PapaJohn's Newsletter #27 - Movie
Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 - Nov 13, 2004
Video Effects and Transitions
Last week I finished the
tutorial for MaximumPC's special winter edition.
It's being printed and heading for bookstands December 7th.
The most significant editorial comment about my first
submittal of the sample movie was ".... that's pretty good, but can you add
some of those special effects and transitions?....". With that comment
and the posts I see daily, it's obvious everyone loves special
transitions and effects. Let's explore them a bit.
Hollywood films and books about making
them say they should flow along smoothly using simple cuts
between clips, nut using special transitions. I go to the movies every
week and check, and yes... there's mostly an absence of special
transitions... but it's hard to find a 5 minute stretch without seeing
some kind of CGA (Computer Graphics Animation) - special effects.
From another perspective, those getting into home
movies from slide-shows like Power Point are so used to
having a different transition between each pair of clips that they
overdo it. Maybe TV productions fit this mold too. I just got off
the treadmill, watching CNBC and checking it
for... effects and transitions. They use a different one about every
second during the show, and the commercials use them even more often. Must
be a back room full of ex-Power Point slide people.
We're not making Hollywood films, so I'll stop
discouraging people from using all these neat things, and help them figure
out how and when best to... whatever you use, they should be professional
quality items, well selected and appropriately used. Fortunately for
Movie Maker users, most of what's available today are professionally
In this newsletter I'll review the current state
of transitions and effects for Movie Maker 2. It's an
evolving, growing area...
... before getting into them, a
few notes about some things going on...
• This is the first issue for regular subscribers
only. Thanks again for making the decision to keep going with it (and
to some new subscribers who waited until it wasn't free to
My latest rule of thumb for posting copies to the archives
for free access is the Issue Date + 6 weeks. That'll place this
one online about Christmas day.... that's the kind of lag there will
• I mentioned last week
Sonic's MyDVD 4.5 accepts wmv files from Photo Story 2, but not
from Photo Story 3, while MyDVD 6 accepts files from both
versions. I got this response from Sonic's tech
".... I've downloaded Photo Story 3 and took a look at
it and the way it deals with its files. It seems to make slideshows just like
Movie Maker. It exports all videos out as WMV files. While we support this
format, it's usually not the most compatible format. To get the best results in
importing into any version of MyDVD, you should convert it to DV-AVI in Movie
I recommend you download Movie Maker 2 through windows Update
and then use the DV-AVI (NTSC) codec when you save the file. To do this, once
you've captured the file and it's opened in Windows Movie Maker, go to File,
Save Movie File, Select My Computer and press Next, select the name of the file
and its location and press Next, now press Show More Choices... Select Other
settings and scroll down to DV-AVI (NTSC). This is the fully compatible format
with MyDVD and it's best to use when importing movies or slideshows of
of MyDVD 4.5 shouldn't expect a patch from Sonic.... and there's
another linkage item between PS3 and
• The new branch of
for Photo Story 3 is almost complete... it has 6 of the 7 planned pages
completed, with only the last one about Saving and Distributing to go. I've
learned a lot about PS3 by putting the pages together.
....on to the topic of the
Movie Maker 2 - Video Effects and
When my laptop left for repair the other month, it had a full
collection of add-on video effects and transitions, running in the
Windows XP SP1 environment. When it came back, it had none of them, and I'm in
the SP2 environment and adding the packages back on.... and more. The Adorage
package came along since then.
Here's a tally of the effects and
transitions available today, all with links on the Setup > Other
Software page of the site. The number code* in brackets corresponds to what
I consider the minimum skill or interest level you should have when
considering the packages:
The numbers of effects and transitions in this short list are
those currently on my laptop - 256 effects and 400 transitions:
(1) The basic effects and transitions included in
Movie Maker 2 - 28 effects / 44 transitions
(1) Microsoft's Winter Fun Pack 2003 - 1
effect / 2 transitions
(1) Microsoft's Plus! Digital Media
Edition - 25 effects / 25 transitions
(1) Pixelan SpiceFX Packs - 150 effects
/ 204 transitions
(2) Rehan's Pan/Zoom pack - 27 effects
(2) Patrick Leobo's Transition Maker 2 -
unlimited possible transitions - I'm using 23 now
(1) ProDad's Adorage Moviemaker
package - 16 effects / 97 transitions
(3) the Do It Yourself approach with hooks into Movie Maker
2, encouraged by Microsoft - unlimited possibilities - 9 effects / 5
transitions on my laptop
I'll go through a couple overall items, and then take a look at
*There's something here for everyone - the code
for skill or interest level is (1) casual user, (2) power
user, (3) hacker, (4) geek and (5) programmer.
