Movie Maker 2 and Photo
#55 - May 28, 2005
What Frames Do You
As I did my homework for this issue, I
felt like a clinical lab tester looking through a
microscope at little things moving around, hoping to get a clue or
two about the reasons for the common cold. In our case the audio
and video glitches in our rendered movies.
In earlier tests, I had checked file sizes and
the number of frames. If they were the same, I figured a new clip was
the same as the source file. That helped me find the dropping 27th frame in
a rendered DV-AVI file. But I hadn't picked up on some things I
saw this week, dropping one frame in a clip but cloning another
frame, balancing the file size and maintaining the same number of
total frames in a new clip. For this newsletter I looked deeper, into
the actual pictures in each frame to look at what visually changed from one
frame to the next.
I started with
the thought that MM1 was rock-solid, with none of the issues seen in
MM2. I also thought rendering to a WMV instead of DV-AVI file was a
work-around for some items.
Now I'm not sure. I found a
dozen of what I call 'Quirks' in both MM1 and MM2. Some are with DV-AVI, and others are when
rendering to WMV files.
With limited testing... a
single source file on an old laptop... I don't want to publish my results as
rock-solid conclusions; how about you reading them as interesting points
and don't hold my feet to the fire if you do some checking and get
some different results.
If the details are more than
what you want to read, skim the newsletter and read the dozen Quirks.
A Selected Test Clip and Why I didn't Use
The NTSC standard is 29.97 frames per second. PAL is 25 frames a
second. Movie Maker version 1 lets you see each frame during the editing
sessions. Movie Maker 2 shows you every other frame.
If the normals aren't confusing enough, there
are the abnormals such as the dropped 27th frame of a 2nd generation
type I NTSC DV-AVI file made by Movie Maker 2... or a quickly blinking artifact
in a saved movie. Is it a stray frame? How can you see it
I'd studied the generational losses of both DV-AVI and WMV files
before, but there are lots of reasons to check even closer... all the posts
about audio and video issues are reason enough.
Sometimes checking computerized digital video isn't as easy as
a good old fashioned strip of film with a magnifying glass... I used to be
able to confidently see and count frames in those days... today I'm
needing to count what I sometimes can't see. How do I determine what is there?
Are the tools I'm using to do the checking the problem, or are the issues really
in the clips?
When I wrote the book about
VirtualDub, I used AVISynth and VirtualDub to put frame numbers on a
200 frame clip from Chicago (almost 7 seconds), saving the file as
an 'uncompressed' AVI. Seemed like a good test clip for
this week as it was already numbered.
Note that the first frame of a
video file is not the official first frame... it's frame zero. Frame one is the
second frame, frame 2 the 3rd. The odd numbers are on even frames, and even
numbers on odd... got that?
By number 184 (frame 185)
the horse and carriage had moved this far.
I used MM1 to make an
NTSC DV-AVI from the uncompressed file... and checked each frame to be sure I
wasn't missing any numbers before starting. I used TMPGEnc to make a set of
frames from the AVI file... and went through the 200 pictures, one at a time. I
saw some anomalies:
There were 2 frames with
number 1 and both pictures were identical.
#2 was also an
identical picture to #1, so 3 of the frames had the same
picture (two #1 plus #2).
#20 and 21 were identical, as
were 25 and 26, 33 and 34,
38 and 39, 56 and 57, 61 and 62, 69 and 70, 76 and 77, 92 and 93, 102 and 103, 115 and 116, 122 and 123, 127 and 128, 133 and 134, 137 and 138, 143 and 144, 145 and 146, 148 and 149, 153 and 154, 159 and 160, 164 and 165, 172 and 173, 177 and 178, 183 and 184, 188 and 189, 194 and 195.
didn't know about these until I sat down to start working on this
newsletter. I had been happy before not seeing a missing number, but I
wanted to start this week's study with a better base base. From the
positive side, this clip accents the topic... what frames are we seeing and
when? and why? I had obviously placed frame numbers on a clip that already had
some glitches in it that I hadn't noticed.
We'll get a fresh clip and I'll show you how to number
some notes... before going
With more and more phones sending
videos, and where there are videos there's the need to get them into Movie
Maker. I started a website page about doing the conversions from .3gp to ..avi.
