A Photo Story with 300 Pictures
You probably know by now that I enjoy checking the limits of Movie Maker and Photo Story... and
seeing how to work around, break through, or put them to good use...
The Photo Story 3 limit of 300 pictures is one I hadn't checked beyond seeing the message it
gives when you import the 301st picture...
I don't do large stories, as I mainly use Photo Story to make video clips for movie projects.
But I've seen many posts by those who are using it for large slide shows, and are constrained by
the limit... they ask how to work around it.
The limit is an easy one to address... when you reach it, you stop. Make two or more stories
and piece them together in Movie Maker or use them as separate chapters in a DVD.
There's the more elusive limit of a story, the amount of computer memory needed to preview or
render it. It's an issue similar to Movie Maker, something I've run into a couple times and have
often thought about, but I've never really explored it in Photo Story 3.
Let's take a look at it by using a batch of 50 pictures from a 5 megapixel camera, a fairly standard
sized camera today... and see how much memory is needed to preview and render a story. I'll do it
in steps, feeding the same batch of 50 pictures into a project over and over until I'm at the limit,
and noting what's happening with memory usage at each step.
... before getting into it, here's a significant note...
It's time to start looking at Movie Maker in the upcoming Vista
operating system. My first chance at taking it for a spin came with the 12/16/05 Beta 2, Build 5270...
the December 2005 Customer Technology Preview (CTP).
Here's a view of my Vista desktop with 6 open windows... you can scroll/flip through them with
the mouse wheel... and they are all 'live'.
I've been told it's not beta quality release... more a preview of progress towards Beta 2.
Whatever it's called... I welcomed my first chance to explore its features. Next week's issue
will be an initial overview of what I see and how it works...
A few things I see are:
- a meter that reports the number of frames captured and the number dropped during digital
video capture. I did a full hour tape without it reporting a single dropped frame.
- seeing each frame rather than every other frame during clip splitting and timeline editing.
- full quality rather than draft quality project previewing.
- DVD and High Definition options when saving a movie.
- a few new effects and transitions.
- a nod to those in PAL-land... the two sample pix are 576 pixels high, not the 480 pixels
so standard to NTSC people. You all know who you are.
newsletter will be the first of many about the Vista version as its development finishes and beta
test results roll in.
It looks like it's off to a good start. I'll be adding a little info to the Setup > Vista page
of the website, but covering much more in next week's newsletter.
As I review it, I'll be thinking of any structural changes needed to my website.
.... back to today's software and the main topic...
the 300 picture Story...
I'll use 50 of pictures from our recent trip to New York City, taken with a 5 megapixel camera.
We shoot in high quality mode, saving to JPG images that average a bit over 1 MB in size...
The set of 50 totals 54.6 MB. I'll use this same batch of pictures six times to get the story
up to 300, previewing and saving it after each batch is imported. I'll check memory usage, and how
big the project files are.
Photo Story doesn't economize on info when you use multiple copies of the same picture in a story...
each time you use one, it gets copied into the project file, so using 6 packs of 50 or one pack
of 300 is the same in terms of file sizes and memory needs.
I drag the set of 50 pictures from my file browser into Photo Story as a batch... taking just
a few seconds to import them. I noted the time to add a batch doesn't increase as the story gets
baseline memory use
With Photo Story 3 and my usual software apps open (Outlook Express, IrfanView, Total Commander,
personal database), the system was using 382 MB of memory before importing the
This baseline figure, and all memory numbers, will vary a bit depending on what software is open,
what I'm doing with them, and when I last rebooted the computer.
I'll give the numbers I see, but you should consider memory usage figures as approximations rather
than exact amounts... if you did it a second time the numbers would be somewhat different. What
I'm looking for are overall patterns in usage as the story is created, previewed and rendered.
1st batch - 50 pictures total
For this first pass, I was watching memory usage carefully through all steps of the processes.
Memory usage moved up slightly as the pictures were imported... only 2 MB was needed... putting
pictures on the film strip, one picture or 50 at a time, uses minimal additional memory.
The first time I previewed the story, memory usage jogged up significantly... to 477 MB within
the first few pictures, but it stabilized pretty quickly and drifted downwards through the rest
of the preview.
Saving the project hardly effected memory... 439 MB at the time.
When rendering the story... using the profile of 640x480... memory usage started at 444 MB and
peaked at 713 MB toward the end. It fell back to 421 as soon as the saving process finished.
I kept an eye on the temporary files created by Photo Story during story creation and saving,
but didn't see anything there significant enough to talk about.
2nd batch - 100 total
Memory usage was at 423 MB before adding the next set of 50 pictures... previewing moved it up
to 576 MB within first few pix, and drifted down during the rest. The pattern was emerging, similar
to what I saw in the first pass.
Closing the preview monitor window dropped usage back to 425 MB.
Rendering the story peaked at 718 MB toward the end, not much higher than it did with 50 pix....
back down to 426 MB when finished. A minimal extra (2 MB) was used when saving the project, updating
the existing project file. The patterns were emerging... just had to see them and confirm them through
the next 4 passes.
3nd batch - 150...
Confirming the patterns... 428 MB at the beginning... preview jogged up to 654 MB within the
first few pix, and drifted down. Closing the preview window dropped it back down to 438 MB.
