PapaJohn's Newsletter #37 - Jan 22, 2005

Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story

 

 
 
 Go, Stop, Reverse, Photo Story, Go Forward...
 

How do you reverse a clip? It's a question posted often... not supported directly by Movie Maker 2, which makes it more fun to use in a video.
 
But the subject goes deeper than that. You don't just want a clip playing in reverse. You want to use the clip in a movie, and do it in such a way that the transitions to and from the clip are smooth.
 
it's that overall flow I'll cover in this newsletter, not just the clip reversal. How to stop a clip that's playing, put it into reverse, stop again and go forward... all with smooth transitions between them. And I'll even take a little side trip into and out of a Photo Story at one point in the movie, and add that to the movie project...
 
Here's the finished movie, an almost full-field touchdown run by my grandson Nick. It's a 4.8 MB file that plays for 1 min, 10 seconds. It uses freeze-frames, includes a short PhotoStory, and a reverse clip... they're all annotated.
 
http://www.eicsoftware.com/PapaJohn/Newsletters/37-Touchdown.wmv
 
... before going into it, a couple notes...
 

 
What's Happening? 
 
• I mentioned the neptune online video hosting service last week, and my changing website priorities... as I move more toward focusing on having fun and doing amazing things with Movie Maker. 
 
neptune made a new graphic for my main page and it's now in place. As I fully develop the new page about using the Mediashare service, I'll be moving some of the better sample videos and stories to my neptune gallery, and inviting selected videos from others to also be in it. I'm not sure how that will work yet.
 
•The internet cafe that I conducted lessons at folded up a while ago... not enough business in downtown Kalamazoo. And except for Doug, one of the subscribers to this newsletter who I see most every night at Barnes & Noble, no-one usually takes me up on my offer to meet them there for a private session. I met this week with the director of the Portage, Michigan library and classes about Movie Maker and Photo Story will be added to their regular schedule.
 

 
Pick a Video and Plan the Special Actions
 
Sporting events offer scenes that work well with stop and go, and reversal effects... I hadn't tried integrating a Photo Story in it too, but I'll do it for this tutorial.
 
I had taken video of my grandson Nick doing his first full-field (almost) touchdown run... I'll use it and cover all the steps I take to get from my database records to an online movie.
 
Looking BackThere was a point in the run when he turned so much to look back that he almost stopped... I'll pause the video there, reverse it a bit, go into a Photo Story and back, and then take off for the rest of the touchdown.
 
Let's go through the  process in 6 steps.
 

 
1 - Get the Video Footage
 
I use a home-made database for all my information, including videos. I searched for the word 'football' and one of the 4 records found was about my analog Hi8 tape #27. The info said the game footage starts at 1:18:50. I pulled the tape from the library and put it into my Hi8 camcorder.
 
I connected the Hi8 camcorder to my digital mini-DV one (RCA chords for the audio and S-Video for video), removed the tape from the digital one, and connected the digital to my laptop via firewire. Using the 'pass-through' feature (digital camcorder in VTR mode while I controlled the Hi8 camcorder at the camcorder, not at Movie Maker). I used MM2 to capture the footage as a DV-AVI file, saving it to an external hard drive connected to a USB2 port.
 
The captured footage almost 20 minutes. I previewed it in the MM2 collection and split the clip into 3 parts to get the 1-1/2 minutes of the touchdown run. I put that single clip on the timeline and rendered a new DV-AVI file from it, so I could discard the bigger captured file (to save hard drive space).
 
You might ask why I just didn't capture the 1-1/2 minute segment from the camcorder initially... good question. I've been exercising the USB2 connected hard drive lately to assess it more to see how well it performs for video capture and exporting. Does it do as well as a firewire connected external drive? I tend to capture more to give it a good workout. I did a full one hour capture the night before, using the WinDV utility which reports any dropped frames... zero drops in the hour of capture. I'm finding the USB2 connection works fine.
 

 
2 - Plan the Project in the Collection Bin - Split the Clip and Take Snapshots
 
The goal now is to get the clips needed for the movie, while working in the collection and before going to the timeline to start building the project. Snapshots taken from a clip in the collection are full-sized... the same snapshot taken from the same clip in the timeline is at 320x240, the size of the project preview environment.
 
For smooth 'freeze frame' transitions I pause the clip preview at the point I want to freeze the action, take the snapshot using the MM2 feature, and then split the clip before moving off the frame... that has the snapshot and the splitting happening at the same frame.
 
ActionI took two snapshots and split the clip twice... the first one at the point that Nick had slowed a bit and was looking back, the first of the pictures above.
 
The second snapshot/split was about 4 seconds before the pause. I chose this frame for the nice group shot with fairly good resolution... thinking ahead to making a Photo Story from the snapshot, not just a usual freeze-frame.
 
