PapaJohn's Newsletter #39 - Feb 5, 2005

Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story


a Text and Texture J K L

Text and textures can play a big role in your movies and stories... but Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story are limited in text features, and have minimal if anything in the way of textures. When I walk around with my camcorder I'm always paying attention to the visual and audio textures that I come across, and add clips to my library. Here's a couple utilities you might want to explore:
RenderSoft VRLM does a few things... producing both still images and animations. For this newsletter we'll use it to make a still image with 3 dimensional text.
Illusionae focuses on textures... We'll take the 3D text image from RenderSoft and merge it with one of the infinite choices of textures.
MonkeyWhat's the textured face at the left? I bought one of those books of old royalty free images the other night and was playing with a black and white scanned image of the monkey in Illusionae as I worked on the newsletter... so I threw it in as a textural accent.
The sample for the newsletter is this 82 second story made with some of the saved texture files:
Text and Texture Sample.
... before going into the tutorial, a few notes...

What's Happening? 
  I finished that book chapter (again)... this time resolving editorial comments from the first submittal. This is the first book about VirtualDub and my chapter is the Introduction. I saw a couple press releases during the week announcing it, with a publication date of this month.K
Patrick Leabo, the developer of Transition Maker 2, is at it again, this time making a TM2 Lite version. We'll be announcing it soon.
Feedback about the custom profiles I made for saving a Photo Story 3 story when heading toward a DVD has been positive... the settings in the profiles align with the pixel dimensions that TMPGEnc would use when making MPEG files for a disc. I figured it best to have Photo Story render it at those dimensions first, so the conversion done by other software doesn't need to change the pixel dimensions.
Someone asked what to use when heading toward an SVCD. Good question, so I developed 4 more profiles and added them to the page PS3 a Saving page... NTSC and PAL profiles that align with VCD and SVCD settings. I'd appreciate feedback from anyone who uses them, as I'm still testing and tweaking them.
An interesting project this week was helping a software company edit out mid-video glitches in a couple training videos. The videos were made using screen capture sessions with the Encoder. The Windows Media File Manager was effective at splitting the videos into segments without re-rendering, but I didn't have a tool to put the desired pieces back together without re-rendering.
I ended up cloning the properties of the source files - 1024x768 with the screen codec - in a custom profile for Movie Maker. With the source files and profile both using the screen codec, the re-rendering was quick and the quality of the edited video hardly distinguishable from the originals. Instead of providing edited videos, I gave them the custom profile and a lesson in using Movie Maker. They might need it to cut out future glitches.

Plan the Text and Texture Sample
This week's plan is... make a simple 3D text image using RenderSoft, use it in Illusionae and generate a batch of textured image files, and use them in Photo Story 3... the sample you've seen at the beginning.
I'll take the tutorial through getting the texture files from Illusionae. You know how to use them in Photo Story.

3D Text in RenderSoftSizing Rendersoft
Sometimes a software app isn't as intuitive as Movie Maker and Photo Story. You find yourself learning new things about it after many years of use.
RenderSoft is one of those apps. If it wasn't for needed learning, you wouldn't need this newsletter.

1 - Set the Stage
One of the things I learned much later about RenderSoft was that the pixel dimensions of a saved image or video is the size of its working window, the black rectangle at the right...
... and it doesn't include any feedback about what that size is... so I use Paint to set its size.
Open Paint and set the canvas size. Use the main menu aImage aAttributes aset the width to 800 pixels and the height to 600.
Then open RenderSoft and stretch the window so the black area aligns with the size of the canvas in Paint. You can then close Paint, knowing that whatever images you render during the working session will be pretty close to 800x600... no need to be exact.

Menu - Insert Text
2 - Insert Text
The hard part is done. Insert some text... I'll use "#39 Newsletter". In the sample story I had used my website's URL. 
Text Added
As you type it into the dialog  window, it'll instantly appear in the working window, similar to the way Movie Maker does it.
Select your font. Check the option to 'Extrude Text' to give it a 3-dimensional appearance... unless you want it flat.
Don't hesitate to put in lots of text... it'll take whatever you put into it. Before Movie Maker's 2 'star-wars' text animation came out, I was making such text clips with RenderSoft and using them in MM1.

3 - Position the Text
This step isn't hard but it might be a little tricky.
Click on/select the working window... anyplace on it... the blackness is fine... while holding your mouse button down, move the mouse up/down, left/right. See how the text you added moves as you move the mouse.
It might not move in the direction you do... just note how it moves and adapt to it. If it disappears off-screen out of view, it'll still be there, but in this tutorial we won't go into more advanced features. If you can't find it or get it back, give up and enter the text a second time, and see if you can keep the reins on it.
You might have seen the movie I made of one of my grand-daughters, with dozens of blocks flying at you, each with a different picture of her. They flew right past and off-screen. If you lose your text, it'll be like one of those blocks... still in the environment someplace, just not currently in view.
The reason it's OK to let it go is... when you render the picture of the 3-D text, the rendered image will show only what you see in the working window at the moment.

