Windows Movie Maker tips, tutorials, forums and more...

Visit the Windows Movie Maker forums

Community Forums

Getting Started
Learn Movie Maker 2
Capture Video
Improve Video Capture
Saving Projects

Editing Video
Video Editing
Video Trimming
Video Effects
Using Transitions

Adding Sounds
Adding Music
Adding Narration
Multiple Audio Tracks
Controlling Volume

Taking Pictures
Making Slideshows
Advanced Titles
Photo Story 3

Exporting Movies
Saving Movies
CD-Rom Backup
Create a DVD

More Articles
All Articles
Movie Maker 2 Review
Movie Maker Tutorials
What are Codecs?
Streaming Video
Create a Movie CD
Using Photo Story 2

MM2 Newsletter Archive

Download Windows Media Player 11

Digital Media BooksView Books about Digital Media

PapaJohn's Newsletter #126

Make a Video Postcard


The idea for this issue started with a top regular forum poster asking for a tutorial about making a video postcard.

... and with the holiday season here, it's as good a time as any to do it.

Advancements in the skills of users, available tools, and broadband distribution make such a project easier, more fun, and with better results.

This is the first of what I expect to be a series of topical cards, spending a bit of time setting up templates for routine use.

The video postcard runs 2-3/4 minutes. It's a widescreen card, saved using the Video for LAN (768 kbps) profile and uploaded to the mydeo streaming service. The pictures of the postcard front above and back below are alternate links to view it.

The video file is a bit over 15 MB, a bit too large for routine emailing, making it perfect for online distribution.


I made the video postcard from scratch... using a number of graphics and video tools.

camcorder footage of a family outing to Chicago this past Saturday

• an MM2 video snapshot of one of the frames from the video - Chicago's famous 'Water Tower'

• two scanned images... the fancy scrollwork for the back of the card, and the small squarish picture for a make-believe stamp.

IrfanView to crop and resize the scanned images to make the front and back images for the card, using the scanned images, carving out the transparent area of the reverse to be able to see the video beneath it, writing the text on the front, adding the stamp and making the post-mark, and saving the front and back images as ..png files to use as custom overlays in Movie Maker.

VirtualDub to rotate the source video 7 degrees to align with the tilt I had given the card.

• a downloaded midi file for holiday background music, capturing it into MM2 as a narration (WMA file).

• a holiday themed Windows Media Player 11 visualization captured by the Windows Media Encoder

• using the card front and back as custom image overlays... with an xml file to make them work

• a few special video effects and transitions made by Pixelan and Adorage

Movie Maker 2.1 of course to put it all together and make the movie

• the mydeo streaming service to sent it to all who want to view it

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


Vista Corner... I did a couple things this week. First I stepped through the process of plugging my camcorder in and importing video clips into the Photo Gallery, using the option of making individual files for each scene. I took screen shots at each step to use on my website. The process worked fine, but it's limited to importing into WMV files and doesn't make the same offer for DV-AVI.

Then I did some checking of long-term MM2.1 issues to see how and if they were resolved in Vista: the 'What Frames do you see?' issue explored in newsletter #55, the missing 27th frame when saving to DV-AVI, and the generational loss issues presented in newsletter #48. The issues seem to be still with us in Vista, perhaps more significantly. 

When previewing a clip with 100 numbered frames, I saw two frames with #29, three with #96, and didn't see #98 or #99. When saving a new movie in DV-AVI format, the 27th frame was dropped, but there were two with #30. When saving to WMV, there were lots of missing and added frames.

I have more studying to do before presenting the results. Issues could be in the viewing rather than the file itself, or a combo of issues between the file and the viewing software. I'd rather test and present results than speculate about what the issues might be.

