Microsoft Office 'Live Meeting' Recordings
Difficult file conversions are often in the limelight, much of them about Divx, Xvid, MOV and other 'outsider' file types .
It's less usual to have wmv 'insider' files made by Microsoft software.
I perked up when I read this 10/5/07 newsgroup post by Marco Shaw, a Windows PowerShell MVP.
I've got 2 WMV files from a recorded Live Meeting 2007 session. They were split up
I've loaded them into Movie Maker 2, and was trying to edit the first, then join the 2 together. When I go to "save movie
file", a timer starts to give me an estimate of how long it will take to create the file, but it counts *forever* (999+!).
Are there any known issues with saving WMV files within Live Meeting 2007 and them being "compatible" with Movie Maker?
a snapshot of a recorded Live Meeting being viewed. The file is online and the viewer is part of Microsoft Office Live Meeting
Checking the properties of the video shows it as a wmv file compressed with the Windows Media Video 9 Screen codec for video,
and the Audio 9 Voice codec for audio. Online info says:
- The Windows
Media Video 9 Screen
codec is optimized for compressing sequential screenshots and highly static video that is captured from the computer
display, which makes it ideal for delivering demos or demonstrating computer use for training. The codec takes advantage of
the typical image simplicity and relative lack of motion to achieve a very high compression ratio.
During the encoding process, the codec automatically switches between lossy and lossless encoding modes, depending on
the complexity of the video data. For complex data, the lossless mode preserves an exact copy of the data. For less complex
data, the lossy mode discards some data to achieve a higher compression ratio. By automatically switching between these two
modes, the codec maintains video quality while maximizing compression.
Overall, the Windows Media Video 9 Screen codec delivers better handling of bitmap images and screen motion, even on relatively
modest CPUs. It is also up to 100 times more efficient than the commonly-used run length encoding.
- The Voice codec is designed for very low bit rate encoding of 4 kbits/s to 20 kbits/s for speech, sampled at rates
from 8 kHz to 22 kHz. It is intended for internet streaming. The encoder can switch between the normal WMA coding mode when
music is detected, but switches to a code excited linear prediction (CELP) mode for speech.
With that background, let's get and check Marco's files. They played fine in Windows Media Player 11, and nothing says they
won't work in Movie Maker.
Movie Maker 2.1 on my XP laptop, with my most complete collection of codecs, could preview them in the collections and as clips
on the timeline, but couldn't effectively save movies if the files were included. My new Vista laptop couldn't do any better.
I saw the same as Marco, the estimate to completion rising higher and forever. File conversion is the standard approach when files
We don't learn as much from things that go well and easy as we do from things that don't work. Let's see what we learn from
these. You might find yourself wanting to use Windows Live Recordings someday.
Before getting into them, here are...
a couple notes...
I just installed the full Expression Suite and expect to spend time this winter getting to know it enough
to enhance the appearance of my website, and use Silverlight for things beyond simply playing the same videos I have on my site
Speaking of YouTube, my library training sessions for this school year start again on Oct 17th... with the
first class about putting movies on YouTube.
I'm into another busy period of writing more software reviews for Bright Hub. 4 more of them over the next
.... back to the main topic...
Live Meeting 2007 Recordings
The two files played fine in Windows Media Player, and imported/previewed in Movie Maker 2.1 on XP and MM6 on Vista.
But drag one to the timeline and try to save just the first trimmed minute as a movie, and you never got past the 4% complete
mark... and the estimated time to completion ramps up to forever. It was time to look at them closer.
Checking the file properties with a right mouse click showed:
- one was 13 min, 16 sec, and the other 1 hr, 7 min, 16 sec
- pixel dimensions: 704 x 528
- audio: bitrate of 224kbps, 16 bit sample size, mono, 8 kHz sample rate
- video: 200 kbps data rate, 24 bit sample size, stream name of video 2
They aligned with the properties of the playing file we looked at above.
A checkup with GSpot showed the files were made by the Windows Media Speech codec for audio compression, and
the MSS2 Windows Media 9 Screen Codec for video compression.
Screen captured files are not that unusual. I make them using the same MSS2 codec with the Windows 9 Media Encoder, but somehow
those produced by the Encoder work fine in Movie Maker projects. There must be something different about these coming from the
Live Meeting environment.
