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PapaJohn's Newsletter #124

Mass of Vacation Videos and Pictures

Browsing the 9,200+ still pix and 20 hours of video footage from our recent Europe 301 vacation shows that getting them into movie and story projects will be one of my most challenging projects... or by default they'll sit where they are doing nothing, like old boxes of slides, negatives and film reels.

I'd been 'testing the waters' since we returned, making a few small stories and movies, bringing some to show the kids and grands, and laying the groundwork for a vacation website. I'd been thinking of how and when to get fully immersed... keep walking tentatively into the shallow end or jump into the deep.

Armed with a new 500 GB external USB2 drive, I took the plunge this week. The way I'm doing it deserves a newsletter, as I'm using multiple collection database files. First some background.

BernadettePapaJohnthe Photographer and Videographer

Bernadette used two cameras, one with 7 and the other 5 megapixels, moving the files from the flash cards and memory sticks to the tablet PC as we traveled, and from the tablet to an external USB2 drive when we got home.

She's a Photoshop and Painter expert, and uses the pictures for her projects. She also does 'touch-up' services for those I use in stories and movies. Her way of organizing picture files and working projects is to use very descriptive folder and file names.

I'm the video guy with a different approach to naming and organizing. I put stickers on the mini-DV tapes as I take them out of the cellophane, assigning sequential tape numbers with no descriptions. The Europe 301 vacation footage is on tapes #115 to #134. I make notes about the content in my personal database, and don't re-use tapes.

I don't change the camcorder clock as I travel, so time code data always reflects Kalamazoo time (Eastern). In addition to the video footage, I snapped a few hundred 2 megapixel pictures with the camcorder's snapshot feature... which moved daily from the memory stick to the tablet.

Here at home during the day, Bernadette works downstairs with her desktop computer and the tablet while I work upstairs with my desktops and laptop. We routinely pass files via our network's wireless router.

We spend 3 hours most every night at our Barnes & Noble store... with the tablet and laptop, and whatever work we carry on them. Files and projects routinely and often move back and forth between the portable computers and the desktops, and between internal and external drives. Red-X's for moved source files are routine.

However we manage the source files, it has it fit within our lifestyles and personal styles.

the Goal and first step

I want all vacation pictures and video files instantly available for browsing and movie projects by being in a Movie Maker collection, but I don't want a single huge collection database with 10,000 clips. Importing large video files (with auto clip creation) and batches of still pix takes 10 or more minutes for each, not instantly available.

Bernadette wants the originals of all still pictures on her computer(s)... I'm happy with copies.

To work with multiple collection databases, I made a set of them in MM1 to use in MM2 as needed. After many hours of importing the source files into MM1 collections, it takes only seconds to import any of the MM1 collections into MM2. 

... before getting into the details, here's a few notes...


My impromptu short survey gave me lots to mull over. I sent the request after receiving an appreciated email from a long term subscriber, saying in part: "... the last couple of newsletters I feel like I'm a kindergartener trying to take advanced calculus.  Maybe you should have two newsletters, one for the beginners and intermediates and another one for the techies that are into the advanced placement arena.... I'm probably an exception but I thought you might want to test the waters and see if you're hitting your target market....".  I took his advice and sent out the poll.

Thanks for the wave of responses. Over 80% said 'great, keep up the good work'... but on the other hand, some affirmed the feelings of the emailer and included some good comments or suggestions. I don't see a full change of course coming or doing 2 weekly newsletters, but I'm thinking of ways to make improvements. I'll give a full rundown of the poll results next week, along with my plans to change.  

Vista Corner... it was Released for Manufacturing the other day... it'll be time for another newsletter after I install the version that was released.

a Friend - I bumped into someone the other day who was the first person to attend one of my Movie Maker training classes... years ago. I'd helped him lots since then, even building his website. He was excited about finally moving on to another movie editing app... he bought a Mac and went to the big Apple store in Chicago and attended a class in iMovie.

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

Vacation Source Files

To get the still pix, I borrowed Bernadette's external USB2 drive, plugged it into my laptop, and copied the folders to my big external drive. That did it lots quicker than doing them over our wireless network. I then rotated any that were taken in portrait mode, about 2,000 of them. The stills are JPG images and we rotate them using IrfanView's lossless rotation feature. 

I captured each of the video tapes using MM2's 'rewind and get the full tape' feature, with the option to auto-create clips turned off.  

At one time back in the days of MM1, my collection database had grown to about 11,000 clips and it took over 5 minutes to start Movie Maker as it had to check each source file as it opened. I've not built one that big in MM2, but I've run into too many cases of MM2 wiping my collection database clean when I didn't want it to. For my Europe 301 project, a set of smaller collection databases build and maintained in MM1, and used in MM2 is a good approach.

  • Movie Source FilesThe file list at the right shows the set of DV-AVI files on the external drive.
  • The set of 78 folders below are my copies of the 9,200 still pix. They are from 3 cameras... references to 'jo' are to our daughter Joanne's 7 megapixel camera... the 'olympus' is our 5 megapixel camera... and the 'camcorder' ones are from the snapshot feature of my mini-DV camcorder (2 MB files).

