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PapaJohn's Newsletter #117

'Blue-Screen' Your Own Outer Space Clips

Videos and stories about space travel and other worlds might be a passion or a passing interest. With the high resolution images and video clips available for download today, and the now easy-to-use 'blue-screening' feature of Movie Maker, it's fun and easy to make some neat space clips and to include in your home movies.

For telescopic views of outer space, go to Pictures from Hubble

And for views of earth from space, use Pictures and Animations of Earth from NASA

The Blue MarbleMost of these images and animations are free for open use.

Some Movie Maker users are busy trying to make custom XML effects which simulate space... maybe such effects are easier and better done by starting with real images. I downloaded a high definition 1280x720 pixel animation of earth, described on NASA's website as:

This spectacular "blue marble" image is the most detailed true-color image of the entire Earth to date. Using a collection of satellite-based observations, scientists and visualizers stitched together months of observations of the land surface, oceans, sea ice, and clouds into a seamless, true-color mosaic of every square kilometer (.386 square mile) of our planet. These images are freely available to educators, scientists, museums, and the public. This record includes preview images and links to full resolution versions up to 21,600 pixels across.  

Click the image of the blue marble to view it with a blue-screened overlying animation... it's a pretty crude spaceship, but it'll work for the tutorial. We'll use the same overlay in another clip as we walk through the steps it takes to make it.

SpaceHow can you use these pictures and animations? It's easy with Photo Story and Movie Maker. Here's another sample that takes two Hubble snapshots and overlays the spaceship, a small image from the clipart collection of Microsoft Office Publisher.

Outer Space - Sample

I'll take you through the steps to make this sample. Use similar steps with any of your own images as background, and any foreground overlay image.

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


Vacation Corner...  this is it... we're in the bag-packing stage and turning full attention to our longest-ever vacation. I'm rounding up all the important stuff like cameras, tripods, monopod, tapes, batteries.... and a few other essentials. At this time next week we'll be in the Swiss Alps.

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

Making the sample blue-screened overlay clip

The approach is:

  1. Make animations of a couple Hubble space pictures with Photo Story 3.
  2. As the animations play in WMP on my laptop's LCD screen, test a camcorder special effect option named 'trail', which makes the moving stars more like shooting stars.
  3. Capture the recorded animations from the camcorder tape using Movie Maker
  4. Extract a cartoonish image of a space ship from a still picture using
  5. Animate the space ship using Rendersoft VRLM
  6. Use a custom xml file in Movie Maker to overlay the animated spaceship on the stories.

The route through the camcorder wasn't needed, and added complexity to making the sample... but I wanted to see how the camcorder special effect worked. It wasn't' great, but I consider it almost working OK!! The first part of the clip used it and the 2nd part didn't.

Let's go through the steps in detail.

Step 1 - Make animations of Hubble space pictures with Photo Story 3.

Here's the two images I used. The one at the right is Galaxy3000x1681 pixels, a picture named ssc2005-11a2.

And a larger 6000x4800 pixel image of the Whirlpool Galaxy (almost 30 megapixels) - below.

Whirlpool GalaxyTwo pictures for two Photo Stories to get two animated clips. I animated each by zooming into the bright centers.

They each use 45 seconds to zoom in. I tend to make the stories play slowly, as I can use the Speed Up - Double effect in Movie Maker if needed to speed them up.

My personal preference about quality is to speed up a slow clip rather than slow down a fast one. But I don't have any authoritative references to support the point. 

Step 2 - Shoot the animations playing in WMP on the laptop LCD screen to test the camcorder special effect named 'trail', which makes the moving stars a tad like shooting stars.

The camcorder manual for my Sony TRV80 says the Trail effect "... can record a picture so that an incidental image like a trail is left...". We'll see what it does.

I put the camcorder on a tripod, played the two stories in WMP, and took videos... once without the special effect and once with it. It did a better job on the ssc2005 image than the whirlpool galaxy, so I included just that one in the final video. Check the stars in the first half of the sample video, especially those in the upper area of the frames. The effect does leave a bit of a trail, but it also adds a pulsation which I didn't like in the whirlpool galaxy. 

