Special Edition: 'Photo Story 3'
finally happened... the development, beta testing, speculation, and rumor phases are
over... Photo Story 3 was officially announced and
released on Wednesday. The
verdicts are coming in, pros and cons, as you'd expect for anything done by Microsoft. Rave
reviews, some negative comments, and issues we are just beginning to hear about and understand.
For me, the continuing development of Photo Story is why I started my Photo Story website for
version 2, and why I'm folding my version 3 website into a new major branch of my Movie Maker 2
Microsoft expanded the Windows
Genuine Advantage (WGA) Program
and Photo Story 3 is one of 7 additional bonus items for participating. It's a free download for
those who opt into the program. If you don't already have it, go get it. Here's the download
is being used by Microsoft as part of its effort to combat software piracy and create a better
experience for users of genuine Microsoft Windows software. The bottom line is that, if you have
a legitimate copy of Windows XP, you can download a free copy of Photo Story 3. I already had a
copy but wanted to check the normal process to get it; I did that Wednesday afternoon and let it
install over my previous setup. All went well.
The tricky part for me was finding the Windows XP key... it's a 3 strikes and you're out
process. I made it after taking 2 strikes. My Toshiba laptop came with a Toshiba DVD, not
a Windows XP disc. I ran a Belarc report, which includes keys for installed software... I messed
up on my first attempt to enter all 25 characters right - strike 1. I found a typo and tried
again - strike 2 and I didn't know why. Is it because my laptop recently went out and came
back with a new hard drive, with a ghosted image from someplace other than what was on it
originally? With one strike left, I found a Windows XP sticker on the bottom of the laptop with
a different key, and it worked. That got me to the download package and the installation.
been playing with PS3 a good bit, and I like to illustrate things with
Here are a few. Two were made with Photo Story 3 and two are combo projects, using both Photo
Story 3 and Movie Maker 2. I both apps, but I'm particularly intrigued by what you can do when
you use the best of each and work them together, doing things not possible with one of them
Sample - Hilarie's owl Echo is one of the
pictures in the sample story on the main page of my Photo Story 2 website. I used the same
picture in this one for the new PS3 main page. There's a full description on the
website about how it was made.
Sample - Here's a sample with background
music, two generated by Photo Story for the starting and ending pictures, and the audio from
my sunset video tape that I took with the pictures. For this one, I started with a video
clip of a sunset, extracted selected frames and put them into PS3 with one second durations.
It looks like a video clip in it, but Photo Story can't use video clips as source
files. It's limited to still pictures.
Sample - This one starts with the first
story of Echo, and brings it into Movie Maker 2 to add some spice (clips from captured WMP visualizations, audio
from Pinnacle's Studio 8, and some text).
PS3/MM2 Sample - This last example is
another combo, using 2 photo stories, and then mixing them together in Movie Maker.
Each story uses a single really high resolution image of 7,200 x 7,200 pixels (52 megapixel).
In Movie Maker, I overlapped the two 3-minute stories, and added text and music. It demos
how Photo Story handles pictures with that resolution. The fashing frames??? They aren't
intentional. I believe they occur where the two stories start or end their overlapping in
Movie Maker.... I'll be checking it further.
Story 3 starts with this
Photo Story 3 Welcome Window
this newsletter, I'll explore the new version a bit. There won't be a mini-tutorial, just an
overview.... with some details of course.
Before getting into it more, a few notes about some things going on...
• Another routine notice about the change from a free newsletter subscription to a paid one.
I'll carry this notice one last time next week, in the last of the free subscription issues.
Next Week's Issue #26 will be
the end of the free subscriptions. See the main page of my
www.papajohn.org website to continue beyond that.
paid subscription is for 52 issues, not a calendar year... those subscribing before issue #27
will receive 52 issues after #26. Subscriptions after that will get 52 issues.
you'd rather send a check instead of using PayPal, send an email and I'll return it with my real
name and address.
• Another day, another couple deadlines. Besides the weekly newsletter tonight, today was the
deadline for my final submittal of an article for
quarterly special. I submitted the 176 MB zipped file for the CD to be included earlier this
week. It'll be a 5 or 6 page tutorial titled
a Killer Flick with Movie Maker 2'.
