Civil War Project - Part II
A month ago in issue #42, we started a Civil War Project... bringing together source material
with some Civil War contents... an old book to scan, a downloaded special documentary video from
the Internet Archives, old maps from an encyclopedia, some screen shots from the World Wind software...
etc. It was in that issue that the idea for Photo Story 3 project templates emerged.
This issue is another step in the sequence of issues covering the project... it's the first of
the middle parts. Part I left off at the point of needing to finish gathering the source material,
study it a bit, and think about how to put it together... and find a focal point for the project,
a smaller one than the war in total.
The book can provide the background and continuity... the cover would open, go into some text,
and then when the viewers are expecting more text, surprise them a little with an emerging annotated/animated
map, go back into the book for some more text, and then WOW them with Picture-in-Picture video clips
mixed in. That's what I said at the end of that issue. Let's see where I am now in my thinking,
and where it's all going
... before doing it, here are some notes about current items...
Personal Database - I followed up last week's note about my personal database with a new page
on the website to provide an overview of it, and offer it for sale to those who don't subscribe
to the newsletters. I also expanded the info in the database itself, so between it and the website
page it's enough to get up and running.
Those of you who were the first to ask for a copy might want an updated data file for it... if
you haven't gotten into using it yet, or need some more help figuring out how to use it.
The MaximumPC Winter Special issue is now off bookstore shelves, replaced with the spring issue.
I told the editor I hadn't received any emails over the 3 months, and asked if I could now put a
copy of the video from the included CD online...
They received only a couple emails during the 3 month period, and both were very positive. He
told me that's pretty unusual, as most people who are positive about an article are silent, while
those expressing concerns are vocal... so the lack of more feedback is good news. And it was OK
to post the video. Here's a link:
It's a direct copy of the one on the CD distributed with the magazine. It's a music video 5:40
in duration, and the file is a 43 MB wmv with a bitrate of 1000kbps... it's best to do a right mouse
click on the link and download the file first, or you'll run into non-smooth playback because of
the higher than usual bitrate. It was on the CD as a file to copy onto the hard drive and run from
I attended a Microsoft/MVP regional 'Engagement Tour' meeting in Chicago on Monday, one of about
a dozen such sessions being held around the country. The evolving relationship between Microsoft
and the growing community of MVPs and others was the core topic. Always interesting... but a personal
high-light for me was meeting Diane Dumas in person, sitting next to her as she kept using one neat
thing after another during the routine of the day's meeting... so you know who she is:
"Diane Dumas is New Products Editor for Pocket PC magazine. Her interests
include writing, digital music, and streaming video, and she is a rabid fan of all Pocket PCs! She
has authored numerous articles about digital music, Pocket PCs, and wireless communications. She
writes a column in each issue, "Diane's Discoveries" along with frequent product reviews and "how-to"
articles. She also co-hosts a monthly hour-long radio talk show for "Computer Outlook". She enjoys
using her Gateway 901X Media Center PC, Motion Computing Tablet PC, Toshiba e805 Pocket PC, and
Xbox Live, on her home Wi-Fi network."
... and Diane is an MVP in the Windows Digital Media area.
I tried capturing from my Sony digital camcorder directly into a WMV high-definition profile...
1280x720 pixels, using the Windows Media Encoder for the capture session.
The capture went well... I had Movie Maker and a few other apps running at the same time as the
capture, with no adverse effects.
Capturing from a digital camcorder to a WMV file is a 2 step process. First the captured file
goes into a temporary DV-AVI file, followed by the rendering of the WMV from the DV-AVI.
The temporary DV-AVI file has to be built in real time as the data streams into the firewire
connection. That part took all of 2 minutes, the duration of the clip.
See the encoding results info window at the right... and how much time it then needed to render
the high-definition file from the temporary DV-AVI. The total session duration was over 2-1/2 hrs...
for a 2+ minute clip.
I did a second test to see if the time needed correlates to the video duration, and sighed a
bit of relief when I found it wasn't. It seems there's a needed 2 hour period for it do something,
but a file twice as long in duration doesn't need twice the time.
The sample looks and sounds great!!! even though my camcorder doesn't shoot in high definition...
I'll be following this up with the capture of a 10 to 15 minute clip... and comparing it to a normal
capture to DV-AVI followed by rendering it to comparable high-definition video... will one way clearly
out-perform the other??
