The Movie Maker Team at Microsoft is impressed with how far the user community has gone with
custom files... and there's no end in sight as possibilities are infinite.
In this newsletter I'll focus on 3 aspects of the custom effects, transitions and title overlays.
I won't go heavily into the xml code itself and how to write or tweak it... the Persian Page
is for that.
... before getting into it, here are a few
I can talk more about our side trip to California on the way back. Over time you'll be seeing
clips from the 4-1/2 hours of video I took on the trip... an hour of Summit footage and the rest
vacationing... shot mostly in widescreen.
.... on to the main topic...
The goals do not include a complete library of code developed by the community of Movie Maker
users... nor are we offering services to develop new custom code.
When scrolling through the Persian Page, you might find yourself looking at techie looking stuff
pretty quickly, and if your computer skills are not sufficient, you may be interested but not ready
to jump in over your head.
I'd like to go over the basic computer setup and personal skills you should have before starting
into the shallow end of the xml pool, things beyond being able to use a mouse.
Assuming you'll want to use custom XML and associated PNG image files, here's what you need to
know. If you're weak in any of these, it's best to learn or brush up.
IrfanView isn't as sophisticated as some other image software, but it's the only one I've used
so far in making my PNG files... and they've worked fine.
If I've missed a basic skill or two, let me know.
The bulk of the Persian Page covers details of adding the AddOnTFX subfolder if it's not there
under the Movie Maker folder, shows you some basics about the structure of xml code that's important
to check if your custom item isn't working as you expect, and gets you into the details of xml code
Persian notes that Titles, Unique Effects, Wipe Transitions, and Split Screening will be added
to the page soon.
The links at the bottom of the Persian Page take you to sites where Movie Maker community developments
in custom xml are taking place.
If there's something specific you want, search the site first, and if you don't find it, ask.
A search for blue screen got 159 posts yesterday. Green screen
got 111 and King Kong 3.
The structure of a forum is great for day to day comments and threads of discussion. But with
1005 posts of the almost 30,000 posts on the forums containing the word xml, the
lack of topical structure makes it hard to do the research, and this is especially true for the
most commonly sought topics. Research King Kong today and you can easily browse the results. But
research blue screen, of much more common interest, and try to go through the 3+ pages with 50 partial
posts on each... much easier to make a new post.
A structured central library of custom xml info is there because of the limitations inherent
in researching forum posts.
The first attempt at such a library was Pegson's website early this year... it got up to about
100 items but stopped being updated, and nothing has come along to replace it.
Two of the more prolific xml developers recently started their own websites... Daniel's
and Background FX for Movie Maker 2, with links at the bottom of the Persian Page.
A centralized site might not be practical... we'll be keeping the links going to whatever sites
What is online is there for the use of any Movie Maker user... you can get copies of xml and
png files, or you can easily copy and paste the code into your own xml files.
I've only dabbled a bit in custom code and I'm looking forward to learning from the Persian Page.
When my Toshiba laptop reached 'lemon' status I had about 700 special effects and transitions
in my MM2 collections. That was before adding lots of custom files. The subject of storing them,
finding what you want, knowing what you used in a project... those kinds of things... becomes important.
The disciplines of organization and management, much less fun than creating movies.
Just before leaving for the MVP Summit, I decided how I'm going to manage them, and started with
the custom puzzle overlay which is a more complex one in terms of the number of files needed. I'll
be loading my new Hummer (hp laptop) with xml files, keeping track of them with my new method.
I'm using my personal database, the same one I give to regular newsletter subscribers and sell
to others for $10. How to organize and manage information and files is a very personal decision,
and I don't suggest that others do it with my database. What I do suggest is having a way to do
it. I'm presenting my way to help you think about yours.
how I manage the custom Puzzle Overlay
For the last newsletter, I made a custom puzzle overlay and illustrated it over a 13 second segment
from a Persian Poet Gal video. I changed that and it's now over some fish I videoed at the Monterey
Aquarium... Puzzle Overlay - Over Fish. It can be placed over anything on
the video track. The Persian clip was standard 4:3 and the fish is widescreen 16:9... the puzzle
overlay adapts without adjustment. The downloadable
package has all the files needed. You don't need to make any images or tweak
the xml files to use it.
