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PapaJohn's Newsletter #128

Vista's DVD Maker - Focus on Style

Starting with this issue, I'll open the newsletter with a summary of the main content... to make it easier for those who would rather stop just before the weekly notes or details.

And for those who want the rest of the story, it'll continue after the notes.

DVD Maker's Styles

I did some more testing of Vista's new DVD Maker app this week. I love the 20 animated menu styles, to the extent I'm focusing the issue on them. There's lots more to DVD Maker for future issues, such as including a slide show with your movies.

I wanted to show more than static pictures of animated styles. To do it, I made a set of 20 DVDs, one for each of the styles. I ripped the opening scenes from them and embedded a YouTube playlist to show them.

Click this link or image to go to my website page and view the various styles. They run from 16 to 23 seconds, showing just the opening animation.

Vista > DVD Maker

Website Page

Another neat animation happens when you select 'Scenes' and the disc moves from the main menu to the scenes menu... but that's for the future.

from Tape to DVD... not yet for me

When I first connected my camcorder, Vista offered to go directly from camcorder tape to DVD, using DVD Maker behind the scenes. I opted for each camcorder scene being imported as an individual wmv file, but the disc burning didn't succeed.

  • The first but non-critical issue was the DVD Maker limit of 99 camcorder scenes (imported as individual WMV files). That got me only about 3/4 through the tape.

An hour of video on a tape divided by 99 scenes is an average of 36 seconds per scene.  Newsletter #115 checked the pace of TV Ads and content... and found an average of 1-1/4 seconds for ads and 7-1/3 seconds for content. Camcorder scenes should be much longer, but 36 seconds seems like a lot.

  • The critical issue was the disc drive drawer opening when the burning was about 10% done, with a generic error message. I knew from beta testing my system doesn't successfully burn discs at fast speed, but the tape to disc process didn't offer an option to change the burn speed.

In another attempt to use the folder of individual scenes, I opened DVD Maker and added the folder. It had the same limit of 99, but now I could choose to do a slow burn. It got further this time, to about 25% of the disc... but anything short of 100% isn't enough.

Maybe a medium speed burn?? Nope, it got exactly as far as the slow one, to about 1/4 done. I'm gauging how far it got by looking at the disc to see how much is physically etched.

Maybe it can't make a DVD with 99 video files even though it accepts that many. That'll be OK for me, as a dozen or so videos is my usual maximum.

... before getting into more details, here are some notes...


Vista Corner... this newsletter is it for this week.


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

The orientation class at the Kalamazoo Community Access Center ... was interesting. I got to hear about its mission to help anyone who has something to say to actually record and broadcast it on TV... and its 25 year history.

Their output is 24/7 of content to one radio channel and 5 cable TV ones.

  • One room has the equipment that constantly pumps out the content
  • Some rooms are studios with TV cameras, sound equipment, lighting, blue screens, etc... all the stuff needed to make your own show
  • Computers in the office area use software to schedule all the slots to keep the 24/7 content flowing
  • there are several editing rooms with analog and digital equipment where you can start with your tapes and do the editing. The whole place is pretty Apple-based, so editing is on iMovie and Final Cut Pro
  • lots of equipment to borrow if you need a camcorder, sound recording equipment, a laptop with iMovie on it, a tripod, etc... lots of stuff but no High-Def camcorders yet
  • to borrow or use the equipment, you need to have taken classes about how to use it... the classes are all taught there and the basic fee is $15 for a 3 hour session
  • if you want to meet with your producers, performers, agents, and others, there's a nice big conference room you can schedule

... it's a great community service, just a step away and except for the modest training fees, free for the asking.

The only criteria for content is that you're fully responsible for copyright issues. Productions can be news events, shows, entertainment... pretty much anything you want to produce.

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

Making the Online Playlist of DVD Styles

Here are the steps I took...

