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PapaJohn's Newsletter #13 - Utilities, IrfanView and Movie Maker 2

About: Utilities, IrfanView and Movie Maker (with mini-tutorial)

This week's higher level topic is the interactive use of other utilities to supplement Movie Maker project work. What better utility to illustrate it with than IrfanView, a universally acclaimed image viewer. More than that, you can edit images directly in IrfanView to produce a variety of effects.

In the tutorial, I'll start with a single video clip, move it to IrfanView, and manipulate each of its frames... and then return to Movie Maker to put the frames back together and finish the revised clip.

I'm using the latest version 3.91 of IrfanView. If you don't have it yet, or want to update your version, it's a free download (for personal use) from:

The clip I'll use is a digital camcorder one from last weekend's trip to the beach at Saugatuck, Michigan, a 49 second clip of a paddle-wheeler and sailboat passing each other. It was just after sunset, I was on the beach about a mile from the boats using a 20X zoom on my camcorder (10X optical and the rest digital). I captured the clip from the camcorder as DV-AVI type I, using MM2. The clip was shot at a standard 4:3 aspect ratio.

I'll explore how I can use IrfanView to help turn the clip into a more interesting one.... my self-imposed ground rules this week are to use only Movie Maker and IrfanView. I'll say it again in the conclusion, you can probably do the same thing a lot easier with a utility such as Virtual Dub. Don't take this a guidance to use IrfanView if you have an easier or better tool to use.

Here's a snapshot of the frame where the two boats are starting to pass each other.... pixilated and poor color due to part of the higher zoom being digital, and the low-light conditions. One good thing is that I was using my tripod, so what footage I got isn't shaking.

Sailboat and Paddle-Wheeler Passing

2 Boats Passing

... and here's a link to this starting clip. It's about 4 MB and runs for 49 seconds:

Before getting into it, here's a few notes about things going on...


• The first round of editorial comments about the hacks for the new O'Reilly book are in.... the good news is that my 14 advanced Movie Maker hacks were hacked only slightly by the editors. But it will mean I'll have to put some efforts into re-working some of the hacks over the next few weeks.

• Justin Murphy is starting to solicit people on Rob's Windows Movie Makers forums for interest in some sort of online Movie Maker film festival. We'll see how it goes; if you're interested, make a post to the forum and jump in.

I know such things are fun and constructive. I submitted a couple videos last year to the Neptune Movie Maker contest and won a second place. I also organized a 'one-minute shooting east' collaborative video project at later last year, and then participated in a similar New Year's Eve project. But I also know there's a lot to be considered and done when it comes to actually pulling off such an event.

Justin's efforts are just another point that shows, once over any startup hurdles, it's about imagination, creativity, and fun.

....on to the topic of the week

About: Utilities and Movie Maker

IrfanView, Virtual Dub, and TMPGEnc are some of the utilities you can use in conjunction with Movie Maker. I use about a dozen such utilities and I'll occasionally feature one of them in a newsletter.

There are lots of features in IrfanView.... most of which I'll skip over to focus on those that relate to Movie Maker.

Gather Clips for the Tutorial

To prepare for the tutorial, I used MM2 to capture some of the camcorder tape from last weekend's trip to the beach. The capture session resulted in a single 3-1/2 minute DV-AVI clip (748 MB).

I manually split it in the collection and looked closer at 3 smaller clips with the most potential to work with, saving each as a new DV-AVI clip and deleting the initially captured one. That left me with the 3 clips in this list to consider further.

Newsletter 13 Potential Clips

Potential Clips

.... the 3 clips of interest total 442 MB, so by discarding the original before I even start the next step of the project, I'm saving almost half of the disc space used so far.

After studying the 3 clips more, I picked the 49 second 'Two Boats Passing' one for the mini-tutorial. It had the most appeal.. 2 different kinds of boats, some seagulls, and the paddle-wheeler changing direction. At first I was going to string all 3 clips together, but we don't learn any more by using 3 clips than we do by using just one.

Note: IrfanView needs a type II DV-AVI file to extract frames from, so I opened the clip in MM1 and saved it as a new DV-AVI file to make it type II.

What can I do with IrfanView?

At this point, I'm not yet planning specifically what to do... it's more just thinking of the possibilities. What can I do with my self-imposed constraint of using nothing more than Movie Maker and IrfanView?

1 • enhance colors and sharpness... maybe go bizarre, bold and daring in colors??

