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PapaJohn's Newsletter #150

3rd Anniversary Issue - Picture-in-Picture

For some reason, when it's time to celebrate an event such as the 3rd anniversary of these newsletters, the ever-popular Picture-in-Picture 'Brady Bunch' approach comes to mind. Like a good wine, you can't have too much of it. I won't try to make a whiz-bang production... what I'll do is embed 3 videos of different sizes over a background video or still picture.


Here's the 'concept sketch'. More than a sketch, it's a frame snapshot from...

the draft video

The draft doesn't have a story... and has no artistic merit. It's purpose is to illustrate the planning and making of such a clip or video.

What's mostly different about this versus previous newsletters about PIP is the use of non-standard aspect ratios... which means the videos need to be cropped and deliberately distorted, similar to prepping pictures for a widescreen Photo Story.

One new reader who is using the Title Overlay Starter Kit asked for info about xml code... this sample video uses custom xml code in a few places, so I'll cover it in a bit more depth for her.

There are other ways to achieve PIP. Your methods depend on your skills, tools, and motivation. I tend to start with some xml code that is known to work, and hand tweak it with Notepad.

Others prefer using Rehan's PIP Plus utility... here's a new tutorial about doing it that way from Ayumilove. She and I started with the same concept sketch and went down different paths.

8 minute video tutorial - PIP Plus

I had asked her about making such a video for this issue, but we didn't have the luxury of the time needed to do a joint effort. Seeing her dexterity with the PIP Plus approach, and reading this newsletter will give you two methods to choose from.

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

Viewing RAW pictures from the Nikon D40x camera isn't working... the codec from Nikon works with the Nikon software but not with Photo Gallery. I'm seeing positive reviews of the camera and agree with them.

I'll keep shooting and collecting pictures with it. There will be some photo opps at a high school graduation party across the street this weekend.

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

Making the Sample Video...

Step 1 - Planning and Preps...

Start with the desired end result and work backwards. For this exercise, it's a video of 3 minutes on my website, accessed by a link... with newsletter readers having broadband connections. I'll render it using my rule-of-thumb 'Video for LAN (768kbps)' setting of Movie Maker, one of the 'Other Settings' of  MM2.1.

It'll be a standard 4:3 aspect ratio one... at 640x480.

I'll start with DV-AVI files from a mini-DV camcorder, and do each of the many renderings along the way to DV-AVI files to minimize generational losses, I'll only do a heavy compression to a WMV file at the last step before rolling it out to the website.

The preparations include making the custom XML files needed for the Picture-in-Picture approach and the scrolling title overlay.

Step 2 - Make the XML PIP File... for 3 custom transitions

The concept sketch was at the finished video size of 640x480... but working with DV-AVI files each step of the way means planning and executing the steps using standard NTSC DV-AVI dimensions of 720x480 (PAL users would substitute their standard dimensions). WMV files can be any size you want, but DV-AVI needs to be the one standard size. We'll be seeing that size over and over at each step.

Here's another frame snapshot from Movie Maker... it was saved at 640x480, so I used IrfanView to resize it to 720x480 before taking measurements.

Then I measured (using IrfanView or Paint) two things about each of the 3 overlaid videos:

  • the location of the upper left corner, which in xml code is the OffsetX and OffsetY values... how much it is offset from the upper left corner of the overall screen
  • the width and height of the video

I keep attempting to make a visual that shows the corners and sizes graphically, and correlated with the settings in the xml file. Here's my latest attempt. Study it one video at a time so as not to get confused or overwhelmed.

Style - 3

And here's the full xml file for it, which I named "PapaJohn-PIP-3rdAnniversary.xml".

The xml file goes in the Movie Maker\Shared\AddOnTFX folder. The three transitions will show up in the Video Transitions collection.

XML Code

Testing is easy... put any clip on the timeline with another one after it, apply one of the transitions, and render the movie. In a few seconds, you'll be able to confirm the transition works as intended.

Scrolling TextMake the opening text overlay image and its associated xml file

The blackness of this ..PNG image file made in is how the transparent pixels look when saved as a JPG file.

The overall image size is 890x1232 pixels, only because I already had an image of that size, with an xml file that I knew scrolled well. If I wanted to spend the time making a different sized image, I'd have to tweak the settings in the xml file. 

Make the PNG file as you want and put it in the Movie Maker\Shared folder. That's the default place that Movie Maker looks for it when an xml file points to one.

Below is the xml file. I started with a copy of an existing file, changed the title name to one I wanted to see in the list of title animations in Movie Maker.

If you want a different png file, you can copy the new one over the old one as I did, or change the name to align with a different one.

The annotations of the xml file highlight the only things you need to think about as you clone existing xml files, or segments of the files to add more items to the same one.

Animated XML

I'm not aware of any limits to how many items you can have in a single xml file.

With the xml file and image in place, they are set to use in the project.

XML and PNG files for the Video Labels...

The concept sketch in the opening paragraphs showed the names of the scenes... River Arno, Swiss Alps, and Rome... each of them tilted a bit and somewhat transparent. They were done with a 640x480 png image overlay, using the xml file from my image overlay starter kit.

Take a frame snapshot into and use it as a template to easily make labels like this... then hide the template as you save the new overlay png file with only the text showing.

Step 3 - Select 3 videos...

