As the editor of several TV and movie-based websites, it often comes in handy to be able to grab images from video clips. Now of course there are many ways to do this (using VideoLan’s VLC Player is my favourite) but so far I’ve only found one method in which to grab tens, hundreds or even thousands of captures from a clip with a single mouse click. Fortunately, the results are spectacular, with the app in question providing a simple means of specifying the image format, the number of frames to capture, an interval for capture and a resolution.
The tool in question is K-Multimedia Player, which you might have seen labelled The KMPlayer, KMPlayer or KMP. Beyond its ability for screen caps, KMP is a fully-featured media player, capable of playing many formats such as VCD and DVD, MKV, Ogg, OGM, 3GP, MPEG-1/2/4, AVI and WMV, RealMedia, FLV and QuickTime.
Downloading The KMPlayerBest of all, this software is free, and available from PandoraTV, where you will find a detailed list of its abilities as well as the minimum system requirements. Your system should be equipped with at least 30 MB for installation and several more besides for screen captures. You should also have DirectX 9.0 installed.
Most importantly, don’t worry too much about the website specifies Windows 2000/XP/Vista (32bit). I can confirm that the software runs on Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit, and have not found any indication of any issues for other versions (Microsoft’s Windows 7 Compatibility Center considers it compatible).
After downloading The KMPlayer, launch it from the Start menu and use the Open File button on the playback controls to load up a video clip to capture from (feel free to watch it first!)
Finding The Screen Capture OptionIn order to start capturing screen grabs, ideal for desktop backgrounds, poring over for spoilerific clues about upcoming movies or TV episodes or simply sharing with your friends, use the Control Box on/off button in the lower-left corner of the player. This has the appearance of a typical settings “cog”; the Control Box can also be opened by pressing Alt+G.
You will then need to choose the fifth menu across the top of the Control Box. If you hover your mouse pointer over each you will notice that the tooltips are all in Japanese. Don’t worry about this – the final tooltip is in English, and reads Preferences. All you need to do is choose the one before this, as illustrated.
From here, click More… to open the Frame Extraction window (now that you know where to find it you can use the CTRL+G shortcut from the player view whenever you need to access it).
Configuring A Screen CaptureVarious options are available. You should first check that the folder specified in the Extract To: section is easily accessed through Windows Explorer, and that the Image format is suitable for your needs. Note that you can add a Prefix to images, useful if you need some way of sorting them when making multiple passes.
Numbers to extract and Frames to extract are self-explanatory – these options will determine how many captures are made.
My personal preference is to select the Continuously option under Numbers to extract and to set Every # frame to 26 under Frames to extract. The reason for this is simple – 26 frames is what the human eye sees per second, and is therefore ideal for capturing the optimum number of frames.
Check Your OptionsBefore running your first bulk screen capture, be sure to check the options one more time before hitting play. It is very easy to end up with too many or not enough captures, but most crucially you could end up capturing key frames from the clip at such a high resolution that you can potentially fill a hard disk drive by simply being a little careless at the configuration stage.
The best tactic is to have a run-through, with a smaller image resolution specified (perhaps 480×360). You can do this with the Size to extract section in the lower left corner of the Frame Extraction window.
Click Start in The KMPlayer and click Play on your video clip to begin capturing.
You can open the file selected to save the captures to in order to view them as they are made, but be warned – the wrong configuration can make this a tough folder to sort through…