PapaJohn's Newsletter #5 - June 12, 2004
Picture in Picture
Some want a logo in the corner of a video. Others want a video on the left
with a different one on the right.
Movie Maker 2 has only a single video track and no built-in features to
achieve a Picture-in-Picture effect without resorting to a custom effect or
You can purchase or use Adobe Premiere or other software to more easily
achieve such effects.... but my newsletter and website is mostly about
Movie Maker 2, not Premiere and others. So, even if it takes a bit more effort,
let's do it with MM2.
As an intro to this week's newsletter, take a look at this 5 minute movie,
as it's what it's all about. I'm working on putting together a video from some
footage of the Grand Canyon that I took in April. Here's the
You may have seen some posts on the newsgroup or in forums
about doing a Picture-in-Picture by using a custom transition. Or maybe you
saw the notes on the Editing > Video > Transitions page of my
website. That's how this video was made. I'll go through it in detail.
I work with NTSC settings. If you use PAL, your pixel dimensions may
be different than those I note.
Here's a couple items before continuing with the weekly topic:
For the rest of this month, I'm giving priority to finishing the 14
Movie Maker hacks I'm writing for a new O'Reilly book about Windows
Media Hacks. If my newsgroups and forum postings seem less, or I don't turn
around emails as quickly as usual, please assume it's because I'm in some corner
working on the hacks.
The many broken links on my website that resulted from the change of
server have been fixed, at least all that I can find.... so one that doesn't
work should now be rare.
Let's get into it.... we'll start with a project plan,
making notes about what you want to achieve, and then get into the steps to
Make a Project Plan
Here's the plan I made for the Grand Canyon footage.
I thought that showing it as one long video would
be boring, as much of the footage was of the canyon itself without much
I'll make it more interesting by playing 3 videos in
parallel. Viewers can look at whichever of the 3 they want to, or
scan from one to another.
My camcorder footage was shot in widescreen mode on my new Sony
TRV80, so I chose the widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio for the final movie, and did
a layout of the 3 videos to determine the exact positions I wanted to
To do the layout, I opened Windows Paint and used Image >
Attributes > to set the image size to 720 pixels for the width and 480
pixels for the height. That gave me a blank canvas sized at 720x480, aligning it
with the pixel dimensions of a widescreen NTSC movie. I
found through testing that the 720x480 video clip sizes work well for the custom
transition I'm using (640x480 works fine too if you're doing standard aspect
I copied a few images into my Windows Paint canvas....
actually I used the same picture 3 times, resizing and moving each as
I brought it in. It was just to lay them out where I wanted them to get a
feel for a pleasing layout.
I opened the picture in IrfanView, sized it to something about
what I wanted, maintaining a 16:9 ratio, and then copied/pasted it into
Paint.... 3 times, once for each of the 3 video positions. I made the upper left
and the right side videos the same size (360x240 pixels for each - 1/4 size of
the overall canvas), and the lower left one a bit smaller (306x204 pixels - note
that it's 16:9 ratio). That left some room at the upper and lower right for some
title text, and some narrative text (you can see in the movie that I did the
title but not the narrative text yet).
After settling on the locations, I determined the exact pixel
positions of the upper left corner of each of the three videos.
Paint has a neat cursor locating feature which I point
out in the above figure. I circled the location of the mouse pointer in the
snapshot - you can see that Paint is telling
me the position is currently 470 pixels to the right of
the canvas' left edge, and 66 pixels down
from its top. By using the mouse cursor on each of the
upper-left corners of the videos and making notes, I fixed the
positions of the videos as:
upper left video - 16 pixels to the right and
13 pixels down
right video - 345 pixels to the right and
134 pixels down
lower left video - 16 pixels to the right
and 263 pixels down
With Paint and a few images, laying out the planned PIP
video positions was easy. Then, after some more thinking about the
project, I ended up with this final plan... the ingredients of the visual,
and the sequence of putting it together (knowing that plans are made to be
deviated from at any point in the process):
make 3 videos
and add them together for the upper left video.... the
footage was (1) 55 seconds for a route 66 hotel stay-over in
Flagstaff, Arizona, the night before going to the canyon, (2) 1 min, 9
seconds for a video of the Buckey O'Neill cabin at the Canyon itself, and (3)
a working crew going up the canyon on mules, after a day's work - 1
minute, 33 seconds.
make a video from our short hike down into the canyon, to
use for the right video.... 4 minutes, 48 seconds.
make 3 videos and add them together for the lower
left video.... (1) some rim trail footage - 1 minute, 57 seconds, (2) a rare
endangered California condor - 1 minute, 2 seconds - the footage was a
bit shaky but the bird is rare, and (3) the Grand Canyon railroad - 1
minute, 49 seconds.
