Creating a “Flipbook” of a Project

I put out this request a couple of weeks ago and I think I have found a solution combining the use of a few different scripts.. I know that some editors in the animation area will be interested in this post and some other people may find it helpful as well. What this does is make an image sequence of your project, but ONLY with the first frame of each cut.

1. Start with an XML (FCP) or AAF (I found that an Avid AAF with a video mixdown imports the fastest, even if they come up all offline). You just need the cuts. If the media comes up offline, just grab a quicktime reference of the sequence you are using. I should mention that you should flatten your sequence as much as possible. I will explain why in #3.

2. Import via Automatic Duck to After Effects. CS6 will do the ProImport so you don’t have to download auto duck, but in previous versions you will have to get the free (now it is anyway) plug-in. Note that I tell it to ignore audio so those don’t come in as cuts either. That will interfere with how many shots get exported.

3. Using this script from aescripts.com (pt_LayerMarkers), you can make one new track (a solid is what I do) that marks where each cut takes place.

4. Use this script from aescripts.com (Render Frame at Markers). It will ask which layer has the markers on it (that shows at what point it should export a still). It will then throw a jpeg/png/whatever-output-module-you-have-selected into the queue. It will take a minute depending on how many cuts you have. It will also have you determine a destination.

5. Hit render. Watch your project turn into an image sequence of only the first frame of every cut. This is why the flattening is important. If you don’t flatten, you will get multiple exports of the same shot.

I haven’t done this yet, but you could use this plugin (Contact Sheet) to make it into smaller size panels instead. In order to do this easiest, use step 3 again and use that script.

NOTICE: these are all “name your own price” scripts. So while you could get them all “for free,” think of the time you will save and get these scripters some cash so they can continue to make cool scripts for us to use.

My next step is trying to figure out how to name the markers what the original file name is so that it could be kept in sequence, but also show what the original filename was. For example “Myedit_01_mov1441.jpeg.” That may be a long shot though.

Let me know if you need help or have questions. Hopefully it works out as well for you as it has for me. Here is a video of the process without narration. It should follow these steps closely along with showing what it does at the end.

For roughly a 600 cut sequence, it took about 3-5 minutes to queue and export. On my laptop. So let me know what results you get.