Photo Story and TMPGEnc
Last week I used
TMPGEnc to help get MPEG-2 files from a DVD into Movie Maker for
editing. The other, perhaps more usual, direction is to use it to create high quality MPEG-2 files from Movie Maker and
PhotoStory projects, for use in DVD authoring and burning software. Let's explore that this week.
with two kinds of wmv files: (1) the short PhotoStory sample file from the main page of my PhotoStory site, and (2) one of
the new wedding video files made with MM2.1. That'll be one rendered with the Media 9 image codec and another with the Media
9 video codec. The only Media 9 video codec we won't use is the one for screen capture.
2.5+ will take the wmv files and render them into high-quality MPEG-2 files for use in DVD software.... I won't take it as
far as I'd like - checking how well the MPEG-2 files work in a MyDVD project. My Toshiba laptop is in the shop... with the
DVD burner and software on it, I'm doing this newsletter on my old Dell laptop with minimal software.
into it more, a few notes about some things going on...
released a new Windows XP Video Decoder Checkup Utility to
help assess MPEG-2 decoders in certain situations. It's a simple app with one window as seen below.
laptop has my most complete set of codecs....I checked 3 other computers and didn't find any MPEG-2 decoder listed by the
utility on 2 of them - the old Dell laptop filling in for the Toshiba and an HP MCE computer. On my Dell desktop, it showed 4
decoders and said none of them are compatible with the new synchronization feature of WMP10 or with MCE software. The new
synchronization feature is the process used by WMP10 to get video files from the computer to a Portable Media Center such as
the Creative Zen I was checking a couple weeks ago.
MPEG-2 Video Decoder Checkup Utility
to download the utility:
has all the info about it.Don't do anything drastic or spend money if your decoder isn't in the list orshows up as not being
compatible. One of the decoders listed above was working fine when I tested the MPEG-2 files created for this newsletter on
the Dell desktop.
menu has two new major branches, one for PhotoStory and another for what I'm calling
I continue to
be intrigued by the synergy between PhotoStory and Movie Maker and want the info about that synergy to unfold in the Movie
Maker website rather than the PhotoStory one.
'Living Projects' branch started with a newsletter reader writing to suggest a newsletter devoted to
the creative aspects of editing a wedding video. As you know, I've been working on a wedding project and looking at some
wedding videography sites for inspiration.... so the topic is timely. I'll do that newsletter next week.
You also know
that I've recently been working on a wedding website. To keep that project and others as they come up to be more visible to
users of the Movie Maker website, I added the branch and access to the wedding website.
aspects of camcorders, computers and software like Movie Maker and PhotoStory are one thing. Creativity and inspiration
when shooting and editing videos are entirely different things. I'm not sure I'm the right person to help you in that area,
but I'll share what I think about it.
about Windows Media hacks was hacked.... the publisher O'Reilly
decided to fold the project rather than finish it. Being just a paid contributor, I'm not close enough to the decision makers
to know or comment on the reasons. When the dust settles, I can take my 14 submitted hacks and use them elsewhere.
On the same
day I receivedword of the cancellation, I submitted the initial draft
of a proposal for another book... this one about Movie Maker and PhotoStory for intermediate to advanced users.
....on to the
topic of the week
From WMV and DV-AVI Files to MPEG-2 DVD Files
Software and Gather Some Sample Files
Rather than just
using the two types of WMV files as inputs to TMPGEnc, I'll get a couple DV-AVI files too. I'll use MM1 to render a DV-AVI
type I file from one of the WMVs, and MM2.1 to render a DV-AVI type II from the other. That'll give me 4 files to process
through TMPGEnc, 2 types of WMV and 2 types of DV-AVI.
My Dell laptop is
pretty bare, so I had to round up some software and files to work on the newsletter. I copied the sample PhotoStory and a WMV
file made by MM2.1, downloaded and installed the latest version of TMPGEnc 2.5+, and copied the MM1 executable. This version
of TMPGEnc is available as a download that is fully functional for 30 days, so if you don't have it and want to follow along
closely, you can get it (less than a 4 MB package) from:
The website says
the newer versions are easier to use then 2.5+. If you are using a different version, your specifics might differ from those
in the mini-tutorial.
The first page of
the TMPGEnc Project Wizard is a great reference about MPEG files. Lots of newsgroups and forum posts ask about the
differences among VCDs, SVCDs and DVDs.... the first page of the wizard provides all the answers. First you select the MPEG
file format you want in the menu at the left.
