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PapaJohn's Newsletter #146

Pictures for Stories

As usual, many readers are a bit overwhelmed with much of what I cover in newsletters. Some have asked for more about Photo Story. Let's do a simpler one about pictures for stories.

Sample on YouTubeI'll keep this newsletter on some basics and not try to do any complex WOW type things. Of course I'll still try to do a good sample, and maybe get carried away at times.

The sample for this week was made from a couple downloaded images. I saved it twice and put it out on the internet in two places.

YouTube got one of them... saved using my custom profile for YouTube stories, followed by YouTube converting it to a Flash file.

Click the picture or this link to see the copy on YouTube...

Sample Story On YouTube (1:37)

The other one was a much higher quality copy playing on a test website page on my website server... you have to love today's internet broadband capabilities... and how well stories can play.

There's really no story behind this sample... just a couple randomly selected high quality pictures arranged in Photo Story so there are 3 segments:

  • opening (title with or without text)
  • middle
  • closing (credits... again, with or without text)

No matter how small or trivial a story, I always consider it needing each of those 3 parts, even if the title and credits are nothing more than visual suggestions or a 'hello' and 'goodbye'.

I'll make general statements about pictures for stories, about things like image sizes, preps before importing, and adding text...  'preps before importing' can be as little as nothing except the selection and sequencing... to hours or weeks of work in any number of image software apps. 

I've noticed on my submittals to Trip Advisor, stories are consistently rated higher than movies. Part of the reason is the higher visual quality and the much smoother panning and zooming.

Before getting into more details, here are...

... a few notes...


Microsoft Expression... some pretty thorough previews rolled out at the NAB show this week, as a preview of the announcements to be made at the Mix07 show in Los Vegas at the end of this month.

I used the previews as a trigger to roll out a new Expression branch of the website. It has a couple starter pages, with links to lots of great reading material and online videos... here are direct links to the 2 new pages.

Expression - Intro/Overview

Expression Media Encoder

I'm swimming around in software previews, beta releases, online videos and tutorials, press releases and marketing material, and newsgroup posts... just trying to accomplish something small to get started. I just installed Expression Web on my Vista system.

Vista Corner

I had looked in Vista for something that listed the installed video and audio codecs, as the Device Manager does in XP, but hadn't found it. This week I read a post about the listings being included in Windows Media Player 11 > Help > About > Technical Support Information.

Sticky Note... Making Movies with Vista! a six page article in the Spring 2007 Special Edition of MaximumPC, is on bookstands now to May 29, 2007. Starting on page 78... the article covers the movie making process from camcorder tape to viewing on a standard video DVD.

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

Selecting Pictures...

Rules of thumb:

  • Use what you have already
  • Get more from wherever you can.
  • Image Sizes... bigger is better... Photo Story can handle them

I used Google's image search feature to find some large sized pictures for this newsletter... note royalty and copyright items as you select and download them.

  • my search term was 'Microsoft Expression Media Encoder', something I've been searching for info about lately
  • I filtered the results to include only 'Large images'...

Google Video Microsoft Expression Media Encoder

2 SelectedI downloaded 7 of the larger more interesting ones, and from those picked 2 for the little sample.

The aerial shot of the helicopter at the Statue of Liberty is 3,328 by 2,490 pixels in dimensions... 8+ megapixels. Thinking ahead for the audio, I had some camcorder footage of a chopper at an airshow in Chicago.

The image was part of a news release about the new helicopter when it was placed in service... The first of its kind, SKYFOX is an American Eurocopter ASTAR B2 and makes FOX5 the leader in airborne technology.

The picture of the $100 bill was even larger... 3,664 by 3,088 pixels.... 11+ megapixels. It's obviously from a good quality scanner. Funny that its source was a thumbnail in a blog about Benjamin Franklin, by someone at the University of Michigan. An 11 megapixel image to use as a postage stamp sized accent piece. Who knows where the blogger got it from... I'll treat it as a note in circulation and keep it moving.

