Vector graphics tools can be a bit daunting to learn... but powerful and fun to use. Last April I received a pointer to Inkscape, an ongoing open source
project. It seemed to work OK but I didn't spend enough time learning it, and didn't see where I'd put it to use in my movies and stories. The picture
Newer versions keep rolling out, downloads passed the 2 million mark in January, and vector graphics is becoming of more interest in many areas. It's
time for another look, even a newsletter.
Inkscape exports graphic images to .png format, complete with transparency... perfectly aligned with using them as custom title overlays in Movie Maker.
Here's the link to get it.
Sample Clip (click the image)
With gobs of features, I expected to go into it far enough to explore the making of custom overlays for movies...
... but it sucked me in. I was having too much fun cloning things like the penguin, so I added that feature to this issue. Click the image to see a
clip with the cloned penguin.
Here's a link to an online Guide to Inkscape
. Before going into it more...
... a few notes...
Making Movies with Vista is a six page article in the Spring 2007 Special Edition of MaximumPC (see page 78). It's
on bookstands now to May 29, 2007. It covers the movie making process from camcorder tape to viewing it on a standard video DVD.
There's a new v2.70a of GSpot that works in Vista, and it now includes checking wmv and mov files.
For info, the Interactive Sessions that I use for training and tech support are gaining in demand and working well...
sessions have gone as long as two hours, and I've yet to lose a connection. I'd been using my house phone to chat as we work interactively, but
recently started using the Skypes service with a USB phone... which hasn't noticeably effected the sessions.
.... back to the main topic...
Let's open an image, do some cloning, and then export the image for use in a movie or story.
Here's the main working window.... after
- using File > Document Properties to change the size to a custom 640x480 pixels to align with standard aspect ratio video
- importing a penguin image... File > Import > tux.png from the c:\Program Files\Inkscape\share\clipart folder
- grabbing the upper right image handle and using it to make the penguin smaller, and moving him (or her) to the lower left of the page.
From the main menu... Edit > Clone > Create Tiled Clones
I tested various settings to end up with the row of them shown.
Select the object you want cloned. Then use the Create button. Take a look at what happened, use the Undo icon to start over, tweak the settings, and
try again... until you get what you want.
The software doesn't preview it this way... I copied the results from the working page to this figure to save some space.
When you finish playing with your picture, you'll need to save it as a .png file to use with an .xml file as a title overlay...
Use File > Export Bitmap from the main menu. Opt for the 'Page' if you want the 640x480 area within the working window...
The file will have a .png extension, the file type that's just right for an overlay. Select the folder and file name.
Press the Export button and it'll take only a split second to save it... longer for more complex images.
For a widescreen image to pan in a Photo Story, exporting a 'Selection' might work better. Note that each of the 7 lines of penguins is a separate
'object'. To save them all together as a single object, use the selection tool (the one with the arrowhead) and drag it around them all... then use Object
> Group from the pull-down menu.
After grouping them, saving the selection will result in a .png file that looks like this, transparency and all.
In IrfanView the transparent parts of the picture will appear black... but in places where the transparency works.... such as in this newsletter or
as an overlay in Movie Maker, the blackness will be 'see-thru'.
To undo the grouping of an object, select it use 'Ungroup'. That'll let you work on them as individual objects.
Let's look at another example, making a high resolution image of 'eye-candy'.
Sample Eye Candy
Using a few sample images to arrange this image, I ended up with a 6 megapixel image for a Photo Story... 3103x1898 pixels. Click the link or image
to see the story, saved to an 800x600 pixel size.
It took just a few minutes to put together the collage, using graphical eye candy samples that came with Inkscape.... it was longer to render the image
to a .png file.
The steps to make it were
- open one of graphics samples that comes with Inkscape...
- clone it a bit... to your taste
- import another sample file... I used the 4 gears... no cloning
- import a third sample image... the car
- use the Control-A keys to select all the objects in the collage
- group them using Object > Group.... that links them together as a single object
- select the object (if it's not already done for you after the linking)
- export the Selection to a .png file... note the white background in Inkscape is transparent... in IrfanView, Photo Story, and Movie Maker,
the background appears black.
Large images in Inkscape use lots of memory... and the exporting process is CPU intensive... Inkscape used 630 MB of memory, and the rendering to the
.png file used 50% of my CPU for about 5 minutes. Being a 2 processor system, it limited itself to using one of the two, while I continued work on the
newsletter as it went.
I added the text in IrfanView (making a mistake by referring to it as newsletter #139 when it's really #140).
The photo story used six copies of the .png file, another one for each change of panning/zooming motion or speed.
That's enough to get you started... you can get images into Inkscape, play with them a bit, and export the results to a .png file.
Conclusion and Closing... and What's Next?
There's a rising tide of interest in software that uses vector graphics. One advantage is a vector image can be any size without being pixilated.
Inkscape is a great open source app... well developed and getting stronger.
It crashed on me a number of times when I tried to execute some cloning.... an error message followed by shutting down. I'd open it back up each time,
and assume it was something I needed to learn about. I still haven't read the directions about how to use the app.
If you don't want to lose what you've done so far, save your work regularly.
Next week will be the last newsletter before I head off to Seattle for the MVP Summit, followed by a somewhat traditional vacation in Carmel, California
on the way home. I'll be skipping a week when gone.... maybe two.
Have a great week!!
I look forward to comments and discussion about this and other newsletters on the forums at:
Windows Movie Makers.net
Have a great week...
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
Radio and Podcasting
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.
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
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
A six page article Making Movies with Vista is in the Spring 2007 Special Edition (page 78), on bookstands now until May 29, 2007.
It covers the movie making process from camcorder tape to viewing it on a standard video DVD.
The 2006 Summer Special edition included a 7 page tutorial about Photo Story 3.
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 - www.papajohn.org - 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 - www.papajohn.org/photostory2/PS2.html -
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 Vista newsgroup -
Windows XP Movie Maker newsgroup -
Photo Story 3 newsgroup -
Movie Maker/Photo Story newsletter. The subscription is $20 for 52 issues, and a link to subscribe is on the main page of
www.papajohn.org or the Products and Services page.
Topics for upcoming newsletters (always subject to change):
#141 - Mar 10 - (open)
Mar 17 - skip a week (maybe two)... for the MVP Summit and some post-summit vacationing
#142 - (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
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.
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 about how to use it.
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 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:
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 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 website for samples of what you can expect for the
online portion of a package.
2007 - 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, 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.
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