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PapaJohn's Newsletter #136

Travel Videos and Trip Advisor

YouTube made a major mark on the world of online video, a real positive one for us who make movies. I use it's playlist feature to nest my videos there into my website pages.

That's great if your target audience is limited to family, friends, and the millions of users of Movie Maker and Photo Story. I'm not out for widespread viewing beyond those.

I've used my friend Chuck Bentley a number of times in newsletters, and I'll use him again here. His goals are different. With his work having been shown regularly over the years on cable access TV in Kalamazoo, Manhattan (New York City), and Boston, his interest in moving the material online is to get it to as wide an audience as possible. YouTube might have the biggest audience today, but once there, it's like any other thing that competes for viewers... how you get the word out to get them looking at your material?  

For some of my work, and some of Chuck's, other websites may offer a better place... one of them being tripadvisor which now accepts videos. We got to know it last year when we used it for lots of trip planning for our Europe301 vacation. At that time the site didn't host videos... but taking a cue from YouTube, they recently added the feature.

The internet seems like the perfect place to plan trips, and what better way to help check things out than to see online videos from other travelers. The narrow focus of a video about a particular hotel or attraction is often more of interest here than a broad-based one of general interest. Show me one about the Hotel Ungherese in Florence made by a visitor rather than a website with hundreds of virtual animation tours made by a commercial venture.

It's the hotel in Florence currently in 10th place on tripadvisor, the one we stayed in, and the online video today showing it is the one I recently made as a gift to the hotel owners.

Trip Advisor

Here are some compelling facts, stats and info.

  • Travel is a major part of life... major attractions are essentially timeless. Tripadvisor is the largest travel community in the world, with over 5 million reviews and opinions, and more than 20 million unique monthly visitors worldwide. That's a lot of people with a focused interest on seeing info related to their travel plans. There's a ready-made audience for some of your videos.
  • Alexa ranks Trip Advisor as the 493rd most visited website... with 8,717 other sites linking to it (I have 59 linking to mine).
  • The total number of videos uploaded to TripAdvisor so far is about the same as the number uploaded to YouTube every five minutes. I searched for Florence Italy on YouTube and got 598 hits... while on TripAdvisor, there are two. With so many on YouTube, why put them on TripAdvisor instead? Because people planning trips to a specific place probably will do their research more on TripAdvisor than on YouTube. If you want, upload the same videos to both sites.

For some early info about a case study, let's use 'Living in Venice' video, in 8 parts to meet the 10 minute maximum duration of YouTube.

The suite has been on YouTube since January 4th, with one of my website pages embedding the playlist. Over the first 27 days there's been 193 views (adding the views up for each of the 8), a daily average of 7. 

As I started to write this newsletter, we put the same suite on TripAdvisor, which doesn't have a playlist feature, nor does it provide code for an embedded viewer in a website. Over the first 2 days there's been 465 views, a daily average of 232. 

Why? the focus of videos about Venice align much more with the interests of those planning trips than they do with those seeking entertainment. And there's the dilution factor... Chuck has 8 of the 10 videos about Venice on TripAdvisor today, while a search of YouTube shows 731 (37 pages... I never did find those of Chuck's when going in the front door of YouTube and looking around. Why do that when I have the playlist on my website page. The playlist makes it easy for Movie Maker users, but do for the masses of viewers seeking entertainment.

I have a group of 11 video 'style' pages on my website, one of them being about 'Travel'. It's been there for about 1-1/2 years, with nothing more on it than a promise to add content someday... the time is now, as TripAdvisor's interest in adding videos meets my interest in helping users of Movie Maker and Photo Story make and distribute their videos.

Kalamazoo AttractionsTravel is such a natural topic... almost too obvious to encourage anyone to make videos about their trips. Less obvious is the making and submitting of videos about the things right around you, about your home town. Between the big trips to exotic places, put together your local experiences. Seems that if you live in Florence or Venice, you have more opportunities to do videos about them than those who have to travel there.

When you submit your video, you can tag it directly to a local attraction. When I saw the Kalamazoo Valley Museum in the list of local attractions, I thought of the 'Mission to Mars' video I made last year, showing one of the specialty areas in it. It's now the only Kalamazoo related video on TripAdvisor.

The TripAdvisor website is expanding, adding new features such as video, 'TripAdvisor Inside' a wiki-approach for helpful info about a city or attraction. Their staff is friendly, quick, responsive, witty and helpful.... and there's a high quality dimension to the overall site that reflects well on why they are successful.  

The rest of this issue is a tutorial about posting your movies and stories to TripAdvisor.