That would fill the 3 main areas of the final movie. So I made 7
individual projects to put the raw footage together into better
Then I studied the total running times of each segment to figure
how they would best fit together. I wanted roughly equal running times for
the 3 videos. The length of each was a big factor in determining which one went
Besides that I had to plan, or at least think about:
should the background be a plain color, a picture or a video
clip? I opted for an MM2 snapshot from one of the video clips,
one that gave an overview of the canyon. A background video would have
been just as easy to do, but I figured 3 videos and some text animation would
be enough for movement, and the background would be pretty much covered up
should I add music to each of the 7 short videos? I did that
first but re-rendered them without the music.... 3 videos playing in parallel
are OK for the background audio picked up by the camcorder, but 3
different music pieces in parallel were a bit too much. So I'd add
background music after the videos were in place. And the selection
of the music would come later.
text clips.... like the music, adding whatever text I wanted
seemed to be best done with the 3 videos already in place.
narration.... I hardly ever narrate a video. But the
first comment from the first draft I put on the website said '....it needs
narration...', so maybe I'll do it yet as the last layer, so I can redo it
over and over... or drop it easily. I don't like narrating it.
the last part of the plan was to make the final movie at
a 360x240 (or 428x240 as read in the properties of WMP - MM2 and WMP give
seemingly conflicting pixel sizes) widescreen setting, for web-based
viewing. I can re-render the full set of videos later at DV-AVI settings if it
ever goes toward a DVD.
The movie would need to be done in several passes, using a
custom XML file for a special transition to achieve the PIP effect. I'll render
each pass at the 'best quality for my computer', knowing that, even with
multiple renderings, the final version for web-based viewing will be fine
enough.... the size of the WMV files are about 7 percent the size of the DV-AVI
files that I would need. Hard drive space on my laptop, where all the work is
done, is sufficient, but needs continual management, so going with the WMV files
for this project is right, at least for a while.
If I was heading toward a DVD, I'll save each pass as
DV-AVI for slightly higher quality.
The planning is done. Now it's time for implementation. I have
my 7 video segments finished and ready to use in the larger PIP
A - Make the Video for the Upper Left
This step is easy. I took 3 of the smaller videos added
them together. I could use some extra time for this video, so I used a
couple still pictures (snapshots from the video clips) as long transitions
between the video clips. The total playing time for this part is 3 minutes, 55
I didn't use any lead-in or closing clips. I'd do that for the overall
movie later. I rendered this to a 720x480 widescreen 'best for computer'
The video for the right is just one longer one.... it's 3
minutes, 53 seconds, 2 seconds less than the 3 combined segments of step A....
good alignment. It's rendered as a 720x480 widescreen 'best for computer'
B - Make the Video for the Lower Left
The last of the three, the one for the lower left, uses 3 video clips
with no lead-in, transitions or closing clips.
I muted the audio of the condor footage.... what background audio was on
the tape has nothing to do with the condor, so it could only distract from the
video. Plus, it'll have music in the background on the final movie.
The total length of this segment is 4 minutes, 47 seconds, almost a minute
longer than the other 2 segments. So the others can start later, or finish
earlier... or both. If you noticed in the movie, the two shorter ones stop
and hold the last frame until this longer video is close to being
Like the other two, it's rendered as a 720x480 widescreen 'best
for computer' WMV file.
C - Overlay the Upper Left Video Onto the Background
I'm ready to put the upper left video in place over the background
image. The PIP effect will be done using a custom transition from
an XML file.
The background image is 853x480 pixels (I took an MM2 snapshot
from one of the working clips - taking it from the clip
in the collection for higher quality). I then added 'Grand
Canyon' as text on the upper right corner. Use any image app that can
add text to a picture. I used Panasonic's MotionDV Studio for this one. If you
have Photoshop Elements or anything else that can add text and use a transparent
background for it.... use it.
