Video Effects and Transitions
Last week I finished the tutorial for MaximumPC's special
winter edition. It's being printed and heading for bookstands December 7th. The most
significant editorial comment about my first submittal of the sample movie was ".... that's
pretty good, but can you add some of those special effects and transitions?....". With that
comment and the posts I see daily, it's obvious everyone loves special transitions and effects.
Let's explore them a bit.
films and books about making them say they should flow along smoothly using simple cuts between
clips, nut using special transitions. I go to the movies every week and check, and yes...
there's mostly an absence of special transitions... but it's hard to find a 5 minute
stretch without seeing some kind of CGA (Computer Graphics Animation) - special effects.
From another perspective, those getting into home
movies from slide-shows like Power Point
are so used to having a different transition between each pair of clips that they overdo it.
Maybe TV productions fit this mold too. I just got off the treadmill, watching
CNBC and checking it for... effects and
transitions. They use a different one about every second during the show, and the commercials
use them even more often. Must be a back room full of ex-Power Point slide people.
We're not making Hollywood films, so I'll stop
discouraging people from using all these neat things, and help them figure out how and when best
to... whatever you use, they should be professional quality items, well selected and
appropriately used. Fortunately for Movie Maker users, most of what's available
today are professionally made.
In this newsletter I'll review the current state
of transitions and effects for Movie Maker 2. It's an evolving, growing area...
... before getting into them, a few notes about some
things going on...
• This is the first issue for regular subscribers
only. Thanks again for making the decision to keep going with it (and to some new subscribers
who waited until it wasn't free to being subscribing).
My latest rule of thumb for posting copies to the
archives for free access is the Issue Date + 6 weeks. That'll place this one online
about Christmas day.... that's the kind of lag there will be.
• I mentioned last week that Sonic's MyDVD
4.5 accepts wmv files from Photo Story 2, but not from Photo Story 3, while MyDVD 6 accepts
files from both versions. I got this response from Sonic's tech support:
".... I've downloaded Photo Story 3 and took a look
at it and the way it deals with its files. It seems to make slideshows just like Movie Maker. It
exports all videos out as WMV files. While we support this format, it's usually not the most
compatible format. To get the best results in importing into any version of MyDVD, you should
convert it to DV-AVI in Movie Maker 2.
I recommend you download Movie Maker 2 through windows Update and then use the DV-AVI (NTSC)
codec when you save the file. To do this, once you've captured the file and it's opened in
Windows Movie Maker, go to File, Save Movie File, Select My Computer and press Next, select the
name of the file and its location and press Next, now press Show More Choices... Select Other
settings and scroll down to DV-AVI (NTSC). This is the fully compatible format with MyDVD and
it's best to use when importing movies or slideshows of pictures...."
Users of MyDVD 4.5 shouldn't expect a patch from
Sonic.... and there's another linkage item between PS3 and MM2.
• The new branch of the website for Photo Story 3 is
almost complete... it has 6 of the 7 planned pages completed, with only the last one about
Saving and Distributing to go. I've learned a lot about PS3 by putting the pages together.
....on to the
topic of the week
Movie Maker 2 - Video Effects and Transitions
When my laptop left for repair the other month, it
had a full collection of add-on video effects and transitions, running in the Windows XP SP1
environment. When it came back, it had none of them, and I'm in the SP2 environment and adding
the packages back on.... and more. The Adorage package came along since then.
Here's a tally of the effects and
transitions available today, all with links on the Setup > Other Software page of the site. The
number code* in brackets corresponds to what I consider the minimum skill or interest level you
should have when considering the packages:
The numbers of effects and transitions in this short
list are those currently on my laptop - 256 effects and 400 transitions:
- (1) The basic
effects and transitions included in Movie Maker 2 - 28 effects / 44
- (1) Microsoft's
Winter Fun Pack 2003 - 1 effect / 2 transitions
- (1) Microsoft's Plus!
Digital Media Edition - 25 effects / 25 transitions
Pixelan SpiceFX Packs - 150 effects / 204 transitions
- (2) Rehan's
Pan/Zoom pack - 27 effects
- (2) Patrick
Leobo's Transition Maker 2 - unlimited possible transitions - I'm using
- (1) ProDad's
Adorage Moviemaker package - 16 effects / 97 transitions
- (3) the Do It
Yourself approach with hooks into Movie Maker 2, encouraged by Microsoft - unlimited
possibilities - 9 effects / 5 transitions on my laptop
I'll go through a couple overall items, and then
take a look at each package.
*There's something here for everyone - the code
for skill or interest level is (1) casual user, (2) power user, (3) hacker, (4) geek and (5)
How Do Effects and Transitions Work?
Without getting into technical details, Movie Maker
2 includes some DLLs that provide the underlying features that make them work.
