PapaJohn's Newsletter #24 - Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 2

About 'Project Collections'

Last week I planned this newsletter to be about MyDVD, but then I realized that Newsletter #11 had already covered it. That issue is on the archive site, and anyone who was looking forward to reading about it in this one can get issue #11 online at...
Newsletter 11
The replacement topic is a 'project collection'. What's that? It's one that is project-specific and important enough to the project to back up with the MSWMM file.
Some of the wedding videos I've been working on need to mix footage from 2 camcorders, one my older Hi8 and the other my newer mini-DV. I shot the scenes of the wedding ceremony and the dancing at the recital party using both camcorders, so I'm faced with putting them together and syncing the video footage of each clip with the audio track. It's gotten me into 'project collections'.
I'll illustrate it using these 3 source files for the recessional scene. I saved the audio track of the Hi8 camcorder as a WMA file - during the recessional it was sitting on my backpack up close to the string trio, recording the complete audio of the scene. While it was doing that, I was moving around with the digital camcorder, starting and stopping it.... and even changing tapes at one point. The change of tapes resulted in my capturing 'Digital 1' and 'Digital 2'. 
Wedding Recessional - Source Files
Starting Clips
What's the easiest way to mix the footage and achieve the syncing? I'll explore that, with some insights into the value of a 'project collection'. I'll work the editing process first from the perspective of the collection, and then from the project timeline perspective.
Before getting into it more, a few notes about some things going on...

 Here's another routine notice about my changing from a free newsletter subscription to a paid one. I'll carry this notice for two more issues.
Issue #26 will be the last one for the free subscriptions. See the main page of my website to continue beyond that.
A paid subscription is for 52 issues, not necessarily a calendar year... those subscribing before issue #27 will receive 52 issues beyond #26. Subscribers after that will be for 52 issues.
One frustrated PayPal user wrote last week, saying he'd tried about 8 times to place an order... if that's your situation or prefer sending a check, send an email and I'll provide my real name and mailing address.
 After last week's issue, I wrote to Microsoft about the limit of a Photo Story project file size being 300 MB. I also posted the info to the newsgroup..... I heard back from the MVP on the newsgroup that there were reported problems with bigger stories, but there wasn't a known reason. He appreciated the info. I haven't heard from Microsoft about the item.
 Dean Rowe provided this link in his blog....
...about how the MM2.1 version in Windows XP Digital Media Edition 2005 works with DVD writing software.
....on to the topic of the week

Working the Collection with the Project
What I mean by this is assessing and working with the clips in the collections, but doing it with the help of the project timeline. The work done here is needed to:
The 3 Starting Clips
The properties of the audio clip show its duration as 0:09:14.67. That's 9 minutes and 14.67 seconds. Some video editing software split the second into frames rather than decimals of a second; Movie Maker is different... it's totally time-based, not a mix of time and frames.
The audio clip starts with the minister saying 'All Please Rise'. The bride and groom kiss at the 45 second mark. At 1 min and 15 seconds the guests applaud as the recessional and music begins.
The string trio starts playing at 01:16:00 and finishes at 08:13.95.... enough continuous background music for a 7 minute video of the recessional. A musical piece often dictates the duration of the video, providing there's enough good video to go with it.
The Digital 1 source file is 2:47.60 in duration and Digital 2, which starts with the camcorder looking at my feet, is 3:12.73. The two combined are 6:00:33 versus the 9:14.67 of the audio clip. That means I was shooting digital footage 2/3 of the time during this scene....
The sound track is the measuring device. In addition to it having a linear time value at each point, the shape of the audio waves provide visual feedback about what's happening and where you are in the project. See the waves at the 01:15.00 point of the project... that's when the guests started to applaud and processional began.
The Audio Tack - Measuring Ruler and Visual Guide 
Audio Measuring
Aligning the Digital Clips to the Audio
Listening to the Digital 1 clip showed that the start of the applause was at 1:08.83.... that's 06.17 seconds before the same point on the audio track. There were no stops and starts of the digital camcorder up to then. That means I'd need a filler clip of 6.17 seconds on the video track to push the start of Digital 1 clip to the right and align it with the sound track... My filler clip is a plain black still picture which you'll see me using a lot in this tutorial.
Digital 1 didn't divide into sub-clips by stopping and starting the camcorder. I'll be getting back to it later.
MM2 split Digital 2 into 9 clips when I had it do it in the collection. The splitting was done analytically, by the stops and starts of the camcorder, not based on visual scene changes.
Digital 2 Split into Clips by Movie Maker
Digital 2 sub-clips
Before trying to sync the 9 clips, I reviewed them to provide descriptive names and decide if they really needed syncing with the audio track. The results of this assessment are included in the clip names.
Only 1 of the 9 needed syncing, the one named Digital 2-2. In the others, you could hear the string trio playing, but they were far enough away from camcorder that the music was faint and in the background, enough so that syncing wouldn't be critical or needed. The foreground audio far overshadowed the background music.
And I lucked out when determining the sync point... the trio paused for 14 seconds between 2 pieces, for a long flat part of the wave patterns. They started again at the same time I re-started the digital camcorder. A 26.07 second filler black picture on the video track made things align. Video clip 2-2 starts at the 3:19.73 point of the audio track. That's the sync point for the one clip of Digital 2 that needs it.
Aligning Video Clip 2-2 with the Audio Track
Sync Clip 2-2
The work done so far with the clips in collections was mostly analytical, letting Movie Maker auto-split the larger clips and detemining sync points.
 Digital 2 - Collection Info 
Clip 2-2 Assessed
Note that the duration, starting and ending times of the clips in the collection list are approximate, rounded off to the whole second. Looking at the properties of the clips gives you the exact figures. Clip 2-2 has a starting point at 0:00:15.88 and a duration of 00:18:05. I'll use the more exact figures as I work into the project.
Having this reference info throughout the remainder of this project is important enough to warrant it being a 'project collection' and backing up the collection database with the project file. It'll get even more important when we go back to the Digital 1 file and split it manually.... we'll do that in the mini-tutorial section.