Here's the project timeline view. The project has only two
clips. The background picture is first, with a duration of a bit over 4
minutes and 26 seconds..... it's a still picture and I just kept pulling the
trim handle on the right to get it that long. I wanted its duration to be longer
than the overlying video for the full transition.
The still picture is followed by the video for the upper left. My
PIP-720x480-widescreen transition (see below) is then used between the
two, and I overlap the video and still picture as much as I can.... the
extra 8-1/2 seconds of the still picture that precedes the start of the
video will be trimmed off later as needed. Extra leader and finishing
frames at this point might come in handy later on.
The XML File - My PIP-720x480-widescreen Transition
Let's take a close look at the XML file I'm using.... as it's key to using
Movie Maker 2 to do Picture-in-Picture videos such as this.... it's not
a standard part of Movie Maker 2 or any third-party transition packages....
maybe with the exception of Rehan's beta utility that he is currently
offering and some are looking at.
I want to give credit to Ken, who got me started with PiP with his December
2003 newsgroup post of an XML file. It's the one I'm using for this
video.... there's a link to it on the Editing > Video > Transitions page
of my website, toward the bottom of the page in the section
about Picture-in-Picture Transitions.
Here's how you read, tweak and use the XML file. I'm attaching a copy of my
file to this newsletter, but changing the .xml extension to .xm_ to make sure
it's not filtered out in the email distribution process. Rename it at your end
so it reads .xml. You may or may not get the file... Outlook deleted it from my
other computer and told me it might have malicious code If you don't get it at
your end, you can create your own by copying/pasting this code into a file named
<Param name="SrcOffsetX" value="0"
<Param name="SrcOffsetY" value="0"
<Param name="SrcWidth" value="720"
<Param name="SrcHeight" value="480"
<Param name="OffsetX" value="16"
<Param name="OffsetY" value="263"
<Param name="Width" value="306"
<Param name="Height" value="204"
Put the XML file in your c:\Program Files\Movie Maker\Shared\AddOnTFX
I don't use multiple PiP Widescreen XML files. I prefer to use just
two of them, this one for widescreen more and another for standard 4:3
aspect ratio work. I tweak them as needed.
Anatomy of the PIP XML File
to read and tweak the file:
- Open and tweak it in Notepad
- You don't need to touch anything in the file except the last 4 of the
8 lines that start with 'Param name'.... but let's look first at the
earlier lines so you understand them.
- The line that says 'Transition name' tells MM2 to use
'PIP-720x480-widescreen' as the name of the transition in the Transitions
collection, and to use iconid number 88 as it's thumbnail (that's the same
thumbnail that MM2 uses for the Fan, In transition).... You could change the
name and use a different icon if you wanted to.
- The first 4 of the 'Param name' lines tells Movie Maker that the first
clip in the transition is a widescreen mode clip of 720x480 pixels with
it's upper left corner at the upper left of the working window, the 0, 0
offset position.... for this movie, it's simply saying to use the whole
clip... widescreen 720x480.
- The last 4 lines that start with 'Param name' tell Movie Maker 2 where to
locate the second clip used in the transition and how big to make it... the
copy of the XML file I attached shows that my last use of the transition
told it to position the inset video clip such that the upper left corner was
16 pixels to the right of the left edge and 263 pixels down from the top. It
also tells it to size the inset video as 306 pixels wide and 204 pixels
high (yup, that's the planned location and size of my lower left video,
the last one I added to the project).... remember not to change anything in
the XML file except the numbers in these four lines. If you change a period, a
comma, or anything else, it won't work.... so be careful as you tweak
If I was using it for my upper left video, I'd make the four lines read 16,
13, 360, and 240. That's the offsets to the right and down, followed
by the width and height of the video to be inset.
I rendered the movie to 'best for my computer' - widescreen 720x480
Important Note 1: Movie Maker 2
reads the contents of the XML files as it boots up.... so, if you have MM2
running and tweak the file, it won't take effect until the next time you startup
Important Note 2: Movie Maker 2
copies the XML setting info into your project file as the transition is added.