Movie Maker also checks two subfolders each
time it starts up, the 1033\AddOnTFX and the Shared\AddOnTFX. It loads any additional
transitions and effects found there, taking direction from XML files found in them. Adorage
takes a slightly different approach to where it puts its AddOnTFX folder... more later.
Some of the added transitions also use masks (still
images like JPGs), also stored in the folders or subfolders.
Take a look into one of the XML files on my laptop,
this one used to provide a transparency effect based on a specific color.... you might have seen
the 'Peppermint Patti' clip on my site. This is the XML file I used to achieve its
Picture-in-Picture effect. It has a long but descriptive name:
Transparent - Do Amazing Things Orange R230 G147
We won't go into the technical details of how Movie
Maker reads the XML file and executes what it says. Suffice it to say that the XML file contains
the variables that tell Movie Maker what to do.
.... I'd like to touch on two potential
issues when using add-on effects and transitions. What happens if a special XML
or DLL is missing when you re-render a movie using a project file that used it? And what impact
is there on memory usage if you collect all the add-ons that become available?
Missing effects or transitions
You know the sign of a missing source file... a
in the project. What are the symptoms of a missing add-on effect or transition?
- The core
transitions and effects included with Movie Maker 2 are always there, and always on other
computers you might move your project to. Add-on transitions might be installed on one
computer only. And you might remove the package someday for any number of reasons, such as
when my laptop went to the shop for a new hard drive and came back without the add-ons.
- How do you know
which transition or effect was used in a project? Both the timeline and storyboard views of
a project tell you the name of the transition with a tool-tip when you linger over it. The
timeline has a separate track for transitions, and the name of the transition shows
just like a clip name.
- A clip's
properties includes the path and file name for the source file, so it's easy to know what
clip is missing. With transitions, you'll see the name of the transition but not the path
and file that it came from. It might have been from an XML file or a DLL, under a Movie
Maker subfolder or someplace else. With effects, their names don't show on the timeline,
but you can drill down into a clip to check the names of the effects used.
- If you open a
project and an add-on transition or effect isn't currently installed, how do you know it's
missing? In the storyboard view, you'll have a big red X for a missing transition file like
you do for clips, but you don't have any clue that an effect is missing. In the timeline
view you don't have any clues at all about a missing effect or transition. The first
sign might be a strange looking spot on your newly rendered movie.
With a complex project, you can run into
memory issues when editing or rendering. How much memory is needed to support a lot of extra
effects and transitions just in case you want one? I checked my laptop's memory when a small
project was open and there were 656 extra transitions and effects. I toggled the extras on and
off to see the change in memory usage.
Can you save memory by toggling the extras off and
on without uninstalling and reinstalling? Yes, here's what I found.
- The task manager
said Movie Maker was using 56,612K of memory with the small project open and my 656
extras available.... if I close MM2 and rename the AddOnTFX subfolder to AddOnTFX_ (just
adding an underscore to the end of the folder name effectively cuts them off from Movie
Maker). When I reopened MM2 (with the same small project open... the memory used was
25,868K.... I cycled it again as a second check - 56,660K when the AddOnTFX folder
is available and 25,864K when it's not. But the Adorage extras were not turned off by the
toggling of this folder - they still showed in the collections...
- I found a
similar key to toggling the Adorage extras - rename the c:\Documents and
Settings\User\Application Data\Microsoft\Movie Maker\AddOnTFX folder... but there wasn't any
further memory gain by doing it. The Adorage process seems more memory efficient, maybe just
because it doesn't use a unique thumbnail figure for each item.
By turning off about 530 of the add-on effects and
transitions (all the extras except Adorage) I saved 30,000K of memory usage (30 MB), an average
of 57 KB of memory per extra item.
As you build your library of add-ons, you'll have to
balance the memory needed to have them available if and when needed, versus applying the memory
to your project and rendering. Wait until you bump into a memory-related issue, and then decide.
Movie Maker 2
- comes with 28 effects and 60 transitions... you can't turn them off, nor would you want to.
Use and enjoy them, and when you want more, here are the packages currently available:
Winter Fun Pack 2003 - has a few fun ones for winter scenes. Easy to use for
beginners and all.
It's a hefty 14.82 MB download that includes 1
effect and 2 transitions (made for Microsoft by Pixelan). A big download and install for just
the 3, but it's free and there's more in the package.... music transitions, sound effects, video
animations, etc. It's almost winter again so they may come in handy soon.
Installing it adds a FunPackFX DLL and XML files in
the Shared\AddOnTFX sub-folder for one video effect (Snowflakes) and 2 video transitions (Snow
Burst and Snow Wipe).
