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VMD Movie Making

posted Dec 8, 2010, 1:26 PM by Dong Xu   [ updated Nov 12, 2015, 8:16 AM ]
by Madison Block and Sam Battey

When setting or changing your working directory or destination folder in the command prompt make sure that if there is a space in your file name, that you put the whole thing in quotation marks.
example (incorect way):   cd c:\Users\Madison Block\VMD_movie
example (the right way):  cd “c:\User\Madison Block\VMD_movie”
I learned this through trial and error.  :)  Hope this helps! :)    

Note that you need to use catdcd with stride to get a dcd traj file with the correct number of frames that you want to see in the movie. Do not reply on VMD's stepsize, it does not work properly!


To make a movie using a PC:
1. From the VMD main click Extensions then Visualization then Movie Maker.

2. Select your Renderer (Internal Tachyon gives you a much clearer video).

3. Select your preferred Movie Settings.  Make sure to Un-Check the delete image files

4. Set your Working Directory.  (This is where your movie file will be placed after the rendering has completed). For faster rendering, you would choose /host/tmp, because files are saved on the local disk of your computer instead of over lab network to savor.

5. Name your movie.

6. Change your movie duration from 0 to whatever you want it to be.  (A good starting time is 5 to 10 seconds). NOTE: Movies using trajectories cannot have their durations altered.

7. Click the Make Movie Button.  (Depending which render you are using this process can take an hour or longer).

8. When the render is complete it may ask you to specify a new path, say no. Now open the command prompt.

9. Make sure that you are in the correct folder in your command prompt.  That folder should be where you set your working directory for your movie. (if it is not in the correct folder hit cd ________[whatever the folder name is])

10.  When in the correct folder you will type:

   ffmpeg -r 10 -b 3000k -i yourmovietitle.%04d.bmp yourmovietitle.mp4

For Windows PowerPoint compatible (insertable) video file, use:

   ffmpeg -r 10 -b 3000k -i yourmovietitle.%04d.bmp yourmovietitle.wmv

-r 10 means 10 frame per second (fps), the fps number is determined by the number of frames you have and the length of movie you want. For example, if you have 1200 frames, at 1 fps, that is a 2-mins long movie. To get a 20s movie, you need to set -r 60. But you will still have to experiment with the fps number a bit to get the right movie length. In general, for a PPT presentation, we want the movie to be < 20 seconds long.

-b 3000k is bitrate, the higher the bitrate, the higher the movie quality, though the bigger the file size


    There is some syntax to worry about though.
        -the input file type has to match what is in your working directory. The image files are often saved as .ppm files for different types of videos, so instead of .bmp as your input, you’ll change it to .ppm.
        -The .%04d. has to match the saved files as well. Take a look at the images; they’re saved as “yourmovietitle.0000.bmp.” The .%04d. corresponds to the digits after the title. If there are four digits, you use %04d, if there are five digits you use %05d, ect. ect.
        -If you want an output file that isn’t an mp4, simply change the file type in the command line. You could also use the following line of code while in the proper directory:

convert yourmovietitle.mp4 yourmovietitle.desiredfiletype

11.  Then type dir for directory to make sure that it shows up in the specified folder.
12.  Then you can go into the working directory folder and double click on your new movie!!! Quicktime should pop up and play the movie.

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