Still Pix FoldersBackups

The DV-AVI files are the backups of the original tapes... and if I lose a DV-AVI file, I can re-capture it from the tape, even if it's being used as a source file for projects.

The original files of the still pix are on Bernadette's external drive, and my set is the backup.

Preparing Still Pix Before Importing

We rotated the couple thousand pictures that were shot in portrait mode... before my importing.

Building Collections in Movie Maker 1

The pix and video files were ready for importing into Movie Maker collections... into the set of MM1 collection databases. Here are the steps I took.

Step 1... Made the normal MM1 collection database folder shareable and easy to reach.

Right click on the folder with the MM1 collection database and select Properties.

Make the folder 'shareable' and give it a short easy name like MM1. This makes it accessible as the MM1 folder on the Hummer laptop, saving the need to drill down through layers of folders and subfolders.

Opt to let network users change the files, so you can write over the current collection database with a different one from the set in the Europe 301 library.

Share Property of MM1 Folder

You don't need to have a multiple computer network to get the benefit of setting up the sharing this way. You'll see in a minute.

Step 2... Make a vacation collection library, a starter set of MM1 collection database files

I made a set of sub-folders in the Video Tapes folder of the external drive, one for each of the main stops of the vacation... Alps, Florence, Istanbul, etc.

I kicked each off with a copy the MM1 collection database file that was empty, copying it from c:\Documents and Settings\PapaJohn\Application Data\Microsoft\Movie Maker .

It's these folders and the MM1 collection database files in them that I'll refer to as the collection library for the vacation files.

Step 3... Make an associated set of batch files, one for each of the collection database files in the library.

A batch file is a simple text file that runs when you double-click it. Your computer does whatever you tell it to in the file. Run the batch file when MM1 is closed or it won't be able to copy over the database file currently in use.

Make a batch file using Notepad... type the command line and save the file to whatever name you want, but with a .bat extension.


When I double-click the Get Alps.bat file, it copies the MM1 collection database for the Swiss Alps part of our vacation from the Alps folder in the library on the external drive to the laptop (named Hummer)... see that it's putting it into the folder named MM1, the advantage of having set it up in step 1 for easy access. Here's a chart to help you see it all... 

Batch File

By double-clicking on any of the batch files, I get the associated collection database file in a split second.

Step 4... Import source files into the MM1 collections.

Run one of the batch files to get the latest collection from the library. I'll do the one for Istanbul.

Open MM1 and note that it's now using the Istanbul collections. Import more source files, arrange things, rename collections and clips... do all the normal things you do in collections.

When you close MM1 it offers to make a backup of the collections file... whenever it offers, I say yes and point it to the original file in the library on the external drive. That provides the latest copy where I want it for the next use.

Backup MM1 Database

The collection tree opens in MM1 in the fully collapsed view... not the fully expanded view in MM2.

Step 5... Use the MM1 Collections in MM2

MM2 CollectionsMM2 can import MM1 collection files. I select them as needed from the vacation library on the external drive. Import more than one if you want. It takes lots of time to build a collection, but only seconds to import it into MM2 ready for use.

The collections open in the fully expanded view, as shown at the right for my Alps collection file...

It's convenient to have both MM1 and MM2 open at the same time when browsing clips in MM2. If you want to rename a clip, fix a typo, move one to a different collection, delete some, etc... use the window with MM1 running and make the change so it'll be saved in the collection file in the library when closing it.

The cost in computer memory to have MM1 open in addition to MM2 is minimal. The picture below shows open processes ranked by memory usage when I have both MM1 and MM2 open with the same collections in each.  MM1 is using only 9% of the memory that MM2 is using.

Memory Usage

I run MM1 and MM2 together often, sometimes using the same source files. I've never run into a clashing issue.

Having the library of collections on my external drive means that neither MM1 nor MM2 is using the 'original'... which kind of frees me up to play with the clips in the collections, not being concerned about what I'm doing to the master files. For example, if I want to crop a segment of music from a clip and save it as an audio file, I can split it in the collection, put the segment on the timeline and render it to a WMA file. If my temporary splits or other changes in MM2 get out of hand, I'll close MM2, delete the collection database and start over.

My feeling of freedom to chop up or move around clips in the collections of MM2, with the safety net of getting another copy of the collection file from the library if I go overboard, helps me when making projects... helps shift to doing creative things without worrying about the administrative end of preserving things that I've invested much time in.

That's it for setting up the Europe 301 collections... now to put them to good use by making projects.

Conclusions and Closing

I've fluctuated over the years... sometimes having one large collection file, other times having many small ones, and most recently just working with a clean slate and importing what I need at the moment. The right way to work depends on the project, how stable MM2 is (mine is very stable... I wipe out collections by doing a system restore and then undoing it, nothing to do with Movie Maker... testing new versions or different software that results in problems).

Something told me that, before jumping into the mass of Europe 301 source files, it was time to not risk losing the dozens of hours it's taking to create the library of collections.

I'd forgotten how useful that MM1 option of backing up the collection file is... wish it were part of MM2. I keep telling users about the need to backup their collection and project files, but there's not an easy way for newbies to do it.

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):

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

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

#127 - Dec 2 - a 35 mm slide scanner for 'stories from older memories'

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

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 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 at 7-8:30 PM on :

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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