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PapaJohn's Newsletter #88

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.

Sample Opening Clip

Start with this link to see what we'll be making:

Intro Clip

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 any movie.

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 do.

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. 

Step PapaJohn - Office1 - 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.

Open 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 AVI file.

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.

Rendersoft - Add Text

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

background color

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.

MovementReposition 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....

Rendering QualityNotice 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 movies...

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 > Show Animation PanelAnimation 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 frame 0.

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.

Frame 300Then 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
  • wframe ratehen 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.

Select CodecWhen 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).     

Pass 1 Project

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.

Measuring for PIP

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 positioned.

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 movie to)

Use Paint to see where the upper left corner is and how long the top and sides are:Measuring in Paint

  • 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.

Second pass project

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 transition.

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...

Using the Opening Clip

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

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):

#89 - February 4 - open

#90 - February 11 - open

#91 - February 18 - 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, we offer two free training sessions about Movie Maker and Photo Story, an intro session and a workshop. 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.