PapaJohn Productions

Newsletter #44 - March 12, 2005

Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story


Pictures from a Relative
What do you do when friends or relatives email copies of pictures they think are wonderful?... and sometimes you do too. With Photo Story and Movie Maker, it's easy to whip up a quick, easy, fun to do animated video. By adding the dimensions of movement, music, and maybe even story-telling, it can be a great way to say thanks and show how much you appreciate them... and they get to see your video skills. Just be careful not to tip the balance between their pictures and your editing.... your goal is to enhance - not diminish them by overdoing your add-ons.
One of my Condor Picturebrothers recently emailed 3 of his pictures of California condors flying over the Grand Canyon... I turned them around into a short Photo Story and posted it on neptune.
He liked the story and sent 7 more... a bigger better challenge... a longer story, but still a fun and easy one. They went into my backlog of pictures to use someday, and this newsletter is the day.
NASA's World Wind, featured in last week's issue, gave me more than a few more hours of fun during the week. It'll show up again in this one as I use a screen shot from it to help with the condors. Any location-specific scene can be accented with a map as part of a story, and what scene isn't location specific?
I love the 3 dimensional views of the Coast and Geodetic Survey maps... my snapshot of the canyon uses that view option.
Mix them together in Movie Maker and there's another condor flick at neptune. Here's the link:
California Condors
I'll go through all the steps of putting it together. Routinely making such short subjects helps fine tune or enhance your skills. Sometimes it's not much difference in time than playing a game of solitaire during a break from a large project.
... before doing it, a few notes...

What's Happening?
Software has lots of parts and pieces that are often usable in other places... here's a couple I came across over the past week:
Studio 8 TransitionsPinnacle Studio 8 was bundled with my Dazzle 80 capture device It has a subfolder named Alpha Magic, and in it are 52 grayscale mask images in JPG format, 720x480 size.
I'll sometimes take a couple clips into Studio 8 to add something, and bring them back into MM2, but I hadn't taken a transition from Studio 8 into Movie Maker.
I just finished updating the online tutorial for the new release of Transition Maker 2, and it struck me that one of the key things you do in TM2 is make grayscale masks.
I brought the 52 Alpha Magic images into new TM2 projects, packaged them up and published the projects to Movie Maker 2... would they function there? YESSS!!! now I have my Studio 8 transitions to use there or in Movie Maker. The picture above shows some of them in MM2, including the puzzle pieces one that's my favorite in this group.

Adobe Encore, a DVD authoring package, is available as a 30 day trial version. My trial period was up a few days ago and it was time to uninstall it. Rather than sweep it away in total, I went into the folders and saw hundreds of PhotoShop project files for menu styles and buttons... all of which make great study pieces.
In using parts and pieces of software, be careful not to cross the bounds of what is legal and appropriate.

MyDVD Studio Deluxe 6 - I contacted Sonic with a couple questions and concerns about the Photo Story 3 DVD plug-in. The version 4.5 of MyDVD on my laptop didn't accept the PS3 stories, nor would it open the DVDs burned by the new plug-in... and the plug-in didn't seem to be professionally supported - the website page to register software didn't have it listed, nor did the online support area.
Sonic was very responsive... the online pages were updated quickly. Beyond that, they gave me the version 6 package of MyDVD to review and use.
I don't typically do critical reviews of software, but Sonic's DVD plug-in for PhotoStory 3, and even this newer version of MyDVD... are so closely aligned with Photo Story and Movie Maker that reviewing them is appropriate. I'm well into the installation and checking, and next week's newsletter will be about how they look.

Personal Database - Personal computers and so rich in information that, at the same time that things get bigger and better, the administrative chore of keeping info about things is more challenging.
I've converged toward use of a single database for my primary information needs... something I started years ago as a pack of a dozen household databases, today all converged into a single one that I can run off a thumdrive if I want.
I've decided to offer it to others in two ways. Free for the asking to regular paid newsletter subscribers, and to others for a $10 donation (donation in that the way to ask for it would be the Donate button on the What's New page of my site.
... more info will be in upcoming newsletters.

The California Condors - Plan
Back to the main topic... making something entertaining from 10 still pictures of California condors flying over the Grand Canyon.
A video needs an opening, a middle and a closing... regardless of how short or long. While sitting in my backlog of projects for 3 weeks, waiting for the inspiration of an appropriate opening, along came World Wind. I can now go anyplace in the world and get a great snapshot or video clip. I'll use that as the opening... then the condor pix for the main body, and close with a text credits clip... the closing is always easy... credits and my URL often suffice.
The opening is critical... if you don't have viewers interested from the first few seconds, they or their thoughts go elsewhere. If you can keep them past the first few moments, they'll probably watch the rest.
The end product won't be a DVD... it'll be a short flick for my brother and this newsletter. A high quality 320x240 for online viewing might be sufficient, but showing off the condor pictures seems to want the video at 640x480. I'm still working on the best profiles to use for videos uploaded to neptune... the answer might be different for each viewer... this one went up as a 640x480 video.

