Windows Movie Maker tips, tutorials, forums and more...

Visit the Windows Movie Maker forums

Community Forums

Getting Started
Learn Movie Maker 2
Capture Video
Improve Video Capture
Saving Projects

Editing Video
Video Editing
Video Trimming
Video Effects
Using Transitions

Adding Sounds
Adding Music
Adding Narration
Multiple Audio Tracks
Controlling Volume

Taking Pictures
Making Slideshows
Advanced Titles
Photo Story 3

Exporting Movies
Saving Movies
CD-Rom Backup
Create a DVD

More Articles
All Articles
Movie Maker 2 Review
Movie Maker Tutorials
What are Codecs?
Streaming Video
Create a Movie CD
Using Photo Story 2

MM2 Newsletter Archive

Download Windows Media Player 11

Digital Media BooksView Books about Digital Media

PapaJohn's Newsletter #99

Special Effects and Transitions

It's been a year and half in development... neither ProDAD nor I have been hurrying this project along, but it's finally completed and being published... PapaJohn Editions of special effects and transitions for Movie Maker 2.

Here are the thumbnails for the package of 30 transitions.

PJ Transitions

... and the package of 40 special effects.

PJ - Effects

Contrast those to the current classic Adorage thumbnails that look like these, and you can see one aspect of progress that we're making with the new ones...

Adorage Thumbnails

There's a new page on my website for info and links to download the packages, see a demo clip, and a video of my grandson Nick and his classmates on a Mission to Mars a couple days ago... my first video that used the new packages. The website page is Editing Movies > Adorage - PapaJohn Editions.

Beyond this news, I'll cover the general state of extra special effects and transitions, and take a look at the added demands of such items on your computer resources.

... before getting into it further, here's a couple notes...


Trivia Question: Which app (Photo Story 3 or Movie Maker 2) can import the highest quality still picture? A: Movie Maker... Photo Story 3 gives an error message if an image is greater than 7200 pixels in height or width... Movie Maker accepts bigger ones... I've tested MM2 with ones up to 10,000 x 10,000 pixels. 

The Vista Corner... nothing done during the week except to schedule and record a TV series...


Inkscape is a vector-based graphics app that I just added to the Other Software page of the website.

It's great and fun for doodling, drawing, has a calligraphy tool that works well (better with a pen tablet), and is a free download...

Some technical info: it uses the SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) format for its files. SVG is an open standard widely supported by graphic software. SVG files are based on XML and can be edited with any text or XML editor (apart from Inkscape, that is). Besides SVG, Inkscape can import and export EPS and PNG files.

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

The State of  Special Effects and Transitions

I've yet to meet someone who doesn't like special effects and transitions. On the other hand, there are many who go way overboard in using them. It's easy to do as they are fun and easy to apply.

  • Movie Maker 2 includes basic sets of special effects and transitions.
  • Additional packages have been released by Microsoft, Pixelan, Rehan, HitTheBongo and ProDAD.
  • Transition Maker 2 is a utility that helps you make and publish your own packages of transitions. Patrick Leabo programmed it, and I sell it on my website.
  • And some users like me use XML code to add new twists to many of them, and extend customization to title overlays. I recently restructured the Editing Movies > the Persian Section of my website to help those who want to get into them do so.

There's never too many to select from, like you can never have too many albums in your music library. But in the quest for more, there's a few things to be aware of

  • Some users have run into the actual loss of their transitions and effects due to either issues in the Movie Maker sofware or something related to adware/spyware. It remains somewhat of a mystery as to what causes it and why.
  • Microsoft cautions about a limit of 100 DirectShow video transitions or video effects that a system can handle. Here's the item in their FAQ, the first item in the Troubleshooting section. Microsoft cautions about a limit of 100 DirectShow video transitions or video effects that a system can handle

    For all my studying of this item, I still don't know what or how to count. I have 307 video effects and 550 transitions on my laptop, and the system runs fine... so it's not about how many thumbnails are in the video effects and transitions collections. If you know how to translate this caution into something that I can pass along to users, please let me know.

  • Added special effects and transitions use more system resources even when they are not being used for a project. I'll look at memory demands and how to turn the packages on and off as needed.
  • The Vista version of Windows uses different coding for XML, so all of the packages and custom coding being used for MM2 in XP will need to be redone if they are going to work in  Vista. We don't yet have the info from Microsoft to be able to do it.

All of the optional extras are great... but if you run on a pretty lean system, and tend to collect lots of extras, you may be at the point of needing to manage them better. Let's look a bit deeper.

The AddOnTFX Folders

It's easy to study the extra memory needed to have all of the optional effects, transitions, and custom title overlays available for a moment's use. They all use AddOnTFX folders... not one folder, but two.

The first Adorage MM2 package uses the AddOnTFX folder under my c:\Documents and Settings\PapaJohn\Application Data\Microsoft\Movie Maker. It's interesting that it's also the path to the MM1 collection database. So I'll call this one the MM1 AddOnTFX folder.

The two new Adorage MM2 packages align with what all of the other ones use. I'll call it the MM2 AddOnTFX folder, the one under c:\Program Files\Movie Maker\Shared.

Here's my file manager looking at both of them.

AddOnTFX Folders

If you've turned codecs on or off by renaming them, that's similar to switching on and off these folders of extra effects, transitions and custom overlays. Of course you won't want to turn them off if you're relying on any of them in a current project.