.... on to the main topic
I found myself fishing around the source material for this project... making stories and clips,
and mixing them together in Movie Maker, watching for things of interest to emerge. I was testing
various techniques, looking for a reasonable theme to wrap them into. I knew it was just a test
demo project for the newsletters, but I still wanted it to be worthy of viewing and display.
Some things don't work and others are keepers. Let me share the keepers with you, as we look
at the various ingredients.... the images and clips being made from the source material, being collected
and assembled into the parts of a project.
The video... there were 4 clips in the video that focused
on Gettysburg... about 5 minutes of the 15
in the downloaded documentary. The focus on Gettysburg emerged as the project's focal point.
I tried to make it Fort Sumter... a more interesting subject in World Wind than Gettysburg. But
I dropped it when the video material of Gettysburg showed much more promise.
The originally downloaded video was an MPEG-2 of under a GB in size. I converted it to a 3+ GB
DV-AVI file compressed with the Panasonic DV codec. In this phase I put the 4 clips of interest
on the timeline in Movie Maker 2 and rendered them to another DV-AVI file of about 1 GB... that
let me delete the 3 GB file and free up about 2 GB on my laptop... without losing quality during
The book... the cover, the opening, the going into... once
I set the focus to Gettysburg, I could go to right places in the book.
High resolution still images are at home in Photo Story 3 projects. It was there that I played
with parameters such as using page curl transitions versus dissolves, and the speed of zooming and
panning of the text.
I made 5 stories the scanned images. All high-lighting you'll see was done in Paint on the scanned
images. I didn't mark up the old book. Note too that the 5 clips I put on the website to show the
stories were made by re-rendering them to clips using Movie Maker 2...
first story shows the opening of the book... in 41 seconds it goes from the book's copyright adoption
and selection as a Baltimore school text to the cover, spine, publication date, opening graphics
page, and title page. Here's a link to it:
Book Opening Story
Next is the Table of Contents... zooming into the chapter that includes Gettysburg...
Table of Contents
From the images of the scanned pages, I cropped the corners of more than enough pages to show
some page numbers... and then made a story just to kind of flip through them... my idea is to flip
thru pages from the table of contents to the page of interest.
I tried page curls and dissolves... the curls won out, but only after a few attempts at getting
the appropriate durations for the pages and the transitions... which turned out to be mostly 1 second
image durations and transition durations set automatically. Here's a link to the page turning story,
which uses Page Curl, Down Left transitions.
The page turning story project has potential as another project template, but I don't know how
much demand there would be for it.
The set of images that show the cropped corners of the scanned pages was made by running a cropping
batch process in IrfanView.
The table of contents and index pointed to page 459 for
so that page gets its own story.
Page 459 Story
But pages 460 and 461 had the paragraphs about Gettysburg... and not very much at that... the
bottom of one page and the top of another...
The minimal amount of words in the book makes
wonder if the battle gained significantly in prominence after the book was published in 1865. Although
the subject of Gettysburg in the book was only a couple dozen words, it was the focal point for
the 1954 video documentary... 89 years later.
Pages 460-461 Story
When saving clips from Movie Maker with no audio, I use a custom profile that sets the audio
part of the bitrate to zero... to save some file size.
The maps... the Civil war is something we've seen lots about
in maps. Between the scanned maps from my old encyclopedia and the new-world visualizations available
from World Wind, we should have plenty of maps and map effects to accent the video.
The 3-D perspective views of World-Wind are neat...
World-Wind, with its 3D real world aerial images, can provide a clip or two for accent.... here's
my first draft of one.
But there's something nostalgic and old-feeling with the scanned map from the 1875 encyclopedia...
the coloring, and the railroad tracks being the main feature... and the glimpse back in time it
Both have their place. I don't have a story from the old map yet... it'll be in the next part.
Extras for interest... visualizations... graphical colorful
animations to blend video editing techniques of today with the black and white footage of yesterday.
I browsed my library of captured visualization clips from iTunes and the Windows Media Player,
and selected 9 of them that had potential. I found myself leaning toward reddish colored ones...
aligning with the bloody nature of the war. Some greenish ones seemed to fit also.
As I rounded up these and other source files for the project, I copied them to project-specific
Here's a link to one of the visualization snippets, with some audio from the documentary video
added to give you a feel for what happens when you begin blending the two.
Narration... you never hear me narrate anything... it's not
one of my strong suits and a poor narration is much worse than none. The old documentary had some
good material, so we'll get as much mileage as we can from it.
Audio and Music... there were some small segments of the video that had some interesting audio
and tunes from or about the Civil War era.