MPEG files are based on standards.... a necessary thing if you expect to have them play on all the televisions in the
world.... there are two major divisions just as with computers. On TVs there are NTSC versus PAL. On computers we have Macs
If you're in
North America like me or in Japan, select one of the 7 NTSC choices in the menu. If you're anywhere else, select one of the 5
PAL choices. On the right it'll give you a great summary about your choice. I've opted to create high quality MPEG-2 NTSC
The only other
choice on this page is for the audio part of the file. There are 4 choices for DVD quality MPEG-2 files: CBR (constant bit
rate) or VBR (variable bit rate) with Linear PCM or MPEG-1 Layer II (MP2). I'm opting to go with higher quality VBR audio
with Linear PCM.
TMPGEnc Project Wizard - Page 1
My video choice
of NTSC high quality is a 'no-brainer'. I'm in North America, the input files are standard 4:3 aspect ratio, and the short
sample files would easily fit on a DVD.
playing time was needed, the NTSC (Low resolution) choice in the menu would be appropriate. It would sacrifice some video
quality (720x480 pixels versus 352x240) for a longer playing time (up to 155 minutes versus up to 245 minutes.
My audio choice
was driven by the info TMPGEnc gave me when selecting each of the 4 choices. It said VBR was higher quality than CBR.... and
then advised if I selected MP2 that I could get up to 155 minutes on a DVD if my DVD software converted the audio to PCM. It
seemed to suggest that it would be heading to PCM anyway, so why not have TMPGEnc do it during this part of the process?
this the end of the lead-in section of the newsletter.... and the rest of the TMPGEnc wizard the mini-tutorial. That'll be
where the input files get selected, the detailed settings made, and the MPEG-2 files rendered.
Mini-Tutorial: From Movie Maker and PhotoStory through TMPGEnc
I'll do the same
thing with each of the 4 sample files to see if there's any differences in the way TMPGEnc accepts and/or processes them.
Page 2 - Select Source File to Convert to MPEG
The note on page
2 says source files can be dragged and dropped into it. I tried that first and it worked fine for each.
All I had to do
was drag and drop a source file onto the page and the wizard filled
it all in. The only differences I saw with the different files. were that the two WMV files showed as non-interlaced as in
the figure below, while the two DV-AVI files showed as being interlaced with the bottom field first.
TMPGEnc Project Wizard - Page 2
Page 3 - Filter Settings
The page showed
the same options for both WMV and DV-AVI source file.... by default nothing was selected.
TMPGEnc Project Wizard - Page 3
Clicking on the
first item, the source range, takes you to this window.... it's not
just about selecting a range of frames to use for the MPEG-2 file, you can cut parts of the video out, or shift the audio
relative to the video by toggling the audio gap correction value.
Source Range Filter
'Clip frame' option (on the main page 3 window) and it'll open a window
that allows you to clip or crop the video. I have about 6 lines at the bottom of my analog videos that are always out of sync
with the rest of the lines, a normal byproduct of starting with a Hi8 tape.... I can let those lines go through Movie Maker
and crop them off here.
'Noise reduction' option and work on reducing video noise.
'Other Settings' button on page 3 of the wizard takes you to many
more setting choices.... one of which is an audio setting window
where you can do something you can't in Movie Maker. The fade in and out settings of Movie Maker are less than a second. You
can see from the below figures that you can apply fade in and fade out times as long as you want. It defaults to 500
milliseconds but I've changed them to 5000 for 5 second fades.
Other Settings - Audio effect
Page 4 - Bit Rate Setting
Here's the key
page for those who want more video on a DVD than an hour. The figure below shows the page with the default settings when I
opened it. High bit rate means high quality. The default of 8000 kbits/second (close enough) equates to using 1.75% of
standard DVD disc capacity for this sample short movie.
It won't let me
move the bit rate higher than 8000, but it lets me change it to as low as 2000, where it says this video will use 0.65% of
the disc, almost tripling the duration - extrapolating that gets you to about 3 hours on the disc. Remember that back on the
initial page, the info said we could get up to 155 minutes.... here's the key to actually getting it.
might not be appropriate, but if you have some wedding videos that total 1 hour and 10 minutes, it might be more appropriate
to change the bit rate to fit them all on the disc rather than editing them down in Movie Maker or spanning 2 DVD discs.
TMPGEnc Project Wizard - Page 4 - Bit Rate
Page 5 - Output File
We're done with
choosing. Either encode your video now or do a
batch process. I've never done a batch one so I'll try it with these 4
TMPGEnc is pretty
user-friendly. I noticed the other day how much I could continue doing in the foreground as it rendered in the background....