2 • crop the top off, dropping some of the almost too-much boring sky area, focusing more on the area of interest

3 • resize the clip to change it from a normal 4:3 to widescreen 16:9, which would tie in nicely with cropping away some of the sky

4 • add text such as my website URL, placing it exactly where I want it on the video. For me, a URL is better than a copyright symbol and name.

5 • add some kind of special effect, something I can't do with Transition Maker 2, Pixelan, Rehan, or standard effects.

IrfanView is a super viewing utility for still pictures, but it has a multimedia player that can extract frames from a video clip, and has batch controls to work on a set of pictures.... maybe it can whiz through each frame and do something special to it, and I can put all the frames back together in MM2?

After a little thougt, I picked items 2, 3 and 4.... and not 1 and 5. When it comes to color enhancement, my color deficiency makes me not good at it.

Some Notes About Pixel Dimensions and Snapshots

Get ready to do some arithmetic.... or at least follow what I do. To change from standard mode to widescreen, and do it by manipulating still pictures, will require scratching your head over one of our perennial issues - the appropriate image pixel dimensions. It's one of a number of confusing items in video work. Let's ease into it with a few notes now, and put off the number crunching until the tutorial.

All DV-AVI files (NTSC) are 720x480 pixels. Strange but true, the pixel count for both standard and widescreen aspect ratio clips is the same. What happens is that Movie Maker tags the file as standard or widescreen, the player reads the tag and squeezes it into the 4:3 viewing ratio or stretches it into widescreen 16:9.

The size of an MM2 snapshot taken from a DV-AVI clip in the collection will depend on the tag in the file. A snapshot from a standard 4:3 aspect ratio clip will be a JPG image of 640x480.... if the clip has a widescreen tag, then the snapshot size is 853x480. My arithmetic is often guided by these snapshot dimensions.

Mini-Tutorial: IrfanView and Movie Maker

Using IrfanView.... let's extract all the frames from the selected clip, crop and resize each frame to more focus on the area of interest, change the frames from standard to widescreen, and add some text.

Extracting Frames from a Video Clip

Per IrfanView's Help file, it's an image viewer. But one of it's optional add-ins is a Multimedia Player which can play both types I and II DV-AVI files, and extract frames from a type II file. It saves the extracted frames in BMP format.

This figure shows IrfanView's Multimedia Player viewing the clip for the tutorial. I've highlited the menu icon that starts the frame extraction feature.

IrfanView Multimedia Player and Frame Extraction Icon

With a type II DV-AVI file, IrfanView knows the size of the frames and the other info needed to extract the frames... 1,460 frames for this clip.

Frame Extraction Feature

Extract Frames

You can tell IrfanView which frames to extract, from the starting frame number to the ending one. If you just want some from the middle of a clip, tell it which ones... I'll do all 1,460 frames from my clip..... it took 4 minutes and used 1.4 GB of hard drive space. Each frame is a BMP image of 720x480, the same pixel dimensions as the source file.

Here's the list sorted by file name. You can see the numbering pattern used by IrfanView.

Frame Numbering Pattern

At this point, I'm thinking more specifically about what to do to in IrfanView with each of the 1,460 frames. I'll have to put them back together into a video clip using MM2.... IrfanView can't make a video clip from a set of images.

Batch Conversion (Cropping and Resizing) to Widescreen

Here comes the tricky part with the arithmetic. Instead of running separate cropping and resizing batch processes, I decided to do both together in one batch process. it probably cost me more time than it saved, but it was all for the learning experience.

Use File > Batch Conversion from the main menu of IrfanView to get to this window.... at the upper right, go to the folder with the set of frame images. I selected 'Add all' to fill in the left part of the window from the list in the upper right. Having all the pictures in a single folder helps when it comes to saying 'Add all'.

Note that I created a new folder as the output directory for the new set of images. IrfanView will take the pictures from one folder, process them and put the new ones into the output folder.

Batch Conversion Feature

Batch Conversion

Check the 'Use advanced options' box at the lower right and press the 'Set advanced options' button.

Now comes the math. Our goal for still images to feed back to Movie Maker is something with an aspect ratio of 16:9. The 480 pixels in height remains fixed from standard to widescreen so let's start with that. Depending on what you're doing, the width varies from 640 to 720 to 853 pixels.... so use the height first.

480 pixels high divided by 9 is 53-1/3 pixels.... and 53-1/3 times 16 is 853-1/3... We'll round it to 854 to get an even number. Movie Maker seems to prefer even numbers over odd. So I'll set the size of the final images to 854x480 pixels.