I trimmed the clips of interest, put them on the audio/music track of the timeline, and rendered
individual WMA files from them... here's a link to one:
I found that putting the second DV-AVI clips on the timeline just to pickup the audio significantly
impacted smooth previewing, but the separate WMA files worked well... now that I think about it,
totally understandable. A computer has enough difficulty playing one DV-AVI file smoothly, nevermind
2 of them in parallel.
Titling/Text... we have the text from the scanned book to
integrate into the project... anything else needed will be done in Movie Maker....
Conclusions and Closing
As I go through the source material, I look for things to assemble at a low level. The stories
of PS3 are good examples... the Photo Story of the page-turning could have been done with a set
of images in Movie Maker, with the page curl transition between each. I went with PhotoStory because
of the potential value as a new project template... and to reduce the complexity of the final movie
by using a single video clip rather than a set of images and transitions.
Movie Maker is a great integrator of a bunch of parts... but if the parts can be made individually
and pieced together modularly, then it's easier to do the integration...
For those of you who celebrate Easter, have a wonderful one...
I look forward to comments and discussion about this and other newsletters on the forums at:
Have a great week...
Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 - www.papajohn.org
Photo Story 2 - www.photostory.papajohn.org
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 reasonably
Books and Magazines
Movie Maker 2 - Do Amazing Things
its online companion on www.papajohn.org)
Movie Maker 2 - Zero to Hero - with support on the
Friends of Ed forum
MaximumPC's winter 2005 quarterly special - with a 7 page tutorial 'Make a Killer Home Movie
with Maker 2'.
Packt Publishing of Birmingham, U.K. is publishing the first book about VirtualDub, expected
out next month. My contribution was the introductory chapter.
Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 - www.papajohn.org - 3
goals: the online companion to the Do Amazing Things book, a detailed tutorial for Photo Story 3,
and helping you solve Movie Maker 2 problems.
PhotoStory 2 - www.photostory.papajohn.org -
a detailed 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 Maker 2 forum at SimplyDV.com
Newsgroups are wide open for all to view and post... moderation is collective by the participants.
Windows XP Movie Maker newsgroup -
Photo Story 2 newsgroup -
Photo Story 3 newsgroup -
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):
#47 - About Audio - a look at various audio features of MM2, MM1 and Photo Story 3... the audio
track of the video, the audio/music track, narrations, computer-generated background music, etc.
#48 - Converting MPEG-2 files... there are new utilities and revisions to older ones... the issue
will look at the current state of the conversions needed to get files that work with Movie Maker.
#49 - open
#50 - Civil War Project - part III - finishing the parts and moving toward the integrated movie
#51 - open
#52 - Capturing video clips from DVDs... another topic where new utilities, and changes to existing
ones, are now available.
Older newsletters (more than 6 issues ago) are posted to an
Archive Site at Windows Movie
Drop an email at any time to suggest a topic of interest to you....
Add-On Transitions and Effects
Maker 2 (TM2) is a utility for the ultimate in making your own personal and custom transitions
for Movie Maker 2. It's a joint product from Patrick Leabo, the programmer, and myself. Version
2 was released a week ago and I'm still working on updating the online tutorial.
routinely beta test the Pixelan packages and
think very highly of their people and products.
ProDAD's Adorage package for Movie Maker 2 provides an additional source of professionally developed
transitions and effects.
Managing your personal information is more of a challenge as hard drives get bigger and the internet
more robust. Developing my personal database has been an ongoing project for many years and it is
now available to others.
A free copy is available to the regular subscribers of this newsletter... send an email to request
To others, it's $10... to order, use the button on the top of the Managing > Personal Database
An online gallery that fully aligns with the main priority of the website is the
'PapaJohn Expert Zone' at neptune.
Check it at Neptune and the Distributing > Neptune
page of the website, where there's a developing tutorial about how to use the service.
The Portage, Michigan library added new training sessions to their regularly scheduled ones:
introduction to Movie Maker, and an Advanced Movie Maker session. Scheduled sessions are:
Monday - June 13 - 6-7:30 Introduction to Movie Maker 2
Monday - July 18 - 6-7:30 Movie Maker 2 Workshop
Monday - August 15 - 6-7:30 Movie Maker 2 Workshop
Other fee-based services
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 about how 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 www.papajohn.org
Movie Maker 2/Photo Story training and support services start at $50 per hour - send an email
- 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 - starting at $2,500 + travel expenses. See
Jill-MarkWedding or the bottom branch of the Movie
Maker 2 website for a sample of what you can expect for the online portion of the package.
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