This week's higher level topic is the interactive use of other
utilities to supplement Movie Maker project work. What better utility
to illustrate it with than IrfanView, a universally acclaimed image viewer.
More than that, you can edit images directly in IrfanView to produce a
variety of effects.
In the tutorial, I'll start with a single video clip, move
it to IrfanView, and manipulate each of its frames... and then
return to Movie Maker to put the frames back together and finish
the revised clip.
I'm using the latest version 3.91 of IrfanView. If you don't have it
yet, or want to update your version, it's a free download (for personal
The clip I'll use is a digital camcorder
one from last weekend's trip to the beach at Saugatuck, Michigan, a 49
second clip of a paddle-wheeler and sailboat passing each
other. It was just after sunset, I was on the beach about a
mile from the boats using a 20X zoom on my camcorder (10X optical and the
rest digital). I captured the clip from the camcorder as DV-AVI type I,
using MM2. The clip was shot at a standard 4:3 aspect ratio.
I'll explore how I can use IrfanView to help turn the clip
into a more interesting one.... my self-imposed groundrules this
week are to use only Movie Maker and IrfanView. I'll say it again in the
conclusion, you can probably do the same thing a lot easier with a utility such
as Virtual Dub. Don't take this a guidance to use IrfanView if you have an
easier or better tool to use.
Here's a snapshot of the frame where the two boats are starting
to pass each other.... pixilated and poor color due to part of the
higher zoom being digital, and the low-light conditions. One good
thing is that I was using my tripod, so what footage I got isn't shaking.
... and here's a link to this starting clip. It's about 4 MB
and runs for 49 seconds:
Before getting into it, here's a few notes about things going
About: Utilities and Movie
IrfanView, Virtual Dub, and TMPGEnc
are some of the utilities you can use in conjunction with Movie Maker. I
use about a dozen such utilities and I'll occasionally feature one of them
in a newsletter.
There are lots of features in
IrfanView.... most of which I'll skip over to focus
on those that relate to Movie Maker.
Gather Clips for
To prepare for the
tutorial, I used MM2 to capture some of the camcorder tape
from last weekend's trip to the beach. The capture session resulted in
a single 3-1/2 minute DV-AVI clip (748 MB).
I manually split it in the collection
and looked closer at 3 smaller clips with the most potential
to work with, saving each as a new DV-AVI clip and deleting
the initially captured one. That left me with the 3 clips in this
list to consider further.
13 Potential Clips
.... the 3 clips of interest total 442
MB, so by discarding the original before I even start the next step of
the project, I'm saving almost half of the disc space used so
After studying the 3 clips more,
I picked the 49 second 'Two Boats Passing' one for
the mini-tutorial. It had the most appeal.. 2 different kinds of boats,
some seagulls, and the paddle-wheeler changing direction. At
first I was going to string all 3 clips together, but we don't learn
any more by using 3 clips than we do by using just one.
Note: IrfanView needs
a type II DV-AVI file to extract frames from, so I opened the clip in MM1
and saved it as a new DV-AVI file to make it type II.
What can I do
At this point, I'm not
yet planning specifically what to do... it's more just thinking
of the possibilities. What can I do with my self-imposed constraint of
using nothing more than Movie Maker and IrfanView?
1 • enhance colors and
sharpness... maybe go bizarre, bold and daring in
2 • crop the top
off, dropping some of the almost too-much boring sky area, focusing
more on the area of interest
• resize the clip to change it from a normal 4:3 to
widescreen 16:9, which would tie in nicely with cropping away some of the
4 • add text such
as my website URL, placing it exactly where I want it on the video. For me,
a URL is better than a copyright symbol and name.
5 • add some kind of
special effect, something I can't do with Transition Maker
2, Pixelan, Rehan, or standard effects.
IrfanView is a super viewing utility
for still pictures, but it has a multimedia player that can extract frames
from a video clip, and has batch controls to work on a set of pictures.... maybe
it can whiz through each frame and do something special to it, and I can put all
the frames back together in MM2?
After a little thougt, I
picked items 2, 3 and 4.... and not 1 and 5. When it comes to color
enhancement, my color deficiency makes me not good at it.
Some Notes About Pixel
Dimensions and Snapshots
Get ready to
do some arithmetic.... or at least follow what I do. To change
from standard mode to widescreen, and do it by manipulating still pictures, will
require scratching your head over one of our perennial issues - the appropriate
image pixel dimensions. It's one of a number of confusing items in video
work. Let's ease into it with a few notes now, and put off
the number crunching until the tutorial.
All DV-AVI files (NTSC) are
720x480 pixels. Strange but true, the pixel count for both standard and
widescreen aspect ratio clips is the same. What happens is that Movie Maker tags
the file as standard or widescreen, the player reads the tag and squeezes
it into the 4:3 viewing ratio or stretches
it into widescreen 16:9.
