The early warnings and the
'time to sub-divide' decision
A project sometimes grows in
complexity. The Paula3 project was double Paula1, at 16 minutes and 18
seconds. Paula4 was 18 minutes and 25 seconds, and the end wasn't in
I was seeing a general slowing
of Movie Maker 2 during editing. It had become generally sluggish as I did
each step. I'd have to wait for seconds at times to let it finish doing
what it was doing, before I could ask it to do anything else. I found
myself re-saving the project after every few steps, running into a number of
times when the project hung so long that I'd shut down MM2 to try again, and I'd
be cringing at the thought of adding another effect or transition. The fun
was waning and the concern mounting.
It was a couple days from
the party. I bit the bullet and carved the project into sub-projects.
I wasn't going to wait until the final render and hope it would do it..... I
couldn't risk it.
From that point on, there were no
issues. MM2 was snappy and happy. The final project duration was 20
minutes and 27 seconds, with lots of
additional transitions, text, etc. all easily added to the
sub-projects and folded into the complete movie.
A thumbnail of the rest
of the story
This project was pretty easy to
sub-divide. The movie was mostly a slideshow of still pictures that showed
segments of Paula's life (it was a 40th birthday party). Each segment
had different music and there was a long pause between segments with a
black transition and silence. It couldn't have been easier to
pick the dividing points between segments.
Movie Maker could have easily handled
it in 2 or 3 segments, but it was better for me to subdivide
it into 8. With our e-mailing and last minute editing decisions
going down to the 11th hour, it was easier to reach final agreement on
a segment by segment basis.
This figure shows the sub-projects.
The durations were: A - 2:27, B - 2:19, C -
3:39, D - 1:23, E - 2:55, F - 2:14, G - 2:32, H -
Each segment was rendered to a DV-AVI
file and then added together as clips in these final project files
.... the one with the first 7 segments was 16:37 in duration and the
one with all 8 was 20:27.
Note how small the final project files
were, less than 10 percent the size of each segment. The rendering times
reflected the differences as the final rendering of the entire movie was
quicker than the individual renderings of each segment. The
segment renderings had to fold in all the effects, transitions, music and
The movie files themselves ended up as
shown in this figure. The one named Paula-Complete was the first 7 segments
combined... a 201 MB high quality WMV file. The PaulaH file was the 8th segment,
the finale with lots of 'Happy Birthday' singing in it, with flashback
pictures from the 7 life segments.
After the final renderings, I uploaded
these two files to a server, and David at the other end downloaded them onto his
laptop. At the casino he plugged the laptop into the A/V system and played the
files on the big screens. It went over fantastically!!! And there were
no tapes or DVDs involved.... just high quality WMV files
transmitted via the internet.
The final rendering versus
what it would have been:
Here's what the timeline of the final
project file looked like, 8 clips of each segment strung together with
appropriate fade transitions between them as needed.
Going back to that final draft
just before subdividing, and thinking about what the final rendering
would have been. Here's what the timeline looked like, a bit shorter
in duration than the one above, but with a complexity that is
obvious. Complexity enough to bog down MM2 (my laptop has 512 MB of RAM and
a 2.4 GHz CPU). And the project still needed more music, text,
Notes and guidance
Unfortunately the time to
subdivide a project is probably during the homestretch toward a
deadline. I suggest relaxing as best you can, sitting back and taking on
overview look of the project file.
Look at the whole project in the
timeline view and think about possible ways to subdivide it. There's no right or
wrong way to do it, but there are easier or harder ways.
In my case, the way to do it
was an easy decision, with the video and audio pauses between
One way to split a project that's
always easy to implement is to do the audio/music in one file and the rest of it
in another, and put the 2 clips together into the final movie. How to
delete all the music from my project and render just the video would be
obvious. The harder one is how to delete all the video and render just the
music. Let's look at that a little closer.
Click on that last clip on the video
track (see the above figure). It's big and easy to select. Then press the
Control-A keys (select all), followed by the Delete key. 3 keys pressed takes
away the video clips, transitions and audio associated with the video.
It gets you to this point.
It's almost ready to render... just
have to get rid of those title overlays.... do like you did on the video track.
Select any of those you can grab with your mouse. Then another Control-A
followed by the Delete key. Now you're at this point. A total of 6 keys were
pressed to get to the point of having only audio/music.
It's important and great that the
music doesn't snug up to the left on the timeline as video clips do. With
music being the only thing left on the timeline, all you have to do
now is save the movie. When MM2 sees music only, it'll give you choices for
WMA files, not WMV. Save it and use it as the audio track for
the final movie, perfectly aligned with the video track.
Rendering the video and audio
separately might just be enough to let you render your complex project.
You'll probably be able to render the audio file. If you have problems
rendering the video, it'll be much easier to subdivide without the
audio . Zoom into the timeline and find convenient places to split
the video track. Just note the points of splitting so you can be sure
to have the audio and video in sync when done. The most difficultly you'll have
is in noting which transition was used between clips and adding it back between
two big clips in the final project. That's not very hard, but note the
duration of the transition in addition to the type.
That's as far as I'll take this
subject in this newsletter. I just want you to know that it's usually
easier to subdivide a project than it is to think about subdividing
And once done, the rest of the project
will be easier to work with... and your renderings will work.