The issue will be on newsstands December 7th and be there for 3 months.
was asked to checkout the proDAD Adorage package for Movie Maker 2, which I'll start doing this
weekend. it's a package of special effects.
....on to the
topic of the week
Photo Story 3 - Overview
a word, the new version of Photo Story is fantastic.
It's moved from a slide show app tucked in with a pack of utilities for $20 to a main feature,
right up there with Movie Maker as high-end free software. :)
a hard time getting those interested in developing high end slide-shows to use Photo Story 2.
When they tried it and also Movie Maker 2, they decided to keep going with Movie Maker 2 -
mainly to use the special transitions. I expect this bias to change with Photo Story 3. Here are
some highlights of the new version:
- The limit of 150
pictures was raised to 300.
- The limit
(bug) of a 300 MB project file size has been resolved.
- Photo Story 3
can enhance your pictures and story with 'levels adjustments', red-eye reduction, image
rotation, automatic removal of black borders, and cropping.
- You can add text
to any or all pictures.
- It handles
panoramic pictures.... a feature I haven't explored yet.
- 48 special
transitions like Movie Maker.
- The best of all
is that custom motion isn't limited to a set of preset choices. You can start exactly where
you want, and end at any other point.
- The option
to create background music or use an external music file... and you can change the option to
start the music at any picture. The limit of one music file for background was removed.
options were expanded to include e-mail attachments, Pocket PCs, Smartphones and Portable
- 14 profiles are
built into it for saving options... from 160x120 to 1024x768 pixels. And you can customize
additional ones using the Profile Editor utility that comes with the Encoder package, the
same one used for Movie Maker profiles.
the welcome window, you import your pictures.... the little icons under the preview monitor are
for levels adjustments, red-eye reduction, rotation by 90 degrees, and editing (rotate or crop,
Auto Fix contrast or color levels or red eye reduction, add special effects - choose from 10
and drop them from your file browser or import via the menu. The other feature on the page is
for removal of black borders.
of the choices take you to other sub-windows.
Next window is for adding text and special effects (the same 10 you can get to on the previous
window). Version 2 was limited to text on the title picture. Version 3 lets you add it to any of
them. If you add text to an image, it's pasted to where you put it, so the text moves with the
picture when you apply motion effects.
Add Text to Any Picture
Choosing Save Project... on any window saves the project file, now with a wp3 extension. The
project file is, like version 2, a compressed file with all the source files for the project
copied into it. With the right utility, you can reach in and copy a file from it.
comes the window to narrate and customize the motion. The narration seems the same as it was
before but the motion feature is much better... it's outstanding!!! I have to show you that
window after this one.
Narrate and Customize Motion
Press the Customize Motion... option under the monitor and go to this working window, where you
can pinpoint the starting and ending position. The picture I'm using in this one is 4072 x 3054
pixels (12 megapixels).
Custom Motion - Starting and Ending Positions
tightest I can go into this picture is 246 x 185 pixels... an area of just over 1/3 of one
percent of the total area of the picture.
a picture of 320x240 pixels, the tightest I can go in is to 19x14 pixels.... again an area of
just over 1/3 of one percent.
I extrapolate that, thinking of rendering to an 800x600 video file and using the tightest
points.... how many megapixels would the starting picture have to be to have the tightest zoom
as 800x600 pixels... so the video is a sharp as it can possibly be when saved at 800x600? A few
calculations shows it's a picture from a 118 megapixel camera (13242 x 8904 pixels). Of course I
had to make one that big and try it.
118 megapixel BMP weighed in at a file size of 354 MB.... and the error message taught me
something. The maximum size of 7200x7200 equates to one from a 52 megapixel camera. That should
do for a while.
Maximum Picture Size Error Message
made a 7200 x 7200 picture and tried it. With black borders, the total was effectively 9600 x
7200 pixels and the tightest zoom I could do was to 579 x 434 pixels.... that would make a
pretty high quality video using the tightest zoom. I tried it, but the rendering was taking so
long I aborted the process abnormally.... more on that later.
second tab in the window provides 48 transitions to pick from, and lets you set the duration
from 0.1 second to as many seconds as the lesser of the two picture durations... extend the
picture duration and you can then extend the transition duration.
final window before rendering is to add background music. Select a file as you did in version 2,
use the new create music feature of version 3 (high quality midi music), or mix them... by
mixing I mean select a different background music file for each image, not overlap the music
Add Background Music
adding music, choose the profile to render with.
