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PapaJohn
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PapaJohn's Newsletter #152

Camcorders and Other Gadgets


As new hardware gadgets emerge each month, the lines are blurring between camcorders that can also take still pix, cameras that have options to shoot video clips, and other gadgets like cell phones that can take either stills or video clips.

Last week someone was trying to decide on the purchase of a Canon PowerShot TX1 that can shoot 7 megapixel still pix along with high-def video clips. Dcresource.com says it's Canon's first true hybrid product. I downloaded and explored a sample video clip from the camera. The compression codec was Motion JPEG, which easily imported into my Movie Maker 2.1 in XP, and I was able to save it to a high quality WMV file of the same 1280x720 dimensions (using a custom profile). The gadget would get along well with MM2, provided the user know how to handle the files.

MenuChanceThat jogged me into making some changes to my website, something I'd been thinking of doing for a while. Rather than adding a new section or page about every new kind of hybrid device that comes out, I restructured the site so there's a single  Cameras and Capture Devices section, which is then subdivided into two branches.

  • Types - overall info about cameras, camcorders, and other gadgets that record on film, tape, DVD discs, hard drives, memory cards. Like my mini-DV camcorder that can record DV on a tape cassette, or MPEG1 on a flash card, a single device could fall into two or more types depending on which option you use.  
  • Brands - I mixed the previous camcorder and camera pages together, sorted alphabetically. Most users at least know the brand name. There are 35 brands listed at this point. I'm not out to do comprehensive reviews... just to note any pertinent comments from the perspective of Movie Maker and Photo Story users.

Most of the today's new cameras and camcorders are not mini-DV models... and Movie Maker is even more tightly bound to those models and firewire capture. That means more Movie Maker users will be wrestling with file conversions in the years ahead... and website info about conversions will be needed more. 

I'm going to use this week's newsletter to summarize my personal progression in cameras over the years. Nothing deep, just some reflections on the journey.

... a few notes...


Notes...

This is a rare case of a newsletter not going out late Friday night. About mid-week, a website visited by Bernadette clobbered her computer with adware, spyware, viruses... those kinds of things. And at a time when she was vulnerable because Norton Antivirus was acting up. It took a couple days to get things back to normal. Newsletter #34 from 2-1/2 years ago came in handy as our procedure for returning things to normal. That and a couple removals and reinstallations of Norton until it was fully up to date in definitions, and all features were functional again. 

iTunes Corner

While working on this issue tonight, a note from Apple popped up and asked if it could update my iTunes and QuickTime software.... sure!!! why not? It said one of the reasons was to support the new feature of some free tunes mixed in with the paid-for ones. I started by downloading a 259 MB file of a Kenny Rogers video special. Beyond free to download and watch, can I use it in my projects? I'm guessing not, but will check.

Silverlight Packages

Now that I have the hack mentioned last week, and I can roll out Silverlight packages that play on my website without the assist of the Microsoft service, I made a new website page this week to show by example the 14 template styles included with the Expression Media Encoder. Here's a direct link to the new

Encoder Templates Page

My next personal challenge is to figure out how to embed an actual little Silverlight player in the space used on the page by the still picture.

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


Video Capture Devices

Here's the history of my video devices... and other types that I know about but haven't owned or used. It sets the structure for the new pages in the 'Cameras and Capture Devices' types section.

Film...

I inherited my father-in-law's 16 mm home video camera, projector, and reels of film. My personal camera collection started with 8mm silent film (1969), then moved on to Super8 silent and Super8 sound (we started capturing the audio with the visual in 1976). Film reels were 3 minutes long, and needed processing as 35 mm negatives did. With film and developing costs, you were a lot more careful about the footage you shot than you are today. A reshoot meant a new roll of film.

I used those movie cameras, along with 35mm cameras for high quality negatives and slides, and Polaroid cameras for instant print gratification, until the mid-1980's.

Film editing was done in essence by razor blade and scotch tape.

Getting the video from the film reels into my computer for digital editing was done by stand a camcorder on a tripod next to the projector and shooting it from the wall or screen. The more professional way would be to use a 'telecine' transfer process. 

We've scanned all of our many thousand printed pictures... at least those worthy of hard drive space... using an older HP ScanJet 4p flat-bed scanner, and a newer fast processing little document scanner (one with a high quality picture option).

I've done, or at least started, two waves of 35 mm slide capturing.

  • From projected slides to the computer, using the same camcorder on a tripod as done for the movies. It was our first digital photo story.
  • Recently I started the second wave, using a Minolta Dimage Scan Speed F2800 that scans them pretty well.

Most of our pictures from 1962 to 1979 are 35mm slides and prints.


