Making a Standard Opening Clip - Tutorial
'Video doodling' between other tasks can be fun, relaxing, and productive... sometimes I'll just
play around with a new standard opening clip, a lead-in to anything or to nothing. It can be whimsical
or fantasy-filled, but it can also be a great learning experience, and result in a useful clip for
your video library.
Last week's newsletter included an old fantasy picture of me in my office. It was assembled in
Photoshop years ago when the grands were younger. For this week's issue, I'm going to play with
that same scene a bit more, taking it a step or two closer to being a good standard intro clip for
some home movies.
Start with this link to see what we'll be making:
It's made from a number of things:
- a cartoonish picture from my image library of an office area with me pasted in
- a PNG overlay image with some transparency... done by taking the cartoon image into Paint.NET
and deleting the pixels of the big wall
- a captured visualization from iTunes, another item from my video clip library
- the visualization clip fades into a 3-D animated text clip of my website URL name... made
with RenderSoft VRLM
- the heralding trumpet sounds are from another item in my library... an audio segment from
a downloaded video
- a clip of a Chicago fireworks display playing in the monitor on the desk, using a custom
Picture-in-Picture XML transition to add it
The final step in the tutorial is to use the opening clip to lead into a movie, in this case
Cinderella's older sister in a cartoon from the Internet Archives. It could be used to lead into
The tutorial includes all of the steps needed to make the wall transparent, make the 3-D animated
URL, and tweak the XML file to add the video to the monitor.
You've seen the software utilities and some of these steps before in other newsletters. But this
is the first one that takes you into the animation feature of Rendersoft VRLM.
... before getting into it, here's a couple notes...
The Vista corner... using GoToMeeting software, my son Chris
(who lives 100 miles away) had a 'virtual meeting' with my wife Bernadette, jointly working on a
Photoshop project on her computer... I joined them from my Vista system and watched.
The software worked well so I installed a trial version on the Vista system to explore using
other computers to run the Vista version of Movie Maker by remote control. My first test was from
my laptop running XP, and my next test was from an older computer running Windows 98... it worked
from both, so I'm offering remote test drives of the Vista version of Movie Maker.
The software trial is good through Feb 4th. If you want a session, with me watching in the co-pilot
seat, send an email and I'll open a meeting and invite you... it takes an invitation with a session
key for you to participate. I'll turnover control of the computer, but be there watching what you
MSR Group Shot is a new picture utility that helps you create a perfect
group photo out of a series of group photos. With Group Shot you can select your favorite parts
in each shot of the series and Group Shot will automatically build a composite image. Here's the
link to the free download from Microsoft... for non-commercial use -
.... back to the main topic...
the Tutorial... Make an Intro Clip
Let's go through the steps to make such a clip... you can use whatever image and source files
work for you. The plan is to do any needed intermediate renderings to DV-AVI files of 720x480...
that's the target size for all the ingredients, including any still images we use.
- make the back wall of the cartoon picture transparent
The original image has a white wall with a picture of our 5 grands, a clock and a window. Let's
remove those pixels.
The image file as taken from my graphics library was a BMP sized at 558x418 pixels. Open it in
IrfanView and resize it to be appropriate for a video:
- use the menu > Image > Resize/Resample > uncheck the 'Preserve aspect ratio' option if it's
checked > Set the new size as Width 720 and Height 480 > OK
- save it as a new BMP image... things will look a bit wider than normal when looking at the
720x480 pixel image, but it'll be squeezed back to normal when looking at in the standard 4:3
aspect ratio of a video.
the new image with Paint.NET and remove the pixels from the back wall:
Select the 'magic wand' and touch it to the wall... it'll outline the area in what some refer
to as 'the marching ants'.... press the delete key to remove the pixels, and the selected area will
become transparent (indicated by the checkerboard area).
Do the same for the 3 smaller areas of white to the right of the potted plant... and another
time for the small area inside the coffee cup handle on the desk.
That leaves the clock, picture and window to remove. For those, use the rectangular select tool...
select the area around each and press the delete key and they'll be gone.
You don't need to do the monitor screen because the video will be overlaid on it using the Picture-in-Picture
approach later on in the tutorial.
Save the image as a PNG file... File > Save As > PNG file type. That's the file type that preserves
the transparency, so you can see through it when the image is used as an overlay in Movie Maker.
Step 2 - make the 3-D animated URL
Newsletter #39 included a tutorial about RenderSoft VRLM, but only got you as
far as rendering a still picture. Let's go a big step further, animating it and saving it as a video
Open RenderSoftand adjust the size of the working window to about 640x480...
Tip: When you render an AVI file with RenderSoft, the video file dimensions
are determined by the size of the working window... you can make a video anywhere from
a small phone sized one to one bigger than high definition.... one weakness of this older software
app is that the current size of the working window isn't indicated, so you really don't know
the exact size of your finished AVI.