The Photo Story
Here's a project level view of the story... showing all images used. 3 copies of the same map image for the changes in animations, followed by 9 condor pictures.
I didn't use a 10th condor picture... it was great too as an individual picture, but appeared too similar to another one when it was in the story and being animated... 
Photo Story
For this kind of project, panning and zooming is done with a Photo Story, and music and titling added in Movie Maker.

Create a Route Marking Clip
Newsletter #42 covered the development and use of a Photo Story 3 template project file to annotate a route on a map or image... it's fully covered on the Photo Story 3 > Do Amazing Things page of the website, including a link to download the template.
The template uses a paint brush stroke in Paint... to take it up a notch, I'll so something different. 
If you watched the video sample on neptune, did you happen to notice that the route marking was done with little condors instead of a paint brush?Full Size Condor And that the color around the condors was green, the same green as the map, not the sky color from the picture being used to crop the little condor from.
The first step is to crop one of the condors from a picture... here's one in a full-sized image cropped from the original picture, using IrfanView's cropping feature (mouse dragging to define a rectangular area, followed by Control-Y to crop the area).
Little CondorNext resize it in IrfanView (Image > Resize > Set new size as a percentage of original - the one at the left is 15%). That gets us a little bird to use as a stamp to mark the route, but with the background color of the sky, not aligning with the picture we'll be placing it on.
To have the video flow smoothly from the opening animation of the Photo Story to the beginning of the route-marking snippet, I took a snapshot from the story clip in the Movie Maker collection... getting a 640x480 image to use as the background for the route marking story.
Open the MM2 snapshot in Paint.   Small Condor on Background Map
Select the eyedropper tool of Paint and 'pickup' the green of the map... now you'll be painting with that shade of green.
View > Zoom > Custom and view the area of the condor at 800% size easier paint the pixels around the condor to the picked up green color... it'll be such a pixilated picture that painting is easy.PaintingGreen
Crudely paint around the condor... crude at 800% will look OK at 100%.
Condor On Green
Save the picture from Paint and open it in IrfanView... crop the condor again so it's just the image of it on green... this is the 'stamp' to use to mark the path.
Condor Stamp
Open the base map image again in Paint - the original snapshot from MM2. Use the 'condor stamp' to mark the path from the campgrounds of the Grand Canyon to the rim where the condors are.
Following the online instructions for using the Photo Story 3 template, save the picture in Paint as 0.jpg, apply the first mark (Control-C in IrfanView, followed by a series of Control-V paste commands in Paint to apply each stamp mark... position the stamp each time, and save the image after each mark to the next higher numbered picture file to be used in the Photo Story - save them as jpg format).
If you want to do it better, you could use a transparency setting around the condor instead of coloring the background green... using something like PhotoShop. I try to limit the tools used in the newsletters to the lowest priced ones, and live within their limitations, so I use IrfanView and Paint. But I'll dip into PhotoShop or Premiere at times to do something better.
The PS3 template takes up to 24 pictures... if you find you're done marking in 15, go ahead and just use the 15... you can always trim the clip in Movie Maker as you put the movie project together.

The Movie
This project was easy to put together in Movie Maker. Here's the project timeline... only 3 clips, each of which used a Photo Story as a source file.
It started as one long clip, the Photo Story with the map and condor pictures. I split it to insert the marked path story, so the final project file has 3 main clips.
The fine-tuning of the 3 clips in Movie Maker was:
Opening map - fade in from black.
Path Story - Speed Up, double as the unfolding path is typically too slow. I also added Ease In. There's no panning or zooming built into the path template, so adding some subtle zooming here is appropriate.
Condor segment - Light - Frame2 Soft from one of the Pixelan Spice FX packages... watch the video to see what the lighting change does.
Transitions are simple fades from one clip to the next, added by dragging the clip on the right to overlap the one to the left of it. It's my most often used transition.
MM2 Project
Almost a third of the short video is the opening map... and by the time you see a condor picture the movie is half over.
You may remember the music... a classical piano parlor type... computer generated by Pinnacle Studio 8... My library has 3 minute versions of a number of them, easy to close by trimming at an appropriate spot and fading out. If a movie needs a longer one, I'll go into Studio 8 and make one of the duration I need.... computer-generated music by Photo Story 3 would work too.
5 overlay text clips and one closing in-line one completes the project... render to a 640x480 profile and upload to neptune.

This newsletter is going out a bit on the early side this week... we have overnight company coming tonight...
And, yes I have my brother's permission to share his pictures with you... I hope you find them as great as I do. I think that stories and movies like this are what Microsoft had in mind for home users and those new to video editing... I didn't come across any issues when putting them together. The processes couldn't be easier or the results better.

Have a great week...