Windows Movie Maker tips, tutorials, forums and more...

Visit the Windows Movie Maker forums

Community Forums

Getting Started
Learn Movie Maker 2
Capture Video
Improve Video Capture
Saving Projects

Editing Video
Video Editing
Video Trimming
Video Effects
Using Transitions

Adding Sounds
Adding Music
Adding Narration
Multiple Audio Tracks
Controlling Volume

Taking Pictures
Making Slideshows
Advanced Titles
Photo Story 3

Exporting Movies
Saving Movies
CD-Rom Backup
Create a DVD

More Articles
All Articles
Movie Maker 2 Review
Movie Maker Tutorials
What are Codecs?
Streaming Video
Create a Movie CD
Using Photo Story 2

MM2 Newsletter Archive

Download Windows Media Player 11

Digital Media BooksView Books about Digital Media

PapaJohn's Newsletter #83

Happy Holidays

The visit to New York City and the Microsoft Windows XP digital gallery was great, surpassing all expectations!!!

Visitors to the gallery were skilled in computers, knowledgeable of computer video editing, and interested in seeing what Movie Maker and Photo Story could do... they were pretty impressed, and went home eager to try them. We had long stimulating sessions.

Bernadette was with me on the trip, and we both wanted to get a first hand update on the city we grew up in... and hadn't been back for a visit in over 20 years. When I went to the gallery, she visited a couple museums. We had enough time to see some of the sights together. We stayed at the Iroquois hotel on 44th Street, a block from Times Square with its 24hr per day Starbucks, a mile from the gallery on 22nd Street, and a mile from 26th Street and 10th Avenue where I lived until I was 23... but too far from Bernadette's childhood home in the Bronx.

Bernadette took 515 still pix (5 megapixel camera), and I shot 178 minutes of digital video (all widescreen). Here's a 4-1/4 minute holiday video greeting collage from them... click the link or the image.

Happy HolidaysHoliday Holidays

There's a new touch that I worked on when editing it, how to do a regular transition to or from a custom image overlay... you may or may not notice the results as you watch it the first time. Hopefully they're smooth enough that you won't. I'll give you a hint... the first one starts at the 41 second point.

I'd like to share the 'how-to' for such use of image overlays.

Issue #81 focused on the timeline of a holiday video project, a bit similar to this video, so I'll limit the project details to my tweaking the overlays. But, with much more footage taken in New York, I'll add an overview of my methods of marking tapes, making notes, capturing and collecting project files, making the projects, and cleaning things up when done.

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


The gallery and long weekend in New York City were great!! A number of very interested and skilled people showed up, and we had a long engaging show-and-tell session. Movie Maker and Photo Story did everything they asked to see, and showed themselves off well. No-one was shy when it came to asking for info, and beyond asking, wanting to see it done.

Having attended both the San Francisco and New York galleries, I'd say that interest in still pictures exceeds interest in video by about 10 to 1. If you want to introduce others to this software, start with Photo Story and then ease them into Movie Maker. No matter how easy it is to use Movie Maker, the process of movie editing intimidates most people.

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

a Holiday Video...

It was an especially busy week. On Tuesday night, back home from New York, I still didn't have a topic for this newsletter. So I did what I do so often, look at what I'm so busy doing and write about it. As soon as the suitcases were unpacked, I was engrossed in looking at the pictures and video. I had already cataloged the footage and wanted to do something quickly with some of it... Christmas was less than a week away, and an online holiday greeting video couldn't wait much longer. I decided to do the greeting and newsletter together.

Here's an overview of the process used to make the video...

Cataloging the video...

I number each tape as I start to use it... I added some footage to a previously used tape #92DV, used all of new tapes #93DV and #94DV, and got a bit more than half way through new tape #95DV. The tapes are marked only with their number. The tape is numbered to know what it is, and the tape case numbered also to know what tape is missing from it.

I had reviewed the tapes and made notes on the plane ride home...

Movie Maker doesn't use 'Edit Decision Lists' with specific time code points. I locate scenes on tapes using the number of minutes remaining on the tape. When I do a fast forward or reverse, the camcorder shows the remaining minutes on the tape. Noting the nearest number as I scan the tape is good enough for me and Movie Maker to find it. The tapes start at minus 62 or 63 minutes.

Here are the notes in my database for tape #95DV. This level of detail is typical.

Dec 17, 2005

-63 lunch at the Cloisters restaurant... Bernadette at the table
-61 Cloisters museum > 12/21 - captured the footage for the Holiday Video... the newsletter #83 folder

-56 street scenes of New York... Times Square... fire engines
-51 Rockefeller Center... outdoor scenes > 12/21 - captured some of the footage for the Holiday Video... the newsletter #83 folder
-45 building across the street from the Rockefeller Center, with the light/audio display > 12/21 - captured the footage for the Holiday Video... the newsletter #83 folder

walk to Macy's and the Chelsea area
-39 ice skating at the 42nd Street library
-31 Fifth Ave shops
-29 Macy's
-28 B&H
-28 Chelsea area 'roots'

-26 end of recorded portion

The tape has 26 minutes of remaining time... I'll use that space someday.

Once I had an idea about the content I wanted for the video, I captured the footage using Movie Maker... via a firewire connection between my camcorder and laptop.

Capturing the video...

Created a new project-specific folder for the captured video files, the still pix, the MM2 and PS3 project files, etc... the folder is for this newsletter, not just for the Happy Holidays video.

Captured selected scenes from two of the tapes into 7 DV-AVI files... 12.7 GB total.

Still pix for Photo Stories and Image Overlays...