I turn the AddOnTFX folders off by renaming them to AddOnTFX-Off... and then back to usual. When I want to go back to basics to see how MM2 works without all the extras, I simply rename the two folders as shown in this figure.


Let's do some turning on and off to help study memory needs for these extras.

Memory Usage

Here are some interesting scenarios...

If you don't have either AddOnTFX folder, then opening Movie Maker 2 costs you about 20 MB of memory... until you actually touch a thumbnail for a video effect or transiton... when you do, memory usage jumps up another 20 MB, effectively doubling the initial memory needed to run Movie Maker 2.

If you have only the MM1 folder with the first Adorage package in it (the new ones use the MM2 folder), memory usage is the same as without it. There's no apparant memory cost to having the MM1 folder sitting there with the first Adorage package in it.

The MM2 folder costs you. If your MM2 folder is fully packed like mine, Movie Maker uses an extra 40 MB when opening, and then another 20 MB on top of that when you touch a thumbnail. The memory picture is the same if the MM1 folder is on or off in tandem with the MM2 folder... so again, the MM1 folder isn't adding to the needs.

It's easy to turn off all the extras by renaming the two folders, but more difficult to do it selectively. To remove some of the packages or the specific items in them, you would need to do an uninstall or move them to another folder, and reinstall or move them back when you want to use them.

You can turn off the folders with MM2 open... but as the effects and transitions are already in memory, nothing changes until you restart Movie Maker.

Movie Maker 1 uses 5 MB of memory... and has no extra effects or transitions... much of our memory needs for MM2 is because of those extras. And we love them...

Test Project

I couldn't stop short of doing a test project and watching memory usage. Here's what I did and saw.


  • memory usage before opening MM2... 392 MB
  • opened MM2... moved up to 450 MB
  • added 50 still pictures to a project... 468 MB
  • added a 2nd copy of the same pack of pictures... 474 MB
  • 1st touched a thumbnail... 488 MB
  • added a different transition between each... 50 to start... 522 MB
  • finished adding transitions to the other 50... 556 MB
  • saved the project file.... 559 MB
  • added a different effect to each... 50 to start.... 580 MB
  • finished adding effects, one to each... 100 total.... 588 MB
  • saved the project.... 589 MB
  • rendered to a DV-AVI file.... it spent a long time thinking and using 50% CPU as it did.... then memory usage started to move up, and at the same time the progress indicator kicked in... 1595 MB max of memory used, about 1/4 way through the rendering. Memory used during the rendering was fairly level.

Nothing noteworthy happened during the rendering. It finished and my peak memory usage never reached my 2 GB of RAM.

Playback and Beyond...

As I watched the video in Windows Media Player, amused at the random showing of pix, transitions and effects... the show stopped short... sitting on the 89th picture for the duration. But there were 11 more on the timeline after that picture. Had it reached some limit during rendering??? I had to check further.

If someone asked for help at this point, I'd probably be inclined to tell them to spit the project in two, as it's too complex, but I didn't get the familiar error message during rendering, and my memory limit wasn't reached.

I went in the other direction, making it more complex. I copied and pasted the full timeline to double everything in it... and started another render.

200 pix with 198 transitions and 200 effects... 715 MB

Can't Save Movie

rendered to a DV-AVI file... again a long time sitting at a low level of memory usage, but this time never kicking into gear. After an hour and a half of trying, it gave me something conclusive, our familiar error message about not being able to save.

Memory usage never went over 750 MB, less than half of my RAM. So it's not really a memory constraint as memory relates to RAM and virtual memory. It might be that limit of 100 Direct Show Filters that Microsoft cautions about... but I don't know. I had no issues putting all the extras into the Movie Maker folders and using them... it's only when making such a complex project that I hit the brick wall.

That's enough for this newsletter... more learning to do for a future issue.

Conclusions and Closing

Extra effects and transitions are here to stay... the computer makes them so easy to apply. However, if you run on a pretty lean system, and can't afford the memory needed to have them all instantly available, you need to manage them. More RAM is always a good thing.

If you run into performance issues when editing projects, rendering movies, or viewing the saved movies, consider the impact of your add-ons.

I wish I had more answers about what we call the 'complexity' issue... until then, have a healthy respect for whatever it is. Fortunately you can make great movies by doing it in parts and putting the parts together.

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):

#100 - April 22 - special 2nd anniversary issue... 100 makes a good point for a digital newsletter... versus 52 weeks in an analog year

#101 - April 29 - open

#102 - May 6 - 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 is an additional source of very professionally developed transitions and effects. I'll be adding links to the new ones here also.

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, I offer two free training sessions about Movie Maker and Photo Story, an intro session and a workshop. Scheduled sessions are:

Monday - May 8 - 7-8:30 pm - Intro to Movie Maker and Photo Story

Monday - June 5 - 7-8:30 pm - Workshop

Monday - July 10 - 7-8:30 pm - Intro to Movie Maker and Photo Story

Monday - August 7 - 7-8:30 pm - Workshop

The classroom has a large screen overhead projection system... and individual laptops for each attendee to use. You learn by doing, with a little guidance from me.

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 $75 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.

© 2006 - PapaJohn; 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



Download more Movie Maker Effects!

Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.