Newsletter #44 - March 12, 2005
Maker 2 and Photo Story
Pictures from a
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
One of my
brothers recently emailed 3 of
his pictures of California condors
flying over the
... 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.
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
Mix them together in Movie
Maker and there's another condor flick at neptune. Here's the link:
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.
doing it, a few notes...
Software has lots of parts and pieces that are often usable
in other places... here's a couple I came across over the past
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
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
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.
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
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.
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...
For this kind of project, panning and zooming is done
with a Photo Story, and music and titling added in Movie
Create a Route
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?
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).
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
Open the MM2 snapshot in Paint.
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.
Crudely paint around the condor... crude at 800%
will look OK at 100%.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
Almost a third of the short video is the opening
map... and by the time you see a condor picture the movie is half
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...