Make a Video-Like Snippet to Begin a Photo
Photo Story can't use video clips as source files, and running
your stories through Movie Maker requires a re-rendering that reduces the quality of the finished
file, and increases its file size considerably. What can you do? Let's explore making a quasi-video-like
snippet within the story.
Here's a short 20 second PhotoStory
3 story that includes a video-like snippet:
We usually make videos from still pix, but in this tutorial we'll
make still pix from a video and use them in Photo Story to make them look again like a video.
The sample snippet uses 17 still pictures and plays them about 3 frames per second to get as
close as possible to a video clip in a story. And it works fine if you're willing to accept
the much reduced frame rate that makes the approach feasible.
... before going into it,
a couple notes...
• I started posting a
'tip-of-the-day' on the Movie Maker newsgroup. So many posts start with a problem;
it reminds me of the early complexion of my website as a 'problem-solving' one. I've been working
toward having the fun and excitement of making home movies outweigh, or at least balance, the
gray cloud that sometimes comes from being steeped in problems.
I'm only a few days into it, but it's doing what I had hoped, opening
a door to some healthy discussions about Movie Maker features and capabilities.
• My laptop has the Panasonic DV-AVI codec on it, in addition to
the Microsoft codec. I've been experimenting lately by using it as my choice of compression
codec when saving AVI files from TMPGEnc and
VirtualDub. I find that it compresses fairly quickly, the files
are about identical in size to the DV-AVI files from MM1 and 2 (as you would expect... the files
have to meet the established spec), and the new files work fine in Movie Maker.
The Microsoft DV codec isn't in the list of choices when saving
files from those apps. By using the Panasonic codec I can maintain the original quality of the
input DV-AVI files while picking up the value of the app. I
ran about 14 GB of video through VirtualDub the other day just to
use that brightness (Levels) adjustment feature we covered a couple weeks ago. Starting with
type II files from Movie Maker 1 and rendering the new file with the Panasonic codec, the video
and audio went through the process fine and the clips look much better than anything I could
do in Movie Maker (or Premiere).
Plan the Snippet
Train Clip -
the engine of an old steam driven train can be a great opening clip to start a vacation story...
I have a documentary about the Civil War that I downloaded from
the Internet Archives, a video that starts with an approaching mid-19th century steam train.
Right after the title frames finish, the locomotive is there, with
good audio to go with it.
The downloaded file is an MPEG-1, which works
in Movie Maker but not in Photo Story. I'll use TMPGEnc 2.5+ to
extract the frames as jpg files and the audio as a WAV file... then select some frames and put
them into Photo Story 3 as a video-like snippet. I had done this before with a sunset, but speeding
it up considerably in the story. This is the first time I've tried to simulate the real-time
playing of a video in a story.
Extract Frames as Still Pix from the Video...
I started by dragging and dropping the video from
my library folder into TMPGEnc..
a single drag and drop using my file manager into the lower left
of this window gets all the entry fields automatically filled in.
To extract the frames as still pictures, use the pull-down menu
> File > Output to file > Sequence >
I opted for JPG files at 80% quality... that'll keep the set of
frames at a reasonably small total file size.
When you press the Save button, the frames are extracted and automatically
numbered from 0000000 to wherever you stop or it ends.
I knew the short scene I wanted came right after the opening title
frames so I started it off from the beginning. When the scene I wanted had finished going by
in the preview monitor, I aborted the extraction.
Canceling the process at any point in the extraction process leaves
you with the set of images created so far. I had 1,079 images in the folder when it
was a few percent into the video.
Check the set of pix
- In IrfanView, you can do a quick scan of them in almost a real
time video way... sort them in file name order, open the first one in IrfanView,
and use your mouse wheel. They'll pass by as quickly as you can spin the wheel. I quickly went
to the first frame after the titling passed and noted it was #0000713. I had 366 frames to work
with. That was plenty.
I deleted the images in the folder from 000 to 712 and kept going.
Get the Audio...
Audio is at least half of the viewing experience, and in this
case even more critical... you'll be asking viewers to have their ears compensate for any
visual quality loss by the extremely low frame rate. I think it works OK in this case, but
the subject of such a project might be limited to something where high frame rates are not
Staying in TMPGEnc, I extracted
the audio to a WAV file using the main menu File > Output to File > WAVE file. The default
settings are fine.
It also started at the beginning. I aborted the extraction
process a bit into it, knowing I had the segment I wanted. Similar to extracting pictures,
canceling the process part way through leaves you with a partial audio file that plays fine.
I'll take the WAV file into MM2 and extract the section
I want for the snippet, and save it as a WMA file to use for the story. At 30 frames per
second and having deleted the first 712 of them, that means the audio I want starts at about
23-3/4 seconds into the file (712 divided by 30 = 23-3/4). That was close enough.... I trimmed
the audio at both ends to get just the rhythmic sounds of the engine... faded it in and
out... and rendered it as a high quality 5-1/3 second WMA audio file for the story.