The Managing > Personal Database page of my site has the info about the database and how to use
it. No need to cover it here. I'll jump right into the 3 records I added for the puzzle overlay:
one for general info about the puzzle, another to install the files when needed, and the third to
remove them when finished.
(1) In the main record I noted when and what I made, along with where I stored
the master files. I treat the working copies in the Movie Maker folder to be just that... working
copies made from the masters when needed, ones that can be deleted at any time.
the main record for the puzzle overlay
The main record summarizes the files: 10 image png files, an xml file, a Movie Maker project
file (MSWMM), and two batch files. If you don't know what batch files are... I'll get to them in
The website link is the location of the zipped package that I rolled out for newsletter #72,
something not needed for my personal use of the files.
Note the unusual location of the puzzle overlay files... the PapaJohn folder of my thumb drive.
As my Toshiba laptop was taking regular trips to the repair shop. I was using my old Dell more often
then not. When I packed for the trip to the MVP Summit I wasn't sure what computer I'd have with
me, so I put my working files on a 512 MB USB2 thumbdrive. The PapaJohn folder on it holds my database
and the files for the puzzle overlay, the first such files I'm managing with the database.
(2) The second record for the puzzle overlay is the one that installs copies of the files in
the appropriate Movie Maker subfolders on the computer the thumbdrive is currently attached to.
Here's where you learn a little about batch files. Press the open folder icon
of the database and it'll open or run the batch file, in this case one named InstallPuzzle.bat.
the installation record
A batch file (a file with a .bat extension) is about the simplest little program you can tell
your computer to run... you write or tweak it in Notepad and save it with an extension of ..bat.
Here's the one I wrote to automatically install the files for the puzzle overlay.
the installation batch file
Note that a line in a batch file that starts with 'rem' tells the computer it's a remark, so
it skips that line when performing the other lines. 5 of the 8 lines are remarks, so there are only
3 lines of commands to be run when the database button is pressed.
In a split second, the files needed for the puzzle overlay are copied to the Movie Maker folder(s).
The 10 png image files go to the Shared folder, the xml file to the AddOnTFX folder, and the project
MSWMM file also goes to the AddOnTFX folder. The project file can go to any folder and work fine.
After installing the files, I open the Puzzle.MSWMM project file. It has the 10 overlay images
already on the title overlay track, ready for video clips to be added. I added and tweaked the locations
of each overlay for this puzzle project, and don't need to do it again for any further uses... unless
I want to.
Opened Puzzle project ready for use
The background at this point is black, as there are no video clips in the project... add them
and you'll be ready to preview the movie with the puzzle overlay.
Remove the Puzzle Overlay Files
(3) The third record in the database is to remove the working files used for the puzzle overlay
from the Movie Maker folders. Pressing the open icon in the database runs the RemovePuzzle.bat
file and the files are deleted in a split second... it's a surgical removal process done from the
sidelines of my thumb drive, with no risk of accidentally deleting other files that are still important
to Movie Maker or other projects.
Batch File to Remove the Puzzle Files
It deletes (that's what del means in a batch file) the 10 image files, the xml file, and the
Movie Maker project file. If I use the puzzle project to start a new project, I'll save the new
project with a different more appropriate name.
By storing the master of the custom overlay files in the folder of the thumb drive, I can plug
the drive into any computer and have the puzzle overlay in Movie Maker in a few seconds.
Puzzle Overlay - Development
This newsletter isn't about making custom xml files so I didn't include the details of how I
made it... but, seeing as I used it as the example, I thought I'd at least summarize it.
- The puzzle is a series of 10 overlay images in .png format, with a selected color
in each designated as transparent. I started with the puzzle image at the right - in BMP format.
I used IrfanView to save it as a Puzzle1.png file.
