AutoMovie + VirtualDub 'Benchmark Testing'
called a few days ago... excited over a new song 'xxxxxx' (I guess it's new!). She thought it would
be great to take a bunch of older pictures of her 3 children and put them into a movie with the
song as the background. She said something like '...you know, just make one of those great movies
you always do....'. and could you also do another one for my friend Debbie or her kids?
one of the hazards of getting half-way good at something like making videos. People start asking
you to do one for them. Can I say no to my daughter? No... Is she discerning enough when it comes
to movie editing for me to make a super effort? No... Could I take a batch of pictures and put them
into a slideshow using Photo Story 3? Yes,... but another option that might be easier and better
is to dig out something I haven't used in a while - AutoMovie.
hazard when making movies is walking the minefield of copyright issues. I'll use that song for my
daughter's private use, but for this newsletter I'll use something else. I don't even want to type
the name of the song or artist.
AutoMovie wasn't as conclusive as I hoped it would be, but I did come across an interesting utility
that comes with VirtualDub that I'll cover also.
... before getting into them,
a few notes about things going
a new link on the Problem Solving checklist to KB88522. It's about "After you update your computer
to Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), the performance of your 1394a or 1394b FireWire
devices may be greatly decreased. A digital camera that uses S400 speed is an example of such
a device. This problem occurs if you connect a 1394a or 1394b FireWire device to a 1394b port. This
problem occurs because Windows XP SP2 changes 1394b ports to S100 speed when you upgrade."
the KB patch on a couple computers... didn't see a difference so far, but it seems like installing
it might help and can't hurt. The KB article was pointed out to me by a newsletter subscriber who
experienced significant performance improvement after applying it.
• The new
Neptune gallery 'PapaJohn
Expert Zone'... that I mentioned last week might not be accessible to non-members. I see it when
I go to the Neptune site on one computer, but not on another. Maybe it's because I'm automatically
logged in. These are the kinds of things I'll be exploring as I put together the new web page after
#16 (about VirtualDub) led to a publisher in the UK contracting me to write the introductory chapter
of a book about Virtual Dub.
It's actually about the world of Virtual Dub as it includes related VDubMod and
usual step for me to go beyond the narrow scope of Movie Maker and Photo Story, but Virtual Dub
is one of the great software apps I've routinely advised users to have in their toolboxes. I included
1/2 page about it in the Do Amazing Things book.
background exploration of VirtualDub for the book led me to the next item, benchmark testing your
hard drive to see how well it can handle video capture.
Virtual Dub - Hard Drive Benchmark Testing
I write the chapter and learn more about Virtual Dub, I'll pass along some items, starting with
setup package for VirtualDub has two executable files in it... the one to run VirtualDub and another
named auxsetup.exe... running it gets you the window shown at the left.
menu with buttons to run Virtual Dub... and other items such as Benchmark
testing your hard drives.
run it and show you what my laptop's performance looks like. You can compare it to yours.
the Benchmark button opens the window at the right... I changed the frame settings (size and frame
rate) to align with DV-AVI (NTSC), and then ran the test of my internal C drive and an external
test for my C drive 'passed' with no dropped frames, and a peak buffer usage of 25 during it.
The C drive
is a 6400 rpm internal drive.
The drive's fast speed (as far as laptops go) was one of my prime reasons for selecting the computer
1-1/2 years ago.
also been using an external drive connected
by a USB2 port... a 7200 rpm drive. I've been pleased with it's performance, but haven't run any
tests to see how an external USB2 drive compares to the internal one.
the first test with 1 dropped frame, with peak buffer usage of 44 (of 50).
done anything special to get ready for the tests... no defrags, didn't close down any apps or disconnect
from the internet, etc. The first test is interesting but not conclusive.
another test utility included... of peak disk performance
my sustained read and write performance for both drives. Looks like the external one wins this round.
just a quick test to get some screen shots for this newsletter...
be using the utilities and testing my setup more as I work on the book.
....on to the tutorial
> AutoMovie page of my site includes a July 03 post by Microsoft about how AutoMovie works.
only one song or audio file. You can either have one song in the folder
(with a batch of video clips), or browse to one in your music folder using the 'select audio or
background music' link on the page where you choose the movie style.
are no songs, the movie will be 3 minutes (a tad longer to add titles). If there aren't enough clips
once automovie edits them down to reach the length of the song - the movie will be shorter than
want to make an AutoMovie of multiple songs, you could do it by selecting a portion of the clips
(say the first 3rd of them) and make an automovie using one song. Then select the next third of
them, and choose another song, and make another automovie. Each time you do this the new automovie
will be added to the end of the current timeline.
