Newsletter #20 - Sept 25, 2004
Maker 2 and Photo Story 2
Movie Maker, Photo Story and
Last week I used TMPGEnc to help
get MPEG-2 files from a DVD into Movie Maker for editing. The other,
perhaps more usual, direction is to use it to create high quality MPEG-2
files from Movie Maker and PhotoStory projects, for use in DVD authoring
and burning software. Let's explore that this week.
I'll start with two kinds of wmv files: (1) the short
PhotoStory sample file from the main page of my PhotoStory site, and (2)
one of the new wedding video files made with MM2.1. That'll be one rendered
with the Media 9 image codec and another with the Media 9 video codec. The only
Media 9 video codec we won't use is the one for screen capture.
TMPGEnc version 2.5+ will take the wmv files and render
them into high-quality MPEG-2 files for use in DVD software.... I won't
take it as far as I'd like - checking how well the MPEG-2 files work
in a MyDVD project. My Toshiba laptop is in the shop...
with the DVD burner and software on it, I'm doing this newsletter
on my old Dell laptop with minimal software.
Before getting into it more, a few notes about some things going
• Microsoft released a new Windows XP
Video Decoder Checkup Utility to help assess MPEG-2 decoders
in certain situations. It's a simple app with one window as
My Toshiba laptop has my most complete set of
codecs.... I checked 3 other computers and didn't find any MPEG-2 decoder
listed by the utility on 2 of them - the old Dell laptop filling in
for the Toshiba and an HP MCE computer. On my Dell desktop, it showed 4 decoders
and said none of them are compatible with the new synchronization feature
of WMP10 or with MCE software. The new synchronization feature is the
process used by WMP10 to get video files from the computer to a Portable
Media Center such as the Creative Zen I was checking a couple weeks
MPEG-2 Video Decoder Checkup
Here's the link to download the
The website has all the info about
do anything drastic or spend money if your decoder isn't in the list
or shows up as not being compatible. One of the decoders listed above was
working fine when I tested the MPEG-2 files created for this newsletter on
• The website menu has two new
, one for
and another for what I'm calling 'Living
I continue to be intrigued by the synergy between
PhotoStory and Movie Maker and want the info about that synergy to
unfold in the Movie Maker website rather than the PhotoStory one.
The 'Living Projects' branch started with
a newsletter reader writing to suggest a newsletter devoted to the
creative aspects of editing a wedding video. As you know, I've been working on a
wedding project and looking at some wedding videography sites for
inspiration.... so the topic is timely. I'll do that newsletter next week.
You also know that I've recently been working on a wedding
website. To keep that project and others as they come up to be more visible
to users of the Movie Maker website, I added the branch and access to the
The technical aspects of camcorders, computers and software like
Movie Maker and PhotoStory are one thing. Creativity and inspiration
when shooting and editing videos are entirely different
things. I'm not sure I'm the right person to help you in that area, but
I'll share what I think about it.
• The book about Windows Media
hacks was hacked.... the publisher O'Reilly decided to fold the
project rather than finish it. Being just a paid contributor, I'm not close
enough to the decision makers to know or comment on the reasons. When the
dust settles, I can take my 14 submitted hacks and use them
On the same day I received word of the
cancellation, I submitted the initial draft of a proposal for
another book... this one about Movie Maker and
PhotoStory for intermediate to advanced
....on to the topic of the week
From WMV and
DV-AVI Files to MPEG-2 DVD Files
Install Software and Gather Some Sample Files
Rather than just using the two types of WMV files as inputs
to TMPGEnc, I'll get a couple DV-AVI files too. I'll use MM1 to render a
DV-AVI type I file from one of the WMVs, and MM2.1 to render a DV-AVI type
II from the other. That'll give me 4 files to process through TMPGEnc, 2 types
of WMV and 2 types of DV-AVI.
My Dell laptop is pretty bare, so I had to round up some
software and files to work on the newsletter. I copied the
sample PhotoStory and a WMV file made by MM2.1, downloaded and
installed the latest version of TMPGEnc 2.5+, and copied the MM1
executable. This version of TMPGEnc is available as a download that is fully
functional for 30 days, so if you don't have it and want to follow along
closely, you can get it (less than a 4 MB package) from:
The website says the newer versions are easier to use then
2.5+. If you are using a different version, your specifics might differ
from those in the mini-tutorial.
The first page of the TMPGEnc Project Wizard is a
great reference about MPEG files. Lots of newsgroups and forum posts ask about
the differences among VCDs, SVCDs and DVDs.... the first page of the wizard
provides all the answers. First you select the MPEG file format you want in the
menu at the left.
Remember that MPEG files are based on
standards.... a necessary thing if you expect to have them play
on all the televisions in the world.... there are two major divisions just
as with computers. On TVs there are NTSC versus PAL. On computers we
have Macs and PCs.
If you're in North America like me
or in Japan, select one of the 7 NTSC choices in the menu.
If you're anywhere else, select one of the 5 PAL choices. On
the right it'll give you a great summary about your choice. I've
opted to create high quality MPEG-2 NTSC files.
The only other choice on this page is for the audio part of the
file. There are 4 choices for DVD quality MPEG-2 files: CBR (constant bit
rate) or VBR (variable bit rate) with Linear PCM or MPEG-1 Layer II (MP2).
I'm opting to go with higher quality VBR audio with Linear PCM.
TMPGEnc Project Wizard - Page 1
My video choice of NTSC high quality is a 'no-brainer'. I'm
in North America, the input files are standard 4:3 aspect ratio, and
the short sample files would easily fit on a DVD.
If extra-long playing time was needed, the NTSC (Low
resolution) choice in the menu would be appropriate. It would
sacrifice some video quality (720x480 pixels versus 352x240) for a
longer playing time (up to 155 minutes versus up to 245 minutes.