YouTube... After reading the latest Wired magazine article about YouTube/Google, I spent a little time exploring myYouTube account, and found it a bit more advanced than the last time I visited. I customized my 'Channel' by applying the same bluish background image I use for newsletters and my website, organized selected sets of my videos into a couple playlists:  video doodles, and Chuck Bentley's 'Carnival in Venice' podcasts. I'm still on the learning curve, getting my share of error messages as I create and edit playlists, so you may not yet see what you expect. It offers a long-term online storage place for videos I've removed from the website to save space.

By jumping in a bit more, I'm participating in the big online video experiment.


As this link is a special for 50% off the usual annual service price... for newsletter readers... good to Dec 31.... I'll keep it as a sticky note until then.

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

Making a Video Postcard - Tutorial

I'll walk you through it in 12 steps... substitute your own tools if you use different ones.

1 - Capture the camcorder footage

My footage is from a family outing to Chicago on Saturday, using MM2 with a firewire connection to my mini-DV camcorder. Most of the clips I took were in standard 4:3 mode, but some were taken in widescreen 16:9 mode.

For the video clips of the game-playing in ESPN Zone, I changed the camcorder to shoot in progressive mode instead of interlaced. I wanted to test the flickering or banding when shooting video screens, to see if it varies between modes. I don't think I could tell.

There were not outstanding stand-alone scenes, just 17+ minutes of assorted clips. The editing will need to make it into something worth viewing. The presentation will need to be more of the WOW than the content, and from the first wave of feedback, I succeeded.

2 - Use MM2 to take a video snapshot of one of the frames from the video to use as background.

The famous 'Water Tower' view is what I used. I took the snapshot of the video clip in the collection... Movie Maker saved it as an 856x480 pixel jpg file.

The pixel dimensions of the snapshot tell me to make the overlay and other images to use in the project at those dimensions to align with the video.

Postcard frame scan3 - Scan some images

I often use books of 'thousands of copyright-free images'. There's a pretty good selection at Barnes & Noble. The images are oldies but goodies... and free to use.

The one with the fancy scrollwork was to use on the back of the card, with an area to frame the video.

stamp imageThe other was a small squarish picture to make into a postage stamp.

4 - Scan at full size for good resolution, and crop and resize images as needed using IrfanView (newsletter #13).

I resized the scrollwork frame from its original 952x1608 pixels to fit nicely into the 856x480 pixel dimensions of the video.

I resized the image for the stamp from 463x540 pixels to a smaller size that looks appropriate when placed on the corner of the postcard. The image wasn't of a stamp, but looked like an easy one to add a denomination.

5 - Use (newsletter #77) to manipulate the images.

I use it when needing something more than IrfanView or Paint... I wanted to be able to rotate at any angle, carve out a transparent area to see the video playing in the background, and build the images in layers.

In addition to adding a 10 to indicate the quasi-stamp's value, I punched the edges a bit with a circular eraser brush to make it look a bit more stamp-like.

I colored the stamp blue to more easily see the perforations, added some straight lines for cancellation marks, along with a bolder circle at the left, the name 'Chicago', and the date. The cancellation gives the aura of you being the receiver... use just the stamp if you want to give the aura of the sender.

I apply the text as it normally goes... horizontally... then cut the area of text out and paste it back in. When pasting gives you the option of rotating to any angle you want. I do that with all the objects I need to rotate.

Using the magic wand and eraser, I removed the central area within the scroll work so it was a transparent area... to see the video beneath it when used as a custom image overlay.

When finished adding and tweaking things in, I saved the front and back images as .png files, a file type you can either import into MM2 to use as a picture clip, or use as a custom title 'image' overlay without importing (see step 9 below).

VDub - add filter6 - VirtualDub (newsletter #16) to rotate a video file

For the postcard, I had rotated the image in about 7 degrees, so I wanted to rotate the video the same amount.

Open the video file in VirtualDub, apply the 'rotate2' filter, and double click it to open the settings box.

Guess at the angle, and then select the preview feature. I had the image open in so I could eyeball the angles between it and the preview in VirtualDub.... close is good enough.

