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PapaJohn's Newsletter #115

The Pace of TV Ads and Content

I'm not sure how to count how much time I watch TV... does it include when the audio is off and I'm glancing at it between a couple computer monitors? When Bernadette walks in and asks about the show that's on, my standard response is '... I don't know, I'm not following it...'. If that doesn't count, then I'll be generous and give it about an hour a week. Taking long walks replaces the treadmill during this time of the year... so TV viewing loses out to the 2 hours a week of 'real movies' at the cinema.

But in that hour, the pace of the clips flowing in ads and content is such that I see over 1,000 of them a week. And for the better ones, I'm thinking "... how can I do that one in Movie Maker or Photo Story?..". They provide lots of inspiration.

What can we learn from them? For this issue I used my Media Center Edition laptop to record an 8-1/2 minute segment of CNN Headline News, starting in the middle of some ads, catching a couple sections of 'content', and stopping the recording in the middle of the next group of ads.

Here's the list of clips from the recording session, once they were in Movie Maker for assessment.


I'll go through the clips and assess them from a Movie Maker perspective. I'll be looking at what's happening, how fast is it, and could I do it in MM2 if I wanted? I'll just be doing the visual part, leaving the audio off for now.

... before getting into it further, a note...


Vista Corner...  I notched my installation up to the latest build 5472 and checked DVD Maker... giving it 67 minutes of Renaissance wedding videos.

It was great to see two features I requested

  • no need to have a blank disc in the drive as a prereq to opening the app
  • you can save a project file to re-open later

I used the project file feature right away. My 3 attempts to burn a disc each failed, something I hadn't experienced in previous builds. After 2 hours of renderings for each attempt, at the 99% complete point I got an error message telling me to check the DVD burner or try another disc. I gave up, saving the project file to go back another day.AutoDVRconvert

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

Getting the TV Show into Movie Maker

I took a couple steps to get the recorded TV (DVR-MS) file into one that works well in Movie Maker.

It was easy and quick, the quality of the visual and audio was good and I was especially impressed with how well the audio/video sync held in there through the entire recording.

I started with the AutoDVRconvert utility...

... which I keep in the same folder that the recorded DVR-MS files automatically go. The input files are right there, and the outputs go there too... no need to fish for the folders.

The conversion is from DVR-MS format to MPEG-2 with a file extension of MPG.

Then I converted the MPEG-2 (MPG) file with VirtualDubMod. It was already at the 720x480 pixel size needed for the Panasonic DV codec, so all I needed to do was select the video compression codec and save it to an AVI file.


The AVI file imported into Movie Maker... ready for use in a project. It looked and sounded great. In this case it was there just for some analysis.

Complexion of the Clips

Let's look at the clips to learn a bit from the pros... first the initial batch of ads.

Ad - Verizon... I started the recording while this ad was running so I picked up only the last 5 seconds... with 3 clips

  • Ad Group 1A man kicking a ball - 1.4 seconds
  • Light-burst fade into a verisonbusiness logo, which had some subtle neat lighting effects going on - 1.4 seconds
  • A line of text fades in under the logo... and the logo/text stay there for the rest of the clip - 2.2 seconds

Ad - Comfort Suites... the first of 3 ads that ran for 30 seconds each... using 20 clips

  • man talking... 3.45 seconds
  • woman talking... 2.25 seconds... both she and the man were at the 2/3 position from the left (rule of thirds)
  • man talking again... 2.3 seconds... at the 1/3 position
  • woman talking again... 2.4 seconds... at the 1/3 position
  • man talking again... 2.3 seconds... still at the 1/3 position
  • woman 2.85 seconds....  2/3 position...
  • man for 1 second.... walks from 2/3 to mid-point
  • woman for 1 second.... at 2/3 position
  • Comfort Inn sign... 0.8 seconds
  • Comfort Suites sign... 0.65 seconds
  • Quality Inn sign... 0.65 seconds
  • Sleep Inn sign... 0.65 seconds
  • Clarion sign... 0.65 seconds
  • Visa card... 2.8 seconds steady
  • Visa card moves to the left as 6 small thumbnail Inn/Suite signs move in from the right... 0.3 seconds
  • The thumbnails sit there for... 2.75 seconds with fine print at the bottom
  • The fine print fades out... over 0.2 seconds...
  • More fine print fades in... over 1.1 seconds
  • The thumbnails scroll to the left as text/design flows in from the right... 0.35 seconds
  • The final text sits there for... 1.3 seconds

