High Definition - VC-1
When I first saw that 3 of the 9 choices for publishing a movie in Vista were high definition
(HD) profiles, I perked up... and when looking closer at the pre-beta 5308 build
last week, one of the
further caught my eye... Windows Media HD 1080 - VC-1 (228 Kbps). What's that?
Part of my interest was from not knowing enough about it. I had studied the properties of the
720p and 1080i videos on WMV-HD discs, and made profiles to emulate them, but I hadn't seen any
labeled as VC-1. Maybe they are VC-1 and I didn't know it.
What's the HD 1080 VC-1 option, and how does it differ from the HD 1080? is the bitrate noted
in the drop-down list of 228 Kbps really so?
For the High Definition choices, 720 stands for 720 horizontal lines of resolution and 1080 for
that many lines. On a computer monitor, think of them as the pixel height by whatever number of
pixels wide. The i or p after the number means 'interlaced' or 'progressive'...
Remember my mentioning last week that my laptop XP system needed to get a codec to use a movie
rendered with Vista? I had noted the name of the codec package as it downloaded and installed...
wvc1dmp.CAB... it turns out it was the VC-1 file that needed the codec.
About the bitrate of 228 Kbps; I submitted a bug report as I'm sure it's a typo. They might mean
2,280 Kbps or 2.28 Mbps.
Here's a Microsoft website page
What is VC-1? that starts with:
VC-1 is a video codec specification that is currently being standardized by the Society
of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) and implemented by Microsoft as Windows Media
Video (WMV) 9 Advanced Profile...
Here's a website to check your computer to see if it can play high definition files...
WMV HD Advisor ... use the bottom link "See If Your PC Can Play WMV HD" and
drill down a bit... if you opt for T2 Judgment Day - a 1080i video, and check your system... you
can compare your results to my laptop....
Once you know what to expect, you're ready to download and play this 1080 Photo Story that I
made to align Photo Story 3 and Movie Maker 2 with the 1080 VC-1 profile of Movie Maker in Vista.
Photo Story - Big Ben
... before getting into it further, here are a few notes...
the Vista Corner
Movie Maker in Vista is version 6.0.5308.17 per the Help > About window.
I did some more checking of the Vista DVD Maker and am really impressed with
the built-in styles, motion menus and automatic chapter points... lots of great eye candy, and I
haven't burned a bad disc yet. Yes, there are some issues with the user interface, but it holds
lots of promise.
That cool Roll-O-Dex feature of build 5270 seems to have been dropped... I haven't found it in
the 5308 build.
And on the other side, I went back into Roxio's MyDVD 8 to look some more at
its DVD authoring features.. and found myself exploring its movie-making option, as shown in the
working window at the right.
Maybe Sonic (Roxio) and Microsoft did some technology info swapping... I'm checking Vista to
making DVDs and MyDVD 8 to edit movies!!!!
The world keeps turning, and we have more and more choices as it does.
I did a system restore the other day, going back about 5 weeks to check something,
and when I undid the restore to come back to now I found my collection database was zeroed out.
Be sure to save a copy of the database before doing a restore. Lately I've been running with
a pretty clean slate of collections, so I didn't miss it.
.... back to the main topic...
The 3 HD Choices in Vista
Before digging into the VC-1 option, here's some info about the 3 HD choices in Vista. The info
comes from WMP 10 when viewing sample files, not the same Big Ben sample story that's coming up.
The bit rate figures are the totals of audio and video.
standard with widescreen displayed
Let's go into the VC-1 choice.
the VC-1 Profile in Vista's Movie Maker
Here's another extract from the Microsoft website about VC-1:
"... VC-1 decodes HD video twice as fast as the H.264 standard, while offering 2-to-3
times better compression than MPEG-2.
VC-1 offers superior quality across a wide variety of content types and bit rates..."
It goes on to say there are Simple and Advanced VC-1 profiles of various bit rates with different
settings. The pixel dimension sizes range from 176x144 to 2048x1536. You wouldn't call a video of
176x144 pixels high definition, so VC-1 is more another codec type than it is something only associated
with high definition.
as with MM2 in XP, I don't see stand-alone profiles for the choices in Vista, so I'll study it like
I did the WMV-HD discs, looking at the movie files that Vista produces when using the option.
The file's properties are shown by importing it into Movie Maker 2.1 and playing it in Windows
Media Player 10.
image at the left is the info from Movie Maker.... the video size, bit rate, frame rate, and audio
The image at the right from WMP10 adds some codec info... a VC-1 file is compressed by the WMV
9 Advanced Profile codec.
The Simple VC-1 profiles are implemented by the WMV 9 Video codec, and the Advanced profiles
by the WMV 9 Advanced Profile.