Create the text using Edit > Insert Ascii Text > type the text > check
'Extrude Text' if you want it 3-D
Change the black background to the RGB color of your choice... Edit > Background
The working window shows my URL positioned in the upper right area... play with it by first selecting
it with your mouse.
You'll know it's selected when the 'Edit Text' button/window pops up.
the text anyplace on the screen or even totally off it....
Use the 4 middle icons with the arrows on them to... move, scale larger or smaller, rotate, or
change the visual orientation of the selected item.... try each of them, use your mouse and just
play with the controls to see what happens... the worst case is having it fly off screen and not
know where it is. If that happens, you can always start a new project.
If all you want is 3D text image with a colored background, you could stop here
and do a File > Export > select the JPG format from the drop down list at the bottom, and render
it to the file....
I said render... the same word we use when saving a movie... a common term in the
graphics environment, whenever the output file is created from some sort of project file like this
or Movie Maker.
Try it to have the feature in your mind... a neat 3D text image comes in handy for stories and
The default setting is to render it fast by not using anti-aliasing... that's the smoothing effect
to take the jaggies out of the image as it's being rendered. I always change it to 15 pass... so
it goes thru an automatic smoothing process 15 times for each image. That gets you the highest quality
in image smoothness.
When you render a movie with this utility, the same setting is applied to each of the frames...
as it renders each frame as a separate JPG image.
Let's continue on and make the 3D text animation. From the menu choose... Animation
Panel... the image at the right will be opened.
When you first open this working panel, you're working at frame #0. We've seen that before...
programmers and movie frames start at #0, not #1.
What you're seeing on your working window is considered frame #0 because that's what's there
when you open the animation panel. If thinking of it as the beginning of a video clip means you'd
rather have the text someplace else, like the middle of the frame.... move it there before you leave
Whatever you do to the working window... move what's there, change the background color, add
more text or other objects, etc.... it'll all be considered as frame #0 until you change frame locations.
Try it.... create and position some text with the animation panel showing frame #0.
go to the next key frame.... let's say it's the 300th frame (10 seconds into a video at 30 frames
per second). To get to that frame, simply type 300 into the frame number entry field... and you're
there. You don't need to press a Go or OK button after entering the number.
Once there, move the text, add more stuff... do something to change what you see in the working
window... move it a little or a lot... whatever you want. Knowing I wanted my 3D URL to be in the
upper middle area of the cartoon office image, I kept the text in that general area.
Now, ready for the exciting part? Press the Play button at the lower left of the animation panel
and RenderSoft will preview your animated text just like a Movie Maker project preview.
That's all there is to it. If that's all the movement you want, you can render the video... if
you want to go to the next keyframe and have the movement change some more, do it... go to frame
400 or 450 or 621 or whatever number you want. I used a few key frames and tweaked the movement
so I'd be flying into and through one of the letters of my URL. You can do that pretty easily.
The other navigation buttons on the animation panel get you to the minimum key frame (usually
0), the maximum one you've defined so far, the previous one to where you're working, or the next
one in the sequence of them...
the Show button will provide a popup window with all the key frame numbers listed.
Render the video...
- set your rendering quality.... View > Anti-aliasing > 15 pass for highest quality...
- select the folder to save to, and the file name
- file > Export > select AVI file type in the lower drop-down list
you press the 'Save' button Rendersoft will ask you the frame rate... you can select from 3
to 30 frames per second.
- you can select the forward direction only, or reverse only, or a combo to make a looping
kind of clip
- saying OK here will result in it making a full set of still pictures in JPG format, numbering
them in sequence from 0 to the highest frame number... the message will say 'Please Wait...
Rendering Frames'. If you want to, use your file browser and go to the folder to watch the files
pile up, or even get copies if you have a use for them later.
Remember that your JPG images will be the exact size of the Rendersoft working window... and
it doesn't give you a settings option to tell it what size it is... I just eye-ball it because being
off one way or the other isn't usually important... at least not important until you reach the point
of selecting a compression codec.
the set of still pix are finished... it'll ask you to pick a compression codec, and default to uncompressed.
We're now at the topic we discussed a few issues ago, which codec to pick??
If you select one that won't work, such as the Panasonic DV codec, then the set of still pix
will be deleted... they are just temporary files... and you'll have to start over.
Why won't the Panasonic DV codec work? Because, for NTSC work, it needs the inputs to be exactly
720x480 pixels.... and won't adapt to another input size...
Out of habit, and knowing it'll work here and in Movie Maker... I pick Cinepak. It's a good choice
for a short clip, but it has the second longest rendering time of the codecs listed on the Importing
Source Files > Video > Video Codecs page of the website.