10 Second Ad for a TV Show... 9 clips with 2 longer transitions

  • 1/2 second... still shot with narration bubble... man at left 1/3 point
  • 1/2 second... still shot with 2nd narration bubble... man still at left 1/3 point
  • 2-1/2 seconds... video talking head inside fixed frame...easy title overlay with xml code
  • 1/4 second... man scrolls off to right as woman (Nancy Grace) scrolls in from left
  • 1/2 second... still shot with narration bubble... woman at left 1/3 point
  • 1/2 second... still shot with 2nd narration bubble... woman at left 1/3 point
  • 1-1/2 seconds... video talking head inside fixed frame...easy title overlay with xml code... 0.40 second transition into a still of both heads inside frame-type overlay
  • 2 seconds... banner bubble changes text 3 times during it... 1/4 second bright transition to city 3D scene with text in perspective
  • 1-/1/2 seconds... city and text move slightly showing 3D effect... and fade out to black

Another 10 Second Ad for a TV Show 'No Survivors'... 13 clips

  • 1 second moving landscape type video with text... zooming in and rotating as it comes in... widescreen letterbox style with 2 line text in the lower black bar... transitions brightly and quickly - about 0.2 seconds, fading out to a standard split
  • still pix for 2 frames
  • black pix for 2 frames
  • still pix for 2 frames
  • black pix for 2 frames.. slideshow type action with CNN text a constant in the lower black bar
  • still pix for 1/2 second fading into the next still pix
  • video clip for 1.2 second
  • video clip for 3/4 second with bright fade to talking head
  • 1-1/2 second video clip of talking head
  • 3/4 second... closed shot of same talking head
  • 1-1/8 seconds... zooming into still or video clip with overlying text... with bright transition to the next clip
  • 3-1/2 seconds... still pix with 2 lines of overlying text... the second line of text is fading in with a cute transition style...
  • 2 frames of a black pix...

The tally for this first group of 4 ads is... 55 seconds of playing time... 45 clips at an average of 1-1/4 seconds per clip.

With the first group of ads finished, the next segment is the first with 'content'... let's see how they differ from the ads.

Content 1First comes the lead-in or opening, a 2 second dynamic 3D graphics scene that exceeds the kinds of things we are doing with custom xml files... 1 clip

  • you can see the complexity of 3D text and eye candy in the snapshot at the left

The next scene is a hello and introduction... 7 seconds with 1 clip

  • the two lines of text fade away over the first 1/2 second, leaving the talking head to continue through the end of the clip. It fades into the next clip, the first of the content scenes.

Content scene 1 about violence in Israel runs for 26 seconds... using 5 clips (just 3 if you consider 2 of the 5 were used twice).

  • 3/4 of a sec video clip... with 3 lines of neat text graphics, all fading into the next scene
  • 5-1/2 sec video clip... with the 3 lines of text continuing. A standard cut to the next clip, with the text continuing.
  • 12-3/4 sec video clip with enough problems with holding the camcorder steady that you or I wouldn't think twice about it... we wouldn't use the clip. Yet it's the longest one in all of these scenes.
  • 5-3/4 sec video clip... the same one as before... reused for emphasis, or for lack of having another clip...
  • 1 sec video clip... another reused clip... with a bright fading out

Content scene 2 about Iraq runs 16 seconds... using just a map (still pix)

  • 16 seconds... map with 3 lines of standard CNN text... bright transitions in and out of the clip... like a headlight moving across the darkness.

Content scene 3 about the IRS losing millions runs 20 seconds... using 3 video clips... the standard CNN text is at the bottom

  • 3/4 second still video clip... bright transition in
  • 8-1/4 second video clip... slow pan down a building
  • 8-1/4 second video clip... slow pan sideways of the building... bright fade out

Content scene 4 about the hot weather runs 17 seconds... using a single video clip 

  • 17 second video clip of fire, zooms in a bit... the text at the bottom goes down at the end.

The tally for this first round of content is... 6 scenes with 88 seconds of playing time... using 12 clips. The average clip duration was 7-1/3 seconds.

Inmate Firefighters

The next segment is a single scene about inmate firefighters, like a special documentary used between two segments of content.