Analog Cassette Tape Camcorders

In the late 1980's I got my first Sony 8mm analog camcorder... it said 'digital' someplace on it, but the recording was an analog one on a cassette tape.

With low priced reusable tapes, one didn't need to be as careful shooting scenes, not unless you were like me. Editing was still linear and time-consuming. I remember going to family events and walking around doing the 'storyboarding' and 'timeline' in my head to reduce the amount of tape/VCR editing needed later. At that time, I could enjoy an event or do a good job on the video project, not do both.

8 mm tape camcorders...

My early editing from 8 mm tape camcorders was by starting and stopping the camcorder as it was plugged into and being dubbed to a VCR tape.

I did specialized opening title and closing credits scenes on the computer using Rendersoft VRLM, and shot the scenes onto the camcorder as it stood on a tripod zoomed into a window on the computer. I used my stereo to play background music as it was being shot, and did 'retakes' as needed. 

This was the first camcorder I used with a connection to the computer... using some low-end low-quality little connection box. The quality of the captured file was less than what was on the tape, and varied with the connection and the capture device.

Hi8 tape camcorders...

My Sony TRV-615 has a nice 18x optical zoom and does much better in low light conditions than my newer digital camcorder. I'll still use it today as the 2nd camcorder on a shoot.

It was a step up to a Dazzle 80 as a capture device. Although the quality of the captured file was still less than what was on the tape, it was better than the low-quality postage stamp online files of the times. We didn't have the kind of broadband connections we do today.

With phone line internet connections, I'd put a 10 minute movie file online, send a link in an email and tell the receiver to start the download before going to bed and view it in the morning. 

From analog to digital

Movie Maker 1 was my personal break-through... letting me shoot haphazardly and enjoy the events as I took video, as the editing was so easy.

Last year I connected my Hi8 camcorder to my miniDV camcorder, using RCA cords for audio and an S-Video cable for higher quality video, and made a full set of mini DV tapes from the 8mm analog tapes. As the 8 mm analog tapes hold two hours of video and the DV tapes just one hour, I now have 2 DV tapes from each of the older analog 8 mm tapes.

The transfer didn't involve my computer, just the 2 camcorders. I now treat the DV tapes as the 'originals'. In theory at least, the digital ones will preserve the data while the analog ones will slowly degrade over time.

As analog models, the Hi-8 camcorders output the audio via RCA cables, and the video by either an RCA cable or an S-video one (if the model has the S-video feature for higher visual quality).

Once I had a digital camcorder with a 'pass-thru' feature, I stopped using the Dazzle 80 for capture sessions and started using the DV camcorder to do the conversion to DV-AVI, and pass the file to the computer by firewire. The quality of the captured file from this 'pass-thru' process is as good as it is on the original analog tape. No longer was the capture device limiting the quality.


Digital Cassette Tape Camcorders

These camcorders were the first full digital consumer models. The digital 8 camcorders were made to align with the 8mm tape sizes used by the analog camcorders... playing them twice as quickly so it could record the full amount of data needed for DV. The mini-DV camcorders used a newer smaller sized cassette. The DV data recorded is the same on either.

To get the full quality files transferred to computers, firewire (also called iLink and IEEE1394) cables and connections are used... this is the perfect alignment of camcorders with Movie Maker. Transferring back and forth between camcorder and computer is easy, with no generational losses. They are the easiest and highest quality files to work with from start to finish.

Digital 8 tape camcorders...

I have one of these now... which I use as a better player for my 8mm and Hi8 tapes, and for the occasional project that starts with a client's digital 8 tape.

MiniDV tape camcorders...

I got my first digital camcorder in Feb 2004, a Sony TRV80... which I'm still using. With the ease of shooting and editing high quality video today, my video footage has gone up exponentially.

  • On a 4 week vacation to Europe last year, I shot 20 tapes... 20 hours of footage
  • Over 15 years of taking home video on 8 mm film, I have about 3 hours of footage

DVD camcorders...

Most camcorder users don't want to be bothered with the chore of editing. They just want to see their footage playing on a big TV as soon and easily as possible.  For them, camcorders that record directly on standard DVDs work fine.

But it's pretty rare home video footage that doesn't need some editing. After seeing it once, the question is "...OK, how do I get the video into Movie Maker for some editing?..." That's what my son asked after he looked at his first disc.

File conversion has emerged to be a major step in the process, right up there with editing.


HDV camcorders...

The first high definition camcorders recorded on tape... at 1980x1080i or 1280x720p, using MPEG-2 compression. Movie Maker in XP can't handle the file captures, but Vista's Home Premium and Ultimate versions can.

Because MPEG-2 compression is much more than DV, the file sizes are actually a bit smaller than the lower quality DV-AVI files.

Some hard drive camcorders are now recording Hi-Def file sizes... and in formats such as Motion JPEG.


