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PapaJohn's Newsletter #12 - Text Messages

About: Text Messages (with mini-tutorial about using them)

This week's topic will have some fun with text clips, using a project file to pass messages to other Movie Maker 2 users.... and in the process of doing it, reiterate a couple sometimes useful points:

• Project files don't need to always have .MSWMM extensions
• Project files can be sent to others, viewed by them, and taken further... edit the project and send it back or forward it on.

Fun yes, but sometimes useful.... Some are working on a surprise movie to celebrate a special occasion. Secrets are easy when the other person isn't a computer or Movie Maker user who can see and check the files on your computer. Dropping the .MSWMM extension might help.

Attached file for this week - Newsletter12.FUN

Messages passed in project files might be just for fun... I’m not concerned about anyone reading anything I write. In the world of computers and internet communication, I always assume that anything I put into an electronic message can show up some day in the wrong hands. So I never type anything that I'd regret or feel embarrassed about.

This newsletter is just for the fun of it, and for some learning. But you might have reasons to use it for other things.

Before getting into it, here's are a few items about things going on.


• Windows XP Service Pack 2 has been out for a while with the beta version of MM2.1 in it. I've been studying it a bit and preparing a new website page that covers installation, new features, and new issues (none so far). The only way to get the beta of MM2.1 is to get the full installation package for the beta of SP2.

I downloaded the latest one a few days ago to refresh my MM2.1 beta files.... a 277 MB download file with 67 folders and 2,122 files. Big download and lots of time just to get a handful of MM2.1 beta files. But broadband is great; as big as it is, the download was easy and quick!!!

The release of SP2 and the MM2.1 update in it is getting closer. I'm just doing homework to be ready, and I'd appreciate any feedback from those of you exercising the new version. All of the main MM2 files are new revisions and most of the interfacing files that MM2 relates to are also updated. I'm sure we'll bump into new things as we go.

• I started writing for this week, in a new media channel (which I don't see yet from the main menu). I made a couple posts to test the waters, but I'm not yet comfortable there, simply because it's a new website to me. For now, I'm just fishing around a bit to figure out how best to post and write to it.

• I'm seeing a low level change in the complexion of the e-mails I receive. The requests are less for help starting and running Movie Maker and more for pointers about how to make better movies from an artistic sense. My current website goals don't include how to make better movies, but I'm currently rethinking it.

To help me think about it, I added a couple new pages this week using info from Justin Murphy, a writer and avid user of Movie Maker. His approach to writing about Movie Maker is from the artistic end, not the technical. I'll see if this takes the site down another new path.

.... back to the topic of the week

About: Text Clips

Issue #6 of the newsletter covered some aspects of text clips, working with them in a project. This issue is more about - inter-project and inter-user items, topics I explored a bit more fully when writing hacks for the new O'Reilly book.

Text clips live only in project files.... you can't import or export them.... a rare exception to the rule that clips need to come into a collection first, and then from there into a project.

But you can copy a text clip from one project and paste it into another. A project file with your favorite text clip styles in it could be a valuable part of your library.

A newly saved project file needs to have the MSWMM extension, but only when saving it for the first time. Once saved, you can freely rename the project file, as I did the one attached to this newsletter.

I changed the .MSWMM extension to .FUN.... just for the fun of it. Newsletter12.FUN still looks like a pretty normal file name. My favorite is naming it - it's a link to you know where in this newsletter, but a project file with the same name would work fine with MM2.

Mini-Tutorial: Text Message Project

Let's kind of work backwards in this tutorial. You know how to add text clips to Movie Maker, so let's make it a bit interactive, using a little text project as an exercise. It's the Newsletter.FUN file attached to this newsletter.... it's not a virus and has no spyware. It's just a renamed project file.

Let's see if anyone's filters wipe it out or quarantine it. Drop a note if so, and I'll send it to you differently.

Opening the Message (Opening the Project in MM2)

Double-clicking or otherwise trying to open the attachment will result in Windows XP not knowing what software to open it with. There isn't an association between .FUN and any program.

If Movie Maker 2 is open, close it.... it's easiest to drag and drop the attachment.... right from your copy of the newsletter to the MM2 icon on your desktop (I'm assuming you have an icon there). Note that, even without the .MSWMM extension, MM2 will recognize it as a valid project file and open up with it on the timeline.

I find that it’ll open quicker and easier in Movie Maker 2 than a comparable note would open in Word if it were a Word document.

If you don't succeed at opening the project via drag and drop, then save it to your hard drive, open MM2 and the project file as you normally would. To get over the hurdle of it not having the .MSWMM extension, use the drop down for file types and change it to All files.

Reading the Message

To read my message, preview the project....

I know you'll see the text clips as they are embedded in the project file.

I'm pretty sure you'll hear the audio clips as I've used some from the pinball game that comes with Windows XP. If by some chance yours are not in the same folder/subfolder as mine, you would hear nothing and see the big red X's indicating missing source files.

Here's what the project file looks like on the timeline. Pretty simplistic.

See that the text clips on the timeline shows the beginning of the clip... in English, even for the clips that are viewed in Webding fonts on the playback monitor.

The project could be lots more complex if I also used text clips on the video track. You can make all kinds of interesting videos by using text clips on both the video track and the title overlay tracks, overlapping them.