4 - Render the Text ImageBackground
If you prefer a background color other than black, change it from the pull-down menu. Give it as much Red, Green, and Blue as you want.
You'll want a saved image that isn't 'blocky-looking'. Go into the menu and opt for 15 passthe 15 passes of anti-aliasing (smoothing the blockiness or taking away the jaggies, however you refer to it).
From here, it's simply a matter of saving the image. Like a movie project when saving a movie, it's a rendering process, so instead of saving the project file (yes, a RenderSoft project file is similar to a Movie Maker project... you can go back and work on it later).
ExportBut this one is too simple to save the project. Just render the image by exporting it.
Use the drop-down file type list to export it as a JPG. While doing it note there's another choice to export it as a movie AVI file... remember my blocks flying off-screen.... if you wanted to save your text flying away as a movie clip, you could. But that would be another tutorial someday. What you're doing here is exporting just one frame of a video, so it's a still picture.
When faced with the choice of JPG quality, slide it to the highest quality.... and don't forget to check the option to enable high quality rendering before saving.
Text File
We have the 3-D text file from RenderSoft, the one here at the left. We'll now go on to use it in Illusionae, where we'll overlay some textures on it.

Merge the Text with Textures in Illusionae
Think about the textures you saw in the sample story. If you didn't watch it, you might want to at this point. It's just a single text file like this one, merged with a couple dozen textures, each saved from Illusionae as a JPG file.

1 - Open Illusionae and Take a Look Around
It doesn't take long to get into the unlimited selection of textures. Here's what it looked like when I first opened it... the currently selected larger texture block with a dozen other smaller blocks around it, each showing a different texture. I added the annotations and lines to clutter it up a bit.
2 - Define the Bump Map (our text image from RenderSoft)
Define Bump Map
What's a bump map? For the monkey face in the opening section of this newsletter, it was Load Filethe scanned black and white woodcut print of the monkey, something I merged with the texture.
For the sample story, it was the text file with my URL on it... the one I merged with a couple dozen assorted textures.
For this tutorial it's the image file we just made in RenderSoft with the #39 Newsletter text on it.
Use the drop-down list and change from the Normal 3D Bump Map to the Texturizer.
Then select the Texturizer Type... to <Load File>... and in the dialog box that pops up after that, go to the file we made and open it. A Bump Map can be any JPG or BMP file.
You won't see anything happen after you open the file. The selected image goes into memory, something you don't see until to do your first 'merge' of the selected texture and the Bump Map.

3 - Merge the Bump Map with the Texture
You're ready to merge the texture and the image.
See in the image at the left that I've changed from the starting texture (the selected one when opening the app in step 1) to something else.
Press the merge icon for the first time and you'll get a little dialog window where you tell it what size image you want.
Knowing that you're heading to a Photo Story or a Movie Maker project with the merged images, a good size is 800x600 pixels.
After saying OK Illusionae will show you the merged image and texturizer file in the merge window.

The Merge Window
Merged Image
When the rendering finishes and the merge window pops up, you might not see anything but gray in it... when you are expecting to see your selected texture with the bump map.
That would be due to the initial default size of the merge window being smaller than your 800x600 size. To resolve it, grab the edges of the window and open it up a bit; when it's bigger than what you specified, the merged image will show up as it does in this example.
Note in the merge window that the rendered texture is some sort of mosaic or tiled wallpaper image that is made from the selected texture.
Note too that the 800x600 image we made in RenderSoft is positioned just right in the 800x600 merge window, and used as the 'bump map'... now you see why it's named 'bump'... for that textured 3D effect.

4 - Merge More Textures into it
Leave the merged image alone and go to the main window and select another texture... press the merge icon again and see the new texture added to the previous. Do it again and again.
6 Merged Textures
Here's the image after I've merged about 6 textures into it.
It's fun to add more and more... but it can also get muddy or ugly.
You can undo the last added one by using Edit aUndo from the main menu.
And when its ugly enough or you want to start over, clear the merge window by hitting the garbage pail. When you clear the merge window the bump map will stay in memory until you load a different one.

5 - Save Your Merged Image
When you like what you see, save it by using the main menu File a Save As.
Select the image size... 800x600 for this one.
You've got it... just the first of many great, interesting, fun-filled textured and bumped images for your stories and movies. 

This is probably the most colorful and textured newsletter to date. I hope you've enjoyed it and can think of many uses for 3-D text, textures or a combo of both in your stories and movies.
I've used both RenderSoft and Illusionae for many years and have yet to have them act up, crash or otherwise cause problems. So don't be timid about experimenting.
RenderSoft can also be used to make an animation file, rendering it to an AVI file for use in Movie Maker as a clip. But that's another subject... if anyone would like a future newsletter on that feature, drop an email.

Have a great week...