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PapaJohn's Newsletter #76

The DVD Option of Movie Maker 2 on MCE2005 Systems

I've seen an increased awareness and interest in the Media Center Edition of Windows XP... and one effect of my recent change from my Toshiba notebook to an HP Pavilion zd8000 is that I'm now running the Windows XP Media Center Edition - 2005, the first version with an added option in MM2's Save Movie Wizard... Save your movie and copy it to a DVD

DVD OptionThe subject of getting movies from TV/discs, editing them, and then back to disc, is a perennial favorite. As I didn't have the MCE2005 edition on the Toshiba, I had to rely on brief info and screen shots from others.

Now, with the system, it's time to take my first serious look at how it works. I'm using is MyDVD Plus version 6.1.0, a limited version that was included on the HP notebook. 

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


I'll be showing Movie Maker and Photo Story at the Microsoft Windows Brand Gallery 'pop-up' store in San Francisco on Sat/Sun Nov 19-20... the address is 1830 Polk and I'll be presenting at 1, 3 and 5 pm. Stop by if you're in the area.

I'll be using the video of the cable ride, which you may have already seen, and another one I'm working on about a walk across the Golden Gate. For the new one, I've been using Paint.NET with IrfanView to make great overlay images. Paint.NET is the subject of next week's newsletter.

... I'll be doing the same at another 'pop-up' store in New York City on the weekend of December 18-19. 

I started using the beta version of Vista on a routine basis, starting with postings on forums. Movie Maker is the same version 2.1 as on Windows XP... for now... stay tuned for info about upcoming beta releases.

At this point I can't open version 2.1 on it... an error message says I don't have an audio device. Seems the installation of the operating system missed linking with the sound card. Other than that it's working well.

Some subscribers skim rather than read the newsletters, looking for the bottom line or conclusions. For them and others, starting with this issue I'm indenting, numbering, and coloring red the items I consider Tips and Tricks... hope it helps.

.... on to the main topic...

The DVD Option in MCE2005

Let's look at the process in five parts:

  • saving the movie
  • converting (transcoding) it to MPEG-2 files
  • burning the disc
  • playing the DVD on a computer and stand-alone DVD player
  • editing or adding to the burned disc (trying to... my software version doesn't support it)

Saving ProgressThese may vary from system to system as the DVD process is handled on mine by Sonic software, not Movie Maker.

Part 1 - Rendering the Movie (WMV file)

When you select the DVD option in the Saving Wizard, the profile is automatically selected and the movie rendered to a WMV file.

It's saved in the same folder that the project file is in. If you haven't saved the project file, the movie is rendered to the c:\Documents and Settings\PapaJohn\My Documents\My Videos folder.

The movie is named Untitled_001.wmv, nothing to do with the name of the project file. You don't get a chance to name it, not until it gets to the DVD stage.

And you don't get an option to save a copy either. Unlike the option of going to an email with your movie, the wizard doesn't make such an offer... 

If you want a copy, you'll need to rip one from the temporary WMV after it's saved and before moving on to DVD creation. Copy it to another file name or folder.

Saved File PropertiesTip 1: The wizard doesn't keep the temporary movie file open. If you wanted to, you could swap it out with another file that you'd like on the DVD instead. It could be a story file from Photo Story 3, without having to re-render it in Movie Maker.

Canceling the process after the rendering and before starting the DVD process results in the temporary movie file being immediately deleted, and it doesn't show up in the recycle bin. If your movie is large and took a long time to render, you'd be better off rendering it to a DV-AVI or high quality WMV file first, and bringing it in as a single clip. The single clip on the timeline will render lots quicker and you don't run the risk of something getting in the way of the original rendering.

The profile used for the temporary WMV file is built into the process and not changeable. I searched my hard drive to see if I could find the file and see the settings... but didn't find it. Must be embedded in the application software someplace... in an exe, a dll, whatever. It's not a prx profile.

Instead of looking at profile settings, let's take a look at the properties of a temporary WMV file by importing it into Movie Maker.

The bit rate is as high as the best WMV option that comes with Movie Maker but only 1/3 to 1/4 the rate of a high quality DVD MPEG-2 file.

Tip 2: Bumping up the bitrate in a custom profile, and substituting the rendered movie for the temporary WMV file would be a good use of the swap-out feature.

Not only would the swap work with a higher quality WMV file... you could render the movie to a DV-AVI file and use that instead (name it the same, including the WMV file extension).

