Civil War Project - part III
We started a Civil War project in newsletter #42, rounding up some source files, making a project
template of a marked trail for a PhotoStory... then in issue #46 we reviewed what we had and picked
the theme of 'Gettysburg'. We had only started to think about what to pull together to flesh out
This issue is the third part of the series, where we'll start to assemble some clips in earnest,
as we work toward the theme. Here's a link to the 2+ minute clip made in the tutorial section...
We'll go through making it, a good exercise in using a few of our software tools... PhotoStory,
VirtualDub, Movie Maker 1, and Movie Maker 2... each contributing things they are good at.
... before getting into it, a couple notes about current
Items of Note
Jason Dunn did it!!! I hadn't seen a professional use of PhotoStory 3 before his product review
of HP's new optical
dual-layer DVD writers - Not only was I interested in how he had used PhotosStory 3, the content
was such that, as I passed them on a shelf in Circuit City the next day I thought '... those who
buy them won't know there's a key piece of software missing...', unless they've seen Jason's review.
Re-capturing a digital camcorder file: In February, out of desperation and having nothing more
to lose (the DV-AVI source file for a project was gone), someone recaptured the digital camcorder
footage to try to replace it... and was surprised when it worked. I checked at the time to confirm
what she found and it seemed to be effective. This week I went back to take a closer look. I'm glad
When you open Movie Maker, it checks that the source files associated with clips in your collections
are still there. It does the same when you open a project file, a quick check that the source files
are in place and ready for use. The checking is a cursory one... if the drive, path and file name
matches what is stored in the collection database or project file, then it considers it present
and accounted for. If it doesn't find it, the thumbnail image gets replaced with a big red X.
What it doesn't do is open the source file to be sure its content hasn't changed. That, in itself,
allows you to slip in a replacement DV-AVI file (in the same location and with the same name)...
I wondered how close the replacement needs to be to the original when Movie Maker needs to open
the file and use the content... how different can the files be? What if the starting frame of the
replacement file is not the same as the original??
I found that Movie Maker will never know if the replacement is aligned with the original. The
only time it'll open and check it is if the drive letter, path or file name is different... and
you try to resolve the red-X by browsing to the replacement file. At that point it won't accept
anything less than an exact replacement, which works fine when you copy or move a source file to
It can be as different as you want. If the original source file was a 10 minute 720x480 DV-AVI
source file of a dog, and you replace it with a 10 second 320x240 WMV file of a cat, it'll assume
it's OK and use it. Just put the replacement file in the same folder with the same name, including
the file extension... if the original ended with AVI because it was captured from a digital camcorder,
and you replace it with a WMV, it'll continue to use it if your renaming includes the AVI extension.
The editing in the project file will continue to work with the replacement file... if it runs
out of frames because the replacement file is shorter, you'll have edited blackness complete with
transitions, effects, titles, etc. Throughout the editing and rendering of a movie, you'll never
get an error message. The thumbnails in the collection and projects won't change. They are embedded
in the collection database and project .MSWMM files, not dynamically re-created from the source
file each time.
This feature can come in handy, or set you up for serious problems...
.... on to the main topic
The Initial Approach to Gettysburg - the Battle
The downloaded video of the Civil War (newsletter issue #42) started with Lincoln going to Gettysburg
for his famous address... and then flashed backwards in time to the battle itself. Its rendition
of the battle was from ground level.
To be different, and because of the source material collected, I decided to create a clip of
an aerial rendition of the battle... we can use the clips from both as the project takes shape.
We already had a scan of an old map, and some aerial images from the NASA World Wind software.
Add to those some footage from last July's Chicago fireworks show... and make a clip that would
be a good lead-in to the battle portion of the Gettysburg story.
Gather Some Fireworks Footage
I wondered if footage of a fireworks show could sufficiently simulate small arms and cannon fire.
I used MM2 to trim a 103 second segment from and saved it as a DV-AVI file (type I).
The video showed trees and lampposts in the foreground, and the fireworks were shooting upwards
as usual. To crop the treeline and change the angle of the shooting, we'll use VirtualDub. Movie
Maker is limited to rotating in 90 degree increments and we need a lesser angle.
... VirtualDub can only use a type II DV-AVI files, so a quick side trip through MM1 rendered
a type II DV-AVI from the type I.
