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PapaJohn's Newsletter #156

WMV is a 'Container' - Part 1

Q. What do you mean by 'Container'?

A. It's like a box delivered by UPS. If it's from Microsoft, you can bet that what's inside will work with Movie Maker. If it's from Apple, you can bet it won't. If it's from Jim's Online Conversion Service, you'll need to check it over carefully to see what's inside.

Q. What does 'Part 1' mean?

A. In this case, it means I got into the subject enough to finish the newsletter, but I didn't do much except muck around in the subject, with no real conclusion. I might come back to the subject someday and do Part 2.

We often use the word 'container' when someone has a problem with an AVI file in Movie Maker. Good advice includes telling the poster to use GSpot to look inside to see what codecs were used to make it.

But when users have similar issues with WMV files, we too often assume the files should work, so there must be something wrong with Movie Maker.

I think it's time we treat WMV files the same way we do AVI, assume nothing is wrong with Movie Maker and apply the same advice we give about AVI files, look inside the WMV container using GSpot to see how the file was compressed.

Two items in two days this week led me to write about it. I was studying two WMV files that acted strangely in Movie Maker, one from a poster who used a file conversion utility named Replay A/V 8 to make the file from a YouTube video, and the other I made from an MOV file downloaded by VeohTV using the Expression Media Encoder.

Item 1

The forum poster who used Replay A/V 8 had problems with the movie made with MM6. All was going well until he watched the rendered movie in Windows Media Player... where he saw alternating clips of content and blackness instead of a steady flow of content. I had him send copies of source and project files so I could help him dig deeper. Movie Maker doesn't provide codec info about a source file. WMP and GSpot in XP both said the compression was:

  • msmpeg4v2 for video
  • mp3 for audio

Here's the info about his file from GSpot, not on my Vista system, but on XP.

From Replay A/V 8

I was able to import the file in MM2.1 on my XP system, and save it to a new one with no intermittent black clips. My suggestion was it was a codec issue, not a problem with Movie Maker. Here's MP42 codec info on my XP system. 


The mpg4c32.dll that's associated with the MP42 codec isn't in my i386 folder from XP SP2. It's a vintage 2002 file.

Neither my Vista's Home Basic or Ultimate versions have a codec for MP42... GSpot says the codec status is undetermined. The mpg4c32.dll file isn't included in Vista, but the video plays on it.

I'm still studying the file... my status is like GSpot... undetermined. The poster was going to try making his project on an XP system instead of Vista, not a good conclusion.

Item 2

The other item was one I made myself, a WMV file that acted very strangely in MM2.1 on my XP laptop. I had installed the beta software for the new online VeohTV service, something I read about a couple weeks ago in USA Today.

My first download was a TV show, an Apple-format MOV file. My newest conversion app for MOV files is the Expression Media Encoder, so I used it to make a WMV file using Micorosoft's VC1 codec for compression. 

The WMV file plays fine online but acts very strangely in Movie Maker. Here's the link if you want to check it.

 Sample WMV File

Here's the info in GSpot.

From Replay A/V 8

I'll get into the details of the strangeness below.

Not all Veoh TV files are MOV.... the second one I downloaded is an WMV, a container I haven't looked into yet with GSpot.

Before getting into details, here are...

... a few notes...



Last week's newsletter closed on this thought...  "Don't add your background music until after the tweaking is over and everything should be fine".

I did some more testing after publishing it, and found it was the wrong conclusion.

The issue is the utility can unpack a large PS3 project file and tweak the xml settings, but it can't effectively put the project file back together if it's over 300 MB in file size. If you look at a project file that PS3 says is corrupt and can't be opened, and it's exactly 300 MB in size, it's a great chance it's a tweaked one.

It's pretty easy to have a story project of that size. The 300 picture limit of PS3 with 100 MB per picture gives you a 300 MB project. Our 5 megapixel camera saves JPG images of more than 1 MB average, and our newer 7 megapixel camera saves them at about 3 megapixels each. 100 pictures from our 7 meg camera would make a story project of that size, not counting files such as external music.

Vista Corner

Using my new low-end laptop with Vista's Home Basic for my evening sessions at Barnes & Noble... every other night... has been warming me up to Vista. The every-day basics are most important to me, not any particular app or wizz-bang super feature like aero-glass.

Library Classes

My classes at our library haven't been well attended. This fall we'll try changing the subject from the tool to the distribution methods. Instead of it being about Movie Maker to make videos for YouTube and other places, it'll be about YouTube and other online places and how to make videos for them using Movie Maker.

Software Reviews

The main reason this newsletter is later than usual in being published is that June 30th was my contracted date for submitting four software reviews that I did in June. I made the deadline. But then when digging into the topic of the week for the newsletter, I found myself fishing around more than I expected. So it's later and Part 1. But I enjoy the fishing and learning.

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

Two WMV Case Studies

Let's go back to the first case, the WMV file sent to me by a poster to Rob's forum.

From YouTube to Movie Maker

WMP played it fine and reported properties of

  • msmpeg4v2 for video (read it as Microsoft MPEG-4 version 2)
  • mp3 for audio

I explored the Replay A/V 8 website for technical info but couldn't tell what choices the user had for compression. I wasn't ready to try downloading a trial version to look closer.

My XP system has an MP42 codec and I didn't have the issues the poster had with his Vista system. And my two Vista systems don't have an MP42 codec.