How Do Effects and Transitions Work?
Without getting into technical details, Movie Maker 2
includes some DLLs that provide the underlying features that make
Movie Maker also checks two subfolders each
time it starts up, the 1033\AddOnTFX and the Shared\AddOnTFX. It
loads any additional transitions and effects found there, taking direction
from XML files found in them. Adorage takes a slightly different
approach to where it puts its AddOnTFX folder... more later.
Some of the added transitions also use masks (still images like
JPGs), also stored in the folders or subfolders.
Take a look into one of the XML files on my laptop, this
one used to provide a transparency effect based on a specific
color.... you might have seen the 'Peppermint Patti' clip on my site.
This is the XML file I used to achieve its Picture-in-Picture
effect. It has a long but descriptive name:
Transparent - Do Amazing
Things Orange R230 G147 B74.xml
We won't go into the technical details of how Movie Maker
reads the XML file and executes what it says. Suffice it to say that the XML
file contains the variables that tell Movie Maker what to do.
.... I'd like to touch on two potential
issues when using add-on effects and transitions.
What happens if a special XML or DLL is missing when you re-render a
movie using a project file that used it? And what impact is there on memory
usage if you collect all the add-ons that become avaiiable?
Missing effects or transitions
You know the sign of a missing source file... a big red X in the project. What
are the symtoms of a missing add-on effect or transition?
The core transitions and effects included with Movie Maker 2
are always there, and always on other computers you might move your project
to. Add-on transitions might be installed on one computer only. And you might
remove the package someday for any number of reasons, such as when my laptop
went to the shop for a new hard drive and came back without the
How do you know which transition or effect was used in a
project? Both the timeline and storyboard views of a project tell you the name
of the transition with a tool-tip when you linger over it. The timeline has a
separate track for transitions, and the name of the transition
shows just like a clip name.
A clip's properties includes the path and file name for
the source file, so it's easy to know what clip is missing. With transitions,
you'll see the name of the transition but not the path and file that
it came from. It might have been from an XML file or a DLL, under a Movie
Maker subfolder or someplace else. With effects, their names don't show
on the timeline, but you can drill down into a clip to
check the names of the effects used.
If you open a project and an add-on transition or
effect isn't currently installed, how do you know it's missing? In
the storyboard view, you'll have a big red X for a missing
transition file like you do for clips, but you don't have any clue
that an effect is missing. In the timeline view you don't have any clues
at all about a missing effect or transition. The first
sign might be a strange looking spot on your newly rendered
With a complex
project, you can run into memory issues when editing or
rendering. How much memory is needed to support a lot of extra effects
and transitions just in case you want one? I checked my laptop's
memory when a small project was open and there were 656
extra transitions and effects. I toggled the extras on and off to see the
change in memory usage.
Can you save
memory by toggling the extras off and on without uninstalling and
reinstalling? Yes, here's what I found.
manager said Movie Maker was using 56,612K of memory with the
small project open and my 656 extras available.... if I close MM2
and rename the AddOnTFX subfolder to AddOnTFX_ (just adding an underscore to
the end of the folder name effectively cuts them off from Movie
Maker). When I reopened MM2 (with the same small project
open... the memory used was 25,868K.... I cycled it again as a second
check - 56,660K when the AddOnTFX folder is available and
25,864K when it's not. But the Adorage extras were not turned off by
the toggling of this folder - they still showed in the collections...
I found a
similar key to toggling the Adorage extras - rename
the c:\Documents and Settings\User\Application Data\Microsoft\Movie
Maker\AddOnTFX folder... but there wasn't any further memory gain by
doing it. The Adorage process seems more memory efficient,
maybe just because it doesn't use a unigue thumbnail figure for each
By turning off
about 530 of the add-on effects and transitions (all the extras except Adorage)
I saved 30,000K of memory usage (30 MB), an average of 57 KB of memory
per extra item.