Creche-smallI made one story from a still picture of the crèche at the Metropolitan Museum of Art... and, as it was going to be used for a widescreen story, I squeezed the image by using IrfanView to resize it... maintaining the height but reducing the width to 75% of its original pixel dimension. The picture at the right is before squeezing.

With the custom widescreen profile of PS3, it'll look normal when using it in a widescreen movie.

The 3-box stack of red gift boxes in the opening frames of the video was extracted from a picture of some Macy's decorations.

Overlay3 Starting ImageThe overlay I wanted to experiment with was a Movie Maker frame snapshot of the internal courtyard at the Cloisters Museum. The video was shot widescreen so the snapshot didn't need resizing.

The prepping of this one was turning the pixels of the fencing and courtyard to transparent ones to use it as an image overlay.

My pixel removal results with Paint.NET were pretty crude, leaving some ragged edges in the video. It's something I need to study some more.

the Photo Story...

Custom Story Profile

Imported the crèche picture into the story project 3 times... and made a short 17 second clip with smooth transitions at each change of the panning/zooming options.

Saved the story using the 856x480 pixel custom profile for widescreen. The clip will align with the rest of the widescreen movie project.

the movie project...

For me, tOverlay3he exciting point in this video starts at the 41 second point of the timeline. That's where the overlay image starts to fade in from a video clip, and as the next video clip fades in, the overlay image stays there doing it's thing as an overlay. It does it by smoothly shifting from the video track to the title overlay track.

Image overlays on the title overlay track sharply snap on at the start and off at the end. If you want one to start and finish as parts of a transition, you need to use it on the video track. It'll transition nicely with other clips, but it can't then be used as a long overlay. It's one or the other.

To get both the transitioning to the overlay, and the long overlay, use the same title overlay clip twice, once on the video track, and then again on the Title Overlay track.

Overlay with Green

Tip: when you use a PNG image as a video clip, the background color is black... and its default is blue when you use it as a transparent overlay.

The text color and transparency settings of an image overlay don't function as they do for a normal text overlay, but the background color feature does. The image at the left shows a frame of the transitioning when the background color is changed to green.

You can use this background color feature when the overlay is on the video track, but not when it's on the Title Overlay track, where the background color is always transparent.

In the portion of the project shown below, the Overlay3 on the timeline (with the background changed to black) starts at the 41 second point, fading in from the previous clip and then fading to the next video clip. Once it's about fully faded in, another copy of the overlay image is on the Image Overlay track... to take the handoff from the overlay on the video track and continue it for as long as wanted.

The viewer doesn't know that you've shifted the viewing from the video track to the overlay. It's the same image, but you've achieved using it both in a normal transition and as a custom overlay.

Project Use of Overlay 3

You can do something similar with a pair of overlay clips to fade or otherwise transition the overlay out...

Another approach with overlays is to work with just the one on the Overlay track, but select transitions where there's something equally abrupt or dramatic happening at the starting and stopping points... a straight cut works, as does a page-turn.

It'll work OK on many transitions if you tweak the position of the overlay and check how it looks. Select the sweet spot, which depends on the transition.

Cleaning Up... backing up...

File ListHere's what my list of files looked like when the video was finished but the newsletter was still being written... with the files sorted by extension:

AVI - the captured DV-AVI files from segments of tapes 93 and 95

BMP - scanned images of the programs for the two concerts we attended... I didn't use them in the video

DB - a Windows XP system file that keeps track of what's in this folder

JPG - the smaller sized ones are snapshots by Movie Maker or IrfanView... the two larger ones are the original picture of the crèche from the camera and the resized squished one for the Photo Story made from it

MSWMM - the Movie Maker 2 project for the Holiday video

PDN - a Paint.NET file with layers, used to make the first image overlay with the scroll, text, and gift boxes... so I can go back and change the text.

PNG - the transparent overlay images... see that I'm giving them the names they need to fit into my Starter Set of custom overlays. I've been leaving it installed in Movie Maker and storing the originals of the project-specific ones in with the other project specific files. The file named Tree-50 was an experiment that didn't work... I'll delete it.

PSD - a Photoshop file from Bernadette... the scroll used in the opening image overlay... Overlay1 was made from it... note that IrfanView can view PSD files

WAV - the sound track for the video, ripped from the video by TMPGEnc... I experimented with 'enhancing' it with Audacity, but ran out of time before I made it good enough to substitute for the original audio track.

WMA - audio tracks ripped from video segments using Movie Maker... to use for the video when muting the clips on the video track... the sound from one of them is used through the whole piece, and I took no steps to lip-sync or instrument-sync the audio to the video, as you may have noticed if you're perceptive about things like that.

WMV - The first one listed is the online video, the Crèche-widescreen is the Photo Story from the crèche picture, the larger high quality one is a DVD quality version of the video that is ready to go to MyDVD if I want it on a DVD, and the last one 'HolidayLights' is an unedited extract of a segment at Rockefeller Center, used for a forum post.

13 GB of files at this point. When I clean up the folder in a week, month, or when I need the space... I'll keep any of the overlay images that have possible future use, and the high quality WMV file for DVD use, or to render other online copies from if I need them.

Conclusions and Closing

A common thread between this issue and the session at the New York gallery is the ability to use Movie Maker for it's built-in features, and to go beyond the usual limits by doing innovative things.

In this issue the creative use of image overlays. At the gallery, one of the things I was asked to show them was the rendering of a short sample '1080' High Definition video... I used my custom profile and they were duly impressed with the result.

If you celebrate Christmas, have a wonderful one. Take lots of pictures and video.

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):

#84 - December 31 - open

#85 - January 7 - open

#86 - January 14 - 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 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.

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



Download more Movie Maker Effects!

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