It also creates a new c:\Documents and Settings\User
Name\My Documents\My Videos\Windows XP Fun Pack\Winter 2003 folder, with 4 sub-folders
containing 7 'WMA Music Tracks and Music Transitions', 10 JPG 'Pictures', 92 WMA 'Sound
Effects', and 8 WMV 'Video Animations'. To use the clips in Movie Maker, import them into your
collections as usual.
Plus! Digital Media Edition - a $19.95 retail package... available for less in
various places. Another package easy to install and use.
The Pack includes, among other things, 25 video
effects & 25 transitions. After installation, they appear in the collections with those that
came with MM2.
The effects are mostly about colors and textures,
and the transitions are take-offs on basic wipes.... all are well done.
Pixelan SpiceFX Packs - these are also easy to install and use. I think Pixelan packages have the
best look and feel for the novice and intermediate users. Each of their effects and transitions
is professionally done and fits comfortably into the Movie Maker user interface.
I do some beta testing for Pixelan and think
highly of their people and work.
Downloading a demo package requires a minimal
registration, followed by the download link provided in a Pixelan email. The demo download file
is 2.2 MB.... here's an extract from the Welcome info that pops up after installing it.
"Pixélan Software’s SpiceFX Packs™ add nearly 400
fresh transitions and effects to Microsoft® Movie Maker®, enhancing your editing power and
creative flexibility. Eight SpiceFX Packs are available:
· Pack T1: SoftFX™ -- 35 ultra-soft, subtle 'directional' dissolves, a great alternative to regular fades/dissolves. Tie transitions
seamlessly to your subject, action, or theme -- for a terrific "pro" touch.
· Pack T2: PipFX™ -- 54 professional PIP (picture-in-picture) transitions, allowing you to fly clips in or out of the scene, hold
them, softly slide in or away, or zoom in/out effortlessly. Great for many projects.
· Pack T3: CoolFX™ -- 43 cutting-edge transitions, such as organic fire-like effects, beautiful irises, bands and reveals -- all
with soft, seamless edges. Ideal for videos of family, events, music, or sports.
· Pack T4: EnergyFX™ -- 36 'natural' transitions that use wind, gravity, or other organic progressions to reveal the next scene.
Especially handy when you desire an eyecatching transition that looks "real".
· Pack T5: Particles -- 44 exciting particle-effect transitions as sophisticated as those made by the highest-end visual effect
systems. Includes bursts, page curls, drops, spills, spins and trails.
· Pack E1: Correction Effects -- 41
valuable 'fix-it' effects to solve common
video problems. Color-correct clips that are too 'hot', cool/blue, or not 'white balanced' from
your camcorder. Adjust contrast. Add a creative tint. Crop the frame. Or apply a progressive
blur for a soft, dreamy look.
· Pack E2: Pan / Zoom Effects -- 67
pan/zoom moves within any image -- just like
in Microsoft Photo Story. Zoom in tighter to your subject, hold as long as desired, pan with
your subject's movement, then zoom back out to full screen. Or any combination you desire. These
effects will greatly extend the versatility of your shots.
· Pack E3: Border/Frame Effects -- 40
terrific ways to accent or highlight your
subject within the scene, using borders, frames and other visual accents. Many simple, elegant
shapes and looks are included, with standard, organic, soft, shadowed, and other variations. A
great way to add a unique custom touch to special scenes.
If you purchase all eight Packs, you also get dozens
of additional bonus transitions and effects."
I saw a post at SimplyDV the other day from someone
who needed to download an updated version of a Pixelan package because of an SP2 related issue.
I asked Pixelan about it and got this response:
"... It was just a registry key issue that SP2
introduced.... basically our
older download was looking for "Movie Maker 2" to check if it was
installed, and was not able to see "Movie Maker 2.1" in the registry as
proving that. An easy fix..."
Rehan's Movie Maker Corner - Pan Zoom Effects - Rehan is an ace
programmer (and more) who has studied the Microsoft info about how to customize transitions and
effects more than anyone else I know. He shares his knowledge on the forums and newsgroups. His
His Pan Zoom Effects can be installed to a different
drive and folder, a nice flexible feature, and one of the exceptions to the rule about the
subfolders that add-on packages go into.
The demo version of his Pan/Zoom effects
package has a 15 day full-use trial period....
The DLL in the e drive works with the rehanpz.xml
file in the Shared\AddOnTFX subfolder of Movie Maker. Info on Rehan's website tells you how to
tweak the XML file to customize the panning and zooming. Tweaking XML files is easy for some,
but it makes his package appeal more to advanced users.
Transition Maker 2... is a project that I've
personally been involved with since its early days. Like Rehan, Patrick is a
top-notch programmer who loves exploring custom transitions. His software is unique in how it
works with Movie Maker. You use the utility on the sidelines until you're ready to roll the
transitions out to Movie Maker, what Patrick calls 'publishing'.
