Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story
PapaJohn's Newsletter #55
What Frames Do You See?
As I did my homework for this issue, I felt like a clinical
lab tester looking through a microscope at little things moving around, hoping to
get a clue or two about the reasons for the common cold. In our case the audio and video glitches
in our rendered movies.
In earlier tests, I had checked file sizes and the number of frames. If they were the same, I
figured a new clip was the same as the source file. That helped me find the dropping 27th frame
in a rendered DV-AVI file. But I hadn't picked up on some things I saw this week, dropping one frame
in a clip but cloning another frame, balancing the file size and maintaining the same number of
total frames in a new clip. For this newsletter I looked deeper, into the actual pictures in each
frame to look at what visually changed from one frame to the next.
I started with the thought that MM1 was rock-solid, with none of the issues seen in MM2. I also
thought rendering to a WMV instead of DV-AVI file was a work-around for some items.
Now I'm not sure. I found a dozen of what I call 'Quirks'
in both MM1 and MM2. Some are with DV-AVI, and others are when rendering to WMV
With limited testing... a single source file on an old laptop... I don't want to publish my results
as rock-solid conclusions; how about you reading them as interesting points and don't hold my feet
to the fire if you do some checking and get some different results.
If the details are more than what you want to read, skim the newsletter and read the dozen Quirks.
A Selected Test Clip and Why I didn't Use it
The NTSC standard is 29.97 frames per second. PAL is 25 frames a second. Movie Maker version
1 lets you see each frame during the editing sessions. Movie Maker 2 shows you every other frame.
the normals aren't confusing enough, there are the abnormals such as the dropped 27th frame of a
2nd generation type I NTSC DV-AVI file made by Movie Maker 2... or a quickly blinking artifact in
a saved movie. Is it a stray frame? How can you see it again?
I'd studied the generational losses of both DV-AVI and WMV files before, but there are lots of
reasons to check even closer... all the posts about audio and video issues are reason enough.
Sometimes checking computerized digital video isn't as easy as a good old fashioned strip of
film with a magnifying glass... I used to be able to confidently see and count frames in those days...
today I'm needing to count what I sometimes can't see. How do I determine what is there? Are the
tools I'm using to do the checking the problem, or are the issues really in the clips?
When I wrote the book about VirtualDub, I used AVISynth and VirtualDub to put frame numbers on
a 200 frame clip from Chicago (almost 7 seconds), saving the file as an 'uncompressed' AVI. Seemed
like a good test clip for this week as it was already numbered.
Note that the first frame of a video file is not the official first frame... it's frame zero.
Frame one is the second frame, frame 2 the 3rd. The odd numbers are on even frames, and even numbers
on odd... got that?
By number 184 (frame 185) the horse and carriage had moved this far.
I used MM1 to make an NTSC DV-AVI from the uncompressed file... and checked each frame to be
sure I wasn't missing any numbers before starting. I used TMPGEnc to make a set of frames from the
AVI file... and went through the 200 pictures, one at a time. I saw some anomalies:
There were 2 frames with number 1 and both pictures were identical.
#2 was also an identical picture to #1, so 3 of the frames had the same picture (two #1 plus
#20 and 21 were identical, as were 25 and 26, 33 and 34, 38 and 39, 56 and 57, 61 and 62, 69
and 70, 76 and 77, 92 and 93, 102 and 103, 115 and 116, 122 and 123, 127 and 128, 133 and 134, 137
and 138, 143 and 144, 145 and 146, 148 and 149, 153 and 154, 159 and 160, 164 and 165, 172 and 173,
177 and 178, 183 and 184, 188 and 189, 194 and 195.
I didn't know about these until I sat down to start working on this newsletter. I had been happy
before not seeing a missing number, but I wanted to start this week's study with a better base base.
From the positive side, this clip accents the topic... what frames are we seeing and when? and why?
I had obviously placed frame numbers on a clip that already had some glitches in it that I hadn't
We'll get a fresh clip and I'll show you how to number the frames.
some notes... before going further
With more and more phones sending videos, and where there are videos there's the need to get
them into Movie Maker. I started a website page about doing the conversions from .3gp to ..avi.
It's Importing Source Files > Video > Phones.
... as I don't have a phone that takes video, I'd appreciate some samples... feel free to email
one for my testing, and don't tell me the phone you used. I'll try to figure it out.
.... on to the main topic
A Fresh Starting File...
Last Saturday I videoed my daughter-in-law and 2 grands at their annual dance recital. They were
the freshest clips I had and I had captured them independent of Movie Maker. They are
type II DV-AVI files using
WinDV, with no dropped frames reported during the captures.
