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PapaJohn
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PapaJohn's Newsletter #102

Converting Movies and Stories to Flash and MP4 (iPod Video)


Last week's issue was about distributing movies and stories via free online hosts... some of them took the WMV file and converted it to a Flash format. Let's look at doing that conversion yourself rather than the service doing it... I see variations in quality with the different services.

Let's also look at converting WMV movies and stories to the MP4 format needed by an iPod Video device.

Flash

Why Flash? Because the format is cross-platform... Macromedia claims that 98% of today's computers can view them... if any of your viewers are having problems playing your files... toss them a Flash file.

Gadgets... MP4

If you're heading to an iPod Video device, or a Play Station Portable... you'll need MP4 files. Let's assume you start with a saved movie or story in WMA format. There are always many ways to make conversions but each of us only needs one that works well.

Let's look at how to convert your files to Flash... and in doing it control the quality settings. We'll use the Riva FLV Encoder utility. For the MP4 files, we'll use the iPod Video Converter...

before getting into it further, here's a couple short notes...


Notes... Vista Corner... It's been in the news lately, but kind of quiet in my corner... it sits there day and night looking great, working fine, with a number of windows open. But my priorities are now on my laptop. I read a magazine article that told me how to get the roll-o-dex type view of the open windows.. the Windows-tab keys goes to the view fine. The screen shot at the right shows you some of the 'gadgets' you can park on the side of the desktop... from the top down:
  • calculator
  • sticky notes
  • weather... a bit cool right now
  • slide-show of pix on my computer
  • 8 clock styles to pick from... none of them digital
  • RSS feeds
The are another 8 gadgets on my system to pick from, more online for downloading, and info about building your own using JavaScript.

Wired Magazine - May Issue Formats, players, converters, hosts... everything related to internet video is expanding rapidly... as I wrote this newsletter, the May issue of Wired magazine arrived, and there on page 120 was a 12 page article about internet-based video, calling it "...the online video explosion...".The article points to over 100 websites, which I'm busy checking and adding many to my database of interesting places to visit.


EffectsTransitions

My Special Edition Adorage Effects and Transitions packages got off to a hiccupping start a couple weeks ago... ... including a corrupt file in the effects package. They are ready to go... PapaJohn's Video Effects PapaJohn's Transitions.... back to the main topic...


Riva FLV Encoder The download is a 4-3/4 MB installation package... in addition to the encoder, it has a Flash file player that comes in handy.For input files, this version doesn't accept WMV files... movies from Movie Maker or Photo Stories... but it does process the type I DV-AVI file from MM2. Run your story thru MM2 to get a DV-AVI file and then use the FLV Encoder. There's info about it handling WMV files in future versions. My first test was a 7 min 40 sec DV-AVI file of 1.7 GB, using the default settings. The conversion took 4 min 40 sec on my 3.4 GHz CPU laptop, faster than real time, and produced an FLV file of 32.6 MB that played well.

Riva Flash Encoder

The online help is good, and the forums are active. The Video2Web button solicits you in purchasing a very interesting app... to make interactive web videos such as this sample mountain-bike one... which makes chapters of a video interactive with clicking a point on a map. Settings include video sizes up to 800x600, standard frame-rates including 29.97, bitrates as high as 1600 kbps, and a large selection of audio settings. It gives you the options to pump up the quality when heading to an online service.

The 'padding/crop' option was intriguing... I tried it using crop settings of 100    50      50        100... and it lopped off that many pixels from the 4 sides... leaving a focused central area in a more than widescreen looking video. I do such cropping in VirtualDub, but if I'm heading to a Flash file, this is an easier way to do it. I'm not sure why I would want to 'pad' a video, maybe to get it to a standard size if it's looking misshaped in a viewer. When you're ready to encode, press the 'Encode' button, the whole window turns grey, the app doesn't respond to anything, and it doesn't give you visual feedback about what it's doing....

Riva Flash Player

... but the encoding is happening. You can watch the FLV file build up in the output folder. When it stops growing, and the rendering is finished, the working window comes back to focus, and the Result field says 'Encoding successful'. The default audio setting was 'mono'. I did another encoding using 'stereo' and noticed the file size was identical... I'm not sure if it's mono or stereo, or if both options result in the same size file. Your FLV file is ready for distribution.


FLV Player Here's the encoded movie playing in the Riva FLV Player, now my default player for FLV files. I tried opening the file with other apps, but didn't find any that would do it.
iPod Video Converter

iPod Converter

Jodix provides 4 useful conversion utilities...