Prepping the Pictures...

Photo Story routinely offers to remove black borders, and I routinely don't accept.

This picture of a $100 bill is why I routinely say no. There's no way to crop the blackness out without losing part of the picture. And it's an option you can't go back later to undo. If you change your mind, you'll need to delete the pictures from the story and reimport them.

Motion settings can be easily used to avoid the border areas as needed.

Remove Black Borders

Divide Large Pictures into Parts...

If you know you're going to focus on different parts of a picture at different points in a story, divide it into smaller pictures before importing. They'll be easier on Photo Story.

2 facesI divided the bill into two images, the obverse and reverse, using IrfanView. I saved them as .bmp images.

I usually work in bitmapped image formats like BMPs rather than compressed ones like JPGs. I don't have issues with JPG files... I prefer maintaining whatever picture quality I start with as I move pictures through various prepping steps.

Add Opening Title and Closing Credits...

I mean on the pictures themselves, not later inside your story project. Photo Story 3 is pretty limited in text features... you can do more by adding text to pictures before importing them. 

I'll use IrfanView again, this time to add just a bit of opening title text on the obverse, and closing credits text on the reverse... you can apply it anywhere you want.

I used the Berylium font... size 36... a large font size for a seemingly small but deceptively large picture... the higher the pixel size of the image, the larger the font needed. That's a positive for the text effects you can achieve.

Keep the font style aligned through the story.... mostly in the choice of font.

My pictures with text added were ready to go into the story project, so I saved them as JPG files at 80% quality, making JPG files that are less than 10% the size of the BMPs. Photo Story needs less memory to render the story when it has smaller compressed files to work with. If you're one of those who have problems using .JPG files, continue with the .BMPs.

Make Compound Overlays with Transparency...

Photo Story doesn't have features to overlay a logo, or blend a couple images using different transparency levels. Do those kinds of things as part of your image prep work, before importing. handles semi-transparent layers well.

Background music (audio)...

I can't distribute a story without audio...  it's just as important as the visual.

I did my usual... render a draft of the story, import it into MM2, mix the audio there, strip the story out of the project, save the movie as a high quality audio wma file, and use the wma file as the background music.

It's so easy to do it that way, and the results are superior... trimming and mixing audio clips by overlapping them is as much as you usually need to significantly enhance the audio track.

When trying to use the chopper audio file in the story project, I got an error message...

Error importing audio

Error importing WAV fileI had ripped the audio from a DV-AVI file, using the TMPGEnc utility. 

Checking the file properties shows the audio sample rate is 48 kHz... and the error message says Photo Story 3 can't handle music files with a higher sampling frequency than 44.1 kHz. That's why the error.

Movie Maker had no problem with the higher sample rate. Another nudge to doing the audio in Movie Maker.

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

If you're out to make a killer story, do lots of thinking, planning and prepping of the pictures before opening PS3. If you don't prep them before importing, you'll end up so involved in the story editing that you'll not want to redo any of the images.

The problem that PS3 had with the audio WAV file surprised me... I'm so used to using WAV files without problems that I had to take a look at what happened this time. It turned out to be a well written error message, striking me out on one of the 3 counts. It's great when the message is so clear.

For the saving and distribution, I had planned to just do it via YouTube. But a post on Mark Coffman's Photo Story forum today got me to checking the html code used by someone who was showing her story. I liked her simple page and modeled a test page after it. I used the standard  PS3 option of saving to play on my computer at a size of 800x600. I think I'll make another custom one for that size, specific to online viewing. One of things I do in the online profiles is use a frame rate of 24 to align with movies... to shift some of the bandwidth to use for the audio track. 

Have a great week and enjoy your video work...


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

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):

#147 - April 28 (open)

#148 - May 5 (open)

#149 - May 12 (open)

#150 - May 19 (3rd anniversary issue... I count in 50's)

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 newsletter subject...


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:

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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