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PapaJohn's Newsletter #122

Pixelan's PanZoom Maker

 Pixelan's new PanZoom Maker tool is great... I'm a fan of easy to make customized effects that are specific to one use and disposable. This new tool meets my criteria.

 It's much like Photo Story 3 for motion settings... tell it where to start and end, and it'll take care of the xml code behind the scenes. It'll be in your collection of Video Effects for you to apply to your project clip.

You can use it for still pix as I did in my first test, but where it really excels is on video clips. For a sample video clip, click the link or the picture.


PanZoom Maker - with combo frames

The white selection outlines are by PanZoom Maker... the red ones are 'targets' made in to use as a job-aid. I'll show you a bit later how I approached making the sample clip.

To start, here's an extract from a Pixelan mini 'press release', a forum post. 

9/11/06 post on

Just a quick note here to let forum folks know we've greatly improved and expanded our effects add-ons for Movie Maker. For the first time, we've brought a lot of our high-end code from our plug-ins for other editing systems into MM.... (and)...  we've made a cool PanZoom Maker 1.0 tool that is a visual, non-XML way for users to create/insert custom Pan/Zooms in MM. (And yes, it's XML is editable too, for those of you who want to dig into that.)

To learn more, please go here:

... Let me know if you have questions. I'll do my best to stay in touch here for a while and discuss these plug-ins or answer questions in the forum as much as you want. We'd also love to hear suggestions for further enhancing our PanZoom Maker tool. But we are heavily at work on several new projects, so sometimes I lose track of checking in on cool places like here. ; ) Thanks for reading.

Michael Feerer
Pixelan Software

 Michael's post was made while I was on vacation, and I'm just now catching up with the new tool and changes in the SpiceFX packs. I'll cover PanZoom Maker here, and changes in the SpiceFX Packs in issue #125 in a few weeks.

PanZoom MakerPanZoom Maker

 The utility reminds me of the Transition Maker tool I sell... a stand-alone one that works on the sidelines. When you're ready to use the customized set of 25 pan/zoom effects, click on the big button to create and roll out (or modify if it's already there) the xml code that Movie Maker 2 uses. Restart Movie Maker so it reads it as it loads, and your new or changed pan/zoom effects will be in the collection. 

The Help button opens this Pixelan website... which points out the features, and explains them enough to start using the tool.

 I'll take it for a test drive, first using a still picture in a movie project, and then a movie clip.

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


Vista Corner... I just read the first published book about Vista... Introducing Windows Vista by William R. Stanek, published by Microsoft Press. It's 300 pages includes one page about Movie Maker, four about Windows Photo Gallery, and nothing on DVD Maker. It was written with an early beta version and DVD Maker probably wasn't included.

Internet Explorer 7 was released... I was first made aware of it by a couple newsgroup posts saying that Movie Maker was crashing after the upgrade to IE7. There's a new section on my Crashes and Hangs page. After doing the upgrade myself with no ill effects, I've yet to see another post about the issue.

The Europe 301 project includes a new video greeting card of Florence. It runs less than a minute and is my first video on the newer version of mydeo's streaming service. At 340 Kbps, it's less than half the bitrate of the files I usually put on file-downloading servers. The mydeo service is the subject of next week's newsletter, and a tutorial about making such video cards will be in newsletter #126 to help with making holiday cards. 

I borrowed an old 35mm slide scanner from a friend (Chuck Bentley, who seems to be making it into these newsletters more and more)... some of my thousands of slides from the early 70's are seeing light again for the first time in many years... scans by the Minolta Dimage Scan Speed are as large as 4032x2678 pixels, a bit over 10 megapixels. They'll be perfect for Photo Stories of the olden days.

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

PanZoom Maker

PanZoom Maker, being a stand-alone tool, has its relationship only with Movie Maker 2... with no output except the xml file for MM2's collection of special video effects. Let's look at it in combo with Movie Maker.

PanZoom Maker with notes

The entry field for the effect's name shows in the collection to help you correlate the effect with your work in PanZoom Maker. The extra notes are just for the PanZoom project file. Both are extremely helpful.

When you Press the big rectangular button under the right panel in the main working window, the set of 25 custom Pan/Zoom settings are packaged into an xml file and placed in the Movie Maker\Shared\AddOnTFX folder... in a file named PixelanPanZoomCustomPack.xml

If there's a file there already, it'll be replaced by an updated one.

