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PapaJohn's Newsletter #38

Make a Video-Like Snippet to Begin a Photo Story

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: Sample 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...

 What's Happening? 

  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.

Get Frame Images

To extract the frames as still pictures, use the pull-down menu > File > Output to file > Sequence > ExtractFrames2

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 Audio 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 critical. 

 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.

 Select the Frames...

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 it.

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. 

 Make the Story Clip...

It's time to open Photo Story 3 and take a cut at making the short story with the video-like snippet. DragFrames

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 used.

I look forward to comments and discussion about this and other newsletters on the forums at: Windows Movie

 Have a great week... 


Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 -
Photo Story 2 -


 Products and Services

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.


 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

 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 - - 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.

PhotoStory 2 - - a full tutorial about using it. It's not a problem-solving site. 

 Online Support - Forums and Newsgroups  

I'm a regular on many online forums and newsgroups, the main ones being:

Forums 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.

Movie Maker and Photo Story forums at Windows Movie Makers


Movie Maker 2 forum at

Newsgroups are wide open for all to view and post... moderation is collective by those participating. 

Windows XP Movie Maker newsgroup - microsoft.public.windowsxp.moviemaker

Photo Story 2 newsgroup -

Photo Story 3 newsgroup -

 Weekly Newsletters

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:

Topics 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.

I routinely beta test the Pixelan packages and think very highly of their people and products. 

ProDAD's Adorage package for Movie Maker 2 provides more professionally developed transitions and effects.

 Online Gallery

A new partnership that fully aligns with the main priority of the website is the 'PapaJohn Expert Zone' gallery at neptune.

It's in the startup phase - check it at Neptune and on the 


The Portage, 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

 Other fee-based services

If 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 Jill-MarkWedding 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.

About John 'PapaJohn' Buechler from
John 'PapaJohn' Buechler 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.

This 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



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