And you can put 2 or 3 music tracks on the timeline
with no video, save the movie as a new WMA file, and then use that one for the AutoMovie. That'll
get you the music you want with the video clips mixed throughout.
The info was from a Microsoft employee, posting
to the newsgroup. Let's check it in the tutorial.
AutoMovie tutorial - Making One
Up Clips - Select a collection of images, video clips
and music. I prefer putting them in a new collection.
the same source files used for the 'Dancin Queen' video for the wedding website, and for the MaximumPC
magazine tutorial... they were done by me... I'll take the source files from the CD that's in the
I'll try AutoMovie, using each of the five styles. Here's the Newsletter collection and the source
video source files are the 4+ minutes of footage taken by my analog camcorder, and the 5-1/2 minutes
by my digital one. The GreenandWhiteFireworks and Red-to-RedAndBlack clips are from my library of
recorded iTunes visualizations.
AudioForFireworks is on the magazine CD. I'm not sure AutoMovie will use it... and it didn't.
source files in the collection, all I had to do to create the AutoMovie was select the collection
in the collection tree and then use the main menu > Tools > AutoMovie... > select a style - Flip
and Slide first > Done, edit movie.
AutoMovie decide which clips to use, and how to use them.
by analyzing the music, then the video. After the analysis it lays all the clips on the timeline...
it goes very quickly through them all. Let's see what it decided and compare results to what was
expected... or hoped for.
Audio - the collection has 2 audio files, a short 15 second
one and a 5:23 WMA file, the soundtrack of the dance. AutoMovie uses only one audio file. I was
hoping it would pick the longer one, and it did.
sound track was 5:23 and AutoMovie used only 5:07 of it, stopping short of the last 16 seconds...
I guess 9-1/2 minutes of video footage wasn't enough for it.
from the clips and the audio track conflicted with each other in the movie, so before going on to
the next test I rendered two new source files with the audio muted. It's easier than having to mute
each of the video clips on the timeline manually.
Video - Automovie created clips from the Digital Camcorder
footage first, stringing them together on the timeline. Then it did the clips from the Analog Camcorder
use the Digital one first because it was listed first in the collection? I renamed the Analog one
so it would be listed first, and got the exact same results.... so maybe it used the Digital one
first because it was longer... through all the testing I was trying to understand Automovie's logic,
and in the long run I wasn't successful.
audio in the video files and running it the same way, two things changed.
• the full
5:23 of the audio track was used... so now AutoMovie had enough video to complete the full audio
track... but in most of the remaining tests it used less than the full audio track. Like other things
with Movie Maker, doing something the first time doesn't mean it'll be consistently that way in
• the analog
clips were used first instead of second. They were still strung together, not mixing the digital
and analog ones.
doing the next test, I'll split the 2 big clips in the collection bin and see if they will mingle
together in the movie. I'm hoping to get Automovie to mix the clips.
Movie Maker to automatically create clips in the collection from the two big video files. The digital
file was split into 27 clips, and the analog one also ended up at 27, purely coincidental.
smaller clips instead of 2 big ones, and the clips sorted by name in the collection (analogs before
digitals) the same AutoMovie choice resulted in using 5:07 of the audio file. The analog clips all
came before the digital and the clips were used in sequence from 1 to 27 with some of them used
more than once and some not used.
the other 4 styles and see if and how they differ:
style was about the same: 5:12 of audio and the same clip sequencing
Video' - 4:48 of audio and same sequencing
Movie' - 5:12 and no change in sequencing
Highlights' - 5:07 of audio and same sequencing, analog clips followed by digital
a whole collection folder gets you about the same.... let's go on and see about selecting clips
in the folder
through the various ways you can sort the clips in the collection, to see what effect the sorting
would have on the movie.
all clips sorted by name (instead of selecting the collection) gives the same results - 5:07 audio
by duration, shortest to longest - didn't use the audio file??? double-checked to confirm - 3:13
total project duration - still sequencing analog first, digital next.