Responding to the Message

Change the notes in the project if you want and sent it back... no, it's not another poll and I don't expect more than a few back.

There are only two choices of animations that give you lots of space for text. The Scroll, Perspective choice is a good and fun one, the Star Wars’ titling animation effect. It'll take over 150 words. The other choice is the Ticker Tape option. The other choices are very limited in the number of characters that fit.... but you can mix clips and animations as you want to, if the goal is entertainment and not passing a message.


Disguised Message

For a bit more secrecy, use the same text clip but change the colors of the text and/or its background.

Double-click on the text clip on the timeline to re-open the title wizard. Opt to change the text font and color. The Scroll, Perspective usually has white text on a dark blue background (when on the video track). The easiest change is to make the background white. White text on white background will look like a pure white image clip.

The Ticker Tape uses white text on a red band… but it gives the text a slight shadow. So making both text and background the same color will still result in a readable message due to the shadow… use it if you want to tease a bit without having it totally hidden.

For even more secrecy, change the text font to something like Web Dings. This figure shows what a Scroll, Perspective message looks like when using that font. I’ll make it black on white so you can read it.

The recipient doesn’t need to know the font you used. He/she just needs to use the Movie Maker 2 title overlay wizard to change it back into something more readable, or just read the clip in the title wizard.

Other fun fonts to use are WingDings, WingDings 2, WingDings 3, Technology, and Symbol.

And, if the message still isn't secret enough, just add a few pictures to the timeline so it really looks like you’re editing a movie project. Adjust the duration of the text clips so they flash by in less than a split second, when it takes a minute to read it normally in the wizard.

The person receiving your message can extend the clip's duration, change the color, change the font… or just double-click on the text clip to read it in the title wizard. Only he or she will know it’s a secret message (hopefully so if it's secret).

The Message Carrier

And we started this exercise using a Movie Maker project file as the carrier of the message, not a saved movie. As Movie Maker project files can only be opened and read by someone who has MM2, you’ll be safe from the prying eyes of others who don't use MM2.


I put a lot of thought into text clips.... I'm doing a wedding video next month and I'm working on the perfect text clips - the font, the size, the color, the degree of transparency, the alignment.... all those things.

Once I have the perfect text clip, I'll copy it into my text clip project file, which is simply a personal library of text clips that I can copy and paste from the library file to my movie project.

As the project file is small and has all that is needed, emailing is a perfect way to share with other Movie Maker 2 users who you are close enough with to share such things.... not the words, the styles of the clips.

And if you're into secret messages, they should be pretty safe from those who don’t know how to handle the renamed project file.

I look forward to comments and discussion about this newsletter on the forums at

Have a great week!!!


Movie Maker 2 -
Photo Story 2 -

Products and Services

I'm involved in many things that support users of Movie Maker and PhotoStory, and adding more daily. Here's a list of what is available to the public. Some are free and others are reasonably priced.


Movie Maker 2 - Do Amazing Things (with its online companion on

Movie Maker 2 - Zero to Hero (with support on the Friends of Ed forum)


The 14 hacks that I wrote for a new O'Reilly book about Windows Media Hacks are submitted and in the editing phases.

When ordering these books or anything else from Amazon, I'd appreciate you using the links on the main page of - I get some income from Amazon that way, and it doesn't cost you any more. It'll help keep most of my services free.


Movie Maker 2 - - two goals: to help you solve problems, and to be the online companion to the Do Amazing Things book... and currently thinking of another goal of movie making and editing styles.

PhotoStory 2 - - a full tutorial about using it. Not a problem-solving site.

Online Support - Forums and Newsgroups:
I'm a regular at many online forums and newsgroups, the main ones being:

Movie Maker 2 and PhotoStory 2 forums at

Movie Maker 2 forum at

Movie Maker newsgroup at microsoft.public.windowsxp.moviemaker
PhotoStory newsgroup at


Weekly Movie Maker 2/PhotoStory 2 newsletter. Subscribing is free via the link on the main page of

Tentative topics for upcoming newsletters (subject to change): A series of primers about utilities used in conjunction with Movie Maker and PhotoStory.

#13 - A Primer on Using IrfanView with Movie Maker
#14 - A Primer on Using Paint to Make Text Images for PhotoStory
#15 - A Primer on Using Virtual Dub with Movie Maker
#?? - Windows XP SP2 and Movie Maker 2.1 (the week it is released, whenever that is)
Older newsletters are archived at:


Transition Maker 2 - a utility to make the ultimate in personal and custom transitions for Movie Maker 2 -


I routinely beta test the Pixelan packages and think very highly of their people and products: Their SpiceFX packages of additional transitions and effects for Movie Maker 2 are available at:

Fee-based services:
If you can't save a movie because your project has become too complex, I'll divide it into manageable sub-projects for you and provide detailed instructions to render the parts and assemble them into your final movie. $49.95 - for details, see the sidebar on the Problem Solving > Can't Save a Movie page of

Movie Maker 2/Photo Story 2 training and support services start at $50 per hour - email and I'll help you determine your needs, and work with you to plan and implement them.

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

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. To subscribe to PapaJohn's Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 2 newsletter click here: Subscribe to PapaJohn's Newsletter. 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.



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