The size of an
MM2 snapshot taken from a DV-AVI clip in the collection
will depend on the tag in the file. A snapshot from a standard 4:3 aspect
ratio clip will be a JPG image of 640x480.... if the clip
has a widescreen tag, then the snapshot size is 853x480. My arithmetic is
often guided by these snapshot dimensions.
Mini-Tutorial: IrfanView and Movie
Using IrfanView.... let's extract all the frames from the
selected clip, crop and resize each frame to more focus on the area of
interest, change the frames from standard to widescreen, and add
Extracting Frames from a Video Clip
Per IrfanView's Help file, it's an image
viewer. But one of it's optional add-ins is a Multimedia
Player which can play both types I and II DV-AVI files,
and extract frames from a type II file. It saves the extracted
frames in BMP format.
This figure shows IrfanView's Multimedia Player viewing the
clip for the tutorial. I've highlited the menu icon that starts
the frame extraction feature.
IrfanView Multimedia Player and
Frame Extraction Icon
With a type II DV-AVI file, IrfanView knows the size of the
frames and the other info needed to extract the frames... 1,460 frames for this
You can tell IrfanView which frames to extract, from the
starting frame number to the ending one. If you just want some from
the middle of a clip, tell it which ones... I'll do all 1,460 frames
from my clip..... it took 4 minutes and used 1.4 GB of hard drive
space. Each frame is a BMP image of 720x480, the same pixel dimensions
as the source file.
Here's the list sorted by file name. You can see the numbering
pattern used by IrfanView.
At this point, I'm thinking more specifically about what to
do to in IrfanView with each of the 1,460 frames. I'll have to put
them back together into a video clip using MM2.... IrfanView can't make a
video clip from a set of images.
Batch Conversion (Cropping and
Resizing) to Widescreen
Here comes the tricky part with the arithmetic. Instead of
running separate cropping and resizing batch processes, I decided to do
both together in one batch process. it probably cost me more time than it saved,
but it was all for the learning experience.
Use File > Batch Conversion from the main
menu of IrfanView to get to this window.... at the upper right, go to the folder
with the set of frame images. I selected 'Add all' to fill in the left part of
the window from the list in the upper right. Having all the pictures in a single
folder helps when it comes to saying 'Add all'.
Note that I created a new folder as the output
directory for the new set of images. IrfanView will take the pictures
from one folder, process them and put the new ones into the
Check the 'Use advanced options' box at the lower
right and press the 'Set advanced options' button.
Now comes the math. Our goal for still
images to feed back to Movie Maker is something with an
aspect ratio of 16:9. The 480 pixels in height remains fixed from
standard to widescreen so let's start with that. Depending on what you're doing,
the width varies from 640 to 720 to 853 pixels.... so use the height
480 pixels high divided by 9 is 53-1/3 pixels.... and 53-1/3
times 16 is 853-1/3... We'll round it to 854 to get an even number. Movie
Maker seems to prefer even numbers over odd. So I'll set the size of
the final images to 854x480 pixels.
Our starting images are 720 x 480 and we want the new
set to be 854 x 480, so here's the equation. Read it as
you learned in school "854 is to 480 as 720 is to what?":
----- = ----
What is X? Get your calculator out and see that it's
almost 405 pixels.... so the selected cropped segment of each frame will be
720 pixels wide by 405 pixels high, with the extra 75 pixels being taken
off the top and discarded - all from the all too many pixels
of the sky that I got.
The 'Set Advanced Options' window
of IrfanView will look like the figure below after the entries
are posted. Check the cropping and resizing options and enter the data to
do the conversion as a one step process, cropping first and resizing the cropped
In my entries I'm telling IrfanView to do the
cropping by starting at the left edge of the images, skipping
the pixels from the top of the images to the 75th pixel down from
the top, and cropping the 720x405 segment of each frame.
On resizing the cropped area, I'm saying that I
want the new images to be 854 pixels wide by 480 high, to align with an MM2
snapshot of a widescreen clip.
Advanced Batch Conversion
I didn't run the crop and resize batch yet because I also wanted
to put my URL on each frame. I ran a test batch to be sure the
cropping and resizing results were as I wanted.... they were.
I checked some the before and after pictures.... you can run
more than one copy of IrfanView at a time.... to see the same frame numbers side
by side.... the new set shows as 854x479 pixels, close enough. Here's part of
frame #500 from the before and after batches, each shown at full size. In
addition to taking some of the sky away, the results show the two boats as if
they are being zoomed into further. I'll take it and move onto adding the
Partial Frames - Before and After
Adding Text to the
From the IrfanView batch
conversion window select Add overlay text and press the Settings button for
it. You'll be here, where I'll add my website URL to the upper left area of each
frame. Enter X and Y coordinates for the upper left corner of the area used for
the text.... and generously estimate the width and height. Check the 'Text is
transparent option or the text will end up inside a colored rectangle.
