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PapaJohn's Newsletter #79

Photo Story 3.1 and the Digital Image 2006 Suite

The last issue covered prepping still pictures for importing to Photo Story and Movie Maker... and right after issuing it, I went to the Windows XP digital media gallery in San Francisco for the weekend, where the subject was front and center.

It was a great weekend... with enough walk-in traffic to keep me busy both days. The gallery was nicely setup in an ethnic/gallery flavored neighborhood (corner of Polk and Jackson). Capping the 2 days was a visit by Blaine (the Considerate Guy on the WindowsMovieMakers forums) with his youngest daughter Amara. The 28th is the last day before it closes, to be followed by one in New York City

Most of the interest was in still pix and Photo Story perked up many. While they also loved what they saw about Movie Maker, it seemed to be beyond their reach in the time needed to create a movie. It can be intimidating until they take sit behind the driver's wheel and take control.

The weather was wonderful enough to take a boat under the Golden Gate on Monday to get some video footage from a different perspective.

The gallery goodies included copies of the Starter Edition of the Microsoft Digital Image 2006 Suite, which was released in July. The Starter Edition includes Photo Story 3.1 without its VCD burning feature, and turns off many other features in 60 days unless you step up to the full version.

PapaJohn and BlaineVisitors to the gallery could have their picture taken in front of a 'white screen', enhance the picture in the Digital Image Editor, and take a print home with them.

I installed the suite while I was there and checked it out... like last week, my focus isn't in all the great things you can do to enhance a picture, but more in the special features that are of particular interest to users of Movie Maker and Photo Story. There's enough the to fill this newsletter issue.

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


I took a shot at blogging a few months ago... from April to May... and it didn't work. With one undated response that I couldn't figure out how to respond to, it wasn't effective. Today I started a new one to try again. APress, the publisher of Movie Maker 2 - Zero to Hero, invited me to blog on their site, and I took them up on it.

I'll try to keep the blogging on a high level... not the Q&A topics you expect on a newsgroup or forum.

The link is on the Online > Blogs, Vlogs, Podcasts page of the website.    

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

Digital Image 2006 Suite

I'll cover Photo Story 3.1 first and then get into the rest of the Suite...

The jacket for the software CD summarizes the features: sharing photos, organizing and preserving memories, enhancing images, and doing more with them. There's no mention of Photo Story being included, so I had to get into the installation to confirm what I had heard. In late June, an MVP sent an email saying the Suite included the 3.1 version with a CD burning feature...

The installation results in 3 new items in the Start menu... the Digital Image Editor, the Digital Image Library, and Photo Story 3.1... the path to PS3.1 is C:\Program Files\Microsoft Digital Image 2006\PIXPhotoStory.exe

Photo Story 3.1

This part is brief as Photo Story 3.1 in the Starter Edition doesn't include the VCD burning feature. The help file says " In Microsoft Digital Image Starter Edition 2006, video CD burning is disabled."

I assume the VCD option in the full edition is a Sonic plug-in with the one story per disc capability, the same as the previous Sonic plug-ins for Photo Story and Movie Maker. The Help file confirms it by saying "Only blank CDs can be used to record photo stories. Each blank CD must have enough space available to accommodate the size of the story."

I looked for direct relationships between the Image Library and Editor and Photo Story... I found one. If you're browsing pictures in the Library, you can select a batch of them and use the main Library menu to open Photo Story. The selected pix will automatically be imported into a new story project to get you started. Additional ones can be dragged from the Library and dropped into the Story project. Beyond that, it's the same as Photo Story 3.

Digital Image Suite 2006 Library GUI

Looking in the other direction.... can you use any of the advanced features of the Editor on a picture already in a story project?... I didn't find it. Once imported, the picture enhancing features internal to Photo Story are the only ones available.

There's an additional profile option for a higher quality 1200x900 image size, recommended if the story is going to be played full screen on a computer with a 3.4 GHz processor and 1GB of RAM or higher. My new HP laptop meets the criteria and stories made with the profile play fine.