As you build
your library of add-ons, you'll have to balance the memory needed to have them
available if and when needed, versus applying the memory to your
project and rendering. Wait until you bump into a memory-related issue, and
Movie Maker 2
- comes with 28 effects and 60
transitions... you can't turn them off, nor would you want to. Use and enjoy
them, and when you want more, here are the packages currently
Microsoft's Winter Fun Pack 2003 - has a few
fun ones for winter scenes. Easy to use for beginners and all.
It's a hefty 14.82 MB download that includes 1 effect
and 2 transitions (made for Microsoft by Pixelan). A big download and
install for just the 3, but it's free and there's more in the package....
music transitions, sound effects, video animations, etc. It's almost winter
again so they may come in handy soon.
Installing it adds a FunPackFX DLL and XML files in the
Shared\AddOnTFX sub-folder for one video effect (Snowflakes) and
2 video transitions (Snow Burst and Snow Wipe).
It also creates a new c:\Documents and Settings\User Name\My
Documents\My Videos\Windows XP Fun Pack\Winter 2003 folder, with 4 sub-folders
containing 7 'WMA Music Tracks and Music Transitions', 10 JPG 'Pictures', 92 WMA
'Sound Effects', and 8 WMV 'Video Animations'. To use the clips in Movie Maker,
import them into your collections as usual.
Microsoft's Plus! Digital
Media Edition - a $19.95 retail package... available for less in
various places. Another package easy to install and use.
The Pack includes, among other
things, 25 video effects & 25 transitions. After installation,
they appear in the collections with those that came with MM2.
The effects are mostly about colors
and textures, and the transitions are take-offs on basic wipes.... all are
Pixelan SpiceFX Packs - these are also easy to
install and use. I think Pixelan packages have the best look and
feel for the novice and intermediate users. Each of their
effects and transitions is professionally done and fits comfortably into
the Movie Maker user interface.
I do some beta testing for Pixelan and think highly of
their people and work.
Downloading a demo package requires a minimal registration,
followed by the download link provided in a Pixelan email. The demo download
file is 2.2 MB.... here's an extract from the Welcome info that pops up after
Software’s SpiceFX Packs™ add
nearly 400 fresh transitions and effects to Microsoft® Movie Maker®, enhancing
your editing power and creative flexibility. Eight
SpiceFX Packs are available:
· Pack T1: SoftFX™ -- 35
ultra-soft, subtle 'directional' dissolves, a great alternative to
regular fades/dissolves. Tie transitions seamlessly to your subject, action, or
theme -- for a terrific "pro" touch.
· Pack T2: PipFX™ -- 54
(picture-in-picture) transitions, allowing you to fly clips in or out of the
scene, hold them, softly slide in or away, or zoom in/out effortlessly. Great
for many projects.
· Pack T3: CoolFX™ -- 43
transitions, such as organic fire-like effects, beautiful irises, bands and
reveals -- all with soft, seamless edges. Ideal for videos of family, events,
music, or sports.
· Pack T4: EnergyFX™ -- 36
that use wind, gravity, or other organic progressions to reveal the next scene.
Especially handy when you desire an eyecatching transition that looks
· Pack T5: Particles -- 44
transitions as sophisticated as those made by the highest-end visual effect
systems. Includes bursts, page curls, drops, spills, spins and
· Pack E1: Correction Effects -- 41
effects to solve common video problems. Color-correct clips that are too 'hot',
cool/blue, or not 'white balanced' from your camcorder. Adjust contrast. Add a
creative tint. Crop the frame. Or apply a progressive blur for a soft, dreamy
· Pack E2: Pan / Zoom Effects -- 67
pan/zoom moves within
any image -- just like in Microsoft Photo Story. Zoom in tighter to your
subject, hold as long as desired, pan with your subject's movement, then zoom
back out to full screen. Or any combination you desire. These effects will
greatly extend the versatility of your shots.
· Pack E3: Border/Frame Effects -- 40
terrific ways to accent
or highlight your subject within the scene, using borders, frames and other
visual accents. Many simple, elegant shapes and looks are included, with
standard, organic, soft, shadowed, and other variations. A great way to add a
unique custom touch to special scenes.
