PapaJohn's Newsletter #14 - Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 2 - August 14, 2004

About: Windows XP SP2 and Movie Maker 2.1 (with mini-tutorial)
My short term schedule for topics said I'd devote one to Movie Maker 2.1 when it was released. It's here!!! Windows XP Service Pack 2 is being rolled out now and the new version of Movie Maker with it. You may not have it yet, as it depends on if, when, and how you get the upgrade.

Movie Maker 2.1 looks and feels the same but there are two significant changes:
 A new third tab in the Tools > Options window shows a list of filters (codecs) on the computer, and lets you uncheck any that you want to not get in the way of Movie Maker. Unchecking one immediately removes it from the picture without effecting other software that uses the same item. You don't need to search for and rename an ax file or use John Kelly's utility.
 The much called for 'pass-through' feature is now included. You won't see anything as you use Movie Maker, but if you hookup your analog and digital camcorders in the 'pass-through' mode, it'll work and work well. The mini-tutorial in this newsletter focuses on it.
Before getting into it, here's a few notes about some things going on...

I found a new book at Barnes & Noble this week. It said it wasn't about Movie Maker, but it used Movie Maker to illustrate every aspect of working on digital videos.... so yes, it's all about Movie Maker. The book is Digital Video with Windows XP, a Sams Teach Yourself book in its in a Snap series. The book is targeted at beginners and has a retail price of $24.99.
I wasn't impressed. The disclaimer at the front from the Associate Editor started me off by saying he wants to hear from you about the book, but can't help you with technical problems, nor respond to all emails. That was followed by this statement from the author on page 6 ''.... you can move your digital videos from camera to computer to camera to DVD to hard disc and back again, and you can make as many copies as you want, without any loss in sound or picture quality....'. You can imagine the images I had of file transfers flitting around my head as I re-read the sentence a few times.
As an author I'd like to sell my books.... but that's not the core reason for assessing it and any other book about MM2. In a consulting role I need to be impartial. Last week I was asked to recommend a text book to be used in a new course being introduced into the school system of a major city, a video editing course that will be built around Movie Maker. My suggestion was either Zero to Hero or Jan Ozer's Quick Start Guide. My Do Amazing Things book has the most eye-candy and is the easiest read, but it might not be the right one as a classroom text book.
 That didn't take long. Justin Murphy dropped the curtain on his first efforts to organize an online Movie Maker film festival. But he's putting the website space obtained for it to good use, to show us some of his works.
Justin's efforts are commendable.... the internet is such a great place. Try something and, if it doesn't work, go onto something else.
 I added the 2nd advanced PhotoStory topic to that website yesterday, about 'streaming' stories. Someone asked if they could stream them as we do Movie Maker WMV files. As they use the Image codec, I tested it and found it worked great.... an 800x600 steaming story made from high definition pictures, with music included, needs only a bit rate of 159Kbps. See the sample and info on the PhotoStory site. 
....on to the topic of the week