  • iPod Video Converter - to MP4
  • WMA (or WMV) to MP3
  • DVD to MP3
  • Real Media to MP3
The downloaded package for the iPod Video Converter is 1.36 MB... and a quick install. It accepts movies and stories in WMV9 formats, including the newer stories from PS3.Info about the app says it supports a many kinds of input files. I checked some and didn't find it effective at doing some. Here are the ones it says it does, and what I found.
  • AVI Files (*.avi;*.divx); it didn't handle AVI files compressed with MS-CRAM, and hung on a DV-AVI type I file
  • MPEG Files (*.mpeg;*.mpg)
  • VCD/SVCD/DVD Movie Files (*.dat;*.vob)... I tested a VOB and it didn't work... with the VOB extension or with MPG
  • Windows Media Files (*.wmv;*.asf)... it did well with MM2 movies and PS3 stories
  • Real Media Files (*.rm;*.rmvb);
You can add an unlimited number of files to the task list and convert them as a batch.

Converting

Conversions are quick. The MP4 files were twice as large as my movie, which was saved in Movie Maker 2 using the video for LAN - 768 Kbps setting.The file is ready for your iPod Video... I don't have one to test it with.


MP4 File Players

MP4 Playback

My laptop offers two options... the QuickTime Player and Internet Explorer (with an embedded QuickTime Player).... which are both the same option as far as the player goes. The files seemed to play better in the Internet Explorer option. If both are the same, maybe it was just the warm cozy feeling from being in the Internet Explorer environment.


Rad Video Tools was the only one of my utilities that would open and convert the MP4 files to something else... I did one to a Divx encoded AVI to check it.It converted quickly and the AVI file played well in WMP10.... that is, if I let it have my undivided attention...

if I did anything else on the computer as the Divx AVI played, the video would stop where it was while the audio continued, the same kind of issue often seen when trying to use such a file in Movie Maker 2. I wouldn't have had the issue if I selected a different compressor. I noted above that the MP4 file was twice as large as the input WMV...

the Divx AVI file made from the MP4 was almost 3 times as large as the MP4 and 6 times as large as the WMV. WMV files are as good as you get for the file size...


Conclusions and Closing

The Riva FLV Encoder handled DV-AVI type I files fine, but this version can't handle WMV movies or stories... maybe it'll be in a future release... until then the DV-AVI option works well. The iPod Video Converter did well with WMV files... so if you have an iPod video device, going from movies and stories to it is easy.MP4 is one of the file types that Google Video accepts, so I uploaded my recent 'Mission to Mars' one, and put a 99 cents sale price tag on it, with a 19 cent price for a 'day pass'... I'm not expecting an income stream from it, more curious about the process of selling it via Google.

The Jodix 'WMA to MP3 Converter' sounded interesting enough to run a quick check. It effectively ripped the audio from Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 WMV files to MP3.


I look forward to comments and discussion about this and other newsletters on the forums at: Windows Movie Makers.net

 

 

Have a great week...

PapaJohnMovie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 - www.papajohn.org
Photo Story 2 - www.photostory.papajohn.org


Products and Services

I'm involved in many things that support users of Movie Maker and Photo Story, and adding more regularly. Some are free and others reasonably priced.


Radio and PodcastingtheDVShow

TheDVShow is the only weekly Podcast having more useful information about desktop video editing and production than anywhere else on the Web. Digital video editing, nonlinear editing, streaming media, software releases, tutorials, business tips, technical help, download of the day and news on the latest products to make everything easier. It's where professional and consumer desktop video users go to stay on the cutting edge.

Call the phone mail machine to get your technical question answered on the air... call (206)-203-3516The radio broadcast is from Boston, and the website has downloadable podcast files. The June 19th 2005 podcast was the first 'bi-weekly' show with a segment about Movie Maker 2.


Books and MagazinesDo Amazing Things

Movie Maker 2 - Do Amazing Things (with its online companion on www.papajohn.org), published by Microsoft Press...

Movie Maker 2 - Zero to Hero - with support on the publisher's forum - Friends of Ed

MaximumPC's winter 2005 quarterly special... had a 7 page tutorial 'Make a Killer Home Movie with Maker 2'. The special edition of the video made for it is now on my website as a file download. The November 2005 edition of Maximum PC had a well done reworked 6 page reprint of the same article, starting on page 42 after the Happy 20th Birthday article for Windows.

Virtual DubLearning VirtualDub - published by Packt Publishing, is the first book about VirtualDub software. I wrote the first chapter about downloading and setting up the software: VirtualDub, VDubMod and AVISynth.


Websites

Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 - www.papajohn.org - the site's 3 goals are: an online companion to the Do Amazing Things book, a detailed tutorial for PhotoStory 3, and helping you solve Movie Maker 2 problems.

PhotoStory 2 - www.papajohn.org/photostory2/PS2.html - a detailed tutorial about using it. It's not a problem-solving site.

