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Using Photo Story 2

PapaJohn
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PapaJohn's Newsletter #131

A Sample 'High-Def' PhotoStory


This newsletter is a sequel to last week's... the high rez 1280x720 sized story made last week from mini-DV tape footage, and streaming on the mydeo server, whet my appetite for stories of higher quality, ones using more pixels than what you have in a DV-AVI file. I decided to make one from some 5 and 7 megapixel still pictures....

Our pictures and video clips from Europe are still looking for movies and stories to go into... last week's story went from the bus station in Venice up the Grand Canal to St. Mark's, but it was made from DV-AVI quality snapshots. How would a story look of the St. Marks area made with higher quality pictures... 

  • using pictures from digital still cameras... 5 and 7 megapixel
  • making the story widescreen at a high definition sized 1280x720 pixels
  • streaming from the mydeo hosting service
  • including a couple neat special effects we do in movie projects but not in stories... an opening and closing curtain, the sides and top of the curtains as an image overlay throughout the story, and some ever-popular picture-in-picture effects

Here's a link to the result... a 1 minute, 40 second story... I'll be expanding it from here, and using it on the Venice page of my Europe 301 website section. 


Here are the steps to make it...Story

Still Pictures to Story

Step 1 - select a batch of pictures for the story, copying them to a project-specific folder. Most of the work putting the story together is actually done before opening Photo Story.

Step 2 - plan the sequence and the preps needed to use the images. The key things I needed were...

  • curtains to open at the start and close at the end. I used one of our hotel pictures
  • pictures with frames or shapes that could be used as frames... for some quasi-PIP effects. The widescreen stories offer more of an area to use than standard 4:3 aspect ratio ones, making it easy to combine interesting pictures in unusual ways.

Step 3 - make the series of still pix for the story... at the 1280x720 pixel size.... I had Adobe Photoshop Elements and Paint.net to choose from, each of which can handle layers of transparent or semi-transparent images.

Step 4 - distort the set of finished pictures before importing them into Photo Story 3... make their height 133% of the originals.

Step 5 - import the set of distorted pictures into PS3... save the project file.

Step 6 - use Mark Coffman's TweakPS to remove all motion settings in one easy stroke...

For the special effects of curtains and Picture-in-Picture, the images need to be over each other without applying any pans and zooms.

Step 7 - use TweakPS to also change the default 5 second duration if you want. I left it. The right setting seems to depend on your mood of the moment.

Step 8 - on the background music page of PS3, add the audio file... I used ambient sounds from St. Marks square in Venice.

Step 9 - save the story using a custom profile for a size of 1280x720 pixels.

Step 10 - upload to a server for file downloading or streaming... pass out the link.

For those interested in more details, I'll expand on the steps below.

... before going into it, here are a couple notes...


Notes...

Vista Corner... I just received a box from Microsoft that says it's "... 1 of 5,000 Windows Vista Launch Kit s..." It's full of helpful items and goodies to help setup and enjoy Vista, including a 315 page printed Windows Vista Product Guide, and one of five randomly included games... mine is Microsoft Flight Simulator X... 

I'm busy writing about Vista for a few different places... here's an extract of a long view that I'd like to share...

As good as it is, Movie Maker in XP fell short on a few key counts… 

  • Many video files such as recorded TV and DVDs are in MPEG-2 format. To use them directly in a Movie Maker project, one needs a good MPEG-2 codec that works with Movie Maker.  Early on, it was the quest for such a codec… which didn't succeed. It evolved instead into a matter of how to convert such files to an AVI format that would work in a movie project. The conversion route is much more difficult.
  • With the neat options of adding special transitions, effects, and titles to a project, it soon became apparent that saving a movie from a 'complex' project often needed more computer memory than was available. If the extra needed was minor, closing down other running apps could free up enough. Adding more RAM or virtual memory would help, but 2 GB of memory seems to be a programmed ceiling, and the only way past it requires subdividing the project and rendering the movie in segments, another difficult task. 
  • Movie Maker includes an option to save a movie to a disc, a CD with the movies in WMV format wrapped in a HiMat disc menu structure. Unfortunately, the DVD player manufacturers didn't add the WMV playing option to stand-alone DVD players. To get movies to standard discs, users had to continue using other disc authoring and burning software.

With Vista, Movie Maker takes a big step forward… it resolves each of these short-falls...

  • Movie Maker v6 can use DVDs or recorded TV files as inputs.
  • Memory management 'under the hood' is significantly enhanced. Complex projects that won't render in XP will now render in Vista.
  • The new DVD Maker app can not only burn a standard DVD, but it has 20 fantastic animated menu styles to select from. Nothing more than the operating system is needed.

Beyond that, Movie Maker in Vista supports high definition files, and previews in full quality rather than the rough draft mode of Movie Maker in XP.


Mydeo

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

http://www.mydeo.com/?XSC=17&XSPC=HPPY0612

To compare streaming video from mydeo to the file downloading of YouTube... take a look at Chuck Bentley's holiday greeting... a subscription to mydeo makes a great holiday gift.

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


About the Video to Story Process

Here are some more 'behind the scenes' notes about the steps...

Step 1 - select a batch of pictures for the story, copying them to a project-specific folder.

I used some of the 5 and 7 megapixel JPG pictures from our trip to Venice.

Step 2 - plan the sequence and the preps needed to use the images. The key things I opted for were...

  • curtains to open at the start and close at the end... just to be cute!! I picked one of our hotel pictures to extract the curtains from.
  • pictures with frames or shapes that could be used in Picture-in-Picture type effects. The high definition widescreen stories offer more of an area to use than standard 4:3 aspect ratio ones, making it easy to combine interesting pictures in unusual ways. PIP effects are perennial favorites, ones you don't see used in Photo Story.