  1. 4 movies and 2 PS3 stories went into a widescreen DVD project
  2. I selected a different style for each of 20 discs... no burning issues were encountered 
  3. The animated menus are the first of the larger sized VOB files on the discs... Movie Maker in Vista can use a VOB file on a disc as a source file. No need to copy the file to the hard drive or rename it to .mpg
  4. Movie Maker in Vista saved each to a widescreen DV-AVI file
  5. I moved the DV-AVI files from Vista to my XP laptop... my main working system
  6. On my laptop, I checked the DV-AVI files... some had audio but most didn't (curious!!!). The DVDs all play with audio, so it's just that some have audio in the VOB files and some don't...or Movie Maker in Vista missed a beat and didn't include the audio when converting the VOBs to DV-AVI.
  7. I ran the DV-AVI files through MM2.1 on my laptop to add the same music to each, saving them as new DV-AVI files.
  8. I used the Riva FLV Encoder to make flash files from the DV-AVI files.... using properties of 720x480 (you can type the numbers in if they don't appear in the drop down list), 29.97 fps, and a bitrate of 768 kbps. As the videos were made in widescreen in DVD Maker and Movie Maker, I might have been better off making the flash files at 864x480... it's something to check later.
  9. Uploaded the flash files to YouTube and copied them to a new playlist of Vista DVD Maker Styles
  10. Copied the html code for the embedded player from YouTube and pasted it into my website page

DVD Maker

Here are some notes about 3 failed attempts to make a DVD from tape and a set of scene files.

Attempt 1 - a 'Behind the Scenes' option

From Tape to DVDWhich didn't work... 

When I plugged my mini-DV camcorder into the computer before opening Movie Maker or DVD Maker, I noticed this interesting option... Vista will take my tape and make a DVD from it with no more input from me than giving the DVD menu a title.

I tried it, but ended up at a dead end.

Temp Files

See the big temporary file at the bottom of the list at the left... data flowed into it, and then from there into individual temporary wmv files, one for each scene.

I took the snapshot of the file list when it was up to 30 imported scenes. It kept going until it reached a DVD Maker limit of 99 files.

Max Number

I told it to use the 99 files, even though it was only 3/4 through the tape.

At more than two hours into this process, the disc drive door opened and I got the error message about it not being able to finish. I looked at the disc and saw that about 10% of the burning had been done.

At least it left the batch of 105 imported source files, so I didn't have to start with the tape again.

Attempts 2 and 3 - Open DVD Maker and Try Again

For the next attempt to make a DVD, I opened DVD Maker and dragged and dropped the full set of 105 files to it. The same note about it being limited to 99 files appeared, and again I settled for the 99.

I lowered the burn rate to slow and it got further, to about 25% of the disc before the door opened and the error message appeared.

My disc burns with the early beta versions of Vista were perfect, but the last few versions, including the RFM wouldn't burn successfully at fast speed. This was my first time running into a failure at slow speed.

Attempt 4 - Combine the Imported Source Files in Movie Maker and Try Again

After the unsuccessful attempts to make a disc from the 99 individual scene files, I opened Vista's Movie Maker to see if it would work if I put the scenes together. They were from 4 camcorder sessions, so they made 4 movie projects.

I put the 4 movies in DVD Maker and had room left over. I used some of it by adding a pack of 100 7 megapixel still pix with some MP3 music files for a slide show.

I set the burn speed to slow and this time, with more overall material to package on the disc, the burn was perfect.

I wasn't trying to make anything worth viewing, and had mixed standard and widescreen clips kind of randomly. Movie Maker surprised me by handling each of the clips appropriately. Standard or widescreen settings resulted in each clip looking like it should, with appropriate black borders as needed.

Conclusion and Closing... and What's Next?

The styles are so great that I hope it motivates users to elevate the quality of their videos. It reminds me of Power Point presentations and comments about the presentation style being better than the content. With wizz-bang effects, transitions and overlays... and these DVD styles, who needs content???

Each DVD style has its own folder of png images and wmv video files... at

c:\Program Files\Movie Maker\DVDStyles

We'll probably be able to download or create additional styles, as we do transitions and effects in MM2.1 today. I started down that path but haven't gotten far enough to conclude it's possible.

DVD Temp files are stored in a folder of your choice... use the option settings in DVD Maker to select the folder. Yes, but I don't see the correlation between the temp files and those on the burned disc... if you're looking to make an iso image from a set of files you might be best off doing it from the files on the disk rather than those on the hard drive.

Maybe using 99 video clips won't work, regardless of the speed of the burn. That's a left-over issue to test another day.

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  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 was in the 2006 Summer Special edition. I'm currently working on an article about Movie Maker, DVD Maker, and Photo Gallery in Vista for an upcoming issue.

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):

#129 - Dec 16 - a 35 mm slide scanner for 'stories from older memories'... I tried the higher quality scanner and can now compare results to one I'm currently using.

#130 - Dec 23 - open

#131 - Dec 30 - 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, 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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