I made a set of frame images from a clip and looked through them to be sure there was movement
from each frame to the next, and there was. I also rendered a type I DV-AVI file from the file,
using MM2, and checked each frame of a still image set.... it looked good, as only the expected
27th frame was dropped. The rest were the same as the frames made directly from the captured file.
For this check I looked at both sets of frame images side by side to verify the pictures in each
pair of frames were identical. This was just to be sure of a good starting clip.
Number the Frames
Knowing the captured file had all of the frames, it's time to put numbers on each frame to more
easily check which ones are there at any step. A script file and
AviSynth adds the numbers.
The .avs script is at the right. The first step is to choose the source file, one of the recital
clips as captured by WinDV. The next step in the script is to add frame numbers. The last step is
to use only the first 100 frames, which should be enough for our reviews.
100 frames means starting at zero and going through frame 99.
The image at the left shows what you see in VirtualDub
when you open the ..avs script file instead of the AVI file. AviSynth is taking the source file,
overlaying numbers on each frame, trimming the original file after frame 99, and feeding the results
In VirtualDub, use Video > Compression > to select the Panasonic DV codec to keep the new file
as a DV-AVI type II.
The final step in VirtualDub is a File > Save as AVI to get the 100 frame clip with each of the
For quality checks, after seeing what my Chicago clip ended up looking like, let's look a couple
use MM1 to open the new file and preview it
frame by frame, checking that each frame is there with a number, and seeing appropriate movement
from each frame to the next... with a pause and close look in the area of the 27th frame. We're
not yet using MM2 to render to a DV-AVI file, so there shouldn't be any missing frames.
use TMPGEnc to make a set of still pix from
each frame... verify there are 100 files (zero thru 99) and flip through them in
IrfanView to check that the visual movement from frame
to frame is the same as that seen in the MM1 preview.
The file passed the checks perfectly. We have a good file to start seeing what happens when it's
used in MM1 and MM2.
This clip has 100 frames, a nice even number. I made another with just one more frame, to have
a clip with 101 frames, a nice odd number... with MM2 being an every other frame environment, there
may be differences between what we see with clips that have an odd or even number of frames.
The Testing and Checking...
First to import the clips into Movie Maker, and see what frames are visible when previewing them
in a collection. We'll check with both MM1 and MM2. 2 apps and 2 clips means 4 checks at each step.
Previewing Clips in the Collection
MM1 is a 30 fps (frames per second) working
environment. We should see each frame, and we do.
Pressing the Forward button under the monitor
takes you to the last frame of the clip, and the Back
button returns you to frame #0. The Next and Previous Frame buttons step you through the clip one
frame at a time.
MM2 is a 15 fps working environment so we should
see every other frame. Maybe those with even numbers; maybe the odd.
For the 100 frame clip, we see those with numbers 0, 1, 3, 5, 7 and the rest of the odd numbers
to 99. Frame 0 is seen even though it's an even number. For this file of 100 frames, we know we
can see the first and last frames, and every other one between. I'm calling the ability to see the
first two frames a Quirk because I expected to see
every other one.
For the clip with 101 frames, we see the same odd numbers as we go forward through them. But
we get a bonus... after seeing the picture with #99, we can also go to #100. But going backwards
from 100 doesn't show the same pictures we saw on the way up....once it's sitting on an even number,
it goes every other frame backwards using even numbers instead of odd.... the 50 frames seen on
the way back are the other 50 that we skipped over on the way up. We have the
Pressing the Back button returns to the frame #0. The Forward button goes to the end of the clip
with 100 frames, but doesn't go to the end of the 101 frame clip... the slider moves as if it's
going there, but the image sits where it is. The second quirk and first clues that MM2 might handle
clips with an even number of frames differently than those with an odd number.
Quirk #1 - Seeing
every other frame in MM2 is normal when working on clips and projects in Movie Maker 2... but the
clip preview shows the first two frames, and the last two if the clip has an odd number of frames.
Quirk #2 - If
a clip has an odd number of frames, stepping through it backwards from its end in MM2 shows the
in-between frames that were not seen when stepping through it forwards.
Quirk #3 - For
a clip with an odd number of frames in MM2, the Forward button doesn't fully function, as it does
for a clip with an even number. The slider moves but the image doesn't change.
Splitting a Clip in the Collection
The only other thing we can do with a single clip in a collection is split it. I'll go to where
the monitor shows the frame with number 49 on it and press the split button.
MM1 puts the clip with #49 and up in the second
of the two split sub-clips. The frame you're looking at when you press the split button will be
the first frame of the new sub-clip.