... pause for a few notes...


Vista Corner...

It's out there... I saw it on sale at Sam's Club last night. I've been browsing the comments on the newsgroups to get a feel for the pulse of community acceptance, and issues relating to Movie Maker. What I see seems fairly normal... I'd go so far as to call it positive. And I'm not picking up any Movie Maker or Photo Story issues.

For Geeks and Hackers...

If you like using Task Manager to see what's going on with CPU and memory usage, there's a utility on steroids available from Microsoft named Process Explorer. Search for it.

No installation is needed. I put it on a thumb drive and run it from there. It offers you the option of replacing Task Manager with it.... I didn't go that far.

And it runs on Vista.

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

tutorial for using TripAdvisor

Here it is in 8 steps

Step 1... setup an account and log in

You can use the site without registering, but you can't upload videos. Click this image and then the link to register... it takes only an email address, password and screen name (not your real one), location, country, and zip/postal code. You're instantly on... no confirmatory email or other verification steps.


Once logged in, the link is replaced by 'My Trip Advisor'... your personal corner.

Step 2... go to your Contributions

ContributionsAssuming you're ready to submit a video... saved to a WMV file (the Video for LAN - 768 Kbps setting works fine). This and higher quality ones will get downsized as it's converted to a flash file. Just keep the total length to a max of 10 minutes.

I'll illustrate the process with our account. It remembers your email and password... if you want it to.

Select 'My Contributions'.

Step 3... opt for Videos

Select one of the 6 tabs to review your past contributions or add a new one... so far we have the two reviews shown, 6 photos of our hotel in Florence, and 8 videos.


Step 4... Select 'Upload More Videos'

Note there isn't a chance to rename the items, so do it right the first time. I double-checked the spelling of 'Ungherese'.

Press the Upload More Videos button when your wmv file is ready... It can be a movie from Movie Maker or a story from PS3. The criteria is the same as You Tube.... 100 MB maximum file size, and 10 minute maximum duration. It'll take your file in .wmv format and convert it to a Flash file for viewing.

Videos Tab

Step 5... provide some info about the video

Here's one I hadn't uploaded yet, the Grand Canyon flick I used to illustrate the Picture-in-Picture effects of Movie Maker for one of my first newsletters. How will it look small size on TripAdvisor? We'll see.


Is the 'Grand Canyon' a destination or attraction? Search for it and the tabs will tally the number of hits in each category.

Pick one that best aligns.

Step 2: Help us place your video

TripAdvisor ConfirmationI picked the first of the 27 choices in the list of attractions.

All 3 steps are on the page and you can scroll back up to change or review anything before pressing the 'UPLOAD MY VIDEO' button. It's not too late to fix a typo or change your mind.

Step 3: Upload your video

Video UploadingStep 6... Upload it

Heed the caution about not closing or refreshing the page. That's common practice for any online hosting service.

The row of 10 lights under the owl is the progress meter... blinking in turn, but not indicating a percentage.

It works fine... just give it the time it needs, which is always a bit more than you think it needs.

When it's done, you'll get a 'Thank you'

Thank you for uploading your video

It's 1:30 am on Thursday, Feb 1... let's see if there's anyone interested in a flick about the Grand Canyon... and view it before this newsletter hits the street tomorrow night.

Step 7... Select the 2nd choice, back to My Profile to see if it's been added.

Upload ErrorsOOPS... a first for my uploads, as luck has it, only when I'm taking screenshots and writing the newsletter. Actually a good thing, as I wouldn't have this opportunity if it didn't happen.

Maybe taking screenshots and writing the newsletter in parallel with the uploading did me in. The screenshots made it easier to start over.. but I got the same error message the second time.

TrpAdvisor emailEven when being rejected or running into such issues, the website is being run by some very helpful people, who seem to have lots of fun doing what they do... and their process is good.

Two automated emails came within seconds after getting the error. Having tried it twice, I opted to respond to the email and tell them it's a 5 minute wmv file of 19 MB... and that my first 8 uploads had worked fine.

----- follow-up note ----

about 8 hours later

email from tripadvisor

Problem With Database


It reached generic thumbnail status on Thursday, but not real thumbnail status until Friday morning

Step 8... After a Successful upload

Your profile list of your videos includes links to play them.

After a successful upload/conversion to flash... it kind of happens together, so it appears in your list pretty quickly.

Grand Canyon OnlineThere's an interim period, which can be hours or a day or more when the newly uploaded video gets a generic play button and is playable for your, but not yet available to those doing trip planning. For them it needs a custom thumbnail.