It's Importing Source Files > Video >
... as I don't have a phone that
takes video, I'd appreciate some samples... feel free to email one for my
testing, and don't tell me the phone you used. I'll try to figure it
.... on to the main topic
A Fresh Starting
I videoed my daughter-in-law and 2 grands at their annual dance
recital. They were the freshest clips I had and I had captured them
independent of Movie Maker. They are type II DV-AVI
files using WinDV, with no dropped frames reported
during the captures.
I made a set of frame
images from a clip and looked through them to be sure there was
movement from each frame to the next, and there was. I also rendered a type I
DV-AVI file from the file, using MM2, and checked each frame of a still image
set.... it looked good, as only the expected 27th frame was dropped. The rest
were the same as the frames made directly from the captured file. For this check
I looked at both sets of frame images side by side to verify the pictures in
each pair of frames were identical. This was just to be sure of a good
Number the Frames
Knowing the captured file had all of the frames, it's time to
put numbers on each frame to more easily check which ones are there at any step.
A script file and AviSynth adds the
The .avs script is at the right. The first step is to choose the
source file, one of the recital clips as captured by WinDV. The next step in the
script is to add frame numbers. The last step is to use only the first 100
frames, which should be enough for our reviews.
100 frames means starting at zero and going through
at the left shows what you see in VirtualDub when you open the
..avs script file instead of the AVI file. AviSynth is taking the source
file, overlaying numbers on each frame, trimming the original
file after frame 99, and feeding the results to
In VirtualDub, use Video > Compression > to select
the Panasonic DV codec to keep the new file as a DV-AVI type II.
The final step in VirtualDub is a File > Save as AVI to
get the 100 frame clip with each of the frames numbered...
For quality checks, after seeing what my Chicago clip
ended up looking like, let's look a couple ways :
use MM1 to open the new file and
preview it frame by frame, checking that each frame is there
with a number, and seeing appropriate movement from each frame to
the next... with a pause and close look in the area of the 27th
frame. We're not yet using MM2 to render to a DV-AVI file, so there shouldn't
be any missing frames.
use TMPGEnc to make a set of still pix from
each frame... verify there are 100 files (zero thru 99) and flip through them
in IrfanView to check that the visual movement from frame to
frame is the same as that seen in the MM1 preview.
The file passed the checks perfectly. We have a
good file to start seeing what happens when it's used in MM1 and MM2.
This clip has 100 frames, a nice even number. I made
another with just one more frame, to have a clip with 101 frames, a
nice odd number... with MM2 being an every other frame environment, there may be
differences between what we see with clips that have an odd or
even number of frames.
The Testing and
First to import the clips into Movie Maker, and see
what frames are visible when previewing them in a collection. We'll check
with both MM1 and MM2. 2 apps and 2 clips means 4 checks at each
Previewing Clips in the Collection
is a 30 fps (frames per
second) working environment. We should see each frame, and we do.
Pressing the Forward button under the
monitor takes you to the last frame of the clip, and the
Back button returns you to frame #0. The Next and
Previous Frame buttons step you through the clip one frame at a
MM2 is a 15 fps working environment so
we should see every other frame. Maybe those with even numbers; maybe
For the 100 frame clip, we see those with
numbers 0, 1, 3, 5, 7 and the rest of the odd numbers to 99. Frame 0
is seen even though it's an even number. For this file of 100 frames, we know we
can see the first and last frames, and every other one between. I'm calling the
ability to see the first two frames a Quirk
because I expected to see every other
For the clip with 101 frames, we see the same odd
numbers as we go forward through them. But we get a bonus... after seeing
the picture with #99, we can also go to #100. But going backwards from 100
doesn't show the same pictures we saw on the way up....once it's sitting on an
even number, it goes every other frame backwards using even numbers instead of
odd.... the 50 frames seen on the way back are the other 50 that we
skipped over on the way up. We have the second
Pressing the Back button returns to the frame #0.
The Forward button goes to the end of the clip with 100 frames, but doesn't
go to the end of the 101 frame clip... the slider moves as if it's going there,
but the image sits where it is. The second quirk and first clues that
MM2 might handle clips with an even number of frames differently than those
with an odd number.