Develop as many custom packages as you want, with 1
to 32 transitions in each, complete with custom thumbnails for the collection.
When ready with a pack of transitions, having
developed them on the sidelines using TM2, you tell the software to 'publish' a pack. it takes
care of the masks, the XML files, the DLLs and anything else needed. putting them all into
appropriate folders. They are automatically detected by MM2 when it starts up and the thumbnails
are in the transitions collection available for your projects.
After using the transitions in a project, you can 'unpublish'
the package and keep it on the sidelines until needed for another project. Your can keep your
personal transition packages in your TM2 library rather than in Movie Maker's subfolders.
Patrick and I sell Transition Maker 2 at:
There's a 7 day full use trial period, a 9 MB
You can install TM2 to any drive and folder. It
provides the ability to make unlimited customized transitions, just a bit beyond the skills of
Adorage Moviemaker package - ProDAD's package is the newest to come along, and most users haven't seen it
yet. I just finished exploring it myself, finding the user interface (thumbnails in the
collections) looking amateurish, but once you get to see the add-ons themselves, you find them
professionally developed and a real asset to any library. The main Adorage site is:
The main page of their site is a little confusing,
only because their support of Movie Maker 2 is so new. It lists 7 video editing apps supported,
and Movie Maker 2 isn't one of them. I was cautious, as usual, and made a couple posts advising
people to be sure it'd work in MM2 before purchasing it... since then I've tested them and know
You have to go beyond the appearance of the
thumbnails in the collections to really appreciate these items. Here's a couple demo
videos... once you see what they do, the thumbnail graphics will be of less importance.
I made a demo video for the effects, and another for
transitions. The effects use some of my footage from the 4th of July fireworks in Chicago,
and the transitions use two short widescreen clips of Jerome, Arizona from April. These links
are also on my Setup > Other Software page.
The Adorage website says there are over 100 effects. It means the combination of effects and
transitions.... there are 16 effects and 97 transitions.
Adorage has been around for a while,
having developed over 8,000 transitions and effects for the 7 or 8 video editing apps they
I went from a skeptic at first to now working
with them to develop another followup package for Movie Maker 2.
... here's a direct link to purchase the current
package ($24.95 USD):
And then there's the Do
It Yourself approach, with hooks into Movie Maker 2. It's encouraged by
Microsoft and described in this lengthy online web page:
The hackers, geeks and programmers who explore this
approach hang out on the 'Share Your Transitions and Effects' forum at:
Jumping into this area will provide more hours of
fun than the new Halo 2.
They're here to stay.... don't just collect them
without using them. And don't use them on and between every clip.
Use them appropriately and creatively. Add something
positive to your movies. If the scene itself is great, let it carry the show without them.... or
add just a few extras to take it even further.
MaximumPC was right... I liked the special edition
of the video I made for the article better after adding a few transitions and effects.... so did
I look forward to comments and discussion about
this and other newsletters on the forums at:
Have a great week...
Movie Maker 2 -
Photo Story 2 -
Photo Story 3 - a branch of -
Products and Services
I'm 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 priced.
Books and Magazines:
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
MaximumPC's winter quarterly special -
tutorial 'Make a Killer Flick with Movie Maker 2'. It'll hit newsstands on December 7th and be
there for 3 months.
Movie Maker 2 -
www.papajohn.org - 3 goals: to help
you solve problems, be the online companion to the Do Amazing Things book, and provide a
detailed tutorial for using Photo Story 3.
PhotoStory 2 -
a full tutorial about using it. It's not a problem-solving site.
PhotoStory 3 -
www.papajohn.org - there's a
new major branch at the bottom of it, which is now just one page away from being completed.
Online Support - Forums, Channels and Newsgroups
I'm a 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
Windows XP Movie Maker newsgroup at
Photo Story 2 newsgroup microsoft.public.plus
Photo Story 3 newsgroup microsoft.public.windowsxp.photos
Movie Maker 2/PhotoStory 2 newsletter. The annual
subscription 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):
#28 - from a subscriber
"A topic that would be of interest to me is how to
incorporate this work into online personal websites/blogs
or hosted sites that present stills and
best way to save, best sizes
etc..........things to consider in selecting the material that presents best on these kind of
I would like one place to share with friends and family but want to only make one slide
show/movie that I can also use at home on my DVD players and PC's"
#29 - Follow-up issue about Photo Story 3... what's
been learned about it since its release a month ago
#30 - open
Older newsletters (those more than 6 weeks old)
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.
I 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:
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.
Wedding website/video packages
start at $2,500 + travel expenses. See
www.jill-mark.papajohn.org for a sample.
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