Our starting images are 720 x  480 and we want the new set to be 854 x 480, so here's the equation. Read it as you learned in school "854 is to 480 as 720 is to what?":

854     720

----- = ----

480      X

What is X?  Get your calculator out and see that it's almost 405 pixels.... so the selected cropped segment of each frame will be 720 pixels wide by 405 pixels high, with the extra 75 pixels being taken off the top and discarded - all from the all too many pixels of the sky that I got.

The 'Set Advanced Options' window of IrfanView will look like the figure below after the entries are posted. Check the cropping and resizing options and enter the data to do the conversion as a one step process, cropping first and resizing the cropped area second.

In my entries I'm telling IrfanView to do the cropping by starting at the left edge of the images, skipping the pixels from the top of the images to the 75th pixel down from the top, and cropping the 720x405 segment of each frame.

On resizing the cropped area, I'm saying that I want the new images to be 854 pixels wide by 480 high, to align with an MM2 snapshot of a widescreen clip.

Advanced Batch Conversion Options

Advanced Options

I didn't run the crop and resize batch yet because I also wanted to put my URL on each frame. I ran a test batch to be sure the cropping and resizing results were as I wanted.... they were.

I checked some the before and after pictures.... you can run more than one copy of IrfanView at a time.... to see the same frame numbers side by side.... the new set shows as 854x479 pixels, close enough. Here's part of frame #500 from the before and after batches, each shown at full size. In addition to taking some of the sky away, the results show the two boats as if they are being zoomed into further. I'll take it and move onto adding the text.

Partial Frames - Before and After Images

Before and After Resizing

Adding Text to the Frames

From the IrfanView batch conversion window select Add overlay text and press the Settings button for it. You'll be here, where I'll add my website URL to the upper left area of each frame. Enter X and Y coordinates for the upper left corner of the area used for the text.... and generously estimate the width and height. Check the 'Text is transparent option or the text will end up inside a colored rectangle.

 Adding Text Overlay

Ovelay Text

The actual batch process to create the new set of frames took 8 minutes... to process 1,460 picture files. And it used another 1.8 GB of hard drive space. But we're used to big space needs for video work.

The image below shows what the new frame #500 looks like... widescreen mode with the added URL.

Frame 500 - Cropped/Resized With Added Text

Frame500 With Text

Because I'm working with bit-mapped images, there isn't any generational losses, as there would be if I used a compressed format such as JPG.

Back to Movie Maker 2 to Put All the Frames Together

In your file browser, go to the folder with the batch of new frame images. Do a Control-A to select them all, and drag/drop the full pack into a new collection in MM2.

In MM2, go to your Settings > Options and make the default picture duration as low as you can go, to 1/8 second. And while you're there, change the working aspect ratio from normal 4:3 to widescreen 16:9.

With the clips in the collection sorted by name so they're in numerical order, do a Select-All and then down to the timeline with the batch. The 49 second original clip now shows as 3 minutes and 3 seconds in the timeline.... because we're seeing 8 frames per second instead of 30.

Remember how many still images the project has.... 1,460. Let's see if MM2 can render that many as a DV-AVI file... there aren't any transitions or effects, so maybe the project complexity is still reasonable. As I do these exercises for the newsletters, I share with you info about what happens, the good and the other stuff. We can learn from both.....

.... a long time later, overnight. I had let it go, running at a CPU of 100% trying to save the movie with all the frames. No luck... it was sitting in the same place in the morning. The complexity factor got to it. I can understand it not rendering, but I don't understand what it's doing with all those CPU cycles, running all night at 100%. Maybe just making heat.

To get over the complexity limit, I made a new set of DV-AVI clips with 100 frames in each, and then put the 15 clips together into the larger one. It took a few minutes to render each, but I was back in business. With the image duration being at the minimum setting in MM2 of 1/8 second, the playback of the new clip was too slow.

So another pass with the single clip to apply the 'speed-up' 385% effect to jog it back to normal speed. You can download the XML file for the speedup 385% effect from the Editing > Video > Reverse Effect page of my site.

Note: I just saw on the site and in the XML file that I say 375% in some places and 385% in others, something I'll have to go tweak.... a check of the final clip shows it with a duration of 48 seconds, close enough to the 49 second duration of the clip I started with... keep making these kinds of checks at each step before you discard the work from the previous step, so you can redo a step if needed.

File Review

I've done a number of things..... let's take a look at main files involved. Here's the list in my file browser, sorted by time of creation from the oldest to the newest.

A quick review shows the 3 starting DV-AVI clips from my camcorder footage... I selected one of them for the tutorial and converted it to type II with MM1 (guess I could have captured it from the camcorder using MM1 in the first place and saved the conversion step).