Specify Degrees

I specified the compressor as the Panasonic DV codec, and saved the rotated movie to a new DV-AVI file.

7 - get background music

The Archival Preservation of Player Piano Music Rolls has, among many thousands of other tunes, midi files of holiday music.

I leave them in midi format, play them in WMP, and record in MM2.1 as they play, coming in as WMA narration files... using the Stereo Mix option in the narration settings window.

8 - get other clips for fun and WOW

As the midi file was playing in WMP11, I noticed the visualization with a holiday theme. I turned around right after the narration and used the Windows Media Encoder (newsletter #43) to capture some.

Once I setup the capture session, I tend to overdue it and put lots of footage in my library. The star in the closing credits of the postcard is a small part of what I captured.

The alignment of the names in the credits with the star's position was coincidental.

9 - Make or tweak an xml file for the title overlay images

The two saved png files from step 5 were the front and back of the postcard. I used them as overlay1.png and overlay2.png in my title overlay starter kit
(website > Edit Movies > XML - Persian Section > Script Types > Custom Overlays).  

The kit has starter images to replace as needed, like I did here. The xml file to make them work was already in place and no changes were needed to it.

10 - Select special video effects and transitions

I used a few special video effects and transitions made by Pixelan and Adorage were used.... things like the snowflakes from the Winter Fun Pack 2003 and the sparkles transitioning in a couple places.

I used the sparkles to kind of get your attention when changing from the front of the postcard to the back, instead of flipping it over.

11 - Use Movie Maker 2.1 to put it all together and save the video postcard

I made the card in widescreen 16:9 mode, but 13 of the 17 minutes of video footage were shot in standard 4:3 mode. I had enough clips for the short sample postcard, but for a longer home video, I used VirtualDub to crop the standard footage to align it with the widescreen shape.

When saving the movie, I opted for the Video for LAN (768 kbps) profile, my current 'standard' when uploading movies for online viewing... to mydeo, YouTube, my website, wherever.

12 - Upload the video postcard to a website

I used the mydeo streaming service and distributed the link.

As often happens, no sooner do you send out notices with the link than you think of something to change. If it was on my own website I'd just swap out the file with the new one and the link wouldn't be broken... but I haven't seen an online video hosting service yet that allows the changing a video without having to use a new URL for the new one. That leaves a trail of broken links, so I submitted a suggestion to mydeo to add such a feature.

What's Next?

Feedback about this postcard from family and friends was extremely positive, and I like the subject... I'm thinking about how and where to put an expanding set of topical video postcards (maybe greeting cards too) on my website. 

By splitting the postcard, it can make neat opening and closing clips for a longer movie. Use the postcard reverse image in Photo Story 3 and make a clip that zooms into the transparent opening, have the movie show full screen, and then make a 2nd story clip to zoom back out to the postcard for the closing credits.

A note about viewing on Macs... I stopped as usual in the Apple store in Chicago on Saturday to check how things looked from their perspective. I know that  WMV9 movies from my website play fine... but I keep forgetting that neither the neptune or mydeo servers support Mac users. I didn't check YouTube but I assume the Macs can see them. Keep thinking about who your audience is and how well they can see your work. For example, we live in the Windows perspective, but 1/3 of those who visit my website are not using Internet Explorer to view 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):

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

#128 - Dec 9 - 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...


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 Galleries Neptune Gallery

neptune Mediashare is the preferred file download service for Movie Maker users... there's a  'PapaJohn Expert Zone' where I keep many of my samples and personal videos. 

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.

Mydeo... and mydeo is the preferred video streaming service. The video samples for this newsletter are on it, and I'll be using it for many of my future ones.

Photo Stories stream as well as movies.

mydeo offers a one month free trial... click the logo or the link to check it out. 


In conjunction with the Portage, Michigan library , I offer free training sessions about Movie Maker and Photo Story, an intro session and a workshop. Upcoming classes are 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



Download more Movie Maker Effects!

Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.