profiles are .prx files in the Photo Story 3 for Windows\Profiles\1033 subfolder. As with Movie
Maker 2 profiles, you can create custom ones using the Profile Editor.
can see in the above picture that I made a couple personal ones to be able to create widescreen
16:9 stories. They work well.... but all the work in Photo Story 3 is done on the assumption
you'll be rendering it in normal 4:3 aspect ratio, so you need to think a bit about your input
picture sizes. I'll get into that in another newsletter.
back to some comments about that rendering I started last night, the one I aborted part way
through because it was taking so long. The story was using a single 7200 x 7200 pixel image.
Today I let the render go on, watching CPU, memory and hard drive usage. I learned a couple
My laptop uses a C drive for the operating system and an E drive for other stuff. Photo Story 3
is on the E drive, but there are no options in it to select a folder for temporary files. As
the story was being rendered, I noticed the file wasn't building up where I told it to, so the
data had to be flowing into temporary file(s) first, and then from there to the final one. Where
.... I found them in my C drive, in this folder:
c:\Documents and Settings\User\Local Settings\Temp\PhotoStorySession_\PSPreviewImage_
Files During Rendering
in my C drive where I don't want them. Of course they disappeared as soon as the rendering was
about last nights temporary files when I closed PS3 abnormally? I found them still in
a PSPreviewImage0 folder.... by abnormally shutting it down, they hadn't been cleaned up.
temporary files have interesting names and sizes... more about them another day, after I explore
them a bit. I looked at some of them and my guess is they are key frames made at regular
intervals, using just the pixels from the selected area.
That's enough of an introduction for this newsletter. As always, it gets long and large.
asked Microsoft which newsgroup we should use for Photo Story 3. We'd been using the one for the
Plus pack, but the new version is a stand-alone product. I was told that, at least for now, use:
see you there and in the forums at WindowsMovieMakers. It wouldn't surprise me to see a new one
for Photo Story 3 someday.
feedback about Photo Story 3 is just starting to roll in. What will be the new issues? One item
of note that I learned yesterday, not a new issue, more of a basic limitation when playing photo
stories. The special player to view WMV files on Macs has the Media 9 codecs hard-coded in them.
They don't download from a server in the background as they do for the Windows Media Player. And
the hard coding doesn't include the image codec needed to play photo stories. If you are sending
a story to a friend who uses a Mac, run the story through Movie Maker first and give them the
movie file instead.
interesting issues or limitations will surely come out of the woodwork as time goes by. And I
have a lot more limits to test in it. I'll do another newsletter in about a month and explore
Photo Story 3 some more.
I look forward to comments and discussion
about this and other newsletters on the forums at:
a great week...
Movie Maker 2 -
Photo Story 2 -
Photo Story 3 -
Products and Services
involved in many things that support the 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
Books and Magazines:
Maker 2 - Do Amazing Things (with
its online companion on
Maker 2 - Zero to Hero (with support on the Friends of Ed forum at
MaximumPC's winter quarterly special - tutorial 'Make a Killer Flick with Movie Maker 2'. The
issue will be on newsstands December 7th and be there for 3 months.
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.
PhotoStory 3 -
there's a new major branch at the bottom of it, which is only starting to be rolled out.
Online Support - Forums, Channels and
regular on many online forums and newsgroups, the main ones being:
Maker 2 and PhotoStory 2 forums at
Maker 2 forum at SimplyDV.com
Windows XP Movie Maker newsgroup at
PhotoStory items are covered at
Maker 2/PhotoStory 2 newsletter. The annual subscription fee is $20 and the link to subscribe is
on the main page of my Movie Maker website at:
for upcoming newsletters (always subject to change):
Tutorial about a combo Photo Story 3/Movie Maker 2 project
Open - the first issue to be sent to regular paid subscribers only
Open - the first issue that will be sent only to regular paid subscribers
Follow-up on Photo Story 3... what's been learned about it since its release a month ago
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:
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:
Other fee-based services:
can't save a movie because your project has become
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
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.
Wedding website/video packages
start at $2,500 + travel expenses. See
www.jill-mark.papajohn.org for a
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.
Visit - PapaJohn's Movie Maker 2 and
Photo Story 2 Newsletter Index