How to Get Clear Stills from Video

A LockerGnome reader asks:

“Could you let me know as to how I might get a better quality snapshot of a paused video recording (playback)? I’m trying to avoid hazy printouts.”

This is a great question. Unfortunately, the very nature of compressed video works against you here. As long as there is movement in a frame, you are likely to end up with slightly blurry stills. There are a few solutions that can help your chances of achieving a solid snapshot from a compressed video file.

For Windows users, Video Snapshot Genius is a program that takes snapshots automatically as a video plays, giving you the ability to pick the best out of a larger group of photos to use. Through this program, you can export snapshots as a single image or a thumbnail gallery.

You can also run the video through Windows Live Movie Maker and hit “take a picture” when you reach a spot that looks good enough to capture. The trick here is to keep navigating through the video until you come across a frame that looks the way you want it to.

Windows and Mac
also has an option under the video menu to take a snapshot of the file you’re viewing. It’s best to pause and navigate through rather than capture something as it’s playing live. This way you have the best chance possible of getting a good snapshot.

Patience is the key here, as it can sometimes be difficult to find a frame free of motion blur and/or compression artifacts. With a little luck and time, you should be able to capture a great image.

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