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PapaJohn's Newsletter #141

from Picture to Story and Movie

Roy Feldman is a top-notch professional photographer. He's also a user of Photo Story and a subscriber to this newsletter. I was sending out routine renewal notices a few days ago and, as usual, I use the moment to check what's going on with the subscriber. In Roy's case I went to... 

Detroit Photographic Company


Detroit Stories

Detroit Stock Photo

You can see he's very much into online multimedia... and I saw him using flash files to deliver videos to all computer platforms. That's the usual today. 

This picture on the Detroit Stock Photo site attracted me...

Renaissance Center with Fireboat

Detroit's Renaissance Center (G.M. World Headquarters) with the Detroit Fire Department's boat the "Curtis Randolph" photographed from the Detroit River

The original is 2500 x 1656 pixels... a great size for a photo story, and the scene would make a good opening for some of my backlogged personal video footage, especially a Thanksgiving Day parade in Detroit, where the parade route is only a few blocks from the Renaissance Center.

Original Picture
Photo by Roy Feldman

Instead of sending a routine email renewal notice, I opted to see if Roy would barter... extend the subscription for limited rights to use the picture. I filled out the online form and embedded the renewal notice in it. That set the stage for this week's newsletter... how to use the picture in a story or movie.

SnapshotIt was a fun exercise, which I'd like to share it with you...

The picture at the right is a link to the opening clip  for my home movie, annotated for this newsletter.

Here are a few steps to make it...

  • Resized the picture a bit to align it exactly with standard 4:3 video, the same aspect ratio I shot the parade footage at. It helped make the transitions between pictures, stories and video clips seamless.
  • Made a Photo Story that started with the full image, zoomed into the top part of the buildings, panned to the fireboat, and then zoomed into the street that leads to the parade area.
  • Made a custom title overlay from the picture... by removing the river water and the water of the fireboat hoses... turning those pixels transparent using This let me see the moving water of some beachfront video footage in back of the overlay.
  • Added the snowflakes effect to each clip, to help bring them all together, and to help take viewers' eyes away from the water during parts that don't use the overlay (the photo story part). 

Here are a few notes before going into the details.

... a few notes...


Leaving for the MVP Summit... next week at Microsoft in Seattle, followed by a 6 day vacationing stop in the San Francisco area on the way home. I'll be skipping next week for the newsletter, and possibly the week after that.

MaximumPCMaking Movies with Vista! is a six page article in the Spring 2007 Special Edition of MaximumPC, on bookstands now to May 29, 2007.

Starting on page 78... the article covers the movie making process from camcorder tape to viewing it on a standard video DVD.

I have a box of copies and will bring some to the MVP Summit... one of them and a few dollars will get me a mocha in Starbucks.

MaximumPC Article

Vista Corner... 

I'm following with interest all the newsgroup and forum posts about the problems that some users are having... but I'm not trying to note every possible issue and work-around as I did in the early days of Movie Maker. Now that my priority is on 'doing amazing things' with story and movie software, rather than 'problem-solving', there's an appropriate shift in where I'm putting my energy.

.... back to the main topic...

Using the Picture

Like most video projects I do, I make the parts of it as separate modules... for this one, it's a photo story, a custom title overlay, the animated water clips, and then the final assembly in Movie Maker.

Photo StoryThe Photo Story...

For the panning and zooming of a large image such as this, Photo Story 3 is the tool.

I resized the original from its 2500 x 1656 pixels to a JPG file of 1500 x1875 pixels to align it exactly with the standard 4:3 aspect ratio of stories and movies. I opted for a little distortion rather than cropping something from the picture.

The story clip was made with 5 copies of the same picture. All I did for each was...

  • pick the points to pan and zoom from and to
  • set the starting point of each to be the same as the ending point of the previous picture
  • uncheck the default of starting each picture with a transition... this is needed for seamless changes in direction as the story plays

I saved the story to a 640x480 size to align with the movie file I was heading toward.

The Custom Title Overlay... and the Water Animation

To animate the water, I used With the magic wand, eraser and rectangular selection tools, it was a quick job to remove the pixels from the water and fireboat hose sprays.

Here's a cropped portion of the saved ..png file... the transparent areas appear black now, but are see-though when used as an image overlay in Movie Maker.

Transparent Water Areas

To animate the water, I went to my stock of video footage and looked at beach scenes of Saugatuck, and some water fountain shots in Chicago. I put clips on the timeline and applied the overlay, trimmed the video clips and slowed the speed of the ripples and waves by applying the Slow Down-Half effect as needed.

When the animation looked OK, I saved the clip to a DV-AVI file. There were a number of rendering passes to make the overall intro clip. I used DV-AVI for each of the interim steps to maintain visual quality.

The Assembly in Movie Maker...

This is where it all comes together. Going down the project tracks, here's what I did...

The first two video clips were from the renderings to get the animated water scene, and mixing it with the photo story. During the assembly I split it on the timeline at about the 10 second point... to apply some zooming out effects from Pixelan to the first part of the clip... ending it at full screen. It stayed full screen until the photo story started its zooming and panning.

The snowflakes effect was added to each of the video clips. It was a Christmas parade and the snowflakes across all clips help visually integrate them.

The parade clips got the Pixelan Crop All 2% effect... to get rid of flaky 7 lines of pixels at the bottom of the clips. The camcorder was a Hi8 and the bottom of all my footage when imported to DV shows bottom artifacts. The 2% effect zooms in just enough to move them out of the way. 

The transitions are simple overlapping fades.

The audio associated with the video is silent until the parade clips begin.

The audio/music track starts with a copy of the fire engine clip from the parade, significantly lowered in volume. The 2nd clip is another copy of the same but with slightly higher volume as the zooming toward the city begins. The 3rd clip is normal volume. In all I was ramping the sound of the fire engine and parade up as the visual moved more and more toward the city streets.

The title overlays are the words you see in the sample clip, added just for the newsletter. The custom overlay used to animate the water had already been folded into the opening clip in an earlier rendering, so you wouldn't see it in this assembly step.

Movie Project

My personal parade video would of course be much longer... just a couple clips to show you how the opening flows into the parade itself.

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

Being a 'do-it-yourselfer', it's a rare treat for me to use such a professional picture. I sent Roy the link to the video to show him how I used it... thinking it would give him a chance to have any second thoughts about me using it. We're still good, at least until he reads the newsletter. Thanks again Roy!!!

What's next is the MVP Summit... lots of mingling, learning and partying.

Have a great couple/few weeks!!


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

Windows Movie

Have a great week...


Movie Maker 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

Learning 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.

Virtual Dub 

A large percentage of book sales are of electronic copies. The Packt Publishing Website page  for the book provides a full table of contents and chapter summaries... and a link to a full free online copy of Chapter 3, Capture Preprocessing.

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 - - 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 Vista newsgroup -

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):

Mar 24 or 31? - #142 (open)

#143 - (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 about how to use 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:

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.

2007 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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