The type II was needed to extract the individual frames in IrfanView. The folder of frames at the top of the list contains the 1,460 BMP images for each frame. The 15 sub-clips named A to O are the 100 frame ones used as stepping stones to reassemble the clip. The next to the last file is the combo of the 15 sub-clips that needed speed changing as it ran about 4 times too slowly. And the last in the list is the final speed-adjusted widescreen clip... ready for further editing in MM2.

File Review

File Review

Through all these steps I stayed in DV-AVI and BMP formats so as not to lose quality due to compression.

Now to add some audio and text overlays in MM2, and it'll be done....

Extracting the frames, processing them and putting them back together will strip any audio you start with. You can either add the original audio back in when doing your final pass, or add different audio. My captured audio wasn't good so I opted to add something else.

In a folder of downloaded sound effects from Sound Dogs, I found a foghorn, ocean waves in the distance, seagulls, and a tug boat horn. I played with these a bit to fill the timeline and align them with the video.... then another rendering to a new DV-AVI file, this one containing sounds.

Back in MM2 with the newest clip, it's time to add background music and some overlay text...

.... after the music and text, it's finally time to save the movie as a WMV type appropriately sized for your online viewing. Here's the link to the final clip, in full size widescreen mode:


The processes of cropping, resizing, and adding text might be much easier to do with a utility like Virtual Dub. I'm not recommending that you use IrfanView. What I'm doing is learning more about what I can do with IrfanView, and sharing it with you. It's just an exercise in getting to know your utilities a bit more.

The complexity issue bit me.... maybe I'll go back to that set of 1,460 frame images and do some further testing to see if I can correlate the number of frames to the limits.... maybe not. 

I look forward to comments and discussion about this and the other newsletters on the forums at

Have a great week!!!


Movie Maker 2 -
Photo Story 2 -

Products and Services

I'm involved in many things that support users of Movie Maker and PhotoStory, and adding more daily. Here's a list of what is available to the public. Some are free and others are reasonably priced.


Movie Maker 2 - Do Amazing Things (with its online companion on

Movie Maker 2 - Zero to Hero (with support on the Friends of Ed forum)

The 14 hacks that I wrote for a new O'Reilly book about Windows Media Hacks are in the editing phase.

When ordering these books or anything else from Amazon, I'd appreciate you using the links on the main page of - I get some income from Amazon that way, and it doesn't cost you any more. It'll help keep most of my services free.


Movie Maker 2 - - two goals: to help you solve problems, and to be the online companion to the Do Amazing Things book... and currently thinking of another goal of movie making and editing styles.

PhotoStory 2 - - a full tutorial about using it. It's not a problem-solving site.

Online Support - Forums and Newsgroups:

I'm a regular at many online forums and newsgroups, the main ones being:

Movie Maker 2 and PhotoStory 2 forums at

Movie Maker 2 forum at

Movie Maker newsgroup at microsoft.public.windowsxp.moviemaker

PhotoStory newsgroup at


Weekly Movie Maker 2/PhotoStory 2 newsletter. Subscribing is free via the link on the main page of

Tentative topics for upcoming newsletters (subject to change): A series of primers about utilities used in conjunction with Movie Maker and PhotoStory.

#14 - A Primer on Using Paint to Make Text Images for PhotoStory

#15 - A Primer on Using Virtual Dub with Movie Maker

#?? - Windows XP SP2 and Movie Maker 2.1 (the week it is released, whenever that is)

#16 - (Open)

Older newsletters are archived by Rob Morris, with a few weeks delay, at:


Transition Maker 2 (TM2) - a utility to make the ultimate in personal and custom transitions for Movie Maker 2:

TM2 is a joint effort by Patrick Leabo, the programmer, and myself.

I routinely beta test the Pixelan packages and think very highly of their people and products: Their SpiceFX packages of additional transitions and effects for Movie Maker 2 are available at:

Fee-based services:

If you can't save a movie because your project has become too complex, e-mail it to me and I'll divide it into manageable sub-projects for you, and provide detailed instructions to render the parts and assemble them into your final movie. $49.95 - for details, see the sidebar on the Problem Solving > Can't Save a Movie page of

Movie Maker 2/Photo Story 2 training and support services start at $50 per hour - email and I'll help you determine your needs, and work with you to plan and implement them.

PapaJohn's Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 2 Newsletter Index

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. To subscribe to PapaJohn's Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 2 newsletter click here: Subscribe to PapaJohn's Newsletter. 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.



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