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PapaJohn's Newsletter #72

Equipment - Monopod

Sometimes a rock wall can be used to steady you and your camcorder...

... but most of the time, one isn't readily available. I've been known for taking pretty steady footage, but I use any help I can get to make it even steadier.

John with MonopodThis is the first newsletter devoted to hardware. After a camcorder, what's the most used piece of video hardware? For me it's my fairly new monopod.  

I've had a tripod ever since I rode a tricycle... but it wasn't until this past Christmas that I tried a monopod. Over the 9 months we've formed such a positive relationship that I decided to dedicate this newsletter to it.

At the left, I'm at my grandson's football game last week, shooting his 2nd touchdown run in 3 years. The narrow bench was the only thing around I could use for a higher perspective of the field. Not much room for both the monopod and me, but it was pretty comfortable.

It's just the latest example of where a monopod has the extreme advantage over a tripod when taking video.

John with TripodA couple years earlier, I would fold the legs of my tripod together and use it as it was a monopod. With 3 legs and the more limited swiveling of the head it didn't work nearly as well. The picture at the right is an air show in Chicago.

The only place to get a good view without lots of people was in Lake Michigan. Those are boats in the distance, not the other side, which is about 100 miles away. 

... before getting into it, here are a few notes...


My new HP laptop is on order, but I don't expect to see it until I return from the MVP Summit...

... which is at Microsoft next week... I'll be cramped for time and computer capabilities, so I'll publish this newsletter before I leave, and then skip a week before doing #73.

#73 will take a look at current developments in custom xml files for transitions, effects and title overlays. The Persian Page of my site is pretty well along and about ready for my active involvement.

I made a Puzzle Overlay on top of a 13 second segment from a Persian Poet Gal video. I also put a zipped file with all the ingredients needed to install the custom overlay in your Movie Maker setup... ready for downloading and use... over your own images and clips.

I've been thinking about how to easily manage all the custom files you can find yourself swimming in... those you develop yourself, and others downloaded from any of several websites.

...the solution is easy... store the custom files with your copy of my personal database (the free one you got from me... see below if you didn't) and add two records, one to install the puzzle parts, and another to remove them. With the two records in the database and the parts over to the side, when you want to use the puzzle overlay, click on the open icon in the database and it's automatically taken care of.

Install Puzzle Overlay

... and when you're done using it on that project, cleanup your Movie Maker working folders by clicking the other associated icon... you won't be accidentally removing other important MM2 working files as you search for and delete the puzzle parts.

Remove Puzzle

I'll cover how to use this feature of the database in the next issue, in addition to reviewing the xml subject.

With school back in session, the Intro to Movie Maker class at the library had a record number of attendees - 9 people. 8 of them using Windows XP and one Windows 98.

The library is holding a Technology Fair on Saturday, October 15. I'll be doing a one hour exhibit about Movie Maker from 2 to 3, a good chance to show off the new laptop, Movie Maker, and some of the fancier video samples... stop by if you're in the area.

.... on to the main topic

The Monopod

Here's my Canon Monopod 100. It's small and light for traveling... 15 ounces (less than a pound), much lighter than my camcorder, and it feels good in your hand as you walk around. 

Camcorder and Monopod Folded

Swivel HeadThe head has a swivel ball... which can rotate all the way up or down by up to 90 degrees in two directions.

Most of the models I looked at don't have the head swivel features to that degree, a desirable feature for quick and easy rotation, and changing directions on a dime... upwards to airplanes, skyscrapers and birds, and downwards to water and sand.

Fully ExtendedWhen fully extended, the top of the base is 5-1/2 feet high... at that  level the camcorder is a bit higher than my eye level, so I leave it a bit less than fully extended.

The 3 clamps are easy to loosen and tighten, and I haven't had any slippage when using it extended.

This is a short main feature, but how much can you say about a simple device? But it's sometimes the simple ones that provide the hardware basics for your video shooting.

Reminds me of something I hear a bit about Movie Maker... "it's such a simple software app, how can you write books, magazine articles, and a website about it?".

Conclusions and Closing

My wife suggested this topic... as she's always taking pictures of me taking video... you can tell from a couple pictures in the intro section.

I've met so many people who hadn't seen a monopod before, or didn't know what it was. They all have cameras, and most of them also have camcorders. Maybe this issue will be read by some who haven't seen them also.

The grandkids love it, using it as a saber sword... for a short while anyway... it's not rugged enough for what they really like to do with it.

I routinely carry a tripod with me also, but it's not my big one... it's one of those little 6" high ones that tuck into a corner of the camera bag. In a pinch, they work, a tad better than a table, chair, car hood or rock wall.

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 -
Photo Story 2 -

Products and Services

I'm involved in many things that support users of Movie Maker and Photo Story, and adding more regularly. Some are free and others reasonably priced.

Radio and Podcasting

theDVShowTheDVShow is the only weekly Podcast having more useful information about desktop video editing and production than anywhere else on the Web. Digital video editing, nonlinear editing, streaming media, software releases, tutorials, business tips, technical help, download of the day and news on the latest products to make everything easier. It's where professional and consumer desktop video users go to stay on the cutting edge. 

Call the phone mail machine to get your technical question answered on the air... call (206)-203-3516

The radio broadcast is from Boston, and the website has downloadable podcast files. The June 19th 2005 podcast included the first 'bi-weekly' show with a segment about Movie Maker 2.

Do Amazing ThingsBooks and Magazines

Movie Maker 2 - Do Amazing Things (with its online companion on, published by Microsoft Press

Movie Maker 2 - Zero to Hero - with support on the publisher's forum -  Friends of Ed

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.

Learning VirtualDub - published by Virtual DubPackt Publishing, is the first book about VirtualDub software. I wrote the first chapter about downloading and setting up the software: VirtualDub, VDubMod and AVISynth.


Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 - - 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.


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 the participants.

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):

October 8 - no newsletter

#73 - October 15 - the next look at developments in custom xml transitions, effects, and title overlays

#74 - October 22 – open

Older newsletters (more than 6 issues ago) are posted by Rob Morris to an Archive Site at his Windows Movie Makers website. Links from my website pages to specific newsletters make it easier for the website viewer to see the content of both while browsing a topic.

Drop an email to suggest a newsletter topic... I can use more requests rather than fewer.


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'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.

Personal Database

Managing your personal information is more of a challenge as hard drives get bigger and the internet more robust. 

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 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.

Online Gallery Neptune Gallery

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.


in conjunction with the Portage, Michigan library, I offer two free training sessions about Movie Maker, an intro session and a workshop. The upcoming scheduled sessions are:

Monday - October 10 - 6-7:30 - Workshop

Saturday - October 15 - 2-3 pm - the Movie Maker hour at a special one day technology fair.

Monday - November 14 - 6-7:30 - Intro to Movie Maker

Monday - December 12 - 6-7:30 - Workshop

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 about how to render the parts and assemble them into your final movie. $49.95 (no cost if it's not the right solution or doesn't work) - 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 the Movie Maker 2 website for a sample of what you can expect for the online portion of the package.

Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries

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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Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.