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Grab That Image

February 16, 2003

Lots of folks, including newspaper photo editors, like to be able to take still photos from video footage. Until now, that’s been a blurry, messy business. Salient Stills, a Boston-based company, has overcome that problem with a system that takes video from cable, satellite or videotape and turns out images comparable to high-quality photographs.

The system, VideoFocus, converts every video frame to digital form and displays the frames sequentially on a computer screen. When you select a frame, the system gathers data from pixels in the surrounding frames and uses the extra information to remove noise and sharpen the picture. What starts out as a 72-dpi (dots per inch) video grab ends up a 200- to 300-dpi picture worthy of printing on the front page. Several news organizations, including The New York Times, have started using the system, which evolved from work at the MIT Media Laboratory.

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