The Duration of the Story Snippet...
The audio set the overall duration of the story snippet...
the documentary is heavily narrated, but this short section turns the audio over to just
the passing engine.
The 366 video frames were 12.2 seconds (366 frames divided
by 30 = 12.2 seconds).
But the audio WAV file was only 5-1/3 seconds, so I used
that as the overall duration of the snippet... long enough to simply accent an intro clip.
5-1/3 seconds of video frames at 30 frames per second
would be 160 frames. That's a bit too much work to use in a Photo Story when you have to
do the motion and duration settings one picture at a time.... so let's see how few we can
work with and still have a good looking snippet.
Think about the options: 5-1/3 seconds at 30 frames a second
would need 160 frames.... a movie at 24 frames per second would use 128 frames...
videos for a pocket PC are 15 fps - 80 frames...
All of these seem too many. I'm going to try 3 frames
per second to see how well the snippet works with just 17 frames... the lowest duration
setting we can use in Photo Story 3 is 1/10 of a second, so we could move the frame rate
up a bit if we need to.
5-1/3 seconds at 3 frames per second means
using 17 frames... every 10th frame until we have 17 of them.
Using Total Commander, I made a sub-folder for the selected frames and copied them into
Check the Set
- Using IrfanView again to do a quick check by flipping through
the set of 17 -it showed the whole thing was still working... keep going.
It's time to open Photo Story 3 and take a cut at making the short
story with the video-like snippet.
One reason for copying the 17 selected images to a new folder
is it sets the stage for moving them easily into the story.
Select them all in the file manager, and drag and drop as a
batch into the film strip of the story. They'll be sequenced as you want, from the lowest
number to the highest.
It's time to do a little work in PS3... the steps I took were:
Opt to remove the black borders from all the pix.
Save the project file before I forget.
Next, Next a couple times to get to
the window where you customize the motion.
For each image, check 'specify start and end position', check the
two options to set the start and end positions the same as the previous end, and the same as
the start, opt to set the number of seconds to display the picture yourself.... setting it to
0.3 seconds (about 10% faster than 3 frames per second). Do this for each picture - 17 times.
Add the background audio, the train audio file...
The 5 second snippet was over a bit too quickly, so I added
a couple more pictures. One before the snippet and another after it.
I wasn't going to use this clip other than for this newsletter, so I wasn't overly critical
of details. I was mostly wanting to see if the process would
work well enough to use it someday when I needed it.
I thought it worked well enough... if it hadn't I might have
changed the subject of this newsletter, or bit the bullet and doubled the number of frames being
I look forward to comments and discussion about this and other
newsletters on the forums at:
Windows Movie Makers.net
Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 -
Photo Story 2 - www.photostory.papajohn.org
I'm involved 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.
Movie Maker 2 - Do Amazing Things (with
its online companion on www.papajohn.org)
MaximumPC's winter quarterly
special - with a 7 page tutorial 'Make a Killer Home Movie with Maker 2' - now on newsstands
in the USA through March 7th.
Packt Publishing of Birmingham, U.K.
issued a Press Release yesterday about the first book about VirtualDub.
I did the introductory chapter for it.
Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 -
www.papajohn.org - 3 goals: be the
online companion to the Do Amazing Things book, provide a detailed tutorial for Photo Story
3, and help you solve Movie Maker 2 problems.
Support - Forums and Newsgroups
I'm a regular on many online forums and newsgroups, the
main ones being:
are open to all for viewing, but require registration of those
who want to post. Moderators actively participate to ensure the forum discussions move
forward and stay on track.
are wide open for all to view and post... moderation is collective by those participating.
Movie Maker 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:
for upcoming newsletters (always subject to change):
#38 - open (I'll post to the forum as soon as I know)
Older newsletters (more than 6 issues ago) are posted to
an Archive Site
at Windows Movie Makers.
Software - Add-On
Transitions and Effects
Transition Maker 2
(TM2) is a utility for the ultimate in making your
own personal and custom transitions for Movie Maker 2. It is a joint effort by Patrick
Leabo, the programmer, and myself.
routinely beta test the
packages and think very highly of their
people and products.
Adorage package for Movie Maker 2
provides more professionally developed transitions and effects.
It's in the startup phase - check it at
Neptune and on the
Michigan library is
adding a new training session to their regularly scheduled ones: introduction to Movie
Maker and Photo Story.
The first sessions will be in the spring or summer of 2005
you can't save a movie because your project has become too complex,
e-mail a copy and I'll divide it into manageable sub-projects, 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 training and support
services start at $50 per hour - send an email -
and I'll help you determine your needs, and work with you to plan and implement them.
Wedding combo website/video
packages - starting at $2,500 + travel expenses. See
or the bottom branch of my Movie Maker 2 website for a sample of what you can expect
for the online portion of the package.