AVCHD camcorders...

These are high definition camcorders that don't use tapes... instead recording 1080i or 720p on hard drives (HDD) or DVDs.

Instead of MPEG2, they use the MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 codec for compression.


DVCams...

DVCams are Sony professional camcorders that record at higher quality than consumer DV tapes... If you use them, chances are you use something other than Movie Maker for the editing.


Hard Drive camcorders...

Camcorders that record directly onto small hard drives are now popular... not having to purchase tapes or discs for the life of the product was a compelling feature for my son who recently purchased a Sony DCR-SR42 with a 30GB internal drive.

Of course he followed the purchase with his now standard question "... how do I get the files into Movie Maker?..." Yes, he's the same son who bought the DVD camcorder.

VDubMod worked fine on his XP system and mine for a direct conversions from MPEG-2 to DV-AVI, using the Panasonic codec. Based on posts, not everyone has been as lucky. 

Vista's Home Premium and Ultimate versions include the needed MPEG-2 codec to edit the files in Movie Maker 6, but they need conversion to AVI or WMV files before using in Movie Maker in XP or with other versions of Vista.


Digital Cameras with video options....

Many camcorders have a feature to take still pictures, and many still digital still cameras can take video clips. The quality has gone up substantially over recent years and some small still cameras can now shoot full sized HiDef video clips.  


Webcams....

Webcams have been in use for many years... in specialized cases where they sit there waiting for movement to come to them. Surveillance cameras for traffic get a constant flow of movement... while bank vault monitoring captures mostly nothing.


Cell Phones....

Cell phones do about everything these days... taking snapshots and video clips is a natural extension of their other features.

The files include 3GPP and 3GPP2, the new worldwide standards based on MPEG-4.

The file extensions and underlying technologies are:

.3gp 3GPP standard, GSM Network, Video: MPEG-4, H.263, Audio: AAC, AMR

.3g2 3GPP2 standard, CDMA2000 Network, Video: MPEG-4, H.263, Audio: AAC, AMR, QCELP.


Capture Devices...

Analog - to transfer analog to digital video, capturing the video from a TV, VCR, analog camcorder, etc.

Digital - Some devices process digital video to move it from one environment to another. It's a bit like converting a file, but conversion is usually something done in a particular environment, like on your computer. For example, an ADS Tech device can be used to take video which is already digital, such as that on a digital camcorder, and move it to the computer environment in a different formal - changing its format as it processes it. The device converts to MPEG-2 files that are ready for CD or DVD authoring and burning.


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

The newly re-structured section of the website is a good step forward, but it's still not where I want it. As always, it's a work in progress, changing as the world goes round. I don't expect either one to stop. I try to maintain whatever value it has, and enhance it bit more each day.

It's the many posts I'm reading from those wrestling with file conversion issues that led me to this change. If everyone had purchased mini-DV camcorders and used firewire connections because editing was easier, then the changes wouldn't be needed. If Vista auto-converted or supported all video formats, it wouldn't be needed. But the world turns as the purchasers want it to... or the marketing people guide them.

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

PapaJohn


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

Windows Movie Makers.net

Have a great week...

PapaJohn

Movie Maker, Photo Story 3, DVD Maker, Expression Media - www.papajohn.org
Photo Story 2 - www.papajohn..org/PhotoStory2/PS.html


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 www.papajohn.org ), 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 was in the Spring 2007 Special Edition (page 78). It covered 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.

Microsoft Home

I had been interviewed by phone by someone doing an article about Movie Maker for an upcoming Microsoft Home magazine article. An editor called the other day to check some things... I guess it'll be out soon... probably in the issue published the first Tuesday of June.


Websites

Movie Maker and Photo Story - www.papajohn.org - 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 - www.papajohn.org/photostory2/PS2.html - 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 - microsoft.public.windows.vista.music_pictures_video

Windows XP Movie Maker newsgroup - microsoft.public.windowsxp.moviemaker

Photo Story 2 newsgroup -  microsoft.public.plus

Photo Story 3 newsgroup -  microsoft.public.windowsxp.photos


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  www.papajohn.org or the Products and Services page.

Topics for upcoming newsletters (always subject to change):

#153 - June 9 (open but probably something about audio editing)

#154 - June 16 (open)

#155 - June 23 (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...


Software

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


Music

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.


Training

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 at the end of summer, when schools re-open. We'll be re-inventing the topics offered, as the subject of Movie Maker doesn't draw very many... maybe topics such as making and uploading 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 www.papajohn.org

Movie Maker 2/Photo Story training and support services start at $75 per hour - send an email -  PapaJohn@CharterMi.net 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 Microsoft.com
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 www.PapaJohn.org. 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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