You can use multiple filters in Virtual Dub in one pass, but for ease of understanding, let's
do the cropping in one pass and the rotations in others.
Each pass will be rendered to a new DV-AVI file using the
Panasonic DV Codec (the Microsoft
DV codec doesn't appear in the list of choices).
Virtual Dub - First Filter Pass - Crop Out the Chicago Trees and Lampposts...
After opening the clip in VirtualDub, use Video > Filters > Add > resize > New width of 720 and
new height of 480 (the same size we're starting with, but we'll be resizing the cropped segment,
and the Panasonic DV codec won't work if it's not being rendered to a 720x480 file) > OK. That'll
add the resize filter to the process.
With the resize filter highlighted, press the Cropping... button to the lower right of the Filters
window... to open the working window you see at the above right.
The treeline of the Chicago shore was at the bottom of the video... moving the bottom border
up (the Y2 offset control at the lower left) to crop 82 pixels off the image was enough to keep
the trees and lampposts out of sight.
To keep the aspect ratio the same, take the same percentage of pixels off the width... my calculator
said we need to take 122 pixels off the width. (480 original height - 82 = 398 pixels left, 17.08%
of the height was taken off... so take 17.08% off the width (17.08% of 720 = 122, which leaves 598).
Split the 122 pixels appropriately, pulling the left border (X1 offset) in by 82 pixels and the
right border (X2 offset) in by 40 pixels. Once it passes the math test and eyeballing it confirm
it looks OK, you're done.
The resize filter is now set to take the cropped 598x398 image and render it to a new file at
... set the compression codec (the default is uncompressed, so don't forget to set the compression
codec)... Video > Compression > Panasonic DV Codec > OK.
... save the file using File > Save as AVI > file name and location > Save. The re-rendering
took about 3 minutes (on a 2.4 GHz computer).
The figure above shows the before and after clips in Virtual Dub, at one of the bright spots in
the clip, when you can see the trees being cropped off.
From the newly saved file, it's time to make another pass to rotate clip...
Virtual Dub - 2nd Filter Pass - Rotate the Video to Suit the New Use...
Open the new clip and use the > Video > filters > Add > rotate2 filter for fine rotation control.
Check a few different angles by looking at the preview. When you like what you see, use it. When
going counter-clockwise by 70 degrees, use a negative angle like this one of -70.000 degrees.
setting has the fireworks being shot off at a 20 degree angle above the horizon, from the left (check
it visually using the filter preview feature)... another 3 minutes to render the new video clip.
For the answering shots from the other side at Gettysburg, keep the file open and use the rotate2
filter again, setting it to another angle. Let's use a positive 30 degrees (later I thought it would
be better if I had used something like positive 60, but I didn't go back to make a new one... not
The second fireworks (now gunfire) clip will be shooting at an angle from the right side toward
After another rendering we now have two 'shooting clips' at different angles.
Put the Gunfire Simulation Together in Movie Maker
First the Audio: We have left and right shooting clips for a 30 second visual... but the Chicago
orchestra was playing in sync with the fireworks, and the best I could find with good fireworks
noise, no orchestra notes, and no serious crowd noise was a 3 second segment.. it had lots of staccato
type small firearms sounds, with some cannon type booms. But it was pretty short.
Mix the 3 second audio clip in Movie Maker, adding it to the audio/music track a few times...
overlapping the clips a different amount each time, and raising or lowering the volume of each clip....
for variety. Similarly, use the 9 second audio clip to build into a 32 second audio to align with
the visual clip duration. If you use a simple repeating 3 second clip, it'll be a bit like the routine
sounds from a big clock with a steadily swinging pendulum or the rythmic lapping of waves coming
ashore... a battle is more chaotic and the audio needs the variety that Movie Maker can add so easily.
Combine the Video and Audio: Overlap the two shooting clips to get some crossfire as the first
clip fades into the second...
It help it not look too much like sideways fireworks, use the 'Threshold' effect on both clips...
to make them seem more like explosions. Here's what the completed 32 second cross-fire project looks
Gettysburg - Aerial Story
Whenever it's time to assemble still pictures that need panning or zooming, open PhotoStory 3.
The first picture is a section of the scanned antique map, with Gettysburg circled in red (in
Paint). Set the motion duration to use 26 seconds.