Step 3 - Capture the recorded animations from the camcorder tape using Movie Maker. This is a standard firewire connection capture from a mini-DV camcorder to a DV-AVI file. No further info is needed.

PublisherStep 4 - Extract a cartoonish image of a space ship from a still picture, using Make the background blue for the blue-screening in Movie Maker.

I searched for a space ship in Windows Publisher... a clip art one might be quicker and easier to extract from its background than from a real space ship picture.

Space Ship URLI copied the image and worked it a bit in

... extracted the background by using the magic wand and the delete key

... made the background pure blue

... personalized it by adding my URL on the right wing

The edges ended up a bit ragged, but overall it was marginally good enough for a newsletter sample.

I saved the file as a BMP to bring into Rendersoft VRLM for animation.

Step 5 - Animate the space ship in Rendersoft VRLM, making the background blue for the 'bluescreening' video overlay.

Animate Space Ship

This project was an easy one in Rendersoft. I didn't try to gauge the size of the working window as I knew Movie Maker would take the saved AVI file and stretch it as needed to fill the screen. I just eyeballed the working window to be sure it was wider than it was high.

I inserted a plain round disc shape, and colored it pure blue. The Red and Green sliders are at zero, and the Blue is at the full 255 position.

I colored the background pure blue - Blue=255. The picture shows the difference in blueness as the slider is being moved up to the full position, at which the color of the background matches the blueness of the disc perfectly for the 'blue screen' effect.

The animation starts the space ship off screen at the lower left, brings it in and moves it around, and then at some point (arbitrary) moves it quickly off into the far distance, toward the center of the window.

I made it to play for 1800 frames. The view here shows its position at frame #600. 1800 frames at 30 per second would be 60 seconds, enough to align with the combined photo stories.

I exported the project to an AVI file, using the Cinepak codec for compression. It's one of those that works well in Movie Maker.

Step 6 - Use a custom xml file in Movie Maker to overlay the animated spaceship on the animated background stories. This is a 'blue-screen' approach.

Finished VideoThe code for blue-screening that's been on this website page  since we first issued it didn't work, so I updated the page to align with newer improved xml bluescreen code from the forums. The web page and this sample video now use these parameters.

<Param name="KeyType" value="1" />
<Param name="Similarity" value="100" />
<Param name="Progress" value=" 0.0" />

Don't use just these 3 lines, as the xml file won't work without the needed headers and footers from the other lines... get the full code from the website page.

The edges of the space ship are pretty jagged, and it's body pixilated. That's what happens when you start with a low resolution 168x262 pixel clipart image, and crop about a quarter of it to get the space ship. A higher quality image would do much better.

If you didn't look at the sample video on the way in, the image is also a link to it.

Conclusions and Closing

The subject matter of space isn't the important thing... it's being able to make animations from still images and combine them using a blue-screen approach.

Things moving in space tend to be in a linear path, so Photo Story and Rendersoft are well suited to making clips that look good. Other animation subjects that move in curves, like many things here on earth, would need other software such as Adobe Premiere to do them well. 

The reason the older code for blue-screening didn't work has to do with the exact color of blue being used. The new code is much more tolerant of differences, and works well.  

This is it for a while, as we leave for Europe on Thursday. I'll publish the next newsletter toward the end of September.

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, with Photo Gallery and DVD Maker.

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):

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

#118 - Sept 30 - open

#119 - Oct 7 - 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


I use a lot of professional background music for movies and stories that was created by Randon Myles, and act as his agent in selling the tunes individually. 

There are 62 tunes available from 4 of his many albums... at 99 cents per tune (MP3 or WMA format). Here's a Sample - 45 seconds from 'Groove 2'. The 4 albums are: In the Fields of the on-Feretin , Music for Film Volume III, the Emerald Way, and the Fourth Door.

I don't have a full set of online samples yet, but if you hear something you like in one of my videos, there's a good chance it was done by Randon. Send an email if you are interested.

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.

On my list of things to do is a video tutorial showing users tips about using it.

Online Gallery Neptune Gallery

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

Check it at N eptune 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 colander 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.