During that period it's being screened by real people at tripadvisor to be sure it aligns with their rules... is tagged right... maybe chuckled about over lunch... things like that. Without the traffic of a YouTube, they currently have the luxury of personally checking each submittal.

While I waited for the Grand Canyon, I switched to my previously uploaded 'Overview of Florence', the high quality Photo Story from last week. It's been on the site for a few days and has more info, including the number of views and an average viewer rating.

It's a widescreen story and the player shows it well, but butted to the top of the monitor... I sent them a note about splitting the black band in the middle as usual for letterboxing.... but on the other hand I sent them a follow-up note about their current way of showing it being best when using the zoom feature of IE7 to see it larger.

Here's a full-size snapshot of the story playing. You can hit the little magnifying glass at the lower right of the browser window (I'm using IE7) and watch it at 400% if you want... it'll be bigger but extremely pixilated, and it's the whole window that gets enlarged, not the video itself. The 150% size is a good choice for me.

5 days after submittal, it's been viewed 203 times. It shows the kind of traffic you can get from 10 million visitors a week, without having sent out 'it's online' notices to anyone... of course, when you have the first of only two videos of Florence there so far, they'll get noticed a bit easier.

4.0 is as high a score as I have... a low score doesn't mean it's a poor video, just that it doesn't satisfy the needs of those trying to plan a trip rather than sitting there and watching entertaining footage. You can compare your YouTube entertaining value to your TripAdvisor usefulness value... but we really don't know why viewers pick one rating over another.


The bottom link to the top-rated and newest videos will show yours in the list of new ones, if you hurry to see if move down the list as others flow in, and maybe none of yours in the top-rated list... unless you go through the pages looking for them.

Trip Planning

From the perspective of someone planning a trip.... and seeing your videos.

Search Florence - 1On the main page of tripadvisor, there's a search feature. If I was thinking of Florence, I'd enter it and say GO!

On the next screen I'd see a list of the 155 places in the world with that name. They know the most popular one in Italy is the one I'm thinking of, so it's first on the list.

Search Florence ItalyThe overview tab for Florence, Italy includes this 'See Florence' inset... with links to my two videos and someone else's set of pictures. That would be the main entry point for those planning a trip.

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

YouTube made the world sit up and acknowledge the appeal and reality of hosting free unlimited submittals of online videos.

Entertainment is a national priority... but sometimes you go online with a different purpose, like planning a trip. TripAdvisor is best for that.

If you want to impress the staff of TripAdvisor, they're in Boston, Massachusetts, and there are no videos posted yet about Boston. Do one! Find out where they eat lunch and do a candid one. Be careful though, I'll be sending a copy of this newsletter issue to them.

There are other interesting possibilities where the interests of websites align perfectly with your video making and showing desires. Let me know if you find any....

I almost forgot... one last check of the Grand Canyon video... online now for a few hours for regular viewing. 12 views with an average rating of 3.5 based on 7 votes... that's in a matter of hours since being there. Talk about a timeless travel destination.

Have a great week!!


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 as submitted questions are minimal.  Maybe Vista will perk it up a bit.

Do Amazing ThingsBooks

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

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.

Magazines - MaximumPC

The latest is an article for a soon-to-be-published issue about Vista ... in the final stages of preps and printing. It'll be about the movie making process from camcorder tape to viewing a standard video DVD.

A 7 page tutorial about Photo Story 3 was in the 2006 Summer Special edition.

The November 2005 edition had a well done reworked 6 page reprint of the article about Movie Maker, starting on page 42 after the Happy 20th Birthday article for Windows.

The 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.


Movie Maker and Photo Story - - the site's goals are: doing amazing things, providing a detailed tutorial for PhotoStory 3, and helping you solve Movie Maker problems.

It's been expanded to include the version 6 of Movie Maker in Vista, along with the new Photo Gallery and DVD Maker apps.

PhotoStory 2 - - a detailed tutorial about using the earlier version. It's been a long time since I've updated anything on it, but it still gets pretty good viewer traffic.

Online Support - Forums and Newsgroups

I'm a regular or moderator 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/Photo Story newsletter. The subscription is $20 for 52 issues, and a link to subscribe is on the main page of or the Products and Services page.

Topics for upcoming newsletters (always subject to change):

#137 - Feb 10 - (open)

#138 - Feb 17 - (open)

#139 - Feb 24 - (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 , including the new packages for Vista, 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 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. Many of the video samples for newsletter are on it.

Normal sized photo stories stream as well as or better than movies.


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:

Feb 22, March 29, April 19 and May 17

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