What if you want to lop off just the last frame of a clip. You go to the last frame and press
the split button. It won't do it. If you go to the next to the last frame and try, it'll split off
the last 2 frames into a new sub-clip. So splitting can be done anyplace in the clip, but you can't
split it to lop off just one last frame... it's the same at the beginning of a clip, you can't split
it unless you want the first 2 frames in a new sub-clip.
Quirk #4 - MM1
is a single frame working environment, but you can't split a clip in a collection into two parts,
one of which is a single frame.
MM2 did the same for a mid-clip split. I was
easy on it by picking an odd number to be looking at, so I could split it there the first time...
if you go to the end of the clip with an odd number of frames and then try to go back to the frame
with #49 on it, you may not be able to. I found that once it shifts to showing the even numbers,
you can go back and forth and not be able to jog it back to seeing the odd numbers... not unless
you move off the clip in the collection and then re-select it.
When trying to lop a single frame off the beginning or end of a clip with MM2, it acted differently
at both ends. Up front it let me clip off the single frame with #0 on it. Being an every-other frame
environment after that, it let me lop off a frame, but it was a double-frame, not a single one as
At the back end of the clips in MM2, I couldn't lop off one frame, even though it was a double
one. I had to go back two steps and lop of a pair of 2-packs... that's 4 frames minimum off the
Quirk #5 - MM2
acts differently about splitting clips. It lets you split a single frame from the beginning of a
clip, provided it's frame zero (something MM1 wouldn't do). But at the back end you have to lop
off at least 2 double-frames.
Clips on the Timeline
Now move the clips to the timeline to preview them there.
image at the right shows the MM1 timeline on the top and MM2 below it. Each has the clip with 100
frames on it, using the maximum zoom. See that MM1's every frame working environment displays the
clip about twice the visual length as MM2. Each notch of the MM1 timeline scale when zoomed in that
far is a single frame.
In MM1 with the 100 frame clip on the timeline, the highest number you can see is #98. In MM2,
the highest number seen is #97. Nudging one more frame up shows the blackness beyond the clip, although
we know there are frames with 98 and 99 on them.
Quirk #6 - The
timeline view of MM1 doesn't let you see the last frame in a clip with an even number of frames.
In MM2 you can't see the last two frames.
We don't see the last 1 or 2 frames of a clip with 100... how about the clip with 101 frames?
MM1 lets you see each frame, right up to the last one with #100.
MM2 is more consistent than it is when the clip is in the collection. In the timeline, you see
just the odd numbers when jogging along in either direction... but the highest number seen is 97...
we're not seeing 98, 99 or 100... the last 3 frames. It jumps to the blackness beyond the clip when
you move one frame up from 97.
Quirk #7 - If
the number of frames in a clip is odd, there are 3 more frames beyond the last one seen in
Splitting a Clip on the Timeline
First splitting the 100 frame clip as we did in the collection, at the frame with #49 on it.
In MM1 we can go one frame at a time up to and beyond the split point, but the last frame of the
original end of the clip still can't be seen. The same behavior is seen in MM2, with the last 2
frames not seen.
When splitting the 101 frame clip at#49. MM1
acts the same way it did before. MM2 has the same
behavior... letting you see frames on either side of the split point but still not the last 3 frames
of the original clip ending.
How about lopping off the beginning and ending frames?
MM1 wouldn't let me split it after the first frame. I needed at least 2. And at the end of the
clip, I couldn't split it unless there were 2 frames of the even numbered clip and 3 of the odd
Another thing about MM1 was, after splitting the minimum number of frames at the start of the
clip, the timeline view looked as if it had 3 frames in the sub-clip but acted as if there were
two. I rendered it to a movie, brought it back in, and it was the 2 frames, not 3... the picture
at the left shows the pre-rendered clip followed by the clip rendered from it... count the notches
in the timeline and see 3 versus 2, when the clips are both 2 frames.
MM2 let me split a clip after the first pair of frames.
Quirk #8 - If
you lop off the minimal number of frames at the beginning of a clip in MM1, it looks like there
are 3 frames, but it's really 2.
Going to the back end of the clips to lop off just one frame or pair of them. MM1 needed 2 as
a minimum, and after the splitting the small piece looked like one frame, but for the 100 frame
clip, it was really 2, similar to what we saw at the beginning. For the 101 frame clip, what looked
like 1 was really one; MM1 dropped the last one during the rendering... guess it doesn't like the
last odd numbered frame.
