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PapaJohn's Newsletter #92

Moving Overlay Images

Skilled users are finding many ways to apply custom xml files for new effects, transitions and titles. They are doing some great things, and there was a big leap forward a few weeks ago when they found ways to make overlay images move.

If you didn't use the links in last week's newsletter to see the sample clips of moving image overlays, here they are again as the warm-ups for this week's issue.

SailboatSailboat - goes virtually anywhere you want it to birdsOffice with Birds - virtual birds fly around my virtual office
TextScrolling Credits - combine anything you want in the way of text and graphics, and have it scroll smoothly as part of your closing credits

irplanesAirshow Intro - 6 planes, the moon, and some clouds move one by one into place before the movement starts...

What each of these have in common is the use of video clips with one or more moving overlay images.

There are different ways to achieve most anything with Movie Maker, and I try to specialize in things that are not only visually impressive but really easy to implement.

Each of these samples was made the same way:

  • make overlay images... png files with most of the image transparent

  • copy and tweak a small xml file that points to the png files and provides the movement settings

  • add the moving overlay images as text overlays in Movie Maker...

Newsletter #77 was a tutorial about using Paint.NET to make overlay images with transparency. In this issue, we'll focus on the part of the xml file that defines the movement. This, as many other extras with Movie Maker, opens limitless possibilities for adding WOW type visual candy to your projects.

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


After last week's newsletter about background music, a reader asked about the audio files that come with Pinnacle Studio, the ones used by the software to generate background music. He noted that the files have SCS extensions, but when renamed to WAV, they work fine in Movie Maker... he assumes they are free to use. I agree and should have noted that the computer generated music of software such as Pinnacle Studio and Photo Story 3 is one source of free music.

This week's topic involves custom xml files, something the Persian Gal had been working on as part of my website... we exchanged emails this week and concluded her efforts should stay in her school work, and my efforts should include the continued development of the Persian Page on the site. It's now the XML - Persian Page but divided into 4 pages... and will expand as the sub-topics within the XML area are added.

The Vista Corner...

The 5308 build was released this week... I installed it and started my look-around. It's pre-beta software so running into bugs is normal and expected. What's most exciting is that it's the first build with all the features that will be in the final version.

That warrants another newsletter about Vista... next week we'll take a look at the features in it, at least the ones that relate to Movie Maker and Photo Story.... things like an MPEG-2 codec package downloadable from Microsoft, and the new DVD making app.

.... back to the main topic...

Moving Image Overlays

Instead of starting with the making of the overlay images, let's work backwards from a custom moving overlay title animation to see where it comes from. If you understand one, you understand them all.

Custom moving images and other overlays show up in the picklist of choices for title animations. Movie Maker gets the list of animations when it checks the contents of the AddOnTFX folder each time it starts up.

Here's the first of the 4 custom title animations used to make the 'Office with Birds' sample. Selecting it in the list results in it previewing in the monitor.

Moving Overlay

This one is a California condor moving in from off-screen at the upper left and exiting off-screen at the right, just above the middle of the window. The XML file tells Movie Maker which image to use and how to make it move.

So far, overlay images move only in a straight line at a constant speed. You set the starting and ending points by settings in the XML file. You adjust the speed by changing the clip's duration on the timeline, the same way you change the speed of a title overlay... longer clips go slower and shorter ones go faster.

xml file locationThe custom XML files for moving overlays are in the c:\Program Files\Movie Maker\Shared\AddOnTFX folder. If the folder doesn't exist, create it manually.

An XML file can contain one or more title animations. I made one file for each of the sample videos.

The one for the birds has a file name of 'PapaJohn-MovingOverlay.xml', and it contains 4 sections for title animations, one for each of the items in the title animation list.

Going the next step into the file, using Notepad to open it, here's the full text of the XML file for the flying birds, the file named 'PapaJohn-MovingOverlay.xml'. The name of the file doesn't have any relationship to the contents of the file... Movie Maker doesn't use the file name as it gets the animation names from inside the file.

XML files need to be structured exactly when it comes to the names and symbols, so copy and paste is the best way to not make typos. The indentations are not needed... they are there just to help you read it and make it easier to see the sections.

This XML file has 4 sections, one for each of the moving overlays. The sections differ only in what is marked in bold below...

Notepad is the tool of choice when making or editing XML files... you don't want any special formatting codes that apps like Word or WordPad put in.