It runs 2 minutes and 28 seconds, using 26 clips

  • 11-3/4 sec... Susan talks about the subject as the lead-in.... with some fixed text and scrolling headlines running along the bottom.
  • 3-1/4 sec.... zooming into a fire
  • 1-3/4 sec... firefighter walking
  • 9-1/2 sec... fire and a passing firetruck... fading into the next clip.
  • 4-3/4 sec... group of walking firemen
  • 1-1/2 sec.... walking firemen from a different perspective... down low about knee level 
  • 3-1/2 sec... firewoman walking... head level... camera keeping pace 
  • 6-1/3 sec... one being interviewed... wearing a mask....
  • 6+ sec... a fireman setting off little anti-fire fires
  • 2 sec... fire and firemen clip
  • 6 sec... panning from firemen to fire... fading into the next clip
  • 13 sec... reporter interviewing one of the firewomen
  • 10 sec... panning from fire to reporter...
  • 3-1/2 sec... line of walking firemen... shot high
  • 3-1/3 sec... walking firemen... feet view
  • 2 sec... walking firemen... from a medium distance
  • 3-1/4 sec... close-up of one fireman's face.... camera rotating around him
  • 5-3/4 sec.... firemen walking... with camera walking behind and with them
  • 10-3/4 sec... interviewing fireman... close shot... fades to next
  • 6 sec.... interviewing firewoman... close shot... fades to next
  • 4-1/2 sec... firemen walking
  • 2 sec.... interviewing firewoman... close shot of both her and the reporter... fades to next
  • 9-1/4 sec... firemen walking... pans to the fire... fades to next
  • 9+ sec... interviewing firewoman... close shot of both her and the reporter... fades to next
  • 4-1/2 sec... walking firemen... long fade to next
  • 5-1/2 sec... the fire

this was obviously the most planned part of the show.... it had the most video clips, shot from different and creative angles...

5.7 second average clip duration.

Content 2Next is the 2nd set of flicks with content, the money segment of the show.

The 5 second opening lead-in clip is so slick it must have been made by multi-million dollar equipment and software, or a pretty experienced Movie Maker user taking a long time and using many different custom xml effects. It faded into the first of the content segments.

An 18 second segment about the stock market for the day, using 2 clips

  • 6-3/4 sec... talking head opening statement... fading to next clip
  • 11 sec... slow zoom into the clapping at the end of the market session

A 29 second segment about the crisis in the Middle East, using 8 clips

  • 4-1/2 sec... talking head opening statement... bright fade to next clip
  • 2 sec... aerial shot of a oil rig
  • 3-3/4 sec... close up of workers on the oil rig
  • 2 sec... aerial of oil rig
  • 3-1/4 sec... aerial view of an oil refinery with bright fade to next
  • 2-1/4 sec... gas station pumps filling cars
  • 4-1/2 sec... view of gas pumps
  • 6-1/2 sec... man filling his car

A 21 second segment about Nissan, using 5 clips

  • 6-1/4 sec... talking head opening statement
  • 1/2 sec... Nissan sign on building
  • 3 sec... billboard type sign 
  • 6-3/4 sec... panning a showroom
  • 3 sec... another showroom view

This section took 73 seconds and used 16 clips... 4-1/2 second average

The next 11 second segment was a quick commercial for an upcoming segment of the show... it used 3 clips

  • 5 sec... talking head opening statement... fading to next... with slick CNN Headline News flying text
  • 2-1/4 sec... fishing boats at dock
  • 3-3/4 sec... view of empty dock

My final recorded segment was a batch of 5 more ads...

A 23 second one for Summer Buzz, using 3 clips

  • 6-3/4 sec... talking head opening statement... fading to next clip

11 sec... movie scene

  • 3/4 sec... quick ending movie screen

Ad Group 2A 15 second one for Travelers Checks, using 7 clips

  • 1-3/4 sec... biker action with foreign sign
  • 3/4 sec... low view of biker's head
  • 3/4 sec... biking off cliff
  • 2-3/4 sec... landing, losing wallet, with cartoon of Travelers Checks fading in and taking over full screen
  • 3-1/4 sec... cartoon goes to a do not disturb sign
  • 2 sec... plane emerges, turns and goes off-screen
  • 3-1/2 sec... Traveler's check goes from full screen to an icon view... of the biker going back the other way

A 30 second ad for Heart Disease Research, using 10 clips. Widescreen letterboxed.

  • 14-1/4 sec... lots of emerging text... with 3D view of 4 people talking individually... cool effects a bit beyond Movie Maker
  • 2 sec... two researchers, fading to
  • 1-1/2 sec... another researcher, fading to  
  • 1-1/2 sec... another 2 researchers
  • 1-1/4 sec... another 2 researchers
  • 1-1/4 sec... robotic arm
  • 2-1/4 sec... presentation session
  • 2-1/2 sec... handshakes
  • 1 sec... URL being entered
  • 2-3/4 sec... closing text    

A 30 second ad for Hampton Inn, using 16 clips... widescreen letterboxed...