Why 26 seconds? To sync the pace of the still pictures with the narration file from the old documentary
video... use Movie Maker 2 to rip the audio track to a wma audio file, and have PhotoStory use it
as the background music.
That lets you include the audio each time you preview one of the pictures in the story, and make
the duration adjustments you need.
... the rest of the pictures go in with their durations set similarly.
A far shot of Gettysburg with the NASA World Wind app was next, for 17 seconds... the zooming/panning
toward it continued.
5 closer up images from World Wind, the first one marked 'Little Round Top' picture for 5 seconds,
'Devil's Den' for 14 seconds, 2 images of 'Cemetery Ridge' for 10 seconds and 5 seconds, and the
last one of 'Pickett and Mead' for 54 seconds. I did all the annotating in Paint.
the Clip Assembly
The final step in this issue is to assemble the two clips, the story and the gunfire simulation
clip. It's a simple project for Movie Maker 2.
The simulated gunfire clip is 32 seconds. Insert it in place of that many seconds of the last
picture in the story, which has a duration of 54 seconds.
Add the full copy of the WMA narration file that was ripped from the Civil War documentary earlier.
Use it as the overall audio track for this project.
Split the story clip, insert the gunfire simulation, and trim the last clip to align. Use the
audio wave patterns to do the alignment, and when done mute the audio of the two story clips.
Leave both the audio of the gunfire simulation clip and the Civil War documentary to play together...
adding more variety and interest to that segment of the audio. The documentary narration includes
small real firearms and cannon fire during that segment, to mix with the snaps, crackles and pops
of the fireworks.
The link to the final rendered video clip was in the introductory paragraph. Here it is again,
if you missed seeing it then.
Conclusions and Closing
The goal in this project isn't to make a better Civil War video than the downloaded documentary
we started with... it's to get you more familiar and comfortable with using your various software
You should be able to decide in a split second to do something in Virtual Dub, and not be confused
or intimidated by having to convert a type I DV-AVI to a type II. And, if a filter applied in VirtualDub
doesn't work just right, don't hesitate to go back and try again. It's usually easier to do those
kinds of things than it is to think about them... provided you have your basic understanding and
skills down pat.
As you use your tools more often, things will get easier and easier...
Remember too that rendering videos is always a time consuming process, but it's never a real-time
process. You're free to continue using your computer to do other tasks as the rendering happens...
for the past two hours I've been finishing this newsletter on my laptop and rendering a one hour
DVD from source files on an external drive to a DVD project on the C drive... the two tasks don't
I look forward to comments and discussion about this and other newsletters on the forums at:
Windows Movie Makers.net
Have a great week...
Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 -
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... had a 7 page tutorial 'Make a Killer Home Movie
with Maker 2'. The special edition of the video that was made for it is now
on my website as a
Publishing of Birmingham, U.K. is rolling out the first book about VirtualDub, expected in April
(maybe May now??).
My contribution was the introductory chapter... I'm glad to be part of any effort that helps
join the worlds of Movie Maker and open source software. We used VirtualDub again in this issue
of the newsletter.
Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 - www.papajohn.org - the
site's 3 goals are: an online companion to the Do Amazing Things book, a detailed tutorial on PhotoStory
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 key 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
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):
#52 - May 7 - Custom text clips
#53 - May 14 - Converting MPEG-2 files for use in Movie Maker - Part II. This will pickup where
issue #50 left off.
#54 - May 21 - open
#55 - May 28 - Civil War Project - part IV - continue building clips into a more complete movie
project. Pickup where issue #51 left off.
#56 - May 21 - Converting MPEG-2 files for use in Movie Maker - Part III. This will pickup where
issue #53 leaves off, and hopefully finishes this series.
#57 - May 28 - open
Older newsletters (more than 6 issues ago) are posted by Rob Morris to an
Archive Site at his Windows
Movie Makers website.
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
My personal database has been an ongoing project over many years, and is now available to others.
Info is on the Managing > Personal Database page of my site, and in the database package itself.
It's available free to regular newsletter subscribers... send an email request.
To others it's $10. To order, use the button on the top of the Managing > Personal Database page.
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 two new training sessions: Introduction to Movie Maker, and
an Advanced Movie Maker Workshop. The initial sessions will be:
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