Movie Maker 2 and Photo
June 4, 2005
Renaissance Handfasting Ceremony
... plus a Sword
By Sunday or Monday I like to firm up the
topic of the week... and I found myself once again facing a planned
newsletter that wasn't going to work without my Toshiba
laptop, which is still out for repairs... I needed something else.
We went to a Mayfaire Renaissance festival on
Sunday, and I took footage of singing, dancing, sword fights, jousting, a
tea with the queen, and what turned out to be real rather than
make-believe... handfasting ceremony.
Handfasting was a common-law engagement (marriage for some)
ceremony in the middle ages. About half way through it someone told me the video
guy's camcorder or tape had broken and the couple would have no footage.
Would I let them have a copy of whatever I had? Sure.
I put the 30-1/2 minutes of unedited footage on a website in a
lower quality file (118 MB WMV) and another higher quality one (345 MB WMV) on a
CD... with 17 still pix from our 5 megapixel camera. In the first part of
the tutorial section, I'll give you an overview of perhaps my quickest and
easiest video project to date. An easy project, but all of the key steps of a
large one are still applicable...
On the night of the
festival there was a post
by C:\ about a new free app that turns swords into light sabers...
and I had just taken video of sword fights and jousts. There seems to be lots of
interest in light sabers and the latest Star Wars movie is only adding
I downloaded LSMaker and
checked it out to see if I could get from camcorder footage, through
LSMaker to turn a sword into a light saber, and into Movie
Maker... using my minimalist Dell laptop with its 144 MB of RAM and less
than a GB of elbow room on its hard drive.
The MM2 snapshots are from my finished test clip (3 seconds
Setting up and using LSMaker is the
second part of the tutorial section. The app doesn't a good help file
at this time. I'm not at all proficient in using it (and probably won't use it
enough to become skilled). I got through it just enough to help you get
some notes... before going
I started adding links from
website pages to issued newsletters... tying together all of the
issued material. I had previously gone through the Zero to Hero and Do Amazing
Things books to add notes at the tops of the website
As the amount of material expands,
it's important to make it as easy as possible to integrate it all in a virtual
way. These new links are an important step toward that
.... on to the main topic
into details, here's how I handled the Sunday through Wednesday project,
from the impromptu request for a copy of the footage through giving a
copy of a CD to the couple. I'll stress a couple key
When I started videoing the activities, I thought it was a mock
ceremony for the festival...
when some of
them started showing lots of emotion I figured it was a real
ceremony... with that realization my video-taking took a notch
toward more thorough coverage. Not better video taking, as I always do
my best when shooting footage... just more rather than
less footage. You can see how unique the setting was.
This was the second event I used my new monopod at...
I recommend one, a light-weight type with a full swiveling top. Before the
monopod I'd only used a tripod.
the Initial Request
Mid-way through the ceremony a nun (a festival costume, not
a real one) came up to me and said the video-guy's camcorder or tape broke so
the couple would have no video unless I was willing to share a copy of
my footage. How could I say no to a nun who asked so nicely and gave
me $5 to cover mailing and the cost of a tape or disc? From that point
I was committed to at least something, but I didn't know exactly what. At
that point, not only was the ceremony real... I had
become the official videographer.
I was using my Sony TRV80 mini-DV camcorder in standard 4:3
mode. It had a wide-angle lens on it, something I've left on through all my
video taking in recent months.
the Contract and
After the ceremony I met the couple (Chris and Ash) for the first
time. It turned out they live only a few miles from us.
Even the smallest and most informal project needs a good
understanding about what is needed, what is expected, and what is promised.
This one is no exception. We quickly explored the important things... they have
a broadband connection to the internet. He uses a Windows-based computer, and
she an Apple. They are both artists, very computer literate, and very much
into Renaissance related items at work and beyond. She is
the webmaster of Unicorns
, and makes jewelry and other artwork. The Sage
Staff section of the site shows Chris' work. They were easy to relate
Computer-based viewing is the easiest to deliver content to...
no need to make a DVD. Give them a good WMV file on the internet and
with their broadband connection, they can watch it on either computer. Beyond
that, a higher quality copy on a CD would be a bonus. They didn't own a digital
camcorder, so that ruled out dubbing a full-quality digital copy of the
In exchange, I asked for permission to use the footage
for this