<TransitionsAndEffects Version="1.0">
          <TitleDLL guid="{353359C1-39E1-491b-9951-464FD8AB071C}">

               <Title name="PapaJohn - Moving overlay 1" iconid="13" >
                    <Param name="InternalName" value="TitleStandard"/>
                    <Param name="Description" value="Overlay moves across screen"/>
                    <Param name="MainEffect" value="EffectInverse"/>
                    <Param name="EntranceZoom" value="1.0 1.0"/>
                    <Param name="MainZoom" value="1.0 1.0"/>
                    <Param name="ExitZoom" value="1.0 1.0"/>
                    <Param name="FillBitmapFilename" value="MovingOverlay1.png"/>
                    <Param name="FillBitmapEntrancePosition" value="-0.2 0.2"/>
                    <Param name="FillBitmapExitPosition" value="1.5 0.5"/>

               <Title name="PapaJohn - Moving overlay 2" iconid="13" >
                    <Param name="InternalName" value="TitleStandard"/>
                    <Param name="Description" value="Overlay moves across screen"/>
                    <Param name="MainEffect" value="EffectInverse"/>
                    <Param name="EntranceZoom" value="1.0 1.0"/>
                    <Param name="MainZoom" value="1.0 1.0"/>
                    <Param name="ExitZoom" value="1.0 1.0"/>
                    <Param name="FillBitmapFilename" value="MovingOverlay2.png"/>
                    <Param name="FillBitmapEntrancePosition" value="1.1 0.0"/>
                    <Param name="FillBitmapExitPosition" value="-0.2 0.6"/>

               <Title name="PapaJohn - Moving overlay 3" iconid="13" >
                    <Param name="InternalName" value="TitleStandard"/>
                    <Param name="Description" value="Overlay moves across screen"/>
                    <Param name="MainEffect" value="EffectInverse"/>
                    <Param name="EntranceZoom" value="1.0 1.0"/>
                    <Param name="MainZoom" value="1.0 1.0"/>
                    <Param name="ExitZoom" value="1.0 1.0"/>
                    <Param name="FillBitmapFilename" value="MovingOverlay3.png"/>
                    <Param name="FillBitmapEntrancePosition" value="1.1 0.5"/>
                    <Param name="FillBitmapExitPosition" value="0.7 -0.1"/>

               <Title name="PapaJohn - Moving overlay 4" iconid="13" >
                    <Param name="InternalName" value="TitleStandard"/>
                    <Param name="Description" value="Overlay moves across screen"/>
                    <Param name="MainEffect" value="EffectInverse"/>
                    <Param name="EntranceZoom" value="1.0 1.0"/>
                    <Param name="MainZoom" value="1.0 1.0"/>
                    <Param name="ExitZoom" value="1.0 1.0"/>
                    <Param name="FillBitmapFilename" value="MovingOverlay4.png"/>
                    <Param name="FillBitmapEntrancePosition" value="1.1 0.6"/>
                    <Param name="FillBitmapExitPosition" value="0.5 -0.1"/>


Going another step down, this time into the first section of the XML file to see how the settings relate to the moving bird. Here's a copy of the 5 lines with some bold text, the things that make them differ from one section to the other... let's go over them one at a time.

               <Title name="PapaJohn - Moving overlay 1" iconid="13" >
                    <Param name="Description" value="Overlay moves across screen"/>
                    <Param name="FillBitmapFilename" value="MovingOverlay1.png"/>
                    <Param name="FillBitmapEntrancePosition" value="-0.2 0.2"/>
                    <Param name="FillBitmapExitPosition" value="1.5 0.5"/>

  • The PapaJohn - Moving overlay 1 is the name that shows up in the list of animations in Movie Maker, this one being in the left column... you can see it in the animation list in Movie Maker above.

  • Overlay moves across screen shows up in the second column of the list... I left this name the same for the 4 bird images as overlays 1 thru 4 were enough to know which was which.

  • Images - locationMovingOverlay1.png is the name of the image file...

Moving Overlay 1If you don't tell it differently, Movie Maker assumes the custom images pointed to are in the c:\Program Files\Movie Maker\Shared folder... that's where I put mine.

The MovingOverlay1.png image is 68x132 pixels (here it is full size... the black area around the condor is marked in the PNG file as being transparent.

This moving overlay image works best if the blackness around the bird is marked as transparent... which is what you need something like Paint.NET or Photoshop to do. IrfanView can do it too but Paint.NET does it better. See newsletter #77 for the details of using Paint.NET. Positioning Guide

  • Now for the trickiest part of the process, figuring out what numbers to put into the XML file to define the starting and ending points for the overlay image. It's the location of the lower right corner of the overlay image that counts.