If you purchase
all eight Packs, you also get dozens of additional bonus transitions and
I saw a post at SimplyDV the other day from someone who
needed to download an updated version of a Pixelan package because of an SP2
related issue. I asked Pixelan about it and got this response:
"... It was just a registry key issue that SP2 introduced....
older download was looking for "Movie Maker 2" to check if
installed, and was not able to see "Movie Maker 2.1" in the
proving that. An easy fix..."
Rehan's Movie Maker Corner -
Pan Zoom Effects - Rehan is an ace programmer (and more) who
has studied the Microsoft info about how to customize transitions and effects
more than anyone else I know. He shares his knowledge on the forums
and newsgroups. His wewsite is...
His Pan Zoom Effects can be installed to a different drive and
folder, a nice flexible feature, and one of the exceptions
to the rule about the subfolders that add-on packages go into.
The demo version of his Pan/Zoom effects
package has a 15 day full-use trial period....
The DLL in the e drive works with the rehanpz.xml file in the
Shared\AddOnTFX subfolder of Movie Maker. Info on Rehan's website tells you how
to tweak the XML file to customize the panning and zooming. Tweaking XML files
is easy for some, but it makes his package appeal more to advanced
Patrick Leabo's Transition Maker 2... is a project
that I've personally been involved with since its early days. Like Rehan,
Patrick is a top-notch programmer who loves exploring custom transitions.
His software is unique in how it works with Movie Maker. You use the
utility on the sidelines until you're ready to roll the transitions out to Movie
Maker, what Patrick calls 'publishing'.
Develop as many custom packages as you want, with 1 to 32 transitions in
each, complete with custom thumbnails for the collection.
When ready with a pack of transitions, having developed them
on the sidelines using TM2, you tell the software
to 'publish' a pack. it takes care of the masks, the XML files, the DLLs and
anything else needed. putting them all into appropriate folders. They
are automatically detected by MM2 when it starts up and the thumbnails are
in the transitions collection available for your projects.
After using the transitions in a project, you can 'unpublish' the
package and keep it on the sidelines until needed for another project. Your can
keep your personal transition packages in your TM2 library rather than in
Movie Maker's subfolders.
Patrick and I sell Transition Maker 2 at:
There's a 7 day full use trial period, a 9 MB
You can install TM2 to any drive and folder. It provides
the ability to make unlimited customized transitions, just a bit beyond the
skills of novice users.
Adorage Moviemaker package -
ProDAD's package is the newest to come along, and most
users haven't seen it yet. I just finished exploring it myself, finding the
user interface (thumbnails in the collections) looking amateurish,
but once you get to see the add-ons themselves, you find them
professionally developed and a real asset to any library. The main Adorage site
The main page of their site is a little confusing, only
because their support of Movie Maker 2 is so new. It lists 7 video
editing apps supported, and Movie Maker 2 isn't one of them. I was cautious, as
usual, and made a couple posts advising people to be sure it'd work in
MM2 before purchasing it... since then I've tested them and know they
You have to go beyond the appearance of the thumbnails in
the collections to really appreciate these items. Here's a couple demo
videos... once you see what they do, the thumbnail graphics will
be of less importance.
I made a demo video for the effects, and another for
transitions. The effects use some of my footage from the 4th of July
fireworks in Chicago, and the transitions use two
short widescreen clips of Jerome, Arizona from April. These links
are also on my Setup > Other Software page.
The Adorage website says there are over 100 effects. It means
the combination of effects and transitions.... there are 16 effects and 97
Adorage has been around for a while,
having developed over 8,000 transitions and effects for the 7 or
8 video editing apps they support.
I went from a skeptic at first to now working
with them to develop another followup package for Movie Maker 2.
... here's a direct link to purchase the current
package #1($24.95 USD):
And then there's the Do It Yourself
approach, with hooks into Movie Maker 2. It's encouraged by Microsoft
and described in this lengthy online web page:
The hackers, geeks and programmers who explore this
approach hang out on the 'Share Your Transitions and Effects' forum
Jumping into this area will provide more hours of fun than
the new Halo 2.
They're here to stay.... don't just collect them
without using them. And don't use them on and between every clip.
Use them appropriately and creatively. Add something positive to
your movies. If the scene itself is great, let it carry the show
without them.... or add just a few extras to take it even
MaximumPC was right... I liked the special edition of the video
I made for the article better after adding a few transitions and effects.... so
Have a great week...