The next checkup tool is the Windows Media File Editor
Could it be all they needed was indexing or reindexing?
Simply opening the files with the File Editor and saving them is enough to reindex them. But that by itself wasn't enough to
make the files usable to Movie Maker.
After each step, I'd try again in Movie Maker... trying to save the first minute of the first file to a new file. The 4% mark
was the hurdle I was trying to jump over. No luck with the file indexed.
While in the File Editor I saw all those markers and the script command. Using the File Editor, I removed them all and tried
again. No luck!!
I was trying to use Movie Maker as the conversion tool, and not having any luck.
WMSnoop was next. The properties aligned with what we'd seen with other tools.
What I didn't see in WMSnoop was the typical regular rhythmic beat of keyframes, a usual feature of a video file. Even stories,
with the Image codec, show routinely spaced keyframes.
My guess is Movie Maker needs source video files with keyframes. When not seeing any, it keeps looking and looking.... forever.
It doesn't know what to do without them.
I don't have access to the software code to know what Movie Maker is actually thinking about... it's just like people... you
can see them doing something, but you don't know what they are thinking.
I knew we were needing to do file conversions. Marco had already gotten input from another MVP that the Windows Media Encoder
could do them. I thought of trying the newer Expression Encoder but went with the tried and true Windows Media 9 Encoder.
Windows Media Encoder - File Conversion
Encoder starts with the New Session Wizard asking what you want to do > Convert a file > Select the source file and provide the
folder and name for the output file
At the next step you pick the method of distribution (see the image at the right). At this point none of the choices seem appropriate
as I'm just wanting to make a video file that works in Movie Maker and give it back to Marco. I'm not going to distribute it.
For the highest quality, I opt for File archive.
It really doesn't make a difference which choice you pick at this point. Once the wizard is finished you can tweak the properties
of the session and change anything you want.
In the encoder session properties I opted for a high video bitrate of 5,000 kbps for a high quality output file (the bitrate
of high quality DVDs, more than twice the highest choice in Movie Maker 2.1 unless you use a custom profile or opt for DV-AVI).
I kept the video output file the same pixel size as the inputs... 704x528 pixels.
The videos were Power Point type shows with lots of smaller sized text, the kind of content that can significantly degrade
when converting to movie files at lower bitrates, or recompressing the video to different pixel sizes.
The actual conversions went pretty quick, giving me two new source files for the movie project, ones rendered with a video
codec rather than a screen codec. They'll have keyframes.
Movie Maker Project
The project was the easiest part of the process. Marco knew exactly what he wanted for trim points and arrangement.
Key to saving the movie at an appropriate level of quality is knowing where it's going, something I didn't know. I assumed
it would be either played online using a broadband connection, or downloaded and played locally on a computer. Maybe he'll let
me know after he reads this newsletter.
To keep the size of 704x528, I needed a custom profile. Page 2 of the profile in the Profile Editor shows what I opted for.
- The two original files had low quality mono audio... carried over into the converted source files by the Encoder as high
quality stereo. To save file size in the final output, I went back to mono, at a higher quality than the original... to preserve
whatever quality it had.
- The video size is the same as the originals... 704x528 pixels. It's a standard 4:3 aspect ratio but not of the pixel dimensions
normally used. Again, because of the large amount of small text in the content, I didn't want the text effected by resizing
one direction or the other.
- 15 frames per second is high for a slideshow, but only half of the usual 30 fps for NTSC videos. Using 15 fps saves lots
of file size space and makes the movie easier to render.
- The video bitrate of 500 kbps is only 10% the size of the source files from the Encoder, low enough for smooth playing
on broadband connections, yet high enough for good quality viewing of slideshow content.
Conclusion and Closing... and What's Next?
Thanks to Marco for a good newsletter topic. I didn't have the frustrations of being at his end. These are the usual kinds
of things experienced users of Movie Maker run into all the time.
Next week's topic will be about adding an animation in Movie Maker by bluescreening... the one minute sample file is online.
Here's the link.
Sample Animation Bluescreened
Have a great week!!
I look forward to comments and discussion about this and other newsletters on the forums at:
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About John 'PapaJohn' Buechler from Microsoft.com
||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.
newsletter is republished with permission of John "PapaJohn" Buechler.
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