two.
Now let's take a look at how to create multiple renders. Just like you can add multiple Display modules in the Network View, you can also add multiple Write modules, and not just two different elements, but you can add multiple Write modules to the same composite in order to render different type of exports for the same module or scene. Let's go to the Module Library and let's grab a few Write modules, and drag and drop them in the Network View. In fact, let's also go into the hero group again and add a Write module here. I'm just going to connect the composite to this Write module, click on the square and I'm going to rename the Write module based on what kind of export that I plan to create. That's very important because if you have multiple Write modules everywhere, it's best to have an indication both in the Network View and then also to change the location where you're saving these exports, as well as the file name. It's okay to save all of the exports in the same file folder as long as they all have different file names, because if they don't, they may otherwise overwrite one another, especially if they're the same type of export. If I exported three movies to the Frames folder with the file name Final, by the end of the render, you'll only have one file instead of three because the last file would have overwritten the previous two. So that's a very important thing to know. What I'm going to do in this case is I will export a drawing, which is basically an image sequence for the hero. Let's go into the Drawing folder and choose another location. The Frame folder is located in the Scene folder for your Harmony scene. It's this folder right here, the Frames folder. What I'm going to do is create a new folder within that Frames folder and I'm going to call it HeroImageSequence and say Create. That's where the exports from this Write module will go. Let's change the drawing file name to something like JustTheHero, or something like that. Once again, you can choose the number of leading zeros. You can also choose your start frame, so let's start at 60. What that means is that we will not start the render from frame #60, but instead the first frame in the range that we decide to render will be labelled 60. A reason that you might do this is if, for example, this scene was the second scene in your animation and you had already rendered a 59-frame image sequence from that first scene. Then in a third party software, you would be able to import frames #1 to #59 from the first scene followed by frames #60 to whatever from the second scene. We'll keep the Drawing Type as TGA, or actually let's maybe change it to something like PNG4. Now that we've created all of our settings, we can change the name of the Write module. Let's name it Write_Hero_IMGSEQPNG (IMGSEQ for Image Sequence). It's kind of long, but it could be something like that, so Write_Hero_IMGSEQPNG and then click on the Close button.
Then let's exit the group and connect these other Write modules to this composite. In fact, I don't think we need two since we're already going to have three samples. Let's delete one of these Write modules and attach our composite to the second Write module. Let's make this one a movie. It's going to be a QuickTime movie, so let's click on the Movie button here. Let's also decide where we're going to save it by going to the Choose button beside the Movie Folder heading. Right now, once again, it's also going to be saved in the Frames folder. Let's also create a new folder here and let's call it Movies and click Create, and say Choose. I just realized why we see so many options here. I have both the drawing and the movie check marked, so let's uncheck the drawing. Now we have the new location of a Movies folder in the Frames folder for our scene. Now we can change the file name to Scene_Movie and let's customize the Movie Options. In the Movie Settings dialogue box, let's go into, let's say maybe the size, and it says Use Current Size or we can change the size. I'd like change it to about half of what we see here, because we know that the file size is 1920 x 1080. So we could change that to 960 x 1040. From the Dimensions drop-down menu, let's select Custom and let's make it that. Let's make it 960 x 540. Let's click on the OK button and click OK again. Now here instead of just making this the Write_Movie, let's make it Write_MovieHalf, so we know that this movie is half the size of the scene's native resolution. I'm going to click Close. Then for our last Write module, let's also do another image sequence just for the sake of doing something different. But as you saw, you can actually render both an image sequence and a movie. You don't have to do either or, but I'm just doing either or for the sake of this example. Let's select the Drawing. Let's unselect Movie. Let's choose a different location. In the Frames folder, once more, let's create a new folder. Instead of calling it Movies, let's call it Image Sequence or ImageSeq and say Create, and choose that. Let's change the drawing file name to Scene_ImageSeq. It shows here the start frame being #1, but let's change that to something like 70. Let's change the Leading Zeros to be just something like 01. Let's select JPG this time just for the sake of choosing something different and click on the Close button. We didn't rename, so let's click on the yellow box one more time and name this Write_ImgSeq. It's not half, it's the full resolution, so we'll just leave it as is, and then click on the Close button.
In order to render what's in all the Write modules simultaneously, we have to go back to the File Menu here at the top and select Export > Render Network. Once again, we also have the option of rendering all the frames or just a few frames. I'm going to say All Frames and I'm going to click on the OK button. I sped up that rendering sequence just a little bit, because as you know, if you're doing three simultaneous renders, obviously it's going to take a little bit of time. Just in the interest of saving time, I sped that portion up. Let's take a look at our renders now by going back to the Frames folder of our scene and if we go to the Hero Image Sequence, all 75 frames of our JustTheHero image sequence were rendered, but were labelled as frames #60 to #134. They were rendered as PNGs with a transparent background. Then if we go to the Image Sequence folder, we can see that all 75 frames from our complete scene were rendered. This time, they were rendered as JPGs with the first frame label starting at 70 and going all the way to 144. In the Movie, we see our Scene Movie as an .mov. Everything was rendered simultaneously and you can obviously see the advantage of that, instead of having to render something, I mean, this is a very short scene so it didn't take very long, but to render something obviously takes a long time. So if you have to come back after one render is finished to then do another render, it generally takes more time because you have to do things in a row instead of in tandem or simultaneously. I'm just going to close that.
You might be wondering why is it that I'm able to have half the resolution of the render if I do a movie, but not for an image sequence. I'm not going to get into that during this tutorial, but in the Module Library, under All Modules, there are certain modules that you can use, such as the Scale or the Crop for example, if we scroll down you see the Crop here and the Scale Output here. You can use modules like that between your composite and the Write module to do things like scaling and cropping that you can't otherwise do in the dialogue box for an image sequence all the time. I mean, you could if you render the Open GL frames, but for example, not directly from this Write module. There are a lot of different things you can do in terms of rendering. If you're interested in further reading about the different types of renders you could do, once again, I would refer you to the Help Menu and then to go to the Online Help and look in the Compositing Guide, because at the end of the Compositing Guide, you will see all the export options that are available. That's it for the tutorial How to Export a Movie. It's also the last video in the Harmony 11 Quick Start Video Tutorial series.