Adding Text Overlay
The actual batch
process to create the new set of frames took 8 minutes... to
process 1,460 picture files. And it used another 1.8 GB of hard drive
space. But we're used to big space needs for video work.
The image below
shows what the new frame #500 looks like... widescreen mode
with the added URL.
Frame 500 - Cropped/Resized With Added Text
Because I'm working with
bit-mapped images, there isn't any generational losses, as there would be if
I used a compressed format such as JPG.
Back to Movie Maker 2 to
Put All the Frames Together
In your file browser, go to the folder with the
batch of new frame images. Do a Control-A to select them all,
and drag/drop the full pack into a new collection
In MM2, go to your Settings >
Options and make the default picture duration as low as you can go, to 1/8
second. And while you're there, change the working aspect ratio from normal 4:3
to widescreen 16:9.
With the clips in the collection sorted by
name so they're in numerical order, do a Select-All and then down to
the timeline with the batch. The 49 second original clip now shows as 3 minutes
and 3 seconds in the timeline.... because we're seeing 8 frames per second
instead of 30.
Remember how many still images the project
has.... 1,460. Let's see if MM2 can render that many as a DV-AVI
file... there aren't any transitions or effects, so maybe the project complexity
is still reasonable. As I do these exercises for the newsletters, I share with
you info about what happens, the good and the other stuff. We can learn from
.... a long time later, overnight. I had let it
go, running at a CPU of 100% trying to save the movie with all the frames. No
luck... it was sitting in the same place in the morning. The complexity factor
got to it. I can understand it not rendering, but I don't understand what
it's doing with all those CPU cycles, running all night at 100%. Maybe just
To get over the complexity limit, I made a
new set of DV-AVI clips with 100 frames in each, and then put the 15
clips together into the larger one. It took a few minutes to render each,
but I was back in business. With the image duration being at the minimum
setting in MM2 of 1/8 second, the playback of the new clip was too
So another pass with the single clip to
apply the 'speed-up' 385% effect to jog it back to normal speed.
You can download the XML file for the speedup 385% effect from the
Editing > Video > Reverse Effect page of my site.
Note: I just saw on the site and in the XML
file that I say 375% in some places and 385% in others, something I'll have to
go tweak.... a check of the final clip shows it with a duration of 48 seconds,
close enough to the 49 second duration of the clip I started with... keep making
these kinds of checks at each step before you discard the work from the
previous step, so you can redo a step if needed.
I've done a number of things..... let's take a
look at main files involved. Here's the list in my file
browser, sorted by time of creation from the oldest to the newest.
A quick review shows the 3
starting DV-AVI clips from my camcorder footage... I
selected one of them for the tutorial and converted it to type II with
MM1 (guess I could have captured it from the camcorder using MM1 in the first
place and saved the conversion step).
The type II was needed to
extract the individual frames in IrfanView. The folder of
frames at the top of the list contains the 1,460 BMP images for each
frame. The 15 sub-clips named A to O are the 100 frame ones
used as stepping stones to reassemble the clip. The next to the
last file is the combo of the 15 sub-clips that needed speed changing as it ran
about 4 times too slowly. And the last in the list is the final speed-adjusted
widescreen clip... ready for further editing in MM2.
Through all these steps I stayed in DV-AVI
and BMP formats so as not to lose quality due to compression.
Now to add some
audio and text overlays in MM2, and it'll
Extracting the frames, processing them and
putting them back together will strip any audio you start with. You can
either add the original audio back in when doing your final pass,
or add different audio. My captured audio wasn't good so I opted to
add something else.
In a folder of downloaded sound effects from
Sound Dogs, I found a foghorn, ocean
waves in the distance, seagulls, and a tug boat horn. I played with these a
bit to fill the timeline and align them with the video.... then another
rendering to a new DV-AVI file, this one
Back in MM2 with the newest clip, it's time
to add background music and some overlay
.... after the music and text, it's
finally time to save the movie as a WMV type appropriately sized
for your online viewing. Here's the link to the final clip, in full size
The processes of cropping, resizing, and adding text might be
much easier to do with a utility like Virtual Dub. I'm not
recommending that you use IrfanView. What I'm doing is learning more
about what I can do with IrfanView, and sharing it with you. It's
just an exercise in getting to know your utilities a bit more.
The complexity issue bit me.... maybe I'll go back to that set of
1,460 frame images and do some further testing to see if I can correlate the
number of frames to the limits.... maybe not.
Have a great week!!!