If you close MM2, tweak the XML file, restart MM2 and
re-render the project.... it won't change a thing. You have to replace the
transition that you embedded in the project with a new one for the settings
already embedded in the project to be changed.
Important Note 3: Previewing
the project with the PiP transition applied won't show you what you'll end up
with... have faith and render the movie.... it'll be there in the playback of
the rendered movie. If it's not, or it isn't what you expect, then assume you
didn't do your calculations right, or your XML file tweaking. I've yet to see it
being MM2's fault when mine doesn't work right.
D - Overlay the Video at the
The first upper-left video plays fine....
boosting confidence in the process. It's time to add the second video.
There will be a twist to the approach for this
layer... for the audio.
Having tweaked the XML code to set the stage for
adding this one, and rebooting MM2 to make sure it uses the right settings,
we're all set to put the project together.
Here's what the new project looks like. Instead
of a video clip over a still picture, it's now a video clip over
another video clip, the one rendered in step C.... that's where
things change for the audio.
See from the picture that I've muted both of the
audio tracks that are in the timeline with the video clips.... that's
because a 4 minute overlapping transition results in the audio of the first clip
slowing fading out over that duration, and the audio of the second one slowly
fading in.... I don't want that!!! I want the audio of each clip to play at full
and equal levels through the entire project.
By putting the two audio tracks on the
Audio/Music track and doing the same overlapping there, both will play at full
levels through the entire rendered movie.
Important Note: Overlapping
audio on the Audio track of the video results in the audio fading out and in....
Overlapping audio tracks on the Audio/Music track produces
parallel running audio that plays at full levels.
I rendered the movie, again using 'best for my computer' - widescreen
E - Overlay the Video at the Lower
Now we're in the swing of it, having passed the
mid-point and seeing 2 of the 3 videos.... tweak the XML settings for this third
video, do the overlapping and note that we're into another case of two
overlapping videos with audio, so we do the overlapping audio on the Audio/Music
track and mute the audio directly associated with the two videos.
Render this new pass, again using 'best for my computer' - widescreen
This is the final step to add the 3 videos into
the project.... you should now be seeing all 3 playing in parallel,
and feeling pretty good about it. It's really not hard to do... just takes a bit
of learning and trying it.
F - Finish the Project by Adding Opening
and Closing Clips, Music and More Text
We have a single movie file with all 3 inset
videos playing. It has some extra leader and ending frames to help with the
trimming processes during the final editing.
In this step, I'll
add project-specific opening and closing clips, add music and some
For the music, I noted the points in time that
the 3 main segments in the videos changed. I went to get some
appropriate background music. Pinnacle's Studio 8.8 includes Western
and classical background music and it's music generation feature
lets me specify the exact duration of the piece. It makes the music with an
opening, middle and closing.... (there's a link to purchase Pinnacle Studio from
Amazon on the CD Burning > Pinnacle page of my website)
But your music can be anything from any
I don't need to cover the title overlays.....
standard MM2 options. I used them for the opening and closing clips.... I was
experimenting with five others used over the videos when I took this
screenshot, but I've deleted them since adding the 'Grand Canyon' text to the
One final comment about the project picture you see above. Why
the split in the main video clip at the 28 second spot?? Well, last week's
newsletter was about using MM1 and MM2 together, and in the process of putting
this video together I bumped into a perfect situation to use
When viewing the final-final movie I noticed a whitish 'blip' at about the
28 second spot. Going frame by frame at 15 fps in MM2 showed nothing. So I
looked at it in MM1 and at 30 fps, the frame by frame check showed a single
frame that was out of place with the two surrounding frames, resulting in
the quick blip. I noted the exact frame and, back in the MM2 project,
I cut it out by lopping off a single MM2 working frame (1/15 second).
The video and audio before and after the surgery was fine, so I didn't need to
do any more.... that's why the split at that point.
G - Finishing the Music
and Text, and adding Narration
I'm still working on this
project.... but this gets you far enough to understand how I'm
I captured the Pinnacle generated music
using the Stereo Mix option in MM1's narration capture wizard,
creating WAV files. That's what you currently hear in the movie. I'm thinking of
tweaking the music a bit...
I'm also thinking of additional text effects, and
of adding some narration. But this is plenty for this newsletter. Hope you
I look forward to any discussion items at the forums, and whatever the next
topic(s) will be.