PapaJohn's Newsletter #46 - March 26, 2005
Maker 2 and Photo Story
Civil War Project - Part
A month ago in issue #42,
we started a Civil War Project... bringing together source material
with some Civil War contents... an old book to scan, a downloaded
special documentary video from the Internet Archives, old maps from an
encyclopedia, some screen shots from the World Wind software... etc. It was in
that issue that the idea for Photo Story 3 project templates emerged.
This issue is another step in
the sequence of issues covering the project... it's the first of the middle
parts. Part I left off at the point of needing to finish
gathering the source material, study it a bit, and think about how to put it
together... and find a focal point for the project, a smaller one than the war
The book can provide the background and
continuity... the cover would open, go into some text, and then when the
viewers are expecting more text, surprise them a little with an emerging
annotated/animated map, go back into the book for some more text, and then
WOW them with Picture-in-Picture video clips mixed in. That's what I said at the
end of that issue. Let's see where I am now in my thinking, and where it's all
... before doing it, here are
some notes about current items...
Personal Database - I followed up last week's
note about my personal database with a new page on the website to provide
an overview of it, and offer it for sale to those who don't subscribe to the
newsletters. I also expanded the info in the database itself,
so between it and the website page it's enough to get up and
Those of you who were the first to ask for a copy might want an
updated data file for it... if you haven't gotten into using it yet, or need
some more help figuring out how to use it.
The MaximumPC Winter Special issue is now
off bookstore shelves, replaced with the spring issue. I told
the editor I hadn't received any emails over the 3 months, and asked if I
could now put a copy of the video from the included
They received only a couple emails during the 3
month period, and both were very positive. He told me that's
pretty unusual, as most people who are positive about an article are
silent, while those expressing concerns are vocal... so the lack of more
feedback is good news. And it was OK to post the video. Here's a
It's a direct copy of the one on the
CD distributed with the magazine. It's a music video 5:40 in
duration, and the file is a 43 MB wmv with a bitrate of 1000kbps... it's
best to do a right mouse click on the link and download the file first, or
you'll run into non-smooth playback because of the higher than usual bitrate. It
was on the CD as a file to copy onto the hard drive and run from there.
I attended a Microsoft/MVP regional
'Engagement Tour' meeting in Chicago on Monday, one of about a dozen such
sessions being held around the country. The evolving relationship between
Microsoft and the growing community of MVPs and others was the core
topic. Always interesting... but a personal high-light for me was meeting
Diane Dumas in person, sitting next to her as she kept using one neat thing
after another during the routine of the day's meeting... so you know who she
"Diane Dumas is New Products Editor for
Pocket PC magazine. Her interests include writing, digital music, and streaming
video, and she is a rabid fan of all Pocket PCs! She has authored numerous
articles about digital music, Pocket PCs, and wireless communications. She
writes a column in each issue, "Diane's Discoveries" along with frequent product
reviews and "how-to" articles. She also co-hosts a monthly hour-long radio talk
show for "Computer Outlook". She enjoys using her Gateway 901X Media Center PC,
Motion Computing Tablet PC, Toshiba e805 Pocket PC, and Xbox Live, on her home
... and Diane is an MVP in the Windows Digital Media
I tried capturing from my Sony digital camcorder directly into a
WMV high-definition profile... 1280x720 pixels, using the Windows Media
Encoder for the capture session.
The capture went well... I had Movie Maker and a few other apps
running at the same time as the capture, with no adverse effects.
Capturing from a digital camcorder to a WMV file is a 2 step
process. First the captured file goes into a temporary DV-AVI file, followed by
the rendering of the WMV from the DV-AVI.
The temporary DV-AVI file has to be built in real time as
the data streams into the firewire connection. That part took all of
2 minutes, the duration of the clip.
See the encoding results info window at the right... and
how much time it then needed to render the high-definition file from the
temporary DV-AVI. The total session duration was over 2-1/2 hrs... for
a 2+ minute clip.
I did a second test to see if the time needed correlates to
the video duration, and sighed a bit of relief when I found it wasn't. It seems
there's a needed 2 hour period for it do something, but a file twice as
long in duration doesn't need twice the time.
The sample looks and sounds great!!! even though my
camcorder doesn't shoot in high definition... I'll be following this up with the
capture of a 10 to 15 minute clip... and comparing it to a normal capture to
DV-AVI followed by rendering it to comparable high-definition video... will one
way clearly out-perform the other??
.... on to the main topic
I found myself fishing around the
source material for this project... making stories and clips, and mixing them
together in Movie Maker, watching for things of interest to emerge. I was
testing various techniques, looking for a reasonable theme to wrap
them into. I knew it was just a test demo project for the newsletters, but
I still wanted it to be worthy of viewing and display.
Some things don't work and others are keepers. Let me share the
keepers with you, as we look at the various ingredients.... the images and clips
being made from the source material, being collected and assembled into the
parts of a project.
... there were 4 clips in the video
that focused on Gettysburg... about 5 minutes of the 15
total in the downloaded documentary. The focus on
Gettysburg emerged as the project's focal point.
