We're in another wave of holidays... taking pictures and video... and mostly tucking them away
as we think "... I'll get to them later...".
We (9 of us) did one of our now routine one-day trips to Chicago on Saturday... the goal of the
day was to have fun, and we succeeded. Collecting digital evidence of it wasn't nearly as important,
but we ended up with 16-1/2 minutes of video footage, 125 pix on my daughter's new 7 megapixel camera
(most were blurry - she doesn't read manuals about how to use such things), and a couple dozen on
Bernadette's 5 megapixel camera (most were sharp... but she lost lots of them when an accidental
memory card re-formatting happened half way through the day, a first time event for the camera...
in retrospect she said yes to something that she shouldn't have).
But instead of doing something later with the pictures and video, we did it while the memories
were still fresh... Bernadette printed an 8x10 group picture for each to take home, and I put a
3-1/4 minute video online and emailed them (the visitors) a link before they had returned home.
Allie (friend), Allie (grand) and Summer (friend)
this issue I'll show you the movie project and take you through it's development. It's a typical
holiday home video made so much better by adding special effects, transitions, a custom image overlay,
and background music.... the kinds of things we can do so easily with Movie Maker.
Click the picture or this link to
view the video
It wasn't snowing at the time... that's added by the Snowflakes effect in the Winter Fun Pack
The 3 girls were not standing in front of the railroad station line... they were added by a custom
overlay, using one of the 5 megapixel still pix.
... and when you play the video you'll start hearing the approaching train, along with Christmas
music... also added to what started simply as a video clip of a sign. The train sounds came later
in the video, and the Christmas music was copied from a downloaded midi-music file. The project
was simple enough to be done in one pass.
... before getting into them, here are a few
The gallery in New York City is on 22nd Street and will be open by the time
you read this... stop by if you get a chance, especially if you can make it when I'm there for the
afternoons of Dec 17 and 18.
I downloaded the latest v2.5 of Paint.NET, which doesn't have an expiration
date. Between it's magic wand feature to remove colored pixels, and its option to save it as a PNG
file with transparency preserved... you can go directly from Paint.NET to a custom overlay file
for your project... no need to go via IrfanView to select the transparent color.
Using such an overlay is now a routine part of my videos, and I've expanded the Editing > Text
> Custom Overlays page of the website to fully cover how to do it. If you
try it and have any questions or comments, please send a note. I'd be happy to tweak the page some
more until it's easy and fun for anyone who wants to try them.
.... on to the main topic...
There really isn't a script when for most home videos of vacations and family events like a day-trip
to Chicago, and you can't force one. But you can add interest by selecting a focal point. I pick
the point of interest only after viewing the source material. Actually I sit back and let the video
footage tell me what to use, and then help it along with some fine tuning.
Of all our grands, Allie is the most social. She had invited her friend Allie, who had never
been to Chicago, and another friend Summer. On the train ride home, their impromptu rehash of the
visit to the Hershey chocolate shop provided the spark to the theme, and
I had some footage to go with it. The 3 girls became the focal point (the other 6 who went take
secondary or minor roles), with the Hershey shop their main event.
I browsed the clips in the collection and selected the better ones of the 3 girls... dragging
them to the storyboard in the sequence taken. They can be rearranged later.
Regardless of size or total length, I try to have an opening portion, a mid-point break of some
sort, the rest of the main segment, and an ending. Here's the final project with some of the points
Have you noticed how long some of the big screen movie openings are? Some of them seem almost
half way finished before the opening is finished... I kind of like them that way. In this 3-1/4
minute movie, I didn't consider the intro done until almost a full minute into the movie.
Our standard day-trip to Chicago is an 85 mile drive to a train station, followed by a 1-1/2
hour train-ride to the last stop at the corner of Randolph Street and Michigan Ave, in the heart
of downtown Chicago. The video starts with the train, and then moves into a few assorted Chicago
scenes... with a few to let you know it's the Christmas season.
This part of the editing takes the most work, as it sets the overall pace and tone, fixes the
text titling options (font, font color, animation style, etc.), and determines the background music
to carry throughout.
Some editing notes:
- There was some snow on the ground, and it was cold... but not snowing. The
Fun Pack 2003 package provided the Snowflakes video effect for a number of clips,
even one shot indoors (the carolers who seem to be outside a window, but were upstairs in a
- Many of the special transitions and effects are from the third party
- The custom image overlay of the 3 girls started with a still picture of them on Michigan
Avenue , cropped and sized to 856x480 pixels... the background was removed by PhotoShop, and
I saved it as Overlay1.png for the Overlay Starter Kit. I copied and pasted the overlay a half
dozen times in the project to help provide some continuity of the main subject.
- Two regular text overlays are in this opening section, almost totally overlapping the image
overlays. If two overlapping text overlays are used, the clip at the right shows over the first
one, but they go suddenly on or off without gradual fading.
- The audio of the first clip... the railroad station sign... was poor and uninteresting...
so I used the audio from another train clip that had picked up the 'horn', dragging the DV-AVI
clip from the collection to the audio/music track and trimming it to fit.
- The holiday music is another of the 2,500+ midi pieces from those old player piano rolls.
I played the midi file in iTunes and captured it using the narration feature of Movie Maker.
The middle makes a transition between the early and later parts... it can be as simple as the
1-1/2 second gap between the video clips shown here, a gap filled with the overlay image. The transition
can be short or long... just something to ease the minds of the viewers as the video moves from
one major part to another.
The scenes in the first part were somewhat disassociated. In the next part the scenes will be
more in harmony with each other. The transition between the parts helps to break the mood, and set
the stage for a new one.
The sub-story and ending
The second part has a sub-story, or at least what I could make of one. The girls were eager to
recount their experience at the Hershey store. They practiced a few times and then did a final version...
I used the clips of each, splitting them in various places, and mixing the train scenes with 'flash-backs'
of store scenes.
The ending was simply the final clip, some text... I didn't drag out the ending.
Conclusions and Closing
The video was a hit with those who took the trip, and others... I had sent out two drafts, the
first with few of the special effects and transitions... the reactions were unanimous about how
much better it was with the additions. It reminds me of the music video for the MaximumPC article...
short videos of a few minutes that don't have a strong storyline can use the boost they get from
a heavy sprinkling of special effects...
I'll be taking off for New York at the end of next week. I plan to have the week's newsletter
sent early, before taking off.
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 was 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 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
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):
#82 - December 17 - open
#83 - December 24 - open
#84 - December 31 - open
Newsletters that were distributed 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 viewers 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.
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.
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.
An online gallery that fully aligns with the main priority of the website is the
'PapaJohn Expert Zone'
Check it atNeptune
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
Monday - December 12 - 7-8:30 pm - Workshop
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
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 - 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
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