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PapaJohn's Newsletter #148

First Look at the Expression Media Encoder...

Microsoft formally rolled out the Expression Suite at the Mix07 conference in Las Vegas this week... the suite includes

  • the freely available Silverlight browser plug-in that works with Internet Explorer, Firefox and Apple's Safari browsers
  • a suite of tools... Expression Web, Blend, Design, and Media... you can use one or all of them to make professional graphics and animations that play in the Silverlight plug-in
    • the Expression Media Encoder is just one part of Expression Media, but it'll be the subject of this week's newsletter

The buzz I've read from press releases and attendee blogs ranges from positive to glowing.

Sample Silverlight package...

A Silverlight package produced by the Encoder is a set of 15 files, a video .wmv file that we're familiar with, and others that are mostly website code.

I haven't used the new Expression Suite tools to make any graphic or animation yet, so I used clips from my current library... making a 'header', a 'main feature', and a 'trailer'. The encoder puts the 3 parts together into the wmv file.

The main feature uses some of my jellyfish footage from the Monterey aquarium... the leader and trailer are from tweaks of one of my video doodles. I did the tweaking and ran the Encoder on my XP laptop, using MM2.1. You can install the Encoder on either XP or Vista.

The complete Silverlight package of files needs to be rolled out to a website, not just the wmv file. Here's the set of them for this sample.

the Package

Unfortunately my sample plays fine locally on my laptop, but the online copies don't work... yet!! I'm still in the learning phase. The link to the Default.html file is what's supposed to kick off the Silverlight player with the video playing in it. Maybe it'll be working for you by the time you read this.

The best I can give you is a direct link to the wmv file in the package... which plays as usual in your Windows Media Player rather than in a Silverlight player nestled in your browser. At least you'll see how the 3 parts work in the video.

Jellyfish Video

There's a 30 second leader, a 110 second main feature with a logo overlay, and a 30 second trailer. The leader and trailer are standard aspect ratio, and the main feature is widescreen.


That's the concept, and the start of real-world implementation... let's take a closer look at the Encoder.

Before getting into it, here are...

... a couple notes...


Vista Corner

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.

Interactive features between still cameras and Vista are things I'm just starting to explore, aided by a couple Microsoft loaner cameras I just received.

  • A smaller sleeker silver/black Canon PowerShot SD750 7.1 megapixel camera
  • A larger black professional looking Nikon D40x 10.2 megapixel single-lens reflex camera with interchangeable lens... the one with it is an AF-S lens

I'll be using the cameras for a few months. If you want any specific info about either of them, or how they interface with Vista, send a note.

Our best current camera doesn't offer an option to save as a RAW file. I'm looking forward to doing some comparisons of RAW to high quality JPG files.

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

the Expression Media Encoder


A full-featured 60 day trial version of the Encoder was released this week. Here's the link... to a small 6 MB installation msi file. All of the Expression installation packages are pretty small. 

Expression Media Encoder

Here's some info from the Encoder website...


The Encoder is an engine that produces the online content... either as stand-alone wmv files, or in packages that work in browsers with the Silverlight plug-in.

First Tests... Gather Some Videos to use as Inputs

Before I made the above sample, I did some checking of the Encoder's capabilities.

Internet ArchivesDownloaded FilesI went to the Internet Archive and downloaded a file of TV commercials from 1948.

The Archive offers 8 copies of the file, in various formats and quality... see the chart with links at the left.

Note the cute logo warning "No Rights Reserved"... a refreshing and opposite position than the usual "All Rights Reserved". You're free to use them however you want.

The file has 23 commercials, which I remember watching in those early days of TV. The file's total duration is 9 min 18 seconds.

Checking the Downloaded Files

I played the 6 files by double-clicking each to see what player opened, and how they looked and sounded. It was to do some benchmarking before using them in the encoder.

1 - MP4 file - played in Quick Time player - small file size and pixel dimensions... 160x120... stereo AAC audio

2 - MP4 file - played in Quick Time player - bigger file and larger pixel dimensions... 320x240... stereo AAC audio

3 - AVI file... Divx encoded... played in WMP11... 320x240 with good video/audio sync...

4 - RM file... I don't have a player for it

5 - MPEG-1 file... played in WMP... 352x240... MPEG-1 stereo audio

6 - RM file... I don't have a player for it

7 - MP4 file - played in Quick Time player... 5 times the file size of #2... 320x240... stereo AAC audio

8 - MPEG-2 file... played in WMP... it was the largest file, but the audio/video was pretty much out of sync, as is often the case with MPEG-2 files... 368x480... MPEG-1 stereo audio

If I were heading to Movie Maker with any of these files, I'd need to convert it first to something that would work in MM2.1. Let's see if and how the encoder handles them.

Inputs to the Encoder...

The Encoder User Guide includes this info about file formats:

Supported File formats

Expression Media Encoder supports the following file formats for import:




















*Requires Apple® QuickTime®

**Requires MPEG-2 decoder

***May require MPEG-2 decoder

I dragged and dropped the downloaded files into the Encoder from my file manager utility. 6 of the 8 went, but the 2 Real Media files didn't... as expected by the User Guide info.

Main Window

They each previewed well.

You save your work at any point... as an Encoder 'Job'... File > Save Job

A 'job' file is a small text xml file. It's simply a list of the input files with instructions about what to do to each during the encoding. Edit it with notepad if you like.

the Outputs (Targets)...

The purpose of the encoder is to take the input files, select the desired part of each item, add an optional leader and/or trailer, add an image/logo overlay, and produce wmv files with the selected profile.

Beyond that, it'll produce packages of files that align with the Silverlight browser add-on... for enhanced browser-based cross-platform viewing.

Scrolling sideways in the bottom section of the Encoder shows the default target filenames, which align with the input files.


When ready, press the Encode button and do other things while it creates the files. All of them in this job finished and played well. 

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

The Encoder does what it's supposed to, and does it well.

The Expression suite, and the Silverlight plug-in give you more tools to create and distribute your material. That still leaves the bigger, most important parts for you to do... creating your content. With the viewing experience bar moving upwards, it'll motivate you to raise the quality of your content.

I can see my video doodles evolving into a library of personalized leaders and trailers... wrapped around the main features. 

Movie Maker and Photo Story are still the tools to use to make video content... the Encoder can do things like trim (using one trim start and one trim end point), crop and resize the inputs, but it can't do the more detailed editing, like splitting a clip and discarding an unwanted section.

It's another great tool for your ever-growing video-editing toolbox.

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):

#149 - May 12 (open)

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

#151 - May 26 (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 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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