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PapaJohn's Newsletter #159

Beginning a Promo' Video

Last weekend our local library of Portage, Michigan, where I teach Movie Maker, hosted their first Civil War reenactment, the Battle of Charles City Crossroads

Activities such as this provide endless photo and video opps... for high quality pix and video.

Civil War Cannon As often happens in the editing phase, we try to make old stuff look new, and new stuff look old. Everything I'm using is new, so some pix and clips will get shots of sepia toning and old-film effects to jog them back in time. 

I don't want to keep all the clips old, so I'll move from the old to the new in a way no-one will notice... at least they won't notice right away if I'm successful.

The picture of a cannon is a link to the first draft of the 30 second opening clip... made to look old

I'll make the final project file in Vista. I like how it's v6 of Movie Maker lets you mix standard 4:3 and widescreen 16:9 video clips.

I shot a few opening clips in standard and then switched to widescreen for the rest of the footage.

Copyright issues at such an event are refreshing 'non-issues'. Asking permissions when shooting close-ups or asking for specially posed ones is just for politeness. Requests are always cheerfully granted and lead to discussions and more behind-the-scenes opps. One of the reenactors took Bernadette to a tent to see a Civil War vintage camera. We've come a long way in the technology of photography.

Some reenacters played Civil war vintage music played on period instruments. The camcorder did double duty.

Union Army

This is just the material gathering phase. I won't be putting it together into a finished video soon enough to make this issue.

Before getting into details, here's...

... a note...


Digital Video... DV

It's interesting how few digital8 and mini-DV camcorders are in stores today. If Movie Maker 6 hadn't come along, I'd say it was a sure bet that Movie Maker would phase out, as the XP version hung its hat on the DV format transferred by firewire.

I get my tapes in Sams Club. On my last visit, they didn't have any Hi8 tapes... just mini-DV. One of these days I'll have to stock up good before they stop being sold.

With so many people starting with or moving to the MPEG-2 files of DVD and Hard Drive Camcorders, I expect to shift more and more to covering Vista and MM6. By the first of 2008, MM2.1 and XP will be fading into the background. 


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

Gathering and Processing the Material

I work in a modular way

  • making an opening clip in MM2.1 where my custom xml file is setup to scroll an image overlay
  • using Photo Story 3 to make stories from 10 megapixel pictures... or scanned material. My usual is five copies of the picture in the story project so the panning and zooming can change directions that many times.
  • making segments of the video, each as a separate movie project
  • rendering the segments to DV-AVI files
  • putting the segments together in an overall assembly project... adding background music and other accenting sound effects. 

The project is almost finished now, but not ready to put out a full draft. Here are notes about the highlights... 

video clips

I captured the 2-1/2 hrs of mini-DV video from the 2 day event, by firewire to an external USB2 120 GB SimpleTech drive on my XP laptop system... using the WinDV utility as I wrote this newsletter and did other stuff... there were no dropped frames.

My new Toshiba laptop, where I'm pulling the project parts together into the final assembly, doesn't have a firewire connection, so importing the video with it isn't an option.

The main reason I used WinDV was to get a pack of 172 DV-AVI files instead of the 3 big ones I would have gotten with MM2.1. It makes for easier copying of a selected clip to move to another app such as an audio-editor... or to process thru Virtual Dub for some visual enhancements.... or to delete clips that are not usable for any reason.

still pix

325 pictures came from the 10 megapixel Nikon D40x. That's more than enough material for the kinds of Ken Burns pan/zoom effects that's a natural with Civil War material. The camera has been doing a yoeman's job... it's great!

Portage Celery Flats - REENACTMENT accenting material

I scanned the admission tickets and a few pages from the handout brochure... things that are appropriate for the video and tie it more personally to the actual event. The image at the right is from the first page of the brochure... you'll see it scroll upwards over a few background clips in the opening scene.

The scrolling upwards is done with a custom xml title overlay and a partially transparent PNG file (using

Accent Video Clips...

I'll make a few photo stories to mix with the video clips and still pix... using selected pictures from the Nikon and scanned material.

I made 3 stories from the pictures... the lines of union and confederate forces, and bodies strewn in the field after the battle.

I added the sepia toning in Photo Story and saved the stories as standard aspect ratio clips... using the built-in profile of 800x600 pixels.

And I made 2 panning/zooming stories using marked up scanned images from the inside pages of the brochure.

Accent Audio...

I'm exploring my Vista Home Basic laptop to see the combo of features provided by Vista and those added by Toshiba... the image shows it in the process of doing narrations and recording audio files. 

As the system doesn't have an internal sound card mixer, I'm placing a small microphone next to the laptop's speaker and taking the analog route out and back in. 

Web Speak is a Toshiba app. Select some text on a website, have the utility read it, and capture it to as an audio file using Sound Recorder or Movie Maker. I tried both and got comparable quality files.... not great but workable for home movies.

The computer reading is getting better with each operating system version. The picture is a link to the unretouched wma file from the Sound Recorder for this capture. Does the computer have an accent?

After enhancing a narration in an audio editing app, it would be ready to use as an audio accent in the movie project.... this one doesn't fit, as the Gettysburg Address came years after the battle of Charles River Crossroads.

Recording Website Text

Another way to get audio for accenting is to download it from the Internet Archives. A radio broadcast special about Abraham Lincoln, done by Orson Wells, includes a segment from the time of the reenacted battle... I might use as background audio over some of the 3 panning stories...

Final Assembly

Vista's Movie Maker beats MM2.1 'hands-down' as the best assembly tool. I say that because it lets me freely mix standard and widescreen video clips without distortion.

I set the project option to widescreen, as that's how I shot most of the camcorder footage. Here's the start of the storyboard, showing

  • an opening clip made by MM2.1
  • a Photo Story 3 project showing one of the brochure pages
  • the 'Battlefield' segment... a widescreen video made in MM6
  • another Photo Story 3 project made from another of the brochure pages
  • the 'VillageScenes' segment... widescreen by MM6
  • one of the imported camcorder clips... shot widescreen 

Vista - mix standard and widescreen

Doing this in MM2 would stretch the clips to suit, to remove the black side borders from the standard aspect ratio clips... distorting the images. Doing it in Vista adds borders as needed to retain the video shapes.

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

I guess I'm now the volunteer videographer for this library event... the participants who are so involved are so much in keeping with the times that they leave all their modern stuff home, including cameras and camcorders. I know a number of them are looking forward to seeing our pix and videos.

Many posters ask where to get copyright free images, video, music. A great option is to record them yourself at such an event.

This newsletter is a little later than usual... yesterday at the Ann Arbor Art Fair got in the way... more pix and clips went into the library, but nothing close to the material for the Civil War reenactment movie.

Have a great week and enjoy your summer fun and 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

theDVShow TheDVShow 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 Things Books

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 Create a Ken Burns-Style Slideshow with 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 and others you'll recognize were interviewed for an article about Movie Maker for a  Microsoft Home magazine article... here's the link.


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):

#160 - July 28 (open)

#161 - August 4 (open)

#162 - August 11 (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

Transiitons Effects Package 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.

© 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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