About the Installation

For most users, the PanZoom Maker 1.1 program is available by double-clicking a desktop shortcut added by the installation.

For the 'under-the-hood' geeks, it goes into the C:\Program Files\Pixelan\SpiceFX Packs 3.0 folder, and the executable is PanZoom Maker 1.1.exe.

A fully-functional demo is included as part of the SpiceFX Packs 3.0 demo available at Pixelan's web site. You can try it for an unlimited time, but an X will appear over the effects

Cropped ImageAbout Making Custom Settings

My first test was with a still picture...

The working viewing window is 240x180 pixels... which is a standard 4:3 aspect ratio. As I shot my trip to Europe in widescreen mode, I'll explore it to see what if any effect the MM2 project setting has.

I cropped part of an image of a couple little boats on the Arno river in Florence... to check the pan from one boat to the other in a standard 4:3 aspect ratio versus using the same effect with the same image in a widescreen 16:9 project. I added the red boxes in Paint to use as targets in PanZoom maker and to be able to check how well the effect aligns with the planned selections.

Test Image in PanZoomI didn't pay attention to the size of the cropped image... just eye-balled it to somewhat align with either a standard or widescreen movie. The pixel dimensions of the image were 329x173.  

The first thing I'll do is open this image in PanZoom Maker so I can set the settings with it rather than guessing where they start and end, and what size the selections should be.

Here's what it looked like in PanZoom Maker when finished. If I get from the white outline at the left to the white outline at the right, it'll be fine as the boats will be centered.

From there, I imported the picture into MM2, put it on the timeline, applied the custom pan/zoom effect, and took snapshots of the first and last frames of the project's clip.

Standard mode resultsTest results ...

Something didn't work well

  • the standard mode failed at the starting frame, and was only slightly better at the ending one
  • the widescreen was somewhat better but not good... you might be in trouble with TV viewing, getting into the unsafe zone with the starting frames...

Note the heavy pixelization introduced by the tight zooming. It's not caused by the Pixelan tool... it's the result of how Movie Maker handles such things.

Widescreen mode results

With the same starting image, a comparable Photo Story 3 clip would be far superior in visual quality. But PanZoom Maker and MM2 working together can do it with video source files, while PS3 can't.

Retest... retest...

What happened in the first test? Was it the tool or operator error? The retest shows it as the operator.

For the first retest, I started over with the image resized to standard 640x480 pixels, and then used it in a standard 4:3 aspect ratio movie. The results were perfect... here's the first and last frames from the video.


Similarly, starting with a resized image at 864x480 aligns it with a widescreen 16:9 project, and the results are also 'spot-on'.


Pixelan's online PanZoom usage instructions don't tell you about the input source file sizes... the image in the tool expands to fill the working window... each of my 3 pictures - 329x173, 640x480, and 864x480 looked exactly the same in the tool.... and generated exactly the same xml code for the custom pan/zoom effect.

It's a user issue... knowing how the different source file sizes will effect the results. You can do iterative changes using the PanZoom tool and Movie Maker, or you can pre-plan it by aligning the image in the working window of PanZoom Maker with your project.  

About Saving a PanZoom Project and Reopening an Existing One

You can save a project file using the Save Button... and open a saved one using Load.

If you decide to switch to another PanZoom project file while working on one, you can load the one you want... but PanZoom won't ask you if you want to save any changes made to the one you have open. Be careful not to invest a lot of effort in tweaking a project file, and when interrupted to quickly open another... forget to save your work.

Like Movie Maker, the tool does not backup your project file... if it's important enough to be backed up, you need to do it.  

When you open PanZoom Maker, it automatically opens the last project file you were working on... and it won't note which one is open. It seems pretty standard for Windows apps to show the file name in the upper left border... maybe the next version will add it.

The Clear option resets the settings, effect names, and extra notes... not to some defaults or blank text fields, but to what they were when you opened the project file. I made a project file called blank template with no added effect names and notes, so I could use it to start a fresh project.

About the Custom Effects in Movie Maker

Each of the 25 custom pan/zoom effects in Movie Maker use the same thumbnail. If you make 25 custom ones without notes, you might be well off keeping PanZoom with its project file open, and use it to check what the effect is doing, as a supplement to seeing it in the preview window of MM2.

If the MM2 preview window used your project image instead of the default sample, it would reduce the need for such notes, but it doesn't. 

Custom Pan-Zoom Icons

The xml code flows from the PanZoom project... to the custom xml file that's saved when you add the effects to Movie Maker... to the selected clip(s) in the movie project... to the saved movie project file.