At this point I had 3 sub-clips and 2 snapshots in the collection. That's enough for this tutorial. I only need a couple more clips, a Photo Story and a reversed clip.
 
Collection
 
Note in the clip list that the video clips, being DV-AVI files from the camcorder, are 720x480 pixels.
 
But snapshots from them are jpg files of 640x480 pixels. For our purposes they are the same, and you'll see in the finished video you can mix and match them fine.
 

 
3 - Make the Photo Story
 
I need two more clips before putting the movie together, a little Photo Story of the group scene and the reversed clip of the 4 second segment. First the story.
 
I imported the Nick in Action picture 5 times to play with various pans and zooms in the story.
 
PhotoStory
The first thing I did in the story project was go to the Transition tab of the 'Customize Motion' window for each picture and uncheck the option to start it with a transition... I didn't want the standard 2 second overlapping transitions, which don't look smooth if you change panning directions.
 
The motion settings started from full screen on the first picture, zoomed in toward Nick for a couple pix, and then back out to full screen.
 
PS3 set the durations initially, and I had a 28 second story, way too long. PS3 does a great job of determining the durations.... I just wanted a faster tempo, so I went into each and set the duration to 1/3 of what PS3 had used.
 
The tempo and flow was much better... I saved the PS3 project file and rendered the story, using my custom DVD profile (there's a link to it on the PS3 > Saving page of the site) to render to 720x480 pixels to align with the DV-AVI file clips. Could I have used a 640x480 profile instead? Probably, but I wanted to test the profile again.
 
As a check, I imported the story into MM2, put it on the timeline between the two surrounding video clips and previewed it to see how well the transitions were working (no transition really, just clips butted up as usual)... the preview looked good. 
 

 
4 - Make the Reversed Clip
 
Just need one more clip, a copy of the 4 second segment playing in reverse. I'll use AviSynth and VirtualDub to make the clip... one of the subjects of last week's newsletter.
 
Before reversing the clip, I need a clip of the 4 second segment playing forward... until now it's been a 4 second clip in the collection, not a stand-alone video file. I put it on the timeline and saved it as a new DV-AVI file 4-Second-Forward.avi (type I from MM2). I put the new clip in my c:\Copy folder.
 
• The next step was to make an AviSynth script, a simple text file using Notepad that reads two lines:
AVISource("c:\Copy\4-Second-Forward.avi")
Reverse
Double clicking the avs script showed it playing fine in WMP10, running in reverse. Now to make a new copy of the file as it's playing backwards.
 
• I opened VirtualDub, used my file manager to drag the script file from, and dropped it into VirtualDub. The preview showed the input playing in reverse as the AviSnyth DLL engine was feeding it that way to VirtualDub.
 
VirtualDub
 
• Set the video compression to choose a codec. I opted this time for Panasonic DV codec and rendered the backwards playing clip to a new DV-AVI file.
 
The new file played fine in WMP10. My final check of the reversed clip was to play it in MM2 between the two clips it'll be snuggled between... still looked good.
 
I now have all the clips needed for the movie.
 

 
5 - Make the Movie
 
This part is familiar. Put the clips on the timeline of the movie project, add some text, and render it to a movie.
 
Movie Project
 
For the audio, you can see in the timeline that the still pix and reversed clip don't have audio... so I muted the rest of the clips that included audio, and copied the 3 main sub-clips from the collection to the audio/music track. I trimmed some footage off the starting and ending of the clips, so the total movie aligned pretty well with the audio track... the durations of the frames trimmed off were about the same as the durations of the silent clips that were brought in, so it all kind of balanced.
 
The audio track isn't good... lot's of wind noise, something that seems to go with taking video of kids playing soccer or football. But this tutorial is to make a sample clip about the visual, so I'm not taking any steps to fix it.
 

 
6 - Render the Movie and Put it on the Internet
 
Rendering SettingsMy current rule of thumb when rendering a movie to use on the internet, as a sample for a newsletter or the website, is to use the option 'Best fit to file size' and toggle the figure while watching the info at the lower left of the window.
 
When it's at a bit rate of about 500 Kbps, I check the other figures - yup, 320x240 at 30 fps.... that's what I want.
 
After rendering, upload it to a website server using an ftp utility (I use Total Commander), and add the link to the newsletter. 
 

 
Closing
 
There's a couple things that I thought about that might have needed extra steps, but didn't.
When checking the final playback of the video, I was happy with all the transitions from the normally playing video to the freeze frames, and the Photo Story... but there was one transition at the 'look-back' frame that wasn't as smooth as the others. That may be due to MM2 being a 15 frame per section project working environment. Maybe the snapshot frame and splitting frame were really a frame off? I don't know.
 
It was all good enough for the example, so I didn't go back and try the snapshot and splitting again for that one transition.
 

 
Have a great week...
 
PapaJohn