Microsoft Virtual Earth
The Virtual Earth group is running a video contest. Here's the link Rob posted on his forums which sucked me in... and led
to this newsletter topic.
submitted my entry and wrote this issue as I went... it ended up as a 4-1/2 minute flick about Summer Fun in Chicago. I rendered
for MSN Soapbox at a higher quality
and for YouTube using my custom profile that aligns with the Flash file it creates
The project includes 4 special video clips made from Microsoft's Virtual Earth, the subject of the week.
Before getting into it, here are...
a few notes...
Support Space is gearing up to do its QA test phase
of Vista support software... I'll be helping by testing from my Ultimate and Home Basic systems.
The first conference call with BrightHub was very
positive from both sides, BrightHub staff and contributing writers.
Frank Delaney produces Raw Bytes Computer News, a radio show broadcast from K PBX FM 91.1 Spokane, Washington
Public Radio NPR.
He kicked off a new project about Movie Maker and I'm helping with what I can... first by adding this website page to my site...
The page has an embedded video, a takeoff on the contest entry... substituting two of Frank's personal guitar strumming and folk
tune singing sessions... one of his passions. Click on the picture of Frank above to see and hear more of him on YouTube.
The embedded video is on my website, at a higher quality than the contest submittals on YouTube and MSN Soapbox.
Here's a sideline note about Movie Maker 2.1, something I found when working on my latest project... a 4-1/2 minute flick about
Chicago. Source files were DV-AVI files, about 6 WMA music files, and a WMV Photo Story. The project and source files were on
an external USB drive.
My laptop's Tools > Options > compatibility tab codec/filter list had 62 line items. By default all but one or two were checked,
which lets the unchecked ones 'work with' with Movie Maker.
- With the default settings it took a full 4 minutes to open the project file
- With all line items unchecked it took 5 seconds to open... and project editing worked snappier and fine
This sets the stage for a change in my routine use of Movie Maker
- I tend to let software work with its defaults until I have an issue to resolve or a specific setting to change... so 60
codecs were allowed to interface.
- I'm now going to leave all the line items unchecked and turn them on one at a time as needed... such as the ffdshow codec
to be able to use Motion JPEG video files.
It makes me wonder what's happening during the project opening. Why with the 60 codecs checked does it take so long? More to
.... back to the main topic...
Why is Virtual Earth better than Google Earth or Nasa's World Wind?
For me, it's because the images of the U.S. cities are more complete and up to date. When I last compared all three, Virtual
Earth was the only one that showed Chicago's big stainless steel 'Bean'.
Here's the link to Virtual Earth. You'll need to log in (free) to turn on all the features.
Once open it's a quick thing to zooming into anyplace in the world. Chicago is the biggest nearest one to me, a 2 hour each
way day trip that we make often.
Turn on 3D and opt for Hybrid, a combo of computer graphics and real life pictures. Tilt the viewing angle using the second
up control at the bottom-left... and navigate using the East/West/North/South navigation control at the upper left. This view
of Chicago is from Lake Michigan looking west, at the Navy Pier level.
You can do all that without logging in.
To create a collection, and save/record a 3D virtual tour, keep going.
Creating a Collection
Move around the globe and add pushpins to your favorite places. Name them as you go and it'll add them to your collection.
Save the collection to turn on the Tour in 3D option in the drop down list of actions.
The collection is saved to an online Virtual Earth server so you can open it from a different computer.
For these screen shots I made a new collection with just 3 pushpins and saved it to a collection named 'Chicago'. Once your
collection is saved, you have the option of recording it.
Recording a 3D Tour
When you open a saved collection, touring in 3D lets you select any of the pushpins and the monitor will take you to it. You
can also opt to press the red button which will record the full tour starting with the pushpin you're at.
Press the red record button, select the folder and give it a file name for the wmv.
Recording in progress... >> completed.
Looking at the wmv file shows it with a healthy 800kbps video data rate, with pixel dimensions of standard aspect ratio
640x480. It's a wmv video file that works great as a source file in Movie Maker.