When you save a PNG file in IrfanView, it asks if you want to designate one of the colors in
it as transparent... say no if you don't and yes if you do, then select the color on the next window
in its wizard. I didn't select a color for this first image and, in the movie project, none of the
video shows behind it.
Opening the BMP image in Paint, I used the paint bucket to color some of the pieces pure black
for the 2nd image of the series... saving it as a new BMP file. I opened that BMP in IrfanView and
saved it as Puzzle2.png, selecting the painted black color as transparent.
The same BMP went back into Paint and I colored some more pieces black... to IrfanView to get
the next PNG image for the series... over and over until I had 10 overlay images, the last one with
all of the pieces painted black so all you're seeing is the outlines of the puzzle pieces with the
video showing through.
2 - The xml file was next... Movie Maker gets the info about what to do with
the 10 images from it.
When I first studied Rehan's logo overlay xml code, I decided to use it to overlay anything that
goes on a page... from a little logo in a corner to a full screen puzzle like this example. Rather
than figuring out where to position an overlying item, and tweaking the xml code for it, I tweak
the overlay images in Paint, leaving the code the same. I use full sized images all the time, so
I don't need to tweak the location settings.
You don't have to understand xml code, just know how to copy and paste it in a notepad document...
and tweak it a little. Here's the beginning and ending of the xml file for the puzzle overlay. Once
developed for the first image of the series, I copied and pasted that section (the part in the blue
rectangle) another 9 times, so there's one section of code for each of the 10 images. The only things
different in each section are those circled in red
The names like 'PapaJohn Puzzle Overlay 1' are what shows up in the title animation picklist
in MM2. The rest of the code for that first image tells Movie Maker to use the Puzzle1.png image...
3 - I used each of the 10 custom title overlays and applied them to a new project, checking their
functioning with some video clips on the video track. When done, I stripped the video clip from
the project and saved it as a template with just the puzzle overlays in it.
By using the project template (Puzzle.MSWMM), all the overlays are there when you open it. Just
add video clips and go on with the project.
4 - I copied the files to my database folder and made the two batch files which do the automatic
installation and removal of the files needed.
Beyond that, I packaged the custom files into a zip file and put them on the website for anyone
who wants to use it.
Conclusions and Closing
This puzzle overlay is a more complex situations. Many custom xml files have only the xml file
itself and no associated image files or starter project file. But I'll manage all of them the same
From here, jump in and swim around in custom xml stuff as much as you want. Be careful as it
can be addicting. You can find yourself having so much fun making custom effects, transitions, and
text overlays that you forgot the subject of the movie you sat down to edit.
If you do start down the path of customized xml, I hope you think about how you'll manage the
files... the hidden danger I see with these custom files is:
- they won't show up in the storyboard view of a project.
- they'll be seen in the timeline view but without the ability to right-click them to check
file properties... what xml and image files were used to make that overlay won't be visible.
- if the custom files are gone and you open the project, the overlay clips will appear as
usual on the Title Overlay track, but previewing the project or rendering it to a movie will
result in blackness where the puzzle pieces used to be.
Persian's page is pretty well along. I'll be working with her to fine tune it and be sure it
supports our goals of inspiration and education. Read it when you get a change, check the links
to the community pages, get involved today or whenever you want to.
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 -
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
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.
Movie Maker 2 - Do Amazing Things (with its online companion on
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.
The current November edition of Maximum PC as a reworked reprint of the same article, right after
the Happy 20th Birthday article for Windows.
Learning VirtualDub - published by
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 -
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 -
www.papajohn.org/photostory2/PS2.html - 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
Movie Maker and Photo Story forums at W
indows 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 -
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):
#74 - October 22 - open
#75 - October 29 - open
#76 - October 29 - open
Older newsletters (more than 6 issues ago) are posted by Rob Morris to an
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.
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.
your personal information is more of a challenge as hard drives get bigger and the internet more
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.
An online gallery that fully aligns with the main priority of the website is the
'PapaJohn Expert Zone'
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:
Saturday - October 15 - 2-3 pm - an hour devoted to Movie Maker 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
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 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.
Check 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 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