Rendering the story peaked at 727 MB toward the end... down to 436 MB when finished. 2 MB extra
to save the revised project file.
the next day, a new session... different apps running in the background...
4th batch - 200...
362 MB at the start... preview jogged up to 687 MB within first few pix, and drifted down. Closing
the preview monitor window dropped down to 395 MB.
Because this session started with the opening of an existing project, another temporary folder
was created with all 150 pix in it. Want to know how many pix your project currently has? Save it,
then reopen it, and the temp folder will have copies of them all... your file browser gives you
Rendering the story peaked at 697 MB toward the end... back down to 403 MB when finished. And
as usual, a minimal extra 2 MB when updating the existing project file.
5th batch - 250...
405 MB at the start... up to 767 MB within the first few pix when previewing, and drifting down
afterwards. Closing the preview monitor window drops memory needs back down to 406 MB.
... rendering the story peaked at 701 MB toward the end... back down to 407 MB when finished.
Minimal extra 1 MB when updating the existing project file.
6th batch - 300...
408 MB at the start... preview memory usage up to 839 MB within the first few pix, and drifts
slowly down afterwards.
My laptop has 2 GB of RAM... if it had a more normal 512 MB, the previewing wouldn't be smooth.
Closing the preview monitor window dropped memory usage back down to 412 MB.
Rendering the story peaked at 703 MB toward the end... back down to 410 MB when finished. Minimal
extra 3 MB used when saving the project.
By now you couldn't miss the patterns if you tried.
and Project file sizes
Here's the file list of the six rendered stories and the final saved project with 300 pictures.
The stories were all rendered to the Profile for computers - 2 (640x480).
As you'd expect, the size of the story goes up directly with the number of pictures.
The overall playing duration of the 300 picture story is exactly 25 minutes.... with default
settings for picture duration, transition type, and transition duration.
The memory needed for Windows Media Player 10 to view the stories is minimal. Playing the largest
story showed peak memory usage of 442 MB.
the price of music in memory usage...
I re-rendered the 300 picture story using computer generated music throughout... with 414 MB
being used at the start... the rendering is now a 4 step process:
- 1 - preparing video - 484 peak
- 2 - generating the 25 minute music file - 424 peak (minimal memory needs but it's by far
the longest of the rendering steps... really really long... I didn't time it but perhaps over
15 minutes when the other steps took only a few.
- 3 - mixing the audio... quick with 431 MB peak...
- 4 - rendering the story.... very quick compared to making the music... peaked at 701...
no more memory was needed to do it with added music than doing it without.
The file size was 53.1 MB versus the 40.0 without it... a healthy increase in file size... but
that's the price of music. If file size was an issue for you, a custom profile could reduce the
audio quality its contribution to file size.
the price of rendering higher quality, and the savings to render lower...
The rendering so far has been to the 2nd option for quality when saving to a computer... a file
of 640x480 pixels.
Let's render the 300 pix story to the one lower and 3 higher quality profiles included in Photo
Starting at 422 MB, the peak memory usage when rendering was:
- Profile for computers - 1 (320x240) - 501 MB, over 200 MB less than for the 640x480... a
- Profile for computers - 3 (800x600) - 880 MB
- Profile for computers - 4 (1024x768) - 1140 MB
- Profile for computers - 5 (1200x900) - 1412 MB
The file sizes for the 3 higher quality profile stories were 51.6, 91.9 and 109.2 MB versus the
40.0 MB of the 640x480... larger sizes but fairly easy for the computer to play them with the low
bitrates of story files.
the memory cost of custom motion settings...
Setting just the first image to use motion settings as shown in this image, and saving to a 640x480
Memory usage went up to 724 MB at the start of the rendering, peaked at 741 midway... and stayed
up there at 741 toward the end...
I went back a couple days later, and added similar motion settings to the next 4 pictures...
The extra memory needed when rendering the story didn't change significantly from that needed
when the motion setting was applied only to the first picture.
Custom motion settings like this, applied to 5 megapixel pictures, don't require more memory.
Conclusions and Closing
Rendering a story with 300 pictures should be easy for most computers.... if you can do a story
with a handful of pictures OK, then going to 300 shouldn't be a problem.
If you have 512 MB of RAM, do your test renderings to a low quality 320x240 profile and the memory
needs will fit within your physical RAM and go quickly...
If you routinely make stories of 300 pictures and render them to the higher quality profiles,
and RAM is reasonably priced for your system, upgrading your system to the 1-1/2 GB level would
result in significant time savings.
Months ago, I used a 60+ megapixel file in Photo Story and did the kind of panning I did above.
The previewing or rendering needed enough memory to crash my system... at least it did my
older Toshiba laptop. I thought it would be better to keep this issue on a reasonable practical
level, not trying to fully test it to the point of crashing...
Photo Story is a great tool... I look forward to testing it in Vista. That's part of next week's
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 - www.papajohn.org
Photo Story 2 - www.photostory.papajohn.org
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
www.papajohn.org), published by Microsoft
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 Windows
Movie Maker 2 forum at SimplyDV.com
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):
#86 - January 14 - first look at Movie Maker for Vista
#87 - January 21 - open
#88 - January 28 - open
Newsletters that were distributed more than 6 issues ago are posted by Rob Morris to an
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.
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.
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.
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' 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, we offer two free training
sessions about Movie Maker and Photo Story, an intro session and a workshop. Scheduled sessions
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