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PapaJohn
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PapaJohn's Newsletter #112

Windows Media Encoder Studio Edition Beta


Powerful tool for video professionals uses VC-1 for the creation of high-quality offline encoding.

LAS VEGAS — April 24, 2006 — Today at the National Association of Broadcasters convention, NAB2006, Microsoft Corp. announced availability this week of a new addition to the Windows Media® tools family, Windows Media Encoder Studio Edition. The beta encoder is a powerful tool for video professionals, optimized for the creation of high-quality offline encoding using Microsoft’s implementation of the VC-1 video standard (Windows Media Video). Windows Media Encoder Studio Edition beta provides the key features necessary to create next-generation video content and capitalize on the growing importance of optical media and video-on-demand scenarios.

“With the final standardization of VC-1, Windows Media Encoder Studio Edition will prove to be an invaluable tool for the offline encoding community,” said Amir Majidimehr, corporate vice president of the Windows® Digital Media Division at Microsoft. “This is another example of how Microsoft is providing the end-to-end solutions for content creation and meeting the evolving demands of the professional video community.”

that's the lead-in to this Microsoft website page...


It sounds pretty techie and important. Some of us use the version 9 Windows Media Encoder for things like screen captures, so this new tool might have something for Movie Maker and Photo Story users. It's been a couple months since the press release, and the beta software is available for download. Time to take a look.

It's been almost 4 years since the version 9 encoder beta was released. The Windows Media Encoder Studio Edition is being developed in parallel with Vista, where the high definition profiles are included in Movie Maker, but the beta version of this encoder can run on Windows XP-SP2 systems.

The Encoder, the old or this new beta, isn't for everyone as its user interface is a bit more geeky than Movie Maker.

Computer system requirements and recommendations are healthy... the website says a 3.0 GHz CPU is required and a 3.6 GHz one recommended (I make the 3.0 on a few systems, but don't have any at the 3.6 GHz level). High-performance, high-speed disk arrays are recommended for storage (I guess that's a notch above my USB2 external hard drives). 1 GB of RAM is required, and 2 is recommended.

For software it requires Core XML Services 6.0 and Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0. Get them if needed from links on this Microsoft website. I already had both on my laptop.


The app opens with a working window with a single Project tab. Click the Add Video Track button (you can only do that once) and the Add Audio Track (that one you can do up to 99 times

Project Tab
Click for larger view

That gets the window to 3 tabs, and later adds a 4th tab to optionally re-encode a segment. Let's start with the Timeline tab, as Movie Maker users may relate to it.

I've added some source files (drag and drop from a file manager doesn't work; bring them in via the Add Source button), and dragged one from there to the timeline (a clip from last week's visit to Chicago - the scene is going down an escalator at the Water Tower Place shopping mall). I've also added a few audio tracks.

The app's limits are one video track and up to 99 audio tracks.

Note that the built-in features include blackness for the video track and silence for the audio... transitions in Movie Maker terms.

The goal is to take source files and encode them to new files... like we do in Movie Maker.

Windows Media Encoder Studio Edition
Click for larger view

We'll be taking an overall look at the app, not getting into heavy techie stuff like the optional encoding settings. If you end up using this software, you'll need to get to know these features. Maybe that'll be for another newsletter someday after the final version of the Encoder is released.

... before getting into it further, a few notes...


Notes...

Vista Corner... The website and DVD project for the Renaissance Wedding is complete. I wanted to use the cool new look of a Vista DVD, but playback issues with it were such that I used Roxio's MyDVD Premier 8, which was kind of slow and clunky, moving along like a project in Movie Maker that's overly complex and hitting the big slow-down point when it starts using virtual memory. There were some errors and other issues along the way in MyDVD, but the discs ended up fine and given to the couple 6+ weeks after the wedding.

I rendered the DVD project to an iso image file on my laptop, and use MyDVD Studio Deluxe to burn discs from the iso file, which is a big compressed file with all the files needed for the DVD in it. The iso is 4.4 GB in size, and the DVD plays for 67+ minutes.

It took a few hours to render the MPEG-2 files to the iso image, but takes only about 10 minutes per disc to burn them from the image. The most important thing is the discs burned cleanly and play well (6 of 7 anyway... one had a playback issue on my cheap DVD player, my final check point, so I tossed it).


My first for-sale video on Google Video... submitted May 3... still has the status of "Video is verified; stay tuned - it will be live shortly"... it's been over 2 months in the queue to be online.

I've stopped checking it's status every day and now taking bets as to whether or not it ever gets to the next step of 'being live'.


The MaximumPC issue with the Photo Story 3 tutorial is on the magazine stand of my local Barnes & Noble. The 7 page article starts on page 68 in the Special Summer 2006 edition. They do a great job of packaging the material...

.... back to the main topic...


Encoder Studio Edition beta 1

Downloading and installation... and WARNING

My download and install was quick, easy, and with no startup issues. The app went into a new c:\Program Files\Windows Media Encoder Studio Edition folder on my laptop running Windows XP-SP2.