Step 3 - make the series of still pix for the story... at the 1280x720 pixel size....

I used IrfanView and Paint.net in tandem. IrfanView to do the overall cropping and resizing, and Paint.net to put the images together as layers with selected areas being transparent. It's easy, quick, and lots of fun. And it sets the stage for a different kind of story.

I open IrfanView and Paint.net and leave them both running... IrfanView to open the JPG files from the camera, crop the selected areas, and resize them to align with the working project in Paint.net. I don't bother to save the images before moving them to Paint.net.

When a new picture is ready to add to the project from IrfanView, I copy it to the computer clipboard (Control-C keys), add a new blank layer to the project in Paint.net, and paste the picture into it (Control-V keys). After pasting you can move it around on the layer to position it just right relative to the other layers.

For the full curtain to open and close, I made a layer and painted it with the color of the drapes, picking the color with the eyedropper tool and covering the layer with the paint bucket. You can do better with a more complex color gradient pattern.

All images for this story were made in a single Paint.net project file. After making individual layers for curtains, frames with and without the cutout transparent areas, text, etc. I toggled the visible layers on and off as I made BMP images from them, in the sequence I wanted for the story.

Pain.net

The snapshot above shows 5 of the layers mixed together... the curtains, a window with the central rectangle made transparent, a mask from a street vendor positioned behind the window, the clock of the clock-tower in St Marks square with the round central part erased, and a picture of me shooting video on a layer behind the clock.

Toggle the visible layers on and off. When the layers show what you want, use File > Save As > change it to the BMP file type, and save the picture in the folder of images being made for the story. After Paint.net flattens the layers to make the BMP, and the picture is saved, I press the Undo button of the menu to reopen all layers to continue on to arrange the next one.

If the Paint.net project gets too large, and your system starts slowing down, make different ones for each part of the story. With my laptop having 2 GB of RAM, I didn't run into that situation.

Set New SizeStep 4 - distort the set of finished pictures before importing them into Photo Story 3... making their height 133% of the originals. I used the batch process feature of IrfanView.

From the full set of prepared pictures, already in the sequence I wanted them in the story, I used the batch process to make another set in a different folder, a set of deliberately distorted pictures.

Step 5 - import the set of distorted pictures into PS3... drag and drop the whole batch from your file manager into PS3.

Save the project file so you can remove the motion settings without having to do them individually... or do them individually if the project is small enough. Close PS3 for a minute while you do the next steps.

Step 6 - use Mark Coffman's TweakPS to remove all motion settings in one easy stroke...

For the special effects of curtains and Picture-in-Picture, the images need to be over each other without any default pans and zooms.

Step 7 - use TweakPS to also change the default 5 second duration if you want. I left them at 5 seconds, which when reviewing I thought was on the long side. The right setting seems to depend on your mood of the moment. Short quick changes seem to align with today's style, but the number of things going on in parallel on a high definition story like this begs for more viewing time. Not knowing if I wanted them shorter or longer, I left them alone. It's easy enough to use Mark's utility and tweak them again.

Step 8 - finish editing the story

For the curtains opening and closing, use appropriate transitions... I used 'Split, Vertical' for the opening parting ones, and 'Reveal, Down' for the dropping curtain at the end. The picture was the same for each, just applying different transitions. 

On the background music page of PS3, add the audio file... I used ambient sounds from my camcorder tape of St. Marks square.

Render the story to a draft wmv file and import it into Movie Maker. Add audio and music, and sync the visual and music. When ready to save the music/audio track as a WMA file, delete the video clip and save the movie. It'll be a high quality WMA file for the story.

Step 9 - save the story using whatever profile you want. I used a custom profile of 1280x720 pixels.

Step 10 - upload to a server for file downloading or streaming... distribute the link(s).

Here's another copy of the link to the story streaming from the mydeo service. For comparison, here's a  link to the same story downloading from my 1&1 hosted website. They play equally well on my laptop at home.


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

As an exercise for a newsletter, the sample is fine. As a viewing experience for some of our vacation pictures, I think I'll do more... use this part for the opening, and the last couple pictures to close the curtains at the end. But between the opening and closing I'll add some more pictures in more of a conventional PS3 manner, using the pan/zoom features.

My testing of the next notch upwards in quality, to the 1080 level, shows that it'll work equally well. But too few have screens to view them at that resolution... I don't. So I'll leave that for another day. It's nice to know that we can step up to it without doing anything more than changing the canvas size in Paint.net and using a different profile to save the story to.


I look forward to comments and discussion about this and other newsletters on the forums at: Windows Movie Makers.net

Have a great week...

PapaJohn

Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 - www.papajohn.org
Photo Story 2 - www.photostory.papajohn.org


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 www.papajohn.org ), 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.


Websites

Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 - www.papajohn.org - 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 - www.papajohn.org/photostory2/PS2.html - 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 SimplyDV.com

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 -  microsoft.public.plus

Photo Story 3 newsgroup -  microsoft.public.windowsxp.photos


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  www.papajohn.org

Topics for upcoming newsletters (always subject to change):

#132 - Jan 6 - open

#133 - Jan 13 - open

#134 - Jan 20 - 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...


Software

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


Music

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.


Training

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:

being scheduled


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 www.papajohn.org

Movie Maker 2/Photo Story training and support services start at $75 per hour - send an email -  PapaJohn@CharterMi.net 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 Microsoft.com
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 www.PapaJohn.org. 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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