How To Use Adobe Illustrator or EPS Files In Video Editing

by Harlan Yee on March 8th, 2010

Vector-Graphics-7Whenever I start a project, one of the first questions I ask a client is, “Do you have a vector based logo in Adobe Illustrator or eps format”? Not all clients will have them, but if they do, you’ll enjoy the most flexibility when incorporating this type of image file into your project. While most video editing programs do not directly accept “vector based” file types, you should still be requesting these types from your clients.


A Typical Scenario Dealing With Graphics/Images From Clients

Ok, you’re ready to start work with a new client, you have everything you need to get started… Beautifully shot HD video, an awesome voice track, a cut of music that fits the project perfectly, nice sound effects, etc. But when you get the logo from a client, it’s a 300×150 gif image that is 12k in size… intended for use on the web. This will not work… well, it will work but you’ll definitely cheapen the look of your production. Have you ever seen a flyer from a local business that included an incredibly pixelated logo or photo? What happened is that they used a tiny low resolution gif image and blew it up 500%! Same thing will happen when you scale up a tiny image in video.


In the example above, I took a 150×46 gif image and made it almost 5 times the size to fit in full screen on an 864×486 SD frame. See how bad it looks?

Why Use Vector Based Graphics?

Vector based graphics are resolution independent. That means you can scale them up as large as you want and still keep crisp edges and sharp looking lines. A vector based logo can be scaled up 1000% or more and it’ll look just as sharp as it does at 5% scale.


Vector based graphics use points and mathematics to essentially re-draw your image when you scale it up. On the other hand, if you’re using Photoshop to create your images/logos, you are creating the image at 100% and mapping pixels on screen. Photoshop files are pixel based images. When you scale up a pixel based image, what you’re doing is increasing the size of each pixel and at a certain point, you start seeing the pixels appear as colored blocks, making the scaled up image appear fuzzy. The most common pixel based image types have extensions like: jpg, gif, tif, tga, etc. The most common vector based file extensions are AI and eps and After Effects handles them beautifully!

What If I’m Not An After Effects User?

I love using vector based files in After Effects because After Effects retains the crisp scaling qualities I enjoy when working in Adobe Illustrator. I can fly through a logo and it’s edges stay completely sharp. But I don’t use After Effects all the time, so what do I do when a client sends me a vector based file for editing? This is where we’ll have to open the Illustrator or eps file in Photoshop.


When you use Photoshop to open an Illustrator file, the Import PDF dialogue box opens. If this was a multiple page PDF file, you’d see more than one thumbnail thath you can select and open. First thing you should do is change the resolution to 72. On the web and in video, you only need 72dpi. When you do that, the width and height dimensions will shrink dramatically. Don’t worry, here’ s the beauty of vector based graphics, simply type in a larger width or height, hit OK and you’ll have a nice high resolution logo ready to be saved and imported into your favorite editing program. Please note that many editing programs will import a Photoshop directly which is fantastic, if not, you’ll have to save as a jpeg.


If you’re importing an eps file into Photoshop, the dialogue box is similar except for the thumbnail area. Again, change the resolution to 72. Then type in a new width or height. Change the mode to RGB color or you may have some problems later in editing. CMYK color modes are for print work. Hit Ok and you’re ready to save your logo for use in your editing program.


Once the logo is opened, this is what it looks like. For me, it’s a dream to see the checkered background. That means the logo has a transparent background and any video behind the logo will show through.


I entered a width of 5000 pixels when importing the Illustrator file and added a solid white background layer so you can see the logo better. I can only show a small portion of the logo here but look how sharp the lines are compared the first image in this blog post. With an image this size, you’ve got more options to move the logo around and scale down in editing.

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