- Seeing every other frame in MM2
is normal when working on clips and projects in Movie Maker 2... but
the clip preview shows the first two frames, and the last two if the
clip has an odd number of frames.
Quirk #2 -
If a clip has an odd number of frames, stepping
through it backwards from its end in MM2 shows the in-between
frames that were not seen when stepping through it
- For a clip with an odd number of frames
in MM2, the Forward button doesn't fully function, as it does for a clip with an
even number. The slider moves but the image doesn't
Splitting a Clip in the Collection
The only other thing we can do with a single clip in a
collection is split it. I'll go to where the monitor shows the frame with number
49 on it and press the split button.
MM1 puts the clip with #49 and up in the
second of the two split sub-clips. The frame you're looking at when you
press the split button will be the first frame of the new sub-clip.
What if you want to lop off just the last frame of a clip.
You go to the last frame and press the split button. It won't do it. If you go
to the next to the last frame and try, it'll split off the last 2 frames into a
new sub-clip. So splitting can be done anyplace in the clip, but you can't split
it to lop off just one last frame... it's the same at the beginning of a
clip, you can't split it unless you want the first 2 frames in a new
- MM1 is a single frame working
environment, but you can't split a clip in a collection into two parts, one
of which is a single frame.
MM2 did the same for a mid-clip split. I was
easy on it by picking an odd number to be looking at, so I could split it there
the first time... if you go to the end of the clip with an odd number of frames
and then try to go back to the frame with #49 on it, you may not be able to. I
found that once it shifts to showing the even numbers, you can go back and
forth and not be able to jog it back to seeing the odd numbers... not unless you
move off the clip in the collection and then re-select it.
When trying to lop a single frame off the beginning or end of a
clip with MM2, it acted differently at both ends. Up front it let me clip
off the single frame with #0 on it. Being an every-other frame environment
after that, it let me lop off a frame, but it was a double-frame, not a single
one as was #0.
At the back end of the clips in MM2, I couldn't lop
off one frame, even though it was a double one. I had to go back
two steps and lop of a pair of 2-packs... that's 4 frames minimum off the back
- MM2 acts differently
about splitting clips. It lets you split a single frame from the
beginning of a clip, provided it's frame zero (something MM1
wouldn't do). But at the back end you have to lop off at least 2
Clips on the Timeline
Now move the clips to the timeline
to preview them there.
The image at the right shows the MM1 timeline on the top
and MM2 below it. Each has the clip with 100 frames on it, using the
maximum zoom. See that MM1's every frame working environment
displays the clip about twice the visual length as MM2. Each
notch of the MM1 timeline scale when zoomed in that far is a single frame.
In MM1 with the 100 frame clip on the timeline, the
highest number you can see is #98. In MM2, the highest number seen is
#97. Nudging one more frame up shows the blackness beyond the clip,
although we know there are frames with 98 and 99 on them.
- The timeline view of MM1 doesn't let you
see the last frame in a clip with an even number of frames. In MM2 you can't see
the last two frames.
We don't see the last 1 or 2 frames of a clip
with 100... how about the clip with 101 frames? MM1 lets
you see each frame, right up to the last one with #100.
MM2 is more consistent than it is when the clip is in the
collection. In the timeline, you see just the odd numbers when jogging along
in either direction... but the highest number seen is 97... we're not
seeing 98, 99 or 100... the last 3 frames. It jumps to the blackness beyond the
clip when you move one frame up from 97.
- If the number of frames in a clip is
odd, there are 3 more frames beyond the last one seen in
Splitting a Clip on the Timeline
First splitting the 100 frame clip as we did in the collection,
at the frame with #49 on it. In MM1 we can go one frame at a time up
to and beyond the split point, but the last frame of the original end
of the clip still can't be seen. The same behavior is seen in MM2, with the last
2 frames not seen.
When splitting the 101 frame clip at#49.
MM1 acts the same way it did before. MM2 has
the same behavior... letting you see frames on either side of the split point
but still not the last 3 frames of the original clip ending.