 


Online Support - Forums and Newsgroups

 I'm a regular on many online forums and newsgroups, the key ones being:

Forums are open to all for viewing, but require registration of those who want to post. Moderators actively participate to ensure the forum discussions move forward and stay on track. Movie Maker and Photo Story forums at Windows Movie Makers Movie Maker 2 forum at SimplyDV.com

 

 

Newsgroups are wide open for all to view and post... moderation is collective by the participants.

Windows XP Movie Maker newsgroup - microsoft.public.windowsxp.moviemaker

Photo Story 2 newsgroup - microsoft.public.plus

Photo Story 3 newsgroup - microsoft.public.windowsxp.photos


Weekly Newsletters

Movie Maker 2/Photo Story newsletter. The annual subscription is $20 and the link to subscribe is on the main page of my Movie Maker website at:

www.papajohn.org

Topics for upcoming newsletters (always subject to change):

#103 - May 13 - open#104 - May 20 - open#105 - May 27 - open

Newsletters issued more than 6 weeks ago are posted by Rob Morris to an Archive Site on his Windows Movie Makers' website. Links from my website pages to specific newsletters make it easier for viewers to see the content of both while browsing a topic.

Drop an email to suggest a newsletter topic... I can use more requests rather than fewer.


SoftwareAdd-On Transitions and Effects

Transition Maker 2 (TM2) is a utility for the ultimate in making your own personal and custom transitions for Movie Maker 2. It's a joint product from Patrick Leabo, the programmer, and myself.I've beta tested some of the

Pixelan packages and think very highly of their people and products.

 

ProDAD's Adorage packages for Movie Maker 2 are  additional sources of very professionally developed transitions and effects. And here are the links

Package for Movie Maker - Volume 1 TransiitonsEffects

 

 

PapaJohn's Video Effects

PapaJohn's Transitions


Personal Database

Managing your personal information is more of a challenge as hard drives get bigger and the internet more robust. My personal database has been an ongoing project over many years, and is now available to others. A tutorial about using it is on the Managing > Personal Database page of my site, and more info is in the database package itself.

It's free for the asking to regular newsletter subscribers... send an email request and I'll return it with the zipped file, which is less than 1 MB. To others it's $10. To order, use the button on the top of the Managing > Personal Database page. 

 


Online Gallery

Neptune GalleryAn online gallery that fully aligns with the main priority of the website is the 'PapaJohn Expert Zone' at neptune.

Check it at Neptune and the Distributing > Neptune page of the website, where there's a developing tutorial about how to use the service.

 
Training in conjunction with the Portage, Michigan library, I offer two free training sessions about Movie Maker and Photo Story, an intro session and a workshop. Scheduled sessions are:

Monday - May 8 - 7-8:30 pm - Intro to Movie Maker and Photo Story

Monday - June 5 - 7-8:30 pm - Workshop

Monday - July 10 - 7-8:30 pm - Intro to Movie Maker and Photo Story

Monday - August 7 - 7-8:30 pm - Workshop

The classroom has a large screen overhead projection system... and individual laptops for each attendee to use. You learn by doing, with a little guidance from me.


Other fee-based services

If you can't save a movie because your project has become too complex, e-mail a copy and I'll divide it into manageable sub-projects, and provide detailed instructions about how to render the parts and assemble them into your final movie. $49.95 (no cost if it's not the right solution or doesn't work) - for details, see the sidebar on the Problem Solving > Can't Save a Movie page of www.papajohn.org

Movie Maker 2/Photo Story training and support services start at $75 per hour - send an email - PapaJohn@CharterMi.net and I'll help you determine your needs, and work with you to plan and implement them.

Wedding combo website/video packages - check the bottom branch of the Movie Maker 2 website for a sample of what you can expect for the online portion of the package.


© 2006 - PapaJohn
Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.
 
About John 'PapaJohn' Buechler from Microsoft.com
John 'PapaJohn' Buechler John "PapaJohn" Buechler, of Kalamazoo, Mich., goes by PapaJohn online. An avid user of Movie Maker since its first release, and a regular supporter of the community of Movie Maker users, John received a 2003 MVP award from Microsoft for that support. In March 2003, he started a comprehensive website about Movie Maker 2 at www.PapaJohn.org. He maintains the website, writes books and articles, teaches, and provides support services - all for the community of Movie Maker 2 users. An engineer by formal education, John is a computer database and multimedia expert by business and personal experience. He co-authored the first book about Movie Maker 2 and is actively working on a second one. You can find his advice in the Windows XP Movie Maker newsgroup and in the Windows Movie Makers Forums.

This newsletter is republished with permission of John "PapaJohn" Buechler.
Please note that this is an archive of newsletters and some information may become outdated. PapaJohn, and the webmaster of this site, provides this information "AS IS" with no warranties.

Visit - PapaJohn's Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 2 Newsletter Index

 

 

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Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.