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PapaJohn
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PapaJohn's Newsletter #121

The iriver Clix


clixLast week's newsletter was about a high definition camcorder, a gadget at the front end of the movie-making process. In this week's, I'll take a look at a gadget at the other end of the process, a small... tiny... iriver clix player.

New gadgets seem to be rolling out of development stages at in increasing frequency. On first impressions, this one's a winner.... even more so on second and third impressions. Click the image at the right for a 2-1/2 minute flick of the clix in action.

Features of the clix include:

  • playing music files
  • playing FM radio - with an auto-scan feature to set local stations
  • playing video files - AVI files compressed with the Xvid codec
  • showing still pictures - with an option for a slideshow with transitions
  • recording narrations or FM radio - MP3 format that can then be copied from the clix to the computer and used in movie or story projects
  • reading text files

... and more

This isn't a full review of the clix and its features. As usual, my focus is more narrowly on how to get movies and stories to it, how well they play there, and how the clix can help you with your movie and story projects. 

WMP does the syncing to get files to the clix. It'll automatically convert pictures to the right size and file type, but it doesn't convert video files. For those you need to download and use a software utility named iriviter. The Xvid format files produced are then copied by WMP to the clix. It works easily and quickly.

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


Notes...

Vista Corner... I got my DVD burning issue resolved by slowing down the burning speed from the default of 'fast' to 'slow'. That leaves only the issue of being able to view 1080i files.

I've been studying chapter 3 of Learning VirtualDub... the book I co-authored. The chapter is about capturing video and doing 'pre-processing' enhancement as it comes into the computer. It might be a better approach than capturing my video with either MM2 or WinDV, at least for footage that needs more fixing than I can do with Movie Maker. 

The Europe 301 branch of the website got new wallpaper on each of its dozen pages this week. Take a look at the wallpaper before I cover it all up with content like text and pictures.

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


The iriver clix player

Video files on the clix need to be in Xvid encoded AVI format... a compression type we instinctively shy away from in Movie Maker when importing and using videos in a project. But this is at the other end of the process, viewing or showing your movies... where the file type only matters for the playing and viewing.

Setup

No setup is needed... plug it in and Windows XP or Vista takes care of installing the driver. In a few seconds it's ready to use.

It comes with an installation disc that has Windows Media Player 11 on it... my laptop was running v10, so I used the disc to upgrade it... no luck... it was still v10 after the install. That's OK, as the clix works with v10 also, and my Vista system has the latest of WMP to check how the clix works with it.

There's no power supply with the unit. When it's plugged into the computer via its USB cable, it recharges the battery from the computer's power... an hour for 1/2 a charge and about 2-1/2 hours for a fill up.

When plugged into the computer, it can be synced to manage files on it, or get new ones there. Or it can be charged. But it can't be used to listen to a radio station or view videos already on it.


It's a two step process to get videos to the clix...

  1. Use the iriverter utility  to convert the input files to AVI compressed with the Xvid codec and aligned with the properties needed for the player... they are 320x240, 15 fps, about 375 kbps video, 128 kb/s audio
  2. Copy the AVI files to the clix using Windows Media Player's sync feature. 

Both steps are easy and fast... the ease of the conversions and transfers adds lots to enjoying the gadget.


iriverter conversion utility

File FormatsThe list of input file types doesn't include the dvr-ms files for recorded TV shows on an XP MCE system or the imported high definition camcorder files from last week's newsletter... but it converted them anyway.

Yes, but the one from Vista didn't play on the clix... the message was 'the file format is not supported'. The one captured in XP by Vegas did play.

It converted a VOB file that was still on a DVD disc... no need to copy it first to the hard drive... but playback on the clix gave the same error message. The DVD had been burned on my Vista system... maybe there's something about files made in Vista resulting in videos not working on the clix.

Most of the conversions are fast and play fine... each usually much less than a minute

iriviter - conversions
You can opt for a single file conversion, or point to a folder full of video files.

