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PapaJohn's Newsletter #149

Profiles and Custom Profiles

With Vista, the new Expression suite, Open Source projects for phones and other gadgets, video profiles are more and more in the limelight to us who know about them. To most they remain in the background. It's been over a year since a newsletter about  video profiles, and that was about custom ones. This issue is about both standard and custom ones... profiles in general.

Some profiles are embedded in the .exe or .dll files of programs... Movie Maker for example. Others like Photo Story use profiles that are in small text files that end with .prx and are easy to read and tweak with Notepad... or even easier with the Profile Editor utility that comes with the Media 9 Encoder package. You can study the internal profiles indirectly, by looking at the properties of rendered videos. It's much easier to study the stand-alone profiles, as they contain a wealth of study material.  

Profiles in some ways remind me of codecs. There are lots of them, you select one when rendering a video, and then it works in the background. And if you have issues with a profile, it's something not easily understand.

  • Unlike codecs, they all get along with each other fine, not clashing and crashing the app (if you don't count a hung app as a crash).
  • Like codecs, they sometimes don't work, leaving you with no error message or other clues about why they didn't show up in your picklist of choices. And if one does show up... you may not know why Movie Maker can't effectively use it... even to an extreme of causing Movie Maker to hang forever because it can't do what the profile says. We have some of these. 

To see how far reaching the Windows media profiles are, consider, the mother ship of open source projects... here are some snippets from one online article.

Source Forge

I rounded up copies of the video profiles (.prx files) on my XP laptop and Vista desktop... 362 of them.... a pretty large study group.... I found them in folders associated with...

      • Adobe Photoshop Elements
      • Roxio - Shared
      • Expression Media Encoder (the ones with the app are embedded, but a downloadable set is available)
      • Griffin Composites - DVR2WMV
      • Microsoft Producer
      • Movie Maker (my custom profiles, as those that come with it are embedded in the software)
      • Muvee autoProducer
      • Photo Story 3 (those that came with the app + my custom ones)
      • Recorded TV - Convert
      • River Past - Video Cleaner Pro
      • Roxio - Video Wave
      • Tech Smith - Camtasia Studio
      • Vista - WinSAT
      • Vista - Windows Media Player
      • Windows Media Encoder - Profiles folder
      • Windows Media Encoder - Settings folder

Reading a Profile

For quick and easy browsing of profiles, all but a handful of them will open in the Windows Media Profile Editor, which comes with the Encoder package. Profile EditorThe few that can't be opened with it can be viewed and edited in Notepad.

Have your .prx file extension associated with the Profile Editor so double-clicking on one will automatically open the utility with the profile in it.

My website's Saving Movies > Custom WMV Profiles page includes a tutorial about using the Profile Editor.

The utility shows most of the settings... if you're not intimidated by reading the rest of the story, open the file using Notepad.

One of the more interesting profiles is shown at the right... a WinSAT test profile from my Vista system. It's for a Hi-def video sized at 1920x1080, 24fps, with no audio.

WinSAT stands for Windows System Assessment Tool... something Vista uses to check the performance capability of the system.

Movie Maker only works with profiles that have both audio and video tracks, so this one won't work in it. I just copied it to the MM2.1 profiles folder and checked... it's not in the list. To prevent trying to use one that won't work, it's simply not included in the list.

WinSAT in ListTo use this profile in Movie Maker, check the audio option in the profile, save the change, and it'll then show up as a usable profile in MM2.1. We just took a HiDef profile from the Vista environment, made a minor tweak, and used it on an XP system... profiles are versatile. 

The name you see in the first field of the utility... WinSAT Test Profile... is the name in the dropdown pick list in the app that uses it.

Before getting into the subject deeper, here are...

... a couple notes...


Vista Corner

Sticky Note for a few more weeks... 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.

Digital Camera Corner

I shot my first batch of RAW pictures with the Nikon D40x 10.2 megapixel SLR camera... saving each to two images, a JPG image in addition to the RAW one. I didn't notice any difference when doing the shooting. The time between shots seemed about the same as when shooting only to JPG images.

I've installed the software that came with the camera, and the RAW codec, on my Vista system... and copied the pictures from the camera card... nice shots... Bernadette, our local color expert, is impressed with how well the images align with reality, and she hasn't seen the RAW ones yet.  

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

Custom Profiles...

I'll run down the apps we're most interested in... and make some comments about the profiles.

Media 9 EncoderWindows Media 9 Encoder

I have two folders... setup from the installation of the Windows Media 9 Encoder SDK. They contain the settings for the built-in options when using the Encoder, and any project-specific profiles your save.

  • a Profiles one with 11 .prx files in it...
  • a Settings folder with 82 profiles in it...

The Profiles items include any saved ones for Encoder sessions. One of mine is to use when capturing with my Dazzle80 device, to a 640x480 video size.

The Settings files are either audio or video, not usually both... and the video ones sometimes have multiple choices for target bit rates. These multiple ones would be for streaming packages that sync with the performance capabilities of the computer accessing them.

These make great study files. I copied one of them to the new Expression Encoder and it worked fine rendering a video. As the new Encoder supports getting audio and video settings from different profiles, they probably have more possible usage there than they do in Movie Maker.

Movie Maker 2.1 in XP

About 18 built-in profiles come with Movie Maker 2. The settings are all built into the program so you can't copy them to use elsewhere. To look at the settings, you need to be a bit less direct. Render movies from them and study the video file properties.

You can add optional extra profiles by making a Movie Maker\Shared\Profiles folder and copying other profiles into it. Use those from Vista, Expression, the Encoder, or make your own. My folder has 98 profiles in it.