About: Windows XP SP2 and Movie Maker 2.1
My downloaded SP2 installation file is 279 MB... a big package to get a handful of files to upgrade Movie Maker to 2.1.  But, that's how you get it. With the wonders of broadband at my house, it was about 40 minutes to download.
Installation Notes
To support a roll-back of SP2 if needed, it creates a new subfolder in the Windows folder, named $NtServicePackUninstall$. It copied 2,523 files into it... including my Movie Maker version 2.0 files. So that's one place to look if you ever need one of the files back. Hopefully you won't. And the c:\Windows\i386 folder is still there too with 5,500 files in it. Enough on those for now.... I'll visit them if and when I need to. I expect to keep going forward and not have to return.
Installing SP2 overwrites the MM2.0 files with new ones. All but the help file are dated 8/4/04. It leaves the MM1 files alone, so you can continue to use MM1 with MM2.1.
In addition to the same set of files as MM2.0 had, there are new wmm2res.dll and wmm2res2.dll files, along with a filters.xml file in the Shared subfolder. These are associated with the new compatibility feature discussed below. The filters.xml file has a list of 139 "trusted" ax, dll, and vxd files.
The help file (moviemk.chm) is in the Mui/0409 subfolder. Although dated 7/17/04, it's the exact same size as the original MM2.0 help file of 11/27/02, and I don't see any changes in it... no added info about the new compatibility or pass-through features. I'm sure it's the same file just recompiled on July 17.
I recommend backing up your collection database file before opening MM2.1.... during the beta phase I was toggling between versions 2.0 and 2.1 and sometimes going back to using 2.0 would wipe out the collection database and give me a new one, telling me it was corrupt. It was always after using version 2.1 and going back to 2.0. Most of the time it would be OK.... it might just have been operator error (me registering and unregistering the DLLs) or the suffix number of the database file being different than expected.
If your collection database file is important, back it up to play it safe.... even though it's probably not a high risk during the upgrade. I really don't see anything that would warrant returning to 2.0 once you move to 2.1, but back it up anyway.
Compatibility Tab
The new compatibility tab had nothing in the list when I installed the beta version on my older Dell laptop, which doesn't run anything much more than the operating system. I saw a post by John Kelly the other day that he also didn't have any items in the list.
But my main working computer, the Toshiba laptop, has a list with 57 items in it, enough to study. All but one of the items are checked. Here's a picture that shows 5 of the items, including the unchecked one.... the file.... a familiar name. I know it's the file because the full path and file name shows in the tool tip when you linger over the line item and in the path column. That's one of the problem codecs that I routinely run as being unregistered when using Movie Maker.
Compatibility Tab
Compatibility List
With this feature of MM2.1, I can run the computer with registered, for use by WinDVD. And the codec won't clash with MM2.1 as it's disabled for doing movie project work, by being unchecked here. My testing shows it works fine.... I can play DVDs and edit movies without having to register and unregister the codec.
I used the link to learn more about video filters... and, when the page opened, I wondered where to go to learn. Maybe to the newsgroup to ask you about them. I didn't see anything aligned with the link name.
As a cross-check on the compatibility list I checked GSpot to see how many it says I have: 64 video and 24 audio. And, per GSpot, 4 of the video and 2 of the audio codecs are not registered.
Checking installed codecs using the Control Panel, I see lists of 20 video and 11 audio codecs.
I can see some upcoming homework as I figure out how to correlate these lists, and more importantly how best to advise those who are starting to use Movie Maker 2.1 and run into codec-related issues. 

We mention codecs and codec issues in lots of posts. Some of the more technical people sometimes mention filters and filter graphs.... I wonder what the technical difference is.
All of the problem codecs on my website page are .ax files. The compatibility list is a mix of .ax files and .dlls. GSpot

Mini-Tutorial: Pass-Through
What is Pass-Through?
It's a term used when you put a digital camcorder in the middle, between your analog device and your computer. No tape is needed in the digital camcorder as it's simply passing the signal through it. And while it's at it, it's converting the signal from analog to digital.
Simplistically, you do it using Movie Maker 2.1 using these steps:
(1) Connect the source analog camcorder, VCR, or other playing device.... to the digital camcorder's input connections. Open the LCD door of the analog camcorder if there's one, so you can see and hear the video during playback.  

(2) Remove any tape from your digital camcorder (it won't work with a tape in it), and connect it to your computer via firewire/iLink. Turn it on in VTR/VCR mode. Open the door so you see the LCD screen and hear the audio during the capture session. The only tricky parts are making sure the camcorder supports a pass-through process and the camcorder menu settings are appropriate.

(3) Open MM2's capture wizard, select the digital camcorder as the source, and capture the analog signal as a digital file (DV-AVI or WMV of your choice).

As you play the analog device, you can watch it in all 3 places. You can hear it on the analog device and the digital camcorder, butt not the computer. Start and stop the capture using Movie Maker, as usual. But start and stop the analog tape at the analog device.