Beyond the Recorded 3D Tour
The 3D tour recordings are great. But they remind me a bit of the AutoMovie feature of Movie Maker in that you get to pick
the source material but it gets to do the editing. And it's a standard aspect ratio video that doesn't align with my personal
video footage of Chicago in recent years, mostly shot widescreen.
Your choices are many... crop the standard 3D tours to make widescreen clips... crop the widescreen camcorder scenes to make
them standard.... do a screen recording of the 3D tour using the Windows Media Encoder... or whatever else works. What you do
will depend on the specific project.
For this project I put my camcorder on a tripod and recorded some widescreen scenes of Virtual Earth on my laptop. I zoomed
into part of the screen and left the camcorder running as I manned the navigation controls. That got me the clips for the quicker
For the final scene where the movement along the shore of Lake Michigan is slower and more evenly paced, I turned to Photo
Story 3. With 3 screen shots of Virtual Earth (using IrfanView), I stitched them into a panoramic picture using Microsoft Paint,
distorted the panoramic image to align with the size need for a widescreen story (multiply the picture height in IrfanView by
133%), made the story with the movement changing directions to go out to the end of Navy Pier, and saved the story using one of
my custom widescreen profiles.
Movie Maker Project
The project was made and rendered as a single pass project. Running down the tracks and the clips on them, here are some notes.
Video - first half of the project
- the first clip has an Adorage frame effect and 3 shots of the Ease In effect. You can use as many as 6 effects on each
- the first of the Virtual Earth clips is tucked between two clips, overlapping the 3 clips as much as possible... two-blocking
the two clips of the group of 5 planes with the quick diving into Chicago clip between. I split the 5 planes clip and put
the city scene between, so the two-blocking of the two split parts makes for a continuous scene fading out and in, and maintaining
the audio through the two split parts.
- the Apache helicopter had it's spot-light on, so it begged for the Pixelan spot-light soft pan effects on the city scenes,
making it appear that the chopper was overhead. The audio through the scene adds to the illusion.
- I added the 'Film Look 05 Bronze' Pixelan effect to the clips of the Apache chopper and the city fly-over clips... another
step of integrating the separate clips to help with the illusion.
Audio - six WMA files for music... along with a copy of the Helicopter-5 (my clip name) DV-AVI clip for sound effects during
Title Overlays - nothing special except for mis-spelling the word Millennium... that'll teach me to cross-check spelling using
a random Chicago website rather than a more official one, or a dictionary. The same font, Miriam Fixed, is used in all of the
title overlay clips. I work on the font with the first overlay, and then copy/paste it through the rest of the project so there's
easy continuity of style through all the text clips.
[Click to enlarge]
Video - second half of the project
- the boat on the Chicago River has an Adorage effect on it... postcard-like with flowers
- the long fireworks clip had an Army stunt parachutist clip overlapping it as far as I could make it go, with the Persian
- Chroma Blue transition applied so it's a 'blue-screened' effect. The day of the airshow when I videod the parachutist
was totally sunny and clear, making for a perfect blue background. I fade both the background and foreground clips to black
to prevent that last flash of blueness due to not being able to totally overlap clips.
- the final longer city view clip with another 'blue-screened' clip of the parachutist is the Photo Story I mentioned above...
a good chance to see Movie Maker's 'bluescreening' in action.
[Click to enlarge]
Conclusion and Closing... and What's Next?
Comments on the video have been super positive. We'll see if it's good enough to win a Zune in the Virtual Earth contest.
Virtual Earth is great!!! I'm hoping the contest is showing by example that the rules and regulations allow such personal use
of clips made from it as a routine thing, so we can plan on it being a long-term resource. Any vacation project can be accented
by a scene or two from Virtual Earth.
Have a great week!!
I look forward to comments and discussion about this and other newsletters on the forums at:
Movie Maker, Photo Story 3, DVD Maker, Expression Media -
Photo Story 2 - www.papajohn.org/PhotoStory2/PS.html
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.
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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.
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.
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