How about lopping off the beginning and ending
MM1 wouldn't let me split it after the first frame. I
needed at least 2. And at the end of the clip, I couldn't split it unless
there were 2 frames of the even numbered clip and 3 of the odd
Another thing about MM1 was, after splitting the minimum
number of frames at the start of the clip, the timeline view
looked as if it had 3 frames in the sub-clip but acted as if there
were two. I rendered it to a movie, brought it back in, and it
was the 2 frames, not 3... the picture at the left shows the
pre-rendered clip followed by the clip rendered from it... count the notches in
the timeline and see 3 versus 2, when the clips are both 2 frames.
MM2 let me split a clip after the first pair of
- If you lop off the minimal number
of frames at the beginning of a clip in MM1, it looks like there
are 3 frames, but it's really 2.
Going to the back end of the clips to lop off just one frame or
pair of them. MM1 needed 2 as a minimum, and after the splitting the small
piece looked like one frame, but for the 100 frame clip, it was really 2,
similar to what we saw at the beginning. For the 101 frame clip, what looked
like 1 was really one; MM1 dropped the last one during the rendering... guess it
doesn't like the last odd numbered frame.
- If you split a clip with an odd number of
frames at its end in MM1 with the minimum number of frames, the
rendering to a new DV-AVI will drop the final odd numbered
With MM2 I could lop off the last 3 frames of the clip with
the even number of frames, and the last 4 with the odd number. Rendering
the little clips didn't result in the last frame being dropped as it was in
First generation rendering of the
I expected MM1 to act perfectly and be the
cross check on MM2. But in this step, things got interesting. The total frame
counts of the rendered movies were the same as the source files, but it
made two frames with number 1 on them and the pictures were identical. To keep
the frame count the same, the last frame of each was dropped... the frames with
#99 in the first and #100 in the second were gone.
Rendering to WMV files had the same results...
doubled #1 and dropped the last frame.
- When rendering from the first generation
DV-AVI files to either DV-AVI or WMV files, MM1 made two identical frames with
#1 on it and dropped the last frame.
I expected MM2 to drop the frame with #26 on
it (the 27th frame). It acted as expected and did it, but didn't drop
the last frame. Although it did what I expected, I have to continue calling the
dropping frame a quirk.
Rendering to WMV files was different, but showed something new.
The 27th frame isn't dropped.... but frame #0 is doubled and the last frame is
dropped. Because it does something different with WMV files than with DV-AVI,
I'll give it two quirks.
- When rendering a new DV-AVI file using
MM2, from a DV-AVI source file, the 27th frame of the first clip is
- When rendering a WMV file from a DV-AVI,
MM2 doubles the #0 frame (the first frame) and drops the last
These changes in the recital clips are starting to explain how
the Chicago horse clip in the opening paragraphs got to where it was.
Second generation rendering of the
I did a second generation.... DV-AVI to DV-AVI and WMV to WMV,
to see if the patterns of duplicating and dropping frames continued. They
For the 2nd generation DV-AVI, MM1 added another #1 and dropped
the last frame... so it was up to three frames with #1. The WMV file stayed
the same, showing no frame changes with the next generation.
MM2 also continued its patterns... the 2nd generation DV-AVI
file dropped what was now the 27th frame, so frames with #26 and 27 were no
longer there. The rest of the frames remained.
The 2nd generation WMV file rendered by MM2 showed two frames
with #0, #2 was dropped, and there were two with #3. The last frames were
#95 and #96, down from the originals of #99 and #100. The recital clip is
beginning to turn into the horse clip I didn't want to start with.
Conclusions and Closing
Even with its Quirks, I'm still happy with the
results I get with Movie Maker... so maybe accepting it for what it is, and
looking at video editing more from the macro level than the micro is best when
you're making movies. It's like enjoying life without thinking of all the little
critters on your skin or in the air that might be harmful... let the clinical
lab technicians study them.... and developed the cures and
I didn't study what was happening to the audio
associated with the visual. My previous study of that had shown that segments of
the audio waves get similarly dropped.
Footnote: When splitting the
101 frame clip at#49 in MM1, I saw another
example of what I call the 'short term memory effect'.
Immediately after splitting the clip, before selecting another clip on the
timeline, I could jog over to and see the last frame. But
select another clip and then go back... you can't see it anymore. I've see
this in too many other applications to call it a Movie Maker quirk, but I
wanted to note it. Sometimes things work once, but not
Have a great holiday weekend...