Mini-Tutorial: Working the Project with the Collection

The work done above in the collections was mainly analytical. It's time to change mental gears and shift to the other side of the brain.... as we move the focus of the project from the collections to the timeline. We'll change to become less analytical and more artistic.
Great movies are not the result of analysis. But having the reference info needed to sync the video and audio tracks will allow your full creative energy to be applied without fear of losing any of the analytical homework you've done up to this point. If we didn't keep the collection info for reference, it would be easy to start moving things around on the timeline and get into a situation where you have to reassess the syncing points over and over.
Movie Maker doesn't include a feature to link a video clip with a selected position on the sound track.
Subdivide the Clips in the Collections Further
So far the clips in the collection were subdivided at the start and stop points of the camcorder when shooting. The Digital 1 clip is still at its original duration of 2:48, and 3 of the Digital 2 clips are over 20 seconds.
A personal guideline is that any clip over 15 to 20 seconds needs to be critically assessed and probably subdivided based on artistic discernment, not analysis. If a clip is more than 15 seconds, I might be too personally attached to it because I did the camcorder shooting.
By subdividing the clips in the collections and renaming them to be descriptive, it's much easier to work them on the timeline. They are easier to select, to position, to sync with the sound track, and to readjust later when adding transitions.
So it's back to the collections to subdivide the big clips and assess them some more. This time around, the assessment is based more on artistic taste.... does the clip fit into your vision of the video? If so, how? If not, tag it for deletion.
Working the Project.... with the Collection
The next picture shows a few things about the Digital 1 source file and the developing timeline.
My artistic splitting of Digital 1 resulted in 18 clips... at first simply named with sequential numbers.
While splitting I was assessing each clip... adding to the clip number some descriptive info which included the results of the assessment. 10 of the 18 were tagged with the disposition 'discard'.... they were out of focus, quick pans or zooms, accidental footage when I deliberately or accidentally didn't turn the camcorder off, etc.... or maybe they just didn't fit in with my vision of the finished video.
At this point the timeline stops being used to just assess the sync points, and starts being used to build the project.
I replaced the unsplit Digital 1 clip on the timeline with the 18 clips made from it.... yes, including those tagged for deletion. Then I checked the ending point of the 18th sub-clip on the timeline to assure it ended at the same time that the pre-cut clip did. It was exact to the hundredth of a second. All was still in sync with the audio track.
Then I used a copy of the plain black still image to replace each of the 10 clips that were tagged for deletion. I didn't reconsider; I just replaced them.
I put the black clip on the timeline in front of the clip being replaced, adjusted the black clip by the trim handle to make it the same duration as the clip being deleted, and then deleted the tagged clip behind it. By doing each that way, the relative positions of all the clips that had audio should stay in sync with the audio track.
After replacing the discarded clips by copies of the black image, it was time to do another check to ensure the ending point of the last clip was still in sync. It was. I also previewed the entire timeline at this point, listening to the audio of the video clips and the audio track play's still too soon to mute the audio associated with the video clips. The listening and watching showed all were aligned.... just had a bunch of black spaces to fill with something.  
Digital 1 File - Split, Divided, Assessed, Moved to the Timeline, and Tagged Clips Discarded
Working the Project
The rest of the editing is the artistic part and up to you. We each have our personal style and vision of what we are trying to achieve with a video. The short video of the recessional is one I'm currently working on. When it's done, you can view it on my website.
I'll make just one comment about something I would do. There's a lot of black video around the 3 minute mark. But there's also quietness on the audio track in that area, as the trio paused between pieces. I'd remove most of the quiet pause so the classical pieces move along one after the other. And to keep the video and audio tracks in sync, I'd take an equal amount from the video track. First split the audio part, see what duration is being removed, then split or trim an equal amount form.
If you prefer trimming to splitting and removing (I do), then you can do it instead. Trim equal amounts from each.
That's one of the key things in this video.... maintaining the sync. At least until the bridal party goes back down the aisle. Beyond that the need for continued syncing falls off as the guests all start leaving and no-one pays attention to the string trio. With the need for sync finished, I'm free to arrange and use the rest of the clips any way that works best.

The dance scenes at the wedding reception party need syncing maintained throughout the videos. I have a few of the dance scenes on the website already, and I'm using one of them for an in-dept tutorial I'm currently working on for a major magazine.... I should be able to tell you more about it next week.
The set of wedding videos I'm working on are the first ones in which I've had to integrate footage from two camcorders. As I work on them, I find myself constantly rethinking the use and long-term value of a project-specific collection database.
I ran into significant time delays in opening Movie Maker back in the days when I built one large collection database.... like my website menu. With over 11,000 clips in the collections, it was taking almost 5 minutes for Movie Maker to open, as it had to check each clip.
From there, I went into a routine of building topical clip collections using MM1, importing them into MM2 projects as needed, and discarding the project collection when the video was done.
Now, with the amount of effort I'm putting into working some collections, and the continued need for the reference info they provide, I find myself saving some collection databases as project files, in addition to the usual MSWMM project file.

Have a great week...