by duration from longest to shortest - used the audio at 5:07
ascending by start time - 5:07; by ascending end time - 3:13 and the audio track wasn't used.
ascending by dimensions - 3:13, no audio, very quickly done... so I assume it just used whatever
it last thought about. Sorted descending by dimensions - it thought more fully, and did 5:07 with
the same sequencing.
ascending by date taken - 5:07 and same sequencing.
it some more clips and see if I can jog it up to using the full music track of 5:23. I'll add a
batch of 20 wedding pix.
added 20 pix, it used the full 5:23, and sequenced the clips with still pix first, analog clips
next, then digital clips... still not mixing the types of clips together.... so the added still
pix got the full audio track but didn't change the sequencing... the still pix and clips were sequenced
per the clip names.
5 still pix in the collection... which didn't change anything.... the sequencing seems to be based
on the names of the source files, not the names of the clips in the collection.
5 of the still pix source files and reimported them... maybe it's not based on source file names.
Is MM2 smart enough to look inside the file for the info it wants? Changing file names didn't change
the sequence they were applied to the Automovie.
a smaller set of test files and see if I can determine what causes the clip sequencing.
sub-folder/sub-collection with 5 sequentially shot still images from a digital camera (I named them
Pix-1 thru Pix-5, and a 3 minute music file. The first attempt to do an AutoMovie gave an error
message saying that at least 30 seconds of video was needed. OK - added a 56 second video
second audio... and 1 of the still images was out of sequence.... they were arranged 1-3-2-4-5..
in each of the 5 types. I don't know why #3 was out of sequence.
Tests 7... 8....9...
of 50 still pix > went in sequence by name.
few video clips to the collection with the 50 still pix > the video clips were put on the timeline
first, followed by the still pix. No mixing of file types.
with 5 JPG still images (with simple file names of a, b, c, d, and e) and 6 video clips > the video
was used first, pix next... and the pix were not in sequence, going d, c, a, b, e.
of the still pix varied, but the transitions between still pix was always 1.25 seconds.
testing. I wasn't getting any further with the added tests. I'll wrap it up for now.
we conclude about Automovies?
need lots more video or still pix than the length of the music, if you want it to use all the music.
are not close to achieving what you can do personally when making a movie... I wasn't even successful
at getting it to mix still images, analog clips and digital clips.
you celebrate, I wish you the best of everything as the year wraps up and the new one begins...
I look forward to comments and discussion about
this and other newsletters on the forums at:
Have a great week...
2 - www.papajohn.org
Photo Story 2 -
3 - a branch of -
Products and Services
in many things that support the users of Movie Maker and Photo Story, 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:
2 - Do Amazing Things (with
its online companion on
2 - Zero to Hero (with support on the Friends of Ed forum at
winter quarterly special - with a 7 page tutorial 'Make a Killer Flick with Movie Maker 2' - now
on newsstands in the USA through March 7th.
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 Photo Story 3.
- a full tutorial about using it. It's not a problem-solving site.
www.papajohn.org - see the
menu branch close to the bottom... like the Photo Story 2 site, it's more about how it works and
how to use it, not about how to resolve problems.
Online Support - Forums, Channels and Newsgroups
I'm a regular
on many online forums and newsgroups, the main ones being:
and Photo Story forums at
2 forum at SimplyDV.com
XP Movie Maker newsgroup at microsoft.public.windowsxp.moviemaker
2 newsgroup microsoft.public.plus
3 newsgroup microsoft.public.windowsxp.photos
2/Photo Story newsletter. The annual subscription is $20 and the link to subscribe is on the main
page of my Movie Maker website at:
Topics for upcoming newsletters
(always subject to change):
#34 - open
(I'll post to the forum as soon as I know)
(more than 6 issues ago) are archived by Rob Morris at:
Transition Maker 2 (TM2) - a
utility for the ultimate in making personal and custom transitions for Movie Maker 2:
a joint effort by Patrick Leabo, the programmer, and myself.
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:
Adorage package for Movie Maker 2 is available at:
Other fee-based services:
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
2/Photo Story 2 training and support services
start at $50 per hour - send an email to
PapaJohn@CharterMi.net and I'll help you determine your needs, and work with
you to plan and implement them.
Wedding combo website/video packages
start at $2,500 + travel expenses. See
or the bottom branch of my Movie Maker 2 website for a sample of what you can expect.
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