I haven't tried using the file as a source one in MM6 and saving it to a new WMV file to see if my systems would show the same issues as the poster. With GSpot on my Vista systems not showing an MP42 codec but playing the file OK in WMP... it makes me wonder where one would get the msmpeg4v2 codec, why Vista doesn't automatically download it if it's a Microsoft codec (which it seems to be in XP).

Before I could dig deeper into this item, the second one came along.

Veoh Full ClipFrom Online VeohTV to Movie Maker

I found this one very interesting... as it was totally unexpected, fully reproducible, and wouldn't have even been noticed if I didn't stop to divide the big clip in the collection and study the sub-clips there.

I had used the new Expression Media Encoder to select a 3-1/2 minute segment from 30 minute TV show... downloaded from VeohTV as an MOV file.

The full file played great in my Quick Time player and didn't exhibit any quirkiness in the Media Encoder, where I added an overlay image in the upper left corner and saved the selection as a WMV file. The encoder only uses the new VC1 codec, so that's the video codec.

After importing the WMV file into a collection in MM2.1 as a single clip, it previewed fine in the collection.

Using the right mouse click > Create Clips process in MM2.1 and MM6 produced totally different results.

  • 13 clips in MM2.1, of which only 3 would preview
  • 3 clips in MM6, each of which previewed

MM2.1 in XP

Here's a picture of the 13 clips in MM2.1 after applying the 'Create Clips' feature.

Veoh Clip - Split in CollectionThe 1st, 5th and 10th clips previewed fine.  The other clips sat there paused on their first frames. The first frames were typically not the images you see as the clip thumbnails.... close, a few frames different than the first one.

The 3 clips that previewed fine were 17, 10, and 1 seconds in duration, not that it means anything. The durations of the other clips ranged from 1 to 40 seconds.

Putting all the clips on the timeline in sequence and previewing the project.... the full video looked and sounded good. That's all but the last sub-clip which turns to whiteness, shows my logo in the corner, and drops the audio part way through. 

Mixing the clips on the timeline and previewing the project.... again all previews fine.

Vista's MM6

On my new Vista Home Basic system the full clip previewed fine in the collection.

The 'Create Clips' process makes only 3 sub-clips... of 13 seconds, 3:02, and 11 seconds. The first two play fine and the 3rd one has the same issues with audio and whiteness as it did in MM2.1.

Clip splits by MM6 were at different points than those in XP... another difference between the two versions, one you wouldn't know unless you split the same clip on both systems.

I tried applying the Create Clips feature to the sub-clips in Vista and it wouldn't sub-divide them any further.

Remember MM1

It auto-divides the file into 17 clips, each of which previews fine in the collection. The thumbnail images are different than those of MM2.1, selected from different frames.

Rendering the Projects

The rendering and playing of new WMV files in WMP went along fine in both systems.

Again, a file with a number of things to ponder, with no conclusions at this point... just differences.

Assessing the Contents of a WMV Container

WMSnoop-VC1FileWe've used GSpot to look into AVI containers. The latest version of GSpot also covers, MPEG files, and we see that it can look into WMV files also.

GSpot tells us more about WMV files than Movie Maker (which says nothing about codecs) and Windows Media Player (which provides some info but not close to what GSpot provides). Besides, WMP should be too busy playing music from URGE to be used as a file assessment utility.... seriously. 


Here's the info it shows for the second item, the VC1 encoded WMV file.

  • Video format: Video_WM3 (versus GSpot saying the video codec is WMV3 - WMP v9 (VC-1 Simple))
  • Audio format: Audio_WMV2 (versus GSpot saying WMA v2)

I'm looking for something different about the beginning of the clips that played fine in the MM2.1 collections. Sub-clip #5 was one. The file properties of the clip goes finer than the list in the collection. The properties says the clip starts at 01:15:78.

That frame time in WMSnoop correlates with the taller blue frame to the right of the yellow keyframe I've marked below. The yellow one is the one of the newscast host in the studio. That's the frame I see when I go to the beginning of the clip in the collection.   

The thumbnail for that clip is the gal reporter in the field, which correlates with the taller blue frame a few to the right of the yellow one below. So the first frame is a guy but the thumbnail is a gal. We're learning, but I don't know what yet, other than MM2.1 doesn't use the first frame of a clip for the thumbnail.

Yellow Ones

The other 2 clips that played normally were #01 and #10, both of which show the same thing, the first frame being the picture at a yellow while the thumbnail is from a taller blueish bar a few frames to the right of the yellow.

What's a yellow one? It's a key frame, a full image rather than differential that is relative to a full one. If you want to see a well done Help file, take a look at the one in WMSnoop.


I'm not seeing enough correlation between split points and key frames to draw any conclusions.

All the split points in MM2.1 came at key frames except one. That's enough to do more checking.

Both of the Vista split points were done at keyframes. I didn't study those of MM1 yet.

Opening the WMV file made by Replay A/V 8 in WMSnoop shows

  • Video format: UnKnown (versus GSpot saying the video codec is MP42, S-Mpeg4 version 2)
  • Audio format: UnKnown (versus GSpot saying MP3)

Seems that, for WMV containers, GSpot is the tool of choice when first looking in it.

WMSnoop shows lots of other info about the file, including the keyframes. 

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

We have more to learn about how to examine the contents of a WMV container. This is enough for now.

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.



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 (online magazine)

I was interviewed by phone for an article about Movie Maker for an upcoming Microsoft Home magazine  article.


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):

  • #157 - July 7 (open)
  • #158 - July 14 (open)
  • #159 - July 21 (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 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

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.

© 2006 - 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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