When selecting the VC-1 option in Vista, the Movie Maker setting of standard 4:3 aspect ratio
or widescreen 16:9 doesn't make a difference to the saved movie... it makes it as standard 4:3 at
To make custom profiles that align with this VC-1 file, let's start with a Photo Story and a
high resolution image. I'll use an 11 megapixel picture of Big Ben from a monthly magazine disc.
Photo Story 3 Profile
Although the Video 9 Advanced Profile is an option when using the profile editor, you can't use
it for a story.... PS3 stories can only be rendered with the Image v2 codec.
The properties of the sample video file from Vista gives us enough info to make this custom profile
for Photo Story 3.
Using the Windows Media Profile Editor:
Quality VBR - Windows Media Audio 9.1 for the audio, and Quality VBR - Windows Media Video 9
Image v2 for the video.
You can use different options for audio but the video compression requires the Video 9 Image
Quality-based tab (see the figure below)
VBR Quality 98, 48 kHz, stereo VBR for the audio. Others would work also.
The video size of 1440x1080 and the frame rate of 29.97 aligns with the properties of the file
rendered by Vista.
I checked key frame intervals from 1 to 15 seconds and settled at 15. With a story limited to
panning and zooming in a linear manner, it means the full frames are at 15 second increments, with
the frames between them being calculated on the fly. More frequent key frames might be easier on
the computer, but with a larger file size... it's a tradeoff that I haven't studied in any depth.
If the picture has a duration of less than 15 seconds, it'll use the lesser duration, so I'm
not sure this setting makes much difference.
This is an interesting setting that I haven't explored much... you would think that the highest
number of 100 is the best in all cases... maybe not. If 100 is always best, why is the VBR Quality
of 98 for the audio setting the highest number you can pick? Maybe the extra file size to go to
100 doesn't make a difference? But I'll start with it for the video.
The Video quality setting in the profile can be from 0 to 100. I'll be exploring this setting
in more depth in next week's newsletter. To help assess the quality of the story and the movies
of MM2 and Vista, I did this exercise:
- added my URL to the minute hand of the Big Ben clock, a high quality 11 megapixel image
- used the picture in a Photo Story that zooms into that area to see how the URL was hanging
in their with different settings
- rendered the story to the 1440x1080 custom profile that emulates the VC-1 file settings...
but changed the Quality setting to get a set of test stories that range from 0 to 100... the
full set will be used next week.
- used Movie Maker to take snapshots from the last frame of each story
- cropped the section of the minute hand with my URL on it
- compared results
Here's a cropped segment from the annotated original image before it was imported into Photo
Story 3... a 33 MB picture.
Here's the cropped segment from the last frame of the story, with a quality setting of 100...
about the same as the original image.... a 9.6 MB story file.
The story was then used as a source file in Vista's Movie Maker, and rendered using the 1080
VC-1 option. The movie file was 62.1 MB, with a total bit rate of 18.8 Mbps. Here's the same crop
from the last frame of the 1080 VC-1 movie.
It maintains the quality well...
That leaves us only to make a custom profile for Movie Maker 2, and see how well its quality
Movie Maker 2 Custom Profile
Using a CBR mode and the Advanced Profile codec, the same codec used by Vista... with a video
bitrate of 19 Mbps.... about the bitrate of the video saved by Vista's Movie Maker.
The file from MM2 was 73.1 MB, a bit larger than the 1080 VC-1 movie from Vista. It's a big file,
but not as large as a DV-AVI file, which would be 111 MB for the same 30 second video.
The cropped segment of the last frame of the movie made in MM2, shown above, looks about the
same as the other crops. I'm satisfied we can align the quality of the stories and movies.
Conclusions and Closing
If your computer and big-screen can handle HD 1080, you can make and view stories and movies
comparable in quality to Vista's HD 1080 VC-1 profile option.
And if you're like me, and don't have a new high definition camcorder for the source material,
use still images and start with a story.
I put the two custom profiles online... here are the links:
Photo Story 3 -
Movie Maker 2 -
I'm not ready to roll them out to my website... not until at least after next week's newsletter,
in which I'll take a closer look at differences in quality when using different Quality settings
of Variable bit rate (VBR) files.
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
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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.
Online Support - Forums and Newsgroups
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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
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Newsgroups are wide open for all to view and post... moderation is collective
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Movie Maker 2/Photo Story newsletter. The annual subscription is $20 and the link to subscribe
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Topics for upcoming newsletters (always subject to change):
#95 - March 18 - Quality Settings in custom profiles when using VBR options
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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 - March 13 - 7-8:30 pm - Intro to Movie Maker and Photo Story
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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.
© 2006 – PapaJohn
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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
this information "AS IS" with no warranties.
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