This positioning guide shows numbers between zero and 1 are on the screen... negative numbers are off-screen to the top or the left. And numbers greater than 1 are off-screen to the right or bottom. The middle of the window is the 0.5, 0.5 position.

X-Axis (horizontal)... The first of the two numbers for the entrance position of the first bird defines where the lower right corner of the overlay image will be at the beginning.

I used a negative number of -0.2 for the starting point, making it start somewhat off-screen to the left.

Y-Axis (vertical)... The second of the two numbers is where the lower right corner starts relative to the top of the video track. The entrance position of 0.2 set the location 2/10ths of the way down from the top of the screen.

Check the sample and the picture here to see how the condor flying across the video relates to these entrance and exit positions. I have to confess that at this point in making the sample, I wasn't sure if or how the size of the overlay image effected the selection of the numbers, so I was kind of winging it.

The positions of the overlays in the clips with the birds and the sailboat only need to be close, not exact. Tweak the numbers until the movement is what you want.

Airshow OverlaysThe scrolling credits and the sample of the airplanes need to be exact.

Tip: when changing your settings in the XML file you need to go through the full cycle of then opening Movie Maker so it reads the new settings, and re-applying the animation to the project, so the project file picks up the new settings from Movie Maker.

Condor ImagesWhat size overlay images?

All 4 sample videos were made with the intention of rendering them to movies of 640x480 pixels.

The sizes of the sailboat and condor images were not important... sized to look appropriate in the project previews. I did all cropping and resizing with IrfanView.

The condors were different size images, crops slightly larger than the birds themselves... the 3rd and 4th ones were two copies of the same image. The images are 68x132, 85x159, and 169x78 pixels.

The 3rd sample, the scrolling text, was the first one where the size of the overlay was important to leave just a little border at the left and right... not knowing how the image sizes varied with the movie size, I did it purely by trial and error... and ended up not knowing much more than I started with, but I was happy the effect worked pretty good.

For the airshow opening clip, I needed to better understand the relationship between the sizes of the overlay images and the rendered movie.

For the 6 planes, the moon, and the clouds to fit together into a composite image, each of the 8 overlays had to both end up in the same position and fill the working window.

I played with the first one until I understood that, for the XML code used, the overlay images needed to be 320x240 pixels when rendered to a 640x480 pixel movie.... I'd prefer using overlay images of 640x480 to avoid re-sampling upwards in size, but that's for when I figure it out another day.

The strip at the left shows each of the overlays in the sequence used (here you're seeing negatives of the overlays to be easier to see the little items in the whiteness).

The whiteness shown here is the transparent area in the overlay PNG files... so all you see are the little planes, moon and clouds moving into position.

Here are just the lines of the code that define the entrance and exit positions (each item entered off-screen and ended up at the same position, squarely positioned over the movie window):

1 - entered at -1.5 -1.5 and exited at 0.5 0.5

2 - entered at  0.5 -1.5 and exited at 0.5 0.5

3 - entered at  1.5 -1.5 and exited at 0.5 0.5

4 - entered at -1.5  0.5 and exited at 0.5 0.5

5 - entered at  1.5  0.5 and exited at 0.5 0.5

6 - entered at -1.5  1.5 and exited at 0.5 0.5

7 - entered at  0.5  1.5 and exited at 0.5 0.5

8 - entered at  1.5  1.5 and exited at 0.5 0.5

From the positioning grid above you know that only numbers between zero and one are on screen... numbers less than zero or greater than one are off-screen. Each of the eight overlays start off screen... and end up at the same 0.5 0.5 position, the middle of the working window. 

Conclusions and Closing

Custom XML files are so much fun they can be addictive... I want into the making of one with movement for my website and had to force myself to stop after making these four. There were more in my mind but it was time to go on to something else.

First came transparent overlays, and now moving ones... someday there will be movement along curves, then changing sizes as it moves, then ??? That's what XML is all about, no end to the extensibility of its uses.

Jump in to any depth you want. But be aware the whole library of Movie Maker XML commands is changing with Vista... none of the custom effects, transitions and overlays tested in Vista so far still work, and the new library of info hasn't been released for easy translation.

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):

#93 - March 4 - the 2nd look at Vista... the features

#94 - March 11 - open

#95 - March 18 - open

Newsletters issued more than 6 weeks ago are posted by Rob Morris to an Archive Site on 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 - 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.