I did a number of individual ones, and then pointed to a folder with 134 video files I have on the website, a mix of movies and stories.

iriverter and mencoder, the encoder app that runs with it, used a combined 2/3 of my CPU and a minimal 37 K of memory as they did the conversions.

I timed the pack of 134 files... 47 minutes to convert them all to a new 642 MB pack of Xvid encoded AVI files.

WMP in XP then took 4 minutes to copy them all to the clix.


Sync OptionThe Syncing Process with Windows Media Player - in XP

Plug the clix into the computer with the USB cable and the auto pop-up window includes the option of syncing. It then opens Windows Media Player with the sync list on one side and the clix folders on the other.

Drag files from Windows Explorer, Total Commander, or other file managers into the sync list and press the 'Start Sync' button. All that's needed is to copy the files because they're already the right format.

Here's WMP 10 as it gets ready to copy a set of 26 vacation still pictures to the clix, all 7 megapixels from the camera. The process happened so fast it was hard to believe the pictures had been resized and copied to the clix, but they were. It took much less than a minute, with all of them reduced in size to be appropriate for viewing on the small screen... the largest JPG image of 6.03 MB was 31 KB on the clix.

Start Sync

The speed that the video files got copied was equally impressive, but in this case no conversion is being made as it was already done by the iriverter utility.


WMP in Vista

Plugging the clix into my Vista system was similar... but not as good as WMP 10 in XP.

WMP10 showed all of the video files on the clix... Vista's WMP showed only 37 of them. The thumbnails were generic, and the properties for each said they are zero seconds long.

Vista - WMP

They all appear in MyComputer on Vista... and with the nice touch of being able to rename the files directly on the clix. In XP I have to do any file renaming before syncing them to the clix.

Vista - Explorer

To get new video files to the clix in Vista, you need to use the same iriviter utility for the conversions before loading them into WMP for syncing.


Viewing on the clix

All but a handful of the videos on the clix looked and sounded great.
File Format not Supported

Three had this file format not supported message, but the Xvid files played fine on the XP computer in WMP before syncing.

Using GSpot to look at the 3 files showed no info for the audio track... they play silently in WMP... the lack of audio, or a corruption of the audio track, seems somehow to correlate with the message in the clix.

Most of them played well, but a few had serious audio glitches introduced by the iriveter app during conversion. The AVI files had the same problems in WMP on the computer, but the wmv input files played well, so it's a conversion issue.

All of them played in appropriate shapes based on pixel dimensions... standard, widescreen, or custom-sized.

With such a small screen, 1-3/4" by 1-3/8", the 320x240 pixels are pin points and the pictures look extremely sharp. If your videos look pixilated on a big screen, put them on a clix to enhance the viewing experience. 


Conclusions and Closing

There are many things that mark the clix as a high quality product. It's often the little things all added up.

For example, there's a slider lock to keep it from changing when you don't want it to, like in your wife's pocket when she's jogging with it... that's one mark of quality, but it stood out to me when the lock was on and I tried to turn the clix on. The display goes on briefly with a note to unlock it, topped with an arrow on the screen pointing to the where the slider on the side is.

I give the clix two thumbs up.


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 anything and everything that supports the 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. The frequency of radio Q&A sessions about Movie Maker has fallen off. 


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.

A 7 page tutorial about Photo Story 3 is in the 2006 Summer Special edition, still on bookstands.

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 goals are: doing amazing things, providing 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 - 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  www.papajohn.org

Topics for upcoming newsletters (always subject to change):

#122 - Oct 28 - open

#123 - Nov 4 - open

#123 - Nov 11 - 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 topic...


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. Here are links

TransiitonsEffectsPackage for Movie Maker - Volume 1 

PapaJohn's Transitions - Volume 2

PapaJohn's Video Effects - Volume 3


Music

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 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 at 7-8:30 PM on :

Monday, October 23rd
Thursday, November 30th
Thursday, December 14th

The classroom has a large screen overhead projection system... and individual laptops for each attendee. You learn by doing, with some coaching.


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 Living Projects section of the Movie Maker 2/Photo Story website for samples of what you can expect for the online portion of a 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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