The license says you may use the software only to internally demonstrate and evaluate it. No commercial use... and it has a time clock in it such that it turns into a pumpkin on Dec 15, 2006. It says content created with it won't run after that also. Maybe there's a time clock in the movies you encode with it, or maybe it just means you're not allowed to use them beyond mid-December.

Don't even think about doing anything important with the software until you've read the full contents of the release notes... that'll change your mind. As beta 1 software, the list makes interesting and daunting reading.

I especially like the advice about uninstalling this version before installing other software, and then reinstalling it afterwards, or the uninstallation of the encoder beta someday will result in your other software being removed with it. And it's talking about security updates too... which I assume includes all those daily updates done automatically by Microsoft in the middle of the night, or as my system closes or starts up. By mid-December I'll have 5 months of updates and new software installations that might go away when I remove the encoder. It's amusing to read now, but maybe it won't be fun as I'm in the middle of getting ready for the holidays at the end of the year.

Maybe it's best to read this newsletter and not try the software yourself.


Source Files and App Usage... per the help file

Source files must be in AVI, ASF or Raw video formats.

Supported video scenarios:

  • Encode an uncompressed or Raw video source
  • Encode an uncompressed WAV or AVI audio files
  • Scene-by-scene re-encoding of video
  • Frame resizing, frame rate conversion, color conversion\format transformation

Supported audio scenarios:

  • Encode uncompressed WAV or AVI audio files
  • Basic previewing and playback functionality
  • Pre-processing, re-sampling (automatically), and compression to standard Windows Media Audio (WMA) codecs
  • Note   This version of Windows Media Encoder Studio Edition does not support elementary streams. Encoded files are saved using the Advanced Systems

The app works great with uncompressed AVI files... you get error messages trying to use type I or II DV-AVI files from a camcorder or Movie Maker.

In addition to uncompressed AVI files from VirtualDub, it worked fine with WMV files from Movie Maker and Photo Story, including uncompressed WMV movies. And for some reason, it let me use some other AVI files.

Using high quality photo stories to encode to HD files might be an interesting use of the app. One of my tests was to take the story I recently made for the MaximumPC tutorial and render it to a video at 1200x900 pixels.

No, it doesn't accept VOB files from DVDs or MPEG-2 files.


Previewing Source Files

Here's a full-size snapshot of the built-in viewer for source files... viewing a WMV movie source.

Source File Previewing
Click for larger view


Encoding

Encode the Project
The Encode tab is where you select options for the new file. It's similar to filling out the settings in a custom profile for Movie Maker or Photo Story.

Resizing the source file was done by setting the pixel dimensions in the Project tab, not the Encode tab. It's a pre-processing step.

To get screen shots for this newsletter, I went with the defaults. The encoding window shows progress, along with both the source file and the new one being re-encoded.

Encoding
Click for larger view


Re-encoding

When the initial encoding is finished, the app adds another tab 'Re-Encode'. If you want to enhance a segment or reduce the encoded bitrate of it... select it by marking the in and out points, make your desired settings, and re-encode the selection. Another WMV file is created for the re-encoded segment.

Re-encode Selected Segment
Click for larger view

After the segment's been re-encoded, the picture changes to show the differences between the original file and the new one in the area of the re-encoding. The changes start with a key and finish with another one, even when you mark the in and out points between key.

Re-encoded area...
Click for larger view

When you're satisfied with the project and the re-encoded segments, use the Publish button to render the full video with the re-encoded segments included.


Conclusions and Closing

It's beta 1 software... but it feels and works good!!! and it's fun to play with. Wish I had an HD camcorder to get some real high quality source material rather than using blown up oversized DV-AVI files. Photo Stories are my best bet...

I use the current encoder mostly for screen capture sessions. This new encoder doesn't include such features.


I look forward to comments and discussion about this and other newsletters on the forums at:

Windows Movie Makers.net

Have a great week...

PapaJohn

Movie 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 Podcasting

theDVShowTheDVShow 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)-203-3516

The 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.


Do Amazing ThingsBooks and Magazines

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.

My new 5 page tutorial about Photo Story 3 will be in the Summer Special edition of Maximum PC, on newsstands July 18th.... the sample story will be included on the magazine's disc.

Virtual DubLearning VirtualDub - published by Packt Publishing in April 2005, is the first book about VirtualDub software. I wrote the introductory 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: Doing Amazing Things, a detailed tutorial for PhotoStory 3, and helping you solve Movie Maker 2 problems.

It's being expanded to include the new version of Movie Maker in Vista.

PhotoStory 2 - www.papajohn.org/photostory2/PS2.html - a detailed tutorial about using the earlier version.


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 subscription is $20 for 52 issues, 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):

#113 - July 22 - open

#114 - July 29 - open

#115 - August 5 - open

I'm planning on not issuing newsletters when we're on vacation from August 24th through the week that includes September 20th...

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.


Software

Add-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

TransiitonsEffectsPackage for Movie Maker - Volume 1

PapaJohn's Transitions - Volume 2

PapaJohn's Video Effects - Volume 3


Personal Database

With more info to manage, consider additional tools that help.

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 GalleryNeptune Gallery

An 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:

(Summer Break... will re-start in October)

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.