Quirk #9 - If
you split a clip with an odd number of frames at its end in MM1 with the minimum number of frames,
the rendering to a new DV-AVI will drop the final odd numbered frame.
With MM2 I could lop off the last 3 frames of the clip with the even number of frames, and the
last 4 with the odd number. Rendering the little clips didn't result in the last frame being dropped
as it was in MM1.
First generation rendering of the entire clips.
I expected MM1 to act perfectly and be the
cross check on MM2. But in this step, things got interesting. The total frame counts of the rendered
movies were the same as the source files, but it made two frames with number 1 on them and the pictures
were identical. To keep the frame count the same, the last frame of each was dropped... the frames
with #99 in the first and #100 in the second were gone.
Rendering to WMV files had the same results... doubled #1 and dropped the last frame.
Quirk #10 - When
rendering from the first generation DV-AVI files to either DV-AVI or WMV files, MM1 made two identical
frames with #1 on it and dropped the last frame.
I expected MM2 to drop the frame with #26 on it (the 27th frame). It acted as expected and did
it, but didn't drop the last frame. Although it did what I expected, I have to continue calling
the dropping frame a quirk.
Rendering to WMV files was different, but showed something new. The 27th frame isn't dropped....
but frame #0 is doubled and the last frame is dropped. Because it does something different with
WMV files than with DV-AVI, I'll give it two quirks.
Quirk #11 - When
rendering a new DV-AVI file using MM2, from a DV-AVI source file, the 27th frame of the first clip
Quirk #12 - When
rendering a WMV file from a DV-AVI, MM2 doubles the #0 frame (the first frame) and drops the last
These changes in the recital clips are starting to explain how the Chicago horse clip in the
opening paragraphs got to where it was.
Second generation rendering of the entire clips.
I did a second generation.... DV-AVI to DV-AVI and WMV to WMV, to see if the patterns of duplicating
and dropping frames continued. They did.
For the 2nd generation DV-AVI, MM1 added another #1 and dropped the last frame... so it was up
to three frames with #1. The WMV file stayed the same, showing no frame changes with the next generation.
MM2 also continued its patterns... the 2nd generation DV-AVI file dropped what was now the 27th
frame, so frames with #26 and 27 were no longer there. The rest of the frames remained.
The 2nd generation WMV file rendered by MM2 showed two frames with #0, #2 was dropped, and there
were two with #3. The last frames were #95 and #96, down from the originals of #99 and #100. The
recital clip is beginning to turn into the horse clip I didn't want to start with.
Conclusions and Closing
Even with its Quirks, I'm still happy with the results I get with Movie Maker... so maybe accepting
it for what it is, and looking at video editing more from the macro level than the micro is best
when you're making movies. It's like enjoying life without thinking of all the little critters on
your skin or in the air that might be harmful... let the clinical lab technicians study them....
and developed the cures and work-arounds.
I didn't study what was happening to the audio associated with the visual. My previous study
of that had shown that segments of the audio waves get similarly dropped.
Footnote: When splitting the 101 frame clip
at#49 in MM1, I saw another example of what I
call the 'short term memory effect'. Immediately
after splitting the clip, before selecting another clip on the timeline, I could jog over to and
see the last frame. But select another clip and then go back... you can't see it anymore. I've see
this in too many other applications to call it a Movie Maker quirk, but I wanted to note it. Sometimes
things work once, but not again...
I look forward to comments and discussion about this and other newsletters on the forums at:
Have a great holiday weekend...PapaJohn
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 regularly. Here's a list of what is available to the public. Some are free and others reasonably
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 2005 quarterly special... had a 7 page tutorial 'Make a Killer Home Movie
with Maker 2'. The special edition of the video made for it is now
on my website
as a file download.
Publishing of Birmingham, U.K. issued the first book about VirtualDub.
The last word I got on it was this
Yahoo press release,
along with a note that my copy was going in the mail.
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.
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
for PhotoStory 3, and helping you solve Movie Maker 2 problems.
PhotoStory 2 -
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.
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
#56 - June 4 - Civil War Project - part IV - continue building clips into a more complete movie
project. Pickup where issue 51 left off. As my Toshiba is still in Texas, I'll probably rearrange
the schedule... and post the new one on the forum.
#57 - June 11 - Video Blogging (Vlogging) using Moving Maker
#58 - June 18 - open
#59 - June 25 - Converting MPEG-2 files for use in Movie Maker - Part III. This will cover getting
recorded TV into it, completing this 3 part series.
#60 - July 2 - open
Older newsletters (more than 6 issues ago) are posted by Rob Morris to an
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.
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 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
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
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
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
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