Pass-Thru - Illustrated
The generic steps above might be too simplistic..... and the world of possible combinations of analog and digital devices too much to cover in detail.
I'll illustrate it with my Hi8 camcorder playing a tape and my digital camcorder converting it as I capture.
Prep the Digital Camcorder
My TRV80 digital camcorder has a touch-screen to use for menu settings. It's important that the camcorder be enabled to accept an analog input, and that it is setup for pass-through. If and how you do it will depend on your camcorder model.
I had to check two things on my TRV80 to get it ready for pass-through:

 This one is easy as it's the default - make sure it's set to show the display on its LCD screen - with the camcorder on and in VCR mode, use the menu > Page 1 > Others (etc) > Display > set it to LCD if it isn't.

 I had to change the A/V setting from outputting in analog format to digital.

To change the setting, I turned the camcorder on in VCR mode and used > FN > page 1 > Menu > VCR Set > Exec > A/VtoDV Out > change it from off to on > Exec > Exit 

TRV80 Menu
Digital Camcorder Menu
Once changed, I just leave the setting that way.... I don't have to toggle it for other things I usually do with the camcorder.

After the one-time setup is done, it's time to connect the devices.


Connect the Analog Camcorder to the Patch Cords

This figure shows the connections on my Sony Hi8 analog camcorder, a model TRV615. For the video I can use either the upper S-video connection or the yellow RCA connection under it. The S-video gives much better image quality and my digital camcorder has an S-video input connection, so I use it.
The white and red RCA connections are used for the two audio channels.
Analog TRV615 Connections
Analog Camcorder
The patch chord that came with my digital camcorder has 3 RCA connections at one end and a 3-part mini-jack at the other.
Patch Cord - Analog Camcorder to Digital
Patch Chord
I plug the red and white RCA connections into the analog camcorder above, and the mini-jack into the digital camcorder below. 
The yellow RCA connector just hangs around doing nothing, as I use an S-video cable (no picture) for the video signal.
Connect the Patch Cords to the Digital Camcorder and Plug in the Firewire Cable
Here's the digital camcorder connections. The S-video connection in the middle is labeled nicely. The yellow Audio/Video input at the lower left is for the 3-part mini-jack pictured above.
If an S-video cable is plugged in, the camcorder uses it for the video signal... if not, it looks for the video signal from the yellow RCA line. In my case, it's S-video.
Digital Camcorder
Digital Camcorder
The firewire connection on the digital camcorder is just under the S-video connection. It's labeled DV above it and has the i-Link logo below it. This firewire cable connection is a 4-pin one, the usual for a camcorder....
Connect the Firewire Cable to the Computer 
.... to the computer firewire input in the following picture. It's the connection at the left, a 4 pin connection.
Laptop - Firewire Connection
Toshiba Laptop
The connection to the right of the firewire one is the USB connection I use for the mouse.
Capture Your Analog Video Clips
In MM2.1, capture as usual..... that's enough for this newsletter.


SP2 is now rolling out and MM2.1 with it. It'll be interesting and fun, as version 2.1 is clearly better than 2.0, even in areas I don't yet know about!!!


Having another and better way to manage codecs or filters is a good thing.... but how to explain to newbies what to do to resolve their Movie Maker crashes might be a bit more complex. I'll be shifting over time from '... go find and rename any of these .ax files....' to '... go find and uncheck any of these line items...'.


There will be lots of people who continue to use MM2.0 as others upgrade to 2.1, so I'll have to cover both until version 2.0 is long gone. The MM2.0 download package is still on the Microsoft site, so today you can 2.0 by download or 2.1 via SP2.


I haven't see a list of performance improvements we can expect to see in version 2.1, but with all those file changes, there has to be many. The info is starting to trickle out. For example, Lisa Campbell-Smith of Microsoft posted these tidbits in her responses to some newsgroup posts on 8/11/04:


"...MM 2.0 did not work well with IEEE 1394 converters. In Movie Maker 2.1 which ships in Windows XP Service Pack 2, we've done some work on making these converters work better..."


"...We've done some work on USB2 streaming devices in Movie Maker 2.1, which is shipping in Windows XP Service Pack 2, these changes may also improve the experience..."


"...MUI will be available in Movie Maker 2.1..."


Have a great week!!!