If you want to change a setting in one of the custom effects, you need to repeat the process all the way through, and do an extra step of removing the previously added effect. A movie clip can have as many as 6 effects, so adding a tweaked pan/zoom without removing the previously applied one would result in two of them in the clip and the xml code embedded in the project file. Movie Maker won't change already added effects to align with changed settings in the PanZoom file.

Sample Use on a Video Clip

The opening gave a link to a sample video clip that plays first as shot by the camcorder, and then again as adjusted with a PanZoom Maker effect. If you didn't view it on the way in it's a good time to go back and watch.

... here's the link again:  sample

My first test of the tool was with a still picture. For panning/zooming of those, my favorite tool is Photo Story 3.... but PS3 can't handle video files. That's where PanZoom Maker has quickly become a key new tool.

For a test run with a video clip, here's the starting and ending frames of a 17 second video clip from our recent vacation. As I shot it I was panning from left to right, noting the passing police and ending up with a couple fairly famous statues.

Starting and Ending Frames

It's hard enough to pan well when shooting, nevermind try to do well at both panning and zooming at the same time. But now, when looking at the clip in Movie Maker, I thought I'd try adding the zoom to the pan by using PanZoom Maker... to focus more on the police at the beginning and the sculptures at the end.

Jumping ahead to the end result so you can compare the before and after... here's the new starting and ending frames when the PanZoom effect was added... exactly what I wanted.

Revised start and end frames

Here's how I got to it... by using what I call a 'job-aid' (a term from my past).


One of my personal preferences is to use a job-aid  when determining where to position the starting and ending points for the clip in PanZoom Maker... here are the steps I took.

  1. Trimmed the clip in the MM2 project to get the frames I wanted for the movie project
  2. Used Movie Maker to take snapshots of the first and last frames
  3. Imported the two snapshots into as 2 layers... the ending frame over the starting one
  4. Changed the opacity setting of the ending layer (double-click on the layer to open the settings window) to 114 so I could see both frames at once
  5. Saved the compound image as a JPG
  6. Used the Paint app to add red rectangles over my selected starting and ending points... the police and the statues
  7. Opened the newly annotated image in PanZoom Maker (it would be good if PanZoom Maker was tweaked to let me drag and drop an image into the working window from my file manager... instead of having to drill down to it)

With the job-aid in the working window of PanZoom Maker, it was easy to select the starting and ending positions and appropriate sizes for the effect... the white rectangular overlays.

PanZoom Maker - with combo frames

In my mind, when viewing the clip in the project, the police were in the middle or at the left and the statues at the right.

But the job-aid in PanZoom Maker showed the starting selection to be closer to the right and the ending selection of the statues closer to the center.

That's because the video clip already includes some panning... and why it's easier for me to work with the job-aid in PanZoom Maker.

It's a trade-off. PanZoom Maker special effects can be tweaked and revised. But you have to close Movie Maker, re-do them in the tool, open MM2 and the project file, remove the previous effect and apply the revised one... doing it over and over in an iterative manner until the setting is just right for your needs.

Even with the job-aid I had to do one iteration related to the size of the source files in MM2 versus PanZoom Maker... The video clip is a DV-AVI file shot in widescreen mode, and the MM2 snapshots from the timeline used for PanZoom Maker are 424x240 pixels...

It feels pretty good to be so close with the first pass, which makes the second pass something to look forward to rather than a source of frustration.

Conclusions and Closing

The PanZoom tool is a great addition to my tool box and I expect to be using it a lot. When hand-holding a camcorder, it's best to avoid panning and zooming... especially when computer editing tools like this one can do it so much better.

Limit the zooming to a moderate amount so the pixelization doesn't get too heavy, unless you want it that way.

I want to thank Michael Feerer and Pixelan for reviewing a draft copy of this newsletter. It's a rare case that I provide a draft to anyone for review, but Michael has always been great to work with and I always appreciate his comments.  

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 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 ), 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.


Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 - - 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 - - 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

Topics for upcoming newsletters (always subject to change):

#123 - Nov 4 - the new edition of mydeo's streaming service

#124 - Nov 11 - a 35 mm slide scanner for 'stories from older memories'

#125 - Nov 18 - Pixelan's v3 Plus Packs...

#126 - Nov 25 - making a video postcard... tutorial...

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...


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

Transiitons EffectsPackage 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 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

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 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
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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