We noted in the intro that, when Movie Maker won't work with a profile, it'll ignore it and not put it in the drop down list of options when saving a movie. That's not always the case.

Motion ThumbnailThere's a downloadable pack of 14 profiles to use with Expression apps... when I copied them to the profiles folders of XP's MM2.1 and Vista's MM6, Movie Maker ignored 10 of the 14. Maybe that's better than the four it listed.

  • the Motion Thumbnail
  • three profiles for 256k DSL speeds

When opting to render a movie with any of these, the process seemed to start but the progress meter sat forever at 0% and there was no indication of the rendering happening.

These will be good to study...  why are they listed by Movie Maker, and why won't they work?

Note the first page of the profile shows the NTSC option checked, with the option for 'Custom' grayed out. Page 2 of the window shows the frame rate at 15 fps.

Movie Maker 6 in Vista

MM6 in Vista comes with fewer profiles than MM2 in XP... and about half of them to produce newer High Definition videos.

As in XP, you can create a Movie Maker\Shared\Profiles folder and use custom profiles or those from other places. Copies of my custom profiles from MM2.1 work in Vista, so I can continue doing things as usual.

Photo Story 3 running on XP or Vista

It works the same on either XP or Vista. The standard set of profiles are in the open as .prx files in the Profiles\1033 subfolder, the same folder that you use to add custom ones.

Photo Story profiles are unique in that...

  • they must use the Windows Media Video 9.1 Image codec, one that can't be used by Movie Maker, the Expression Media Encoder, or other apps
  • video codecs used by Movie Maker and other apps can't be used by Photo Story

The profiles included with Photo Story 3 are all standard 4:3 aspect ratio. Custom profiles are needed to make widescreen stories. This week I got a request to help make one for a 9:16 ratio... the other side of squareness, tall and thin. It worked fine.

In addition to using a custom profile for anything other than 4:3, the pictures need to be appropriately distorted before importing into PS3 because it doesn't have a setting to toggle between standard and widescreen as Movie Maker has.

Expression Media Encoder

Extra Profiles14 profiles are included in the in the Encoder... beyond those, you can add extra profiles to the Profiles sub-folder.

I copied two YouTube profiles from my Movie Maker profiles folder, and they show up in the Encoder list and work fine.

Encoder SettingsIn Movie Maker, you get to select video/audio from one profile.

In the Encoder, something neat is your ability to select the video settings from one profile and the audio settings from a different one.

If you copy a profile to the Encoder folder that it won't work with, it'll show up in the list and you can select it.... but you'll get this status when you start the encoding...

I put a PS3 profile in the folder to force this message.

Bad Profile

It's not really a 'bad profile'... more a 'bad user' trying to do something I shouldn't.

Saving a New Profile

Getting into the advanced profile settings is the key to making changes and saving them as a new profile.

See the picture below... I've circled and pointed to the little keyhole to press, which expands or contracts the expanded settings window. Remembering where things like this are is one of the reasons I write newsletters, so I can look it up when I forget how to get to such a feature.

Where is the new profile saved by default? I found it in...

c:\Documents and Settings\PapaJohn\Expression\Expression Media Encoder\Profiles\PapaJohn Test Profile.prx

Will such a profile work in Movie Maker? I copied it to the MM2.1 profile folder to see. Yes, it does and the saved movie looked good.

Expression Encoder - Saving New Profile...


We've seen the Expression Media Encoder with its 14 built-in profiles... in .exe or .dll files, not readily available for studying or using in other places... but there's another way to approach them. 

On Microsoft's Silverlight website, there's a downloadable set of 14 profiles in a zipped file (use the link in the Downloads section at the right of the website page)... Silverlight Profiles

The package has files with the same names as those in the Encoder, so they make a good study group... as the newest set of profiles to come along... made for Expression and the online Silverlight experience.

One is for videos heading to a Zune

Another is an interesting 'Motion Thumbnail' profile, 160x120 pixels at 15 fps. We've seen that one above, the one that hung Movie Maker in XP and Vista.

Those that say VC-1 in their names use the Windows Media Video 9 Advance Profile codec. The others use the Windows Media Video 9 codec.

Copy this pack to the Expression Media Encoder profiles folder and they'll all show up and be usable. But you don't need them as they're the same set hard-coded into the app.

CamtasiaCamtasia Studio

Beyond the Microsoft apps, other software can use the same or other profiles... here's one of interest, the Camtasia app used by many to do screen captures.

The video codec used by Camtasia is the Windows Media Video 9 Screen one, as you can see in one of the profiles it uses. That's the same codec used by the Windows Media 9 Encoder when it does screen captures.

Similar to the Image codec used by Photo Story 3, the Screen codec is used  by few apps.

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

With the Profile Editor and Notepad, you have the tools to study and tweak the profiles. Make a set of backup files if you decide to try some.

Profiles and custom profiles (.prx files) are here for the long run. If you haven't used a custom one yet, or copied a profile from app to use in another, you probably will as you continue doing video work. 

When is a custom or different profile needed or desired? For example...

  • they are needed in Photo Story 3 to make a widescreen story, or any other shape different than standard 4:3 aspect ratio. I helped someone this week make one for a 9:16 ratio.
  • Movie Maker in Vista provides a more streamlined set of profiles than MM2, half of them to render high definition video files. To continue using the settings you are used to in XP, custom profiles may be needed.
  • the new Expression Media Encoder can use custom profiles... or create new ones.

Next week is issue #150, which I score as the 3rd annual anniversary one... looking back on my set of issued newsletters, I see that the one was published May 15, 2004... that's 50 a year.

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):

#150 - May 19 (3rd anniversary issue)

#151 - May 26 (open)

#152 - June 2 (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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