I took some clips from my library of Europe 301 videos, trying to select scenes that would align with the planned shapes. The video clips had been shot in widescreen mode on my camcorder. They are:

  • clouds over the river Arno during sunset for video 1... the squarish one
  • morning wake up misty clouds over the Swiss Alps... the view from our bed... for video 2... the wider than widescreen one
  • various scenes of the Roman Forum (in Rome) for video 3.... scenes that would hold their own when looking at a severly cropped tall vertical segment

I added opening and closing curtains in Movie Maker, and made their overall durations such that the 2nd video was 5 seconds longer than the first, and the 3rd 5 seconds longer than the 2nd. I wanted them all to end at the same time, but kick in at 5 second intervals when starting up.

At this point each of them was normal looking widescreen. The river and Alps scenes were sped up lots so you could see the clouds in action. With the opening and closing curtains added, they were ready for cropping to align with the planned shapes.

Step 4 - Add the colored frames and crop segments from the DV-AVI files...

Cropping ButtonUsing DV-AVI files is great!!! You can go back and forth between Movie Maker and other apps such as VirtualDub with no concern for quality degradation. I use the Panasonic DV codec for compression when saving with VirtualDub, and the built-in DV-AVI choice when saving with Movie Maker.

None of the clips were really critical when it comes to dimensions... a little bit off one way or the other would be hard to notice, and if it was... I could forgive it as a newsletter tutorial sample. If you need things exact, then you'll need to do some measuring of pixel dimensions when you get to the cropping step.

Cropping is easily done with VirtualDub. Whenever you add a video filter, any filter, the grayed out Cropping button becomes functional. It perked up and became functional when I added the resize filter.

Here's the working view in Virtual Dub when making the squarish one. The steps taken are:

  • Use Video > Filter from the main VirtualDub menu
  • Press the Add button and select the 'resize' filter
  • Check the option to expand the frame and letterbox image... and enter the overall frame width and height... 720x480.
  • To make the frame 10 pixels wide, deduct that much from the dimensions and enter the new width and height of the video itself as 700 x 460 pixels
  • Pick the color of the frame
  • Show the preview and scan the video if you want to see how it'll look with the border, and at the new size

At this point we haven't done any cropping yet... that'll be next.

VirtualDub - Cropping


Why crop them? The PIP process will set the videos into the little boxes anyway. 

Yes, but if you look at Ayumilove's tutorial, in which she didn't do any cropping, you'll see distorted videos. Take a widescreen video and put it in a square, super-widescreen, or tall thin shape, and it'll need to be mis-shaped. You can take some liberties, but you need to crop them to eliminate, or at least minimize, such distortions.

Pressing the Cropping... button shown two images above opens this working window. To crop a really tall thin segment from the video of Rome, I adjusted the two X dimension offsets. I'm leaving the top and bottom ones alone and just pulling in the left and right sides.

I wanted the Via Sacra sign to be in the cropped segment, so I scrbbed to that location as I did the cropping settings.


By cropping the video, the resizing to 720 x 480 will do an extreme distortion of the tall thin slice. But when it's tucked into the planned shape in the PIP step, it'll get squeezed back to looking normal. Two counter-balanced planned distortions will nullify each other and make things right.

It's at this step that exact measurements would come in handy if the final result is important in terms of dimensions. I'll leave that for you to do with your movies.

The three videos now have colored borders and appropriately cropped to be used over the main background. So we need the background.

Step 5 - Make a background clip...

leftrightThe background can be a still picture or a video clip.

I used two images with an extremely long fade transition, so the image after the PIP videos differs from the one that shows before them... something no one would notice.

As the final video size will be 640x480, use still images of that size. Or use a background video clip of 640x480 if it's a WMV, or use a 720x480 DV-AVI.

I added the same opening and closing curtains to the background clip as was used for each of the 3 PIP ones.

Step 6 - Add the 3 videos... one at a time in 3 rendering passes

We made the Adding Video 3custom XML file as part of the preparations... at this point

  • Put the background clip on the project, and then the first of the three to be overlaid.
  • Apply the first custom transition. Adjust the beginning of the overlaid video to align with where you want it to begin.
  • Trim the background and added video so they pretty much end at the same time... a split second difference is OK as they can't end exactly together.
  • Render the movie to a DV-AVI file.
  • Import the saved movie and use it as the background for the 2nd overlaid one... position, trim the ending, and render.
  • Do the same to add the 3rd one.

One benefit of Rehan's PIP Plus approach is that the preview monitor of Movie Maker shows what you are getting. With my approach you have to go with some experience and faith that it'll work out OK. With either approach, if it doesn't work right you need to tweak and redo it.  

Step 7 - Add garnishing to taste...

With the main part of the movie done, it's time to add the scrolling overlay title, the overlay for the video labels, closing credits (I used one of Movie Maker's standard animations), and audio/music.

I was going to add the audio from the Roman Forum clip in addition to the music, but didn't get around to it.

Render the final video...  my current rule of thumb is to use Video for LAN (768kbps).

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

There are always things to write about... passing the 3rd anniversary has some significance, but much.

Selecting topics, doing research, and writing them helps me learn about things I wouldn't if I were not doing them. I hope it helps you also.

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, Photo Story 3, DVD Maker, Expression Media -
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):

#151 - May 26 (open)

#152 - June 2 (open)

#153 - June 9 (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.

Classes will resume in the fall when schools re-open. We'll be re-inventing the topics offered.... things such as learning about how to make and upload videos to YouTube, and vacation videos to Trip Advisor... using Movie Maker as the tool rather than the primary subject.

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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Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.