You can copy the profile to your Photo Story 3 folder and use it there also.

Digital Image Library

The digital image/video Library (file browser) loads fast, is easy to use, and has some powerful features....

Video PropertiesThe Library picked up the My Documents folder of my C drive, and removable media (CD/DVD drive and thumb drive), but I had to nudge it a little to add the contents of the rest of the C drive and my two external drives... an easy nudge by using Import > Find on my Computer > and pointing it to the drive.

Select some pix in a folder and use the Photo Story option in the main menu... and it'll open the app with a new story started, with the selected pix in it.

Although the image library includes video files with thumbnails of the first frame, there are no video editing features in the suite. But you can make changes or add annotations to the meta-data that is stored in the file header... 

I wondered where all the info about the media files, and the thumbnails it was creating, was going... as I worked on this newsletter and did other things, the library executable was keeping pretty busy in the background... using as much as half of the CPU and 150K of memory for extended periods. It did this for many hours until it had cataloged all the files.

Pod.exe is the app for the Library, and it built a file named Pictures.pd3 file in the c:\Documents and Settings\PapaJohn\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\POD folder. It ended up being 454 MB in file size.

As I have most of my media files on the two external drives, and the drives are at home when I'm doing my work at Barnes and Noble.

I wondered if I could browse the files on the external drives without having them connected. I'm happy to say it works fine. I can select the drive, browse the folders, see the thumbnails, and even see a larger size image, along with the file properties... all without having the drives connected.

CollageDigital Image Editor

I found the Editor to also be a comfortable interface, with lots of 'common tasks' you can do to a still picture...

... with lots more features available from the main menu selections. There are considerably more than those included in Photo Story and Movie Maker.

The 'Create a Photo Collage' is pretty neat... it's a feature more for printing than making stories and movies, but slick enough to warrant the sample pix at the right.

In the view below, I'm using the Transparency Brush to selectively paint parts of a picture... this is the slickest feature I found in the app that has a direct use in Movie Maker. 

Saving the marked up picture as a PNG file type is all that is needed to then use it as an image overlay.





Digital Image Suite 2006 Common Tasks

This clip shows the finished picture being used as an overlay over a video clip of swimming fish. I wasn't careful about painting the edges as I just wanted to give you the idea.

Here's another sample that's better than the one above of Rob and I .... a short 21 second clip of  Chuck and Donna superimposed over video footage of the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. I spent no more than a minute painting the background transparent... Chuck is a professional videographer/producer (his studio is still analog) and play-writer, and Donna teaches computer programming and databases at Western Michigan University... a couple we see every night at Barnes & Noble. I ripped the picture from their website.

Conclusions and Closing

The Digital Image 2006 Suite is easy and fun to use... and features such as transparency painting make it ideal for making custom overlays for Movie Maker. Users on a tight budget might balk at getting the $80 to $100 price...

Here's a quote from an online review by PC Magazine. It sums up nicely where the new software fits into the overall market...

As an all-around digital photo editing, organizing, and sharing package, Microsoft Digital Image Suite 10 was an also-ran when compared with offerings from Adobe, Jasc, and Ulead. But the new Digital Image Suite 2006 is now a contender, at least when it comes to organizing and sharing photos.

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 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 - 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):

#80 - December 3 - open

#81 - December 10 - open

#80 - December 17 - 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 GalleryNeptune 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 and Photo Story, an intro session and a workshop. The upcoming scheduled sessions are:

Monday - January 30 - 7-8:30 pm - Intro to Movie Maker and Photo Story

Monday - February 13 - 7-8:30 pm - Workshop

Monday - March 13 - 7-8:30 pm - Intro to Movie Maker and Photo Story

Monday - April 10 - 7-8:30 pm - Workshop

Monday - May 8 - 7-8:30 pm - Intro to Movie Maker and Photo Story

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.