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PapaJohn's Newsletter #1 - High Definition
Topic of the Week - High Definition

Movie Maker 2 is an entry-level video editing software app, at the opposite end of the spectrum from software that produces high-end commercial 'High Definition' video.... don't expect too much of it, but don't pass up any opportunity to use it at higher levels.  ... it's a fun subject, and we can learn much by studying it. You might not be able to meet the full standards for true 'High Definition' movies, but you may be able to increase the resolution of your home movies.



What is 'high definition', 'High Definition', 'high resolution', etc? There are different answers and it depends on who you ask.

My favorite is that it's what you drool over in the electronic stores as you browse, because it's better than what you have at home, but can't afford. So, what you own is 'standard definition' and what you would next is 'high definition'. It's a moving target.... More than half of what I see today in the stores is widescreen, but not all are 'high definition'? My analog Hi8 camcorder from 6 years ago shoots widescreen, but not high definition.

If you check books on the shelves of Borders and Barnes and Noble, you'll see things like these:

The glossary of 'Digital Video and HDTV - Algorithms and Interfaces' by Charles Poynton says: HDTV - High-definition television: A video system having aspect ratio 16:9 whose image comprises 3/4-million pixels or more..... (my new digital camera is 5 megapixels so using them in a slide show type video must qualify.... )

Digital Video and HDTV, page 99 - Widescreen (16:9) SDTV - the term is misleading because there is no increase in pixel count. A so-called widescreen SDTV picture cannot be viewed with a picture angle substantially wider than regular (4:3) SDTV. It effectively stretches samples horizontally by 4/3 compared to the 4:3 aspect ratio base sample. A book about Digital Video and HDTV, page 111, Intro to HDTV says ".... by my definition, HDTV has 3/4 million pixels or more....'

If you look at the new disc combo packages (DVD disc plus WMV High Definition) like Coral Reef Adventure, it'll tell you that the High Definition disc has two files: 720p (720 horizontal lines - progressive mode) and 1080p (1080 horizontal lines - progressive).

And if you look into the 'Official Standards' for today's High Definition TV, at places like you'll find information such as:
"SMPTE 296M: 1280 x 720 Scanning, Analog and Digital Representation and Analog Interface. This standard defines a family of raster scanning systems for the representation of stationary or moving two-dimensional images sampled temporally at a constant frame rate and having an image format of 1280 x 720 and an aspect ratio of 16:9. This standard specifies:
R'G'B' color encoding
R'G'B' analog and digital representation
Y'P'BP'R color encoding, analog representation, interface
Y'C'BC'R color encoding and digital representation
An auxiliary component A may optionally accompany Y'C'BC'R; this representation is denoted Y'C'BC'RA. A bit-parallel digital interface is incorporated by reference."

For me, what constitutes High Definition is somewhat moot.... fun to talk about at a cocktail party, but not something I'm really going to really be concerned about. I'm not out to produce DVDs or TV shows officially labeled as High Definition. I'm just out to get the most I can from my source files and saved movies..... and have more fun by making my movies at higher resolution.
The basic ingredients of video include the number of pixels (which some focus exclusively on), color information (which some don't understand or - like me - are color impaired enough to give it less priority), audio channels and quality, and the bandwidth size needed to have it flow smoothly from it's source to the viewer.

Achieving it starts with the sources themselves, and then cascades through the steps of the editing and delivery processes.

Consumer digital camcorders capture, record, and deliver digital video to your computer at the digital video standard, which is 720x480 pixels.... not enough pixels to qualify as High Definition. Note that both standard 4:3 and widescreen 16:9 digital video are 720x480 pixels.... the pixels are just different shapes. Of course, pro-sumer and professional camcorders can shoot at higher quality.

But video clips can also come from high resolution still images and computer generated animations.... which can qualify.... I have 5 megapixel images from my newest camera, and I can generate AVI files from animation software that matches the working window on my computer, which can be as large as 1600x1200, more than enough for true High Definition.

Photo Story 2 and Movie Maker 2 and Higher Resolution

Photo Story 2 effectively uses whatever pixels are in the source files, but it's limited to using still images. With one of the optional profiles from Microsoft, you can make videos as high as 1024x768 pixels.

Movie Maker 2, for higher resolution still pictures, regardless of the input size, effectively resizes them to 800x600 pixels before rendering the movies.... but for video source files, it produces saved movies that are aligned with the source clips. For saving to something higher than standard NTSC files at 720x480, you need to use a custom profile. I have a couple of them for download on my website, one at 1024x768, the same size as the custom profile for Photo Story 2.

Note that, the higher the quality of a video, the more powerful a computer is needed to play it smoothly. We all know that rendering takes time.... but let it render as you sleep and get up in the morning to your high resolution videos. But can you play it back smoothly? Was it worth making in the first place if you can't effectively view it?

More References
High Definition Content Showcase - Microsoft website

Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series is a breakthrough set of codecs that enables multichannel audio and high definition (HD) video at resolutions up to 1080p. See high definition in action for yourself. Download samples of HD content in 720p and 1080p. To deliver ultra-high quality, these clips were encoded at 24 frames per second (fps), and at the resolutions noted of either 1280 x 720 (720p) or 1920 x 1080 (1080p). (Resolutions vary per clip.) Windows Media Content Showcase

One hour online video about making a High Definition video - This session will step through the process for acquiring, editing, compositing and encoding Windows Media HD video for playback on PCs and DVDs. It won't mention Movie Maker 2. How to Produce Windows Media HD Video Files from Microsoft

This breaks the ice.... thanks again for signing up. I look forward to any discussion items at the forums, and whatever the next topic will be next week. I'm open for ideas.


Movie Maker 2 -
Photo Story 2 -

PapaJohn's Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 2 Newsletter Index

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.



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