My audio choice was driven by the info TMPGEnc gave
me when selecting each of the 4 choices. It said VBR was higher
quality than CBR.... and then advised if I selected MP2 that I could get up
to 155 minutes on a DVD if my DVD software converted the audio to PCM. It seemed
to suggest that it would be heading to PCM anyway, so why not have TMPGEnc do it
during this part of the process?
I'll consider this the end of the lead-in section of the
newsletter.... and the rest of the TMPGEnc wizard the mini-tutorial.
That'll be where the input files get selected, the detailed settings made, and
the MPEG-2 files rendered.
Mini-Tutorial: From Movie Maker and
PhotoStory through TMPGEnc
I'll do the same thing with each of the 4 sample files to see if
there's any differences in the way TMPGEnc accepts and/or processes
Wizard - Page 2 - Select Source File to Convert to
The note on page 2 says source files can be dragged and dropped
into it. I tried that first and it worked fine for each.
All I had to do was drag and drop a
source file onto the page and the wizard filled it all in. The only differences
I saw with the different files. were that the two WMV files showed as
non-interlaced as in the figure below, while the two DV-AVI files showed as
being interlaced with the bottom field first.
TMPGEnc Project Wizard - Page
Wizard - Page 3 - Filter Settings
The page showed the same options for both WMV and DV-AVI
source file.... by default nothing was selected.
TMPGEnc Project Wizard - Page
Clicking on the first item, the source range,
takes you to this window.... it's not just about selecting a range of
frames to use for the MPEG-2 file, you can cut parts of the video out, or
shift the audio relative to the video by toggling the audio gap correction
Check the 'Clip frame' option (on the
main page 3 window) and it'll open a window that allows you to clip or crop
the video. I have about 6 lines at the bottom of my analog videos that are
always out of sync with the rest of the lines, a normal byproduct of starting
with a Hi8 tape.... I can let those lines go through Movie Maker and crop them
Check the 'Noise reduction' option and
work on reducing video noise.
Selecting the 'Other Settings' button on page 3
of the wizard takes you to many more setting choices.... one of which is an
audio setting window where you can do something you can't in
Movie Maker. The fade in and out settings of Movie Maker are less than a second.
You can see from the below figures that you can apply fade in and fade out times
as long as you want. It defaults to 500 milliseconds but I've changed them to
5000 for 5 second fades.
Other Settings - Audio effect
Wizard - Page 4 - Bit Rate Setting
Here's the key page for those who want more video on a DVD than
an hour. The figure below shows the page with the default settings when I
opened it. High bit rate means high quality. The default
of 8000 kbits/second (close enough) equates to using 1.75% of
standard DVD disc capacity for this sample short movie.
It won't let me move the bit rate higher than 8000, but it lets
me change it to as low as 2000, where it says this video will use 0.65% of
the disc, almost tripling the duration - extrapolating that gets you to about 3
hours on the disc. Remember that back on the initial page, the info said we
could get up to 155 minutes.... here's the key to
actually getting it.
The extremes might not be appropriate, but if you have some
wedding videos that total 1 hour and 10 minutes, it might be more
appropriate to change the bit rate to fit them all on the disc rather than
editing them down in Movie Maker or spanning 2 DVD discs.
TMPGEnc Project Wizard - Page 4 -
Wizard - Page 5 - Output File
We're done with choosing. Either encode your
video now or do a batch process. I've never done a
batch one so I'll try it with these 4 small ones.
TMPGEnc is pretty user-friendly. I noticed the other day how
much I could continue doing in the foreground as it rendered in the
If you're in a hurry for an MPEG file and have
something else to do in the meantime or don't mind being slowed a bit
in your other computer tasks, go into the Task Manager and give TMPGEnc a
TMPGEnc Project Wizard -
Page 5 - Output File
My first attempt at running a TMPGEnc batch
process didn't work. I didn't go back to try it again. The files were
small so I just rendered each to get my 4 sets of MPEG-2
files (an .m2v for the video and a .wav for the audio). No
problems during the rendering.... and all played fine on my desktop
computer with WMP10.
That's as far as this one goes. Some closing remarks:
Always fun... never
knowing what hurdles I'll bump into as I do a newsletter. And this one
being done totally on my minimalist Dell laptop: 265 MHz CPU, 144 MB
RAM, 4 GB hard drive with 1.3 GB free.
I make few DVDs and don't
usually get into the nooks and crannies of TMPGEnc, so the newsletter was a good
opportunity to explore some areas I hadn't.
There was one
crash of TMPGEnc. When I was jogging around the settings pretty
quickly with a WMV source file. The event viewer showed the crash was
associated with ntdll.dll. But it was the only crash of an app
on this computer in the past 5 days, didn't occur again, and
didn't seem significant.
The DVD software on my
Toshiba is MyDVD.... it does a great job but has minimal choices in
settings. If nothing else, you can see from this newsletter that the side
road to MyDVD via TMPGEnc provides more than enough opportunities to
make changes after saving a movie or PhotoStory, and before authoring the
TMPGEnc has a high reputation for
quality... it's a valuable tool at a very fair price.
With my Toshiba in the shop I
couldn't feed them to MyDVD for a DVD project. I'm confident they would
have worked fine if it was here. I have yet to have a problem making and burning
a DVD with it.
A side note for PhotoStory... I tried
using one of the .wav files from this TMPGEnc process as background
music for a story. I got an error message saying that .wav files can't be higher
than 44.1 Khz in sampling frequency.... checking the properties of the .wav
files shows they are 48 Khz.At least the rejection came with an
appropriate error message that explained it.
Have a great week...