If you're in a
hurry for an MPEG file and have something else to do in the meantime or don't mind being slowed a bit in your other computer
tasks, go into the Task Manager and give TMPGEnc a higher priority.
TMPGEnc Project Wizard - Page 5 - Output File
My first attempt
at running a TMPGEnc batch process didn't work. I didn't go back to
try it again. The files were small so I just rendered each to get my 4 sets of MPEG-2 files (an .m2v for the video and a .wav
for the audio). No problems during the rendering.... and all played fine on my desktop computer with WMP10.
That's as far as
this one goes. Some closing remarks:
fun... never knowing what hurdles I'll bump into as I do a newsletter. And
this one being done totally on my minimalist Dell laptop: 265 MHz CPU, 144 MB RAM, 4 GB hard drive with 1.3 GB free.
I make few
DVDs and don't usually get into the nooks and crannies of TMPGEnc, so the newsletter was a good opportunity to explore some
areas I hadn't.
There was one
crash of TMPGEnc. When I was jogging around the settings pretty quickly with a WMV source file. The event
viewer showed the crash was associated with ntdll.dll. But it was the only crash of an app on this computer in the past 5
days, didn't occur again, and didn't seem significant.
software on my Toshiba is MyDVD.... it does a great job but has minimal choices in settings. If nothing else, you can see
from this newsletter that the side road to MyDVD via TMPGEnc provides more than enough opportunities to make changes after
saving a movie or PhotoStory, and before authoring the DVD.
TMPGEnc has a
high reputation for quality... it's a valuable tool at a very fair price.
Toshiba in the shop I couldn't feed them to MyDVD for a DVD project. I'm confident they would have worked fine if it was
here. I have yet to have a problem making and burning a DVD with it.
A side note
for PhotoStory... I tried using one of the .wav files from this TMPGEnc process as background music for a story. I got an
error message saying that .wav files can't be higher than 44.1 Khz in sampling frequency.... checking the properties of the
.wav files shows they are 48 Khz.At least the rejection came with an appropriate error message that explained it.
I look forward to comments and discussion about this and other
newsletters on the forums at:
Have a great
Movie Maker 2 -
Photo Story 2 -
Products and Services
I'm involved in
many things that support users of Movie Maker and PhotoStory, and adding more daily. Here's a list of what is available to
the public. Some are free and others are reasonably priced.
Movie Maker 2 -
Do Amazing Things (with its online companion on
Movie Maker 2
- Zero to Hero (with support on the Friends of Ed forum at
these books or anything else from Amazon, I'd appreciate you using the links on the main page of
I get some income from Amazon that way, and it doesn't cost you any more. It'll help keep most of my services free.
Movie Maker 2 -
www.papajohn.org - two goals: to help you solve problems, and to be the
online companion to the Do Amazing Things book... and currently thinking of another goal of movie making and editing styles.
PhotoStory 2 -
a full tutorial about using it. It's not a problem-solving site.
Online Support - Forums, Channels and Newsgroups
regular on many online forums and newsgroups, the main ones being:
Movie Maker 2
and PhotoStory 2 forums at
Movie Maker 2
forum at SimplyDV.com
Movie Maker newsgroup at microsoft.public.windowsxp.moviemaker
are covered at microsoft.public.plus
Maker 2/PhotoStory 2 newsletter. Subscribing is free via the link on the main page of
Tentative topics for upcoming newsletters (subject to change):
#21 - Editing
Wedding Videos.... as requested by a reader. It fits with the wedding website I'm working on, but will be one of my few
ventures into discussing the artistic side of making movies. it's a great topic, so I'll give it a try.
#22 - Another
in the series of primers about utilities used in conjunction with Movie Maker and PhotoStory. I don't know which one yet.
#23 - (Open -
do you have any requests?)
Older newsletters are archived by Rob Morris at:
Transition Maker 2 (TM2) - a utility to make the ultimate in
personal and custom transitions for Movie Maker 2:
TM2 is a joint
effort by Patrick Leabo, the programmer, and myself.
routinely beta test the Pixelan packages and think very highly of
their people and products: Their SpiceFX packages of additional transitions and effects for Movie Maker 2 are available at:
If you can't save a movie because your
project has become too complex, e-mail it to me and I'll divide
it into manageable sub-projects for you, and provide detailed instructions to render the parts and assemble them into your
final movie. $49.95 - for details, see the sidebar on the Problem Solving > Can't Save a Movie page of
Movie Maker 2/Photo Story 2 training
and support services start at $50 per hour - email me at PapaJohn@CharterMi.net and
I'll help you determine your needs, and work with you to plan and implement them.
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
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.