When the rendering is finished, you have an animated 3D AVI file that will work fine in Movie
Maker... no audio of course, as RenderSoft is just for making images.
Step 3 - First Pass in Movie Maker
We've been preparing things for a movie project... and it's time to make the project for the
first pass. To do a picture-in-picture effect with Movie Maker, you do the movie in at least a couple
passes. Each is easy, quick, and quality isn't lost when saving to the DV-AVI format.
Here's the project file.... look at the contents:
- the video track has 2 clips that are almost totally overlapping with
a fade transition. The clip opens with some captured visualizations from iTunes, which gradually
fades over to the emerging 3D text clip from Rendersoft.
- neither video clip has audio... so some appropriate gala opening music
is placed on the Audio/Music track... it's an extract from a Cinderella cartoon. The sounds
from a movie will often work in other projects and places... don't feel you need to find the
audio in your music or sound effects libraries.... a video file often has a good choice.
- the visual of my fantasy office is the overlay image we made above in
Paint.NET. I swapped out the Overlay1.png image in my Title Overlay Starter Kit (it's a download
from the Editing Movies > Text > Custom Overlays page of the website).
That's enough for this pass... I rendered it to my usual quality choice, Video for LAN (768 Kbps),
and put it online with a forum post. One of the responses was that it would be better if something
was playing on the computer monitor at the same time... that would mean a Picture-in-Picture
pass... so I rendered it again to a DV-AVI file.
Step 4 - Put a Video on the Monitor
There are now various Picture-in-Picture tools, but my favorite is still the do-it-yourself custom
XML file, one always sitting in my Movie Maker\Shared\AddOnTFX folder waiting for another use.
Because I work with DV-AVI files at each pass... the underlying video clip is always 720x480,
so I don't need to make any changes to the first 4 lines of the XML file... let's go through the
remaining 4 lines.
The goal is to tell Movie Maker where to place the overlying video clip... in this case we want
it in the computer monitor. You tell it by determining where the corners of the overlay should be
Use the same image we used for the overlay (remember that we're working in a 720x480 environment,
so we want to measure using a 720x480 image, regardless of what size you'll be rendering the saved
Use Paint to see where the upper left corner is and how long the top and sides are:
- The offsetX value is the horizontal distance from the left side of the image to the upper
left corner, 210 pixels for this case
- The offsetY value is the vertical distance down from the top of the image, 140 pixels
- The width is the width of the computer monitor, 60 pixels
- The height is the height of the computer monitor, 48 pixels.
Being a pixel or two off isn't critical... when working in Movie Maker it's always a good idea
to use even numbers... if I think the height is 59 or 61 pixels, I'll use a setting of 60.
Once the XML file is tweaked (using Notepad to change the settings), it's time to open Movie
Maker and do the second pass.
Tip: Movie Maker reads the custom XML files as it starts up, so changes
to them need to be followed by a re-opening Movie Maker.
Tip: The XML file settings in a PIP project are embedded in the project
file... if you change the settings you need to delete the custom transition from the project
and add it again, so the new settings will replace the prior ones.
Here's the project... the first clip on the timeline is the office with the animated URL playing
on the wall... the second one is the clip to add to the monitor.
Slide the 2nd one over the first to start the transition going... then drag and drop the custom
PIP transition onto it.
Give some thought to the audio, as the long overlapping transition will result in the audio of
the first clip fading out over the clip, as the audio from the second clip fades in. I didn't want
the first clip's audio to fade out so I muted it and put the same audio onto the Audio/Music track...
I didn't mind the audio of the second clip fading in, so I was all set to render.
The rendered DV-AVI file has the video playing on the monitor screen... the new clip is ready
to use in a movie.
Step 5 - Use the Opening Clip
To illustrate, here it is as an opener to my personal Cinderella cartoon. I'm using a basic fade
If this wasn't just for a tutorial example, I'd add a little more audio by doing a "J-cut" and
apply a title overlay to give it more of a feeling of a fully integrated opening leading into a
main feature... and to introduce the main topic sooner. In today's world, taking 20 seconds to mention
the title is too long...
Conclusions and Closing
It's taken me many hours to prepare this tutorial and it might seem intimidating to you... but
once you've learned your tools, making such a clip from scratch is less than 30 minutes of work...
Some of your tools may be different than mine... if they work and you're comfortable with them,
use them instead. The efforts to learn and use the tools needs to end up taking a back seat to your
energy being applied to the creativity of getting what you want... It'll come!!!
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.
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Movie Maker 2 - Do Amazing Things (with its online companion on
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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
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Online Support - Forums and Newsgroups
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Forums are open to all for viewing, but require registration of those
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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
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It's free for the asking to regular newsletter subscribers... send an email request and I'll
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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
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Check it at Neptune and the Distributing
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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
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