The size of 720x480 is appropriate as it aligns with the MPEG-2 DVD standard... better than the Photo Story 3 DVD plug-in that uses 640x480 and results in lower quality.

Part 2 - Transcoding (converting) to MPEG-2 files...

Create DVD Window

After the temporary WMV file is fully rendered, Movie Maker tosses the ball to the Sonic DVD wizard (or whatever brand comes with your system - I'm interested in hearing about it).

You know you're out of Movie Maker at this point because the window has a Sonic logo, and you can have this wizard open yet go back and do other things in Movie Maker. If it was a Movie Maker wizard, you'd have to close it first.

This is the window where you get to name your DVD and the video... see the screen shot in part 4 below to see where these two titles end up on the main menu. 

Accept the drive selection and write speed. You can select as many as 20 discs.

Tip 3:It's a good idea to select a few copies... even if you only want one disc. If you run into a glitch in the burning, it'll tell you that it was unsuccessful but won't offer to try again. You have to start over in Movie Maker and re-render the movie.

If you get a successful burn on the first disc, you can press the cancel button to close the process before starting the second one.

Checking for media

When you press the Create DVD button the Sonic wizard checks to see that you have a blank DVD disc in the drive... 

if you don't, or if you've slipped a substitute in to try to get it to a disc, but it won't accept it... it'll give you the error message below.

Media checking error

Tip 4: It's another message that could be due to other reasons. I saw it a bit during testing... not only when I put an already used disc in the drive (good call)... but also when I substituted a downloaded MPEG-2 file to see if I could slip it into the process (bad call, as it was based on the input file, not the disc). Transcoding files


When it accepts both the input file (or the substitute you slipped in) and the blank disc, it'll transcode the MPEG-2 files needed for the disc. To do it, the wizard creates a temporary disc-based DVD project.


The project is named MCE2005.dvd and created in the c:\Documents and Settings\PapaJohn\Local Settings\Temp\Symphony.Sonic\MCE2005 folder.

Part 3 - Burning the disc(s)...

You'll have had to satisfy Sonic's need for an appropriate blank disc before the DVD project is saved to disc, so there's nothing more to do at this step except watch it. I use DVD-R discs.

When the disc is finished you get the good feelings (or relief) from the notice at the right...

Part 4 - Playing the disc...

Playing in WinDVD

The DVD menu at the left is what you get if you accept all of the defaults, not naming the DVD or movie...

The embedded logo on the menu is the Media Center... but here it's playing in WinDVD. It plays fine.

As I didn't have a functional DVD player in the house, I went out and purchased the lowest priced one I could find - $29.95 after rebate. I played it, using the 3-1/2" LCD screen of my camcorder as the screen... and it looked good.

Part 5 - Adding to or Editing the disc...

I tried to open the DVD project on the disc, to change the titles or add another movie, but a message said this version doesn't support it... and offered a link to purchase a higher version.

Conclusions and Closing

Everything worked well... all of my test burns but one finished successfully and played on computers and stand-alone DVD players. One of them resulted in an error message during the burn... I was doing a dozen other things on the computer at the same time, and I chalked it up to my pushing things a bit too far.

MyDVD Plus version 6.1.0 on my new notebook is a limited one... it has the same menu as the fuller version, but I get pop-up marketing messages when I opt for certain things.

Sonic Marketing Message

For example, selecting Fit-to-DVD from the Quality drop-down list gives me this.

I got the same message when I put a burned disc back in the drive and tried to open it to make changes or add another movie to the disc.

I upgraded MyDVD version 4.5 to the Studio Deluxe 6.1 version on the Toshiba laptop back in March, in order to use stories rendered by Photo Story 3. I ran into significant problems with it... I'm leery of doing it again, but I'll probably give it a shot one of these days... approaching it very cautiously. 

I look forward to comments and discussion about this and other newsletters on the forums at:

Windows Movie

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 was 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.

The November 2005 edition of Maximum PC had a well done reworked 6 page reprint of the same article, starting on page 42 after the Happy 20th Birthday article for Windows.

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):

#77 - November 12 - Intro to Paint.NET - more than Paint, less than PhotoShop

#78 - November 19 - open

#79 - November 26 - open

Newsletters that were distributed 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've beta tested some of 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. A tutorial about using it is on the Managing > Personal Database page of my site, and more info is in the database package itself.

It's free for the asking to regular newsletter subscribers... send an email request and I'll return it with the zipped file, which is less than 1 MB.

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 - 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 - 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
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.