I tried to make it Fort Sumter... a more interesting
subject in World Wind than Gettysburg. But I dropped it when the video material
of Gettysburg showed much more promise.
The originally downloaded video was an MPEG-2 of under a GB in
size. I converted it to a 3+ GB DV-AVI file compressed with the Panasonic DV
codec. In this phase I put the 4 clips of interest on the timeline in Movie
Maker 2 and rendered them to another DV-AVI file of about 1 GB... that let
me delete the 3 GB file and free up about 2 GB on my laptop... without losing
quality during the re-encoding.
The book... the cover, the opening, the
going into... once I set the focus to Gettysburg, I
could go to right places in the book.
High resolution still images are at home in Photo Story 3
projects. It was there that I played with parameters such as using
page curl transitions versus dissolves, and the speed of zooming and
panning of the text.
I made 5 stories the scanned images. All high-lighting
you'll see was done in Paint on the scanned images. I didn't mark up the old
book. Note too that the 5 clips I put on the website to show the stories were
made by re-rendering them to clips using Movie Maker 2...
The first story shows the opening of the book
in 41 seconds it goes from the book's copyright adoption and selection as a
Baltimore school text to the cover, spine, publication date, opening graphics
page, and title page. Here's a link to it:
Next is the Table of Contents... zooming into the chapter
that includes Gettysburg...
From the images of the scanned pages, I cropped the corners of
more than enough pages to show some page numbers... and then made a story
just to kind of flip through them... my idea is to flip thru pages from the
table of contents to the page of interest.
I tried page curls and dissolves... the curls
won out, but only after a few attempts at getting the appropriate durations for
the pages and the transitions... which turned out to be mostly 1
second image durations and transition durations set automatically. Here's a
link to the page turning story, which uses Page Curl, Down Left
The page turning story project has potential
as another project template, but I don't know how much demand there would
be for it.
The set of images that show the cropped corners of the scanned
pages was made by running a cropping batch process in
The table of contents and index pointed to page
Gettysburg... so that page gets its own story.
But pages 460 and 461 had the
paragraphs about Gettysburg... and not very much at that... the bottom
of one page and the top of another...
The minimal amount of words in the book makes
me wonder if the battle gained significantly
in prominence after the book was published in 1865. Although the
subject of Gettysburg in the book was only a couple dozen words,
it was the focal point for the 1954 video documentary... 89 years
When saving clips from Movie Maker with no audio, I
use a custom profile that sets the audio part of the bitrate to zero... to
save some file size.
The maps... the Civil war is something we've
seen lots about in maps. Between the scanned maps from my old
encyclopedia and the new-world visualizations available from World Wind, we
should have plenty of maps and map effects to accent the video.
The 3-D perspective views of World-Wind are neat...
World-Wind, with its 3D real world aerial images, can
provide a clip or two for accent.... here's my first draft of
But there's something nostalgic and old-feeling with the
scanned map from the 1875 encyclopedia... the coloring, and the railroad
tracks being the main feature... and the glimpse back in time it gives.
Both have their place. I don't have a story from the old
map yet... it'll be in the next part.
Extras for interest... visualizations...
graphical colorful animations to blend video editing techniques of
today with the black and white footage of yesterday.
I browsed my library of captured visualization clips from
iTunes and the Windows Media Player, and selected 9 of them that had potential.
I found myself leaning toward reddish colored ones... aligning with
the bloody nature of the war. Some greenish ones seemed to fit also.
As I rounded up these and other source files for the project, I
copied them to project-specific folders.
Here's a link to one of the visualization snippets, with some
audio from the documentary video added to give you a feel for what
happens when you begin blending the two.
Narration... you never hear me narrate
anything... it's not one of my strong suits and a poor narration is
much worse than none. The old documentary had some good material, so we'll get
as much mileage as we can from it.
Audio and Music... there were some small
segments of the video that had some interesting audio and tunes from or
about the Civil War era.
I trimmed the clips of interest, put them on the audio/music
track of the timeline, and rendered individual WMA files from them...
here's a link to one: Lincoln
I found that putting the second DV-AVI clips on the
timeline just to pickup the audio significantly impacted smooth previewing,
but the separate WMA files worked well... now that I think about
it, totally understandable. A computer has enough difficulty playing
one DV-AVI file smoothly, nevermind 2 of them in parallel.
Titling/Text... we have the text from
the scanned book to integrate into the project... anything else needed will
be done in Movie Maker....
Conclusions and Closing
As I go through the source material, I look for things to
assemble at a low level. The stories of PS3 are good examples... the Photo Story
of the page-turning could have been done with a set of images in Movie Maker,
with the page curl transition between each. I went with PhotoStory because of
the potential value as a new project template... and to reduce the
complexity of the final movie by using a single video clip rather than a set of
images and transitions.
Movie Maker is a great integrator of a bunch of parts... but
if the parts can be made individually and pieced together modularly,
then it's easier to do the integration...
For those of you who celebrate Easter, have a wonderful
Have a great week...