  • 1-1/4 sec... culturally different groups approach each other
  • 2 sec... the old-fashioned group... low shot
  • 1-3/4 sec... the punk group 
  • 1-2/3 sec... the opposing heads meet... close-up 
  • 1-1/4 sec... shot of feet... the old-fashioned guy is more nervous... his kid is licking an ice-cream cone in the background
  • 1-1/2 sec... the kid with the ice cream... top scoop falls off
  • 1 sec... two groups square off
  • 1-1/3 sec... punk group... gal looks up to guy
  • 1-1/4 sec... old-fashioned group... gal looks up to guy
  • 1 sec... 2 guys... nose to nose... hair goes up
  • 1-1/4 sec... punk guy looks at other's hair
  • 1-3/4 sec... old-fashioned guy has a glimmer of a smile
  • 5-1/4 sec... bed in the clouds with Hampton logo
  • 1-3/4 sec... punk guy look quizzical
  • 1-1/4 sec... old-fashioned guy is relieved
  • 3-1/2 sec... punk group divides to let the other group through

A 27 second ad for Ameritrade, using 12 clips

  • 2-1/3 sec... blue-screening man walking in with neat still image 3D background
  • 2 sec... close-up of the man
  • 2-3/4 sec... man talking on chair... translucent text overlay at bottom 
  • 5 sec... close-up of him talking
  • 2 sec... laptop... entering a trade
  • 1-1/2 sec... man at laptop... text flowing in
  • 1-1/2 sec... the laptop again
  • 3/4 sec... close-up of plane wheels
  • 1/2 sec... front of plane from side
  • 2 sec... man walks to get in plane... side view of plane
  • 2 sec... man seats himself in plane... expensive antique plane.... the man must have made a lot on that trade
  • 4 sec... the advertiser tells you that you should use Ameritrade

The section took 125 seconds and used 48 clips.... 2.6 second average

The Statistics

  • 8:20 total playing time (500 seconds)
  • 6 topical segments: ads > content > special intermezzo > more content > self-serving ad > more ads... average duration of 83+ seconds
  • 21 separate topics... with an average duration of 24 seconds
  • 150 clips... an average of 3-1/3 seconds each

the Winners

Shortest average clip duration... 10 Second Ad for TV Show 'No Survivors'... 13 clips... 3/4 of a second average

Longest average clip duration... content scene 4 about the hot weather... 17 seconds for a single video clip

the Statistical Perspective

The first group of ads had a 1-1/4 second average duration for 45 clips... the second group was a bit slower paced at a 2.6 second average for 48 clips.... overall average duration of a bit under 2 seconds.

Content takes longer... the first group averaged 7-1/3 seconds for 12 clips, and the second group 4-1/2 seconds for 16.... overall average duration of 5-3/4 seconds.

The documentary type inmate firefighters segment had the same average as the content groups... 5.7 seconds.

Ads moved along 3 times faster than content....

Conclusions and Closing

What did I learn?

  • clips for ads flow by 3 times as fast as clips for content
  • we're used to Movie Maker fading to and from darkness... many or most of the TV clips are fading to or from lightness
  • if TV represents the norm for our society.... then my movies are way too slow... assuming mine fall into the area of 'content' I need to pull the average clip duration down to under 6 seconds
  • if I assume my videos, especially the samples I roll out to the website, are for amusement and advice like commercials... then pulling them even more to a 2 second average would align them with the average attention span of viewers.
  • special effects are in just about every clip... with the zillions of dollars spent for commercials it's no wonder they look so great. It's fun to emulate them with Movie Maker, as long as we don't have the schedule pressure that a TV show has... to fill every second of every day with content, or ads with super visual and audio effects.

With our vacation to Europe less than a month away, I'm phasing out of newsgroup and forum postings for a while... and I won't be issuing newsletters while traveling.

Movie Maker and Photo Story will be on my mind as I shoot video on the 40 mini-DV tapes I'll be bringing... and using the 2 megapixel snapshot feature of the camcorder to put still pix on its memory stick. Bernadette will have 5 and 7 megapixel cameras for the still shots.

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

Windows Movie

Have a great week...


Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 -
Photo Story 2 -

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, 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 7 page tutorial about Photo Story 3 is in the Summer Special edition of Maximum PC, now on newsstands in the USA and Canada.... the sample story is 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.


Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 - - 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 - - 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

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 -

Photo Story 3 newsgroup -

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:

Topics for upcoming newsletters (always subject to change):

#116 - August 12 - it's been over 2 years since the newsletter about breaking down an overly complex project into parts that render... we'll take a fresh look at the subject.

#117 - August 19 - open

Aug 26 to Sept 20 - vacation... busy taking video footage for future examples

#118 - Sept 30 - 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.


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.


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 late September)

Use the link for the calander of dates, times and sign-up info.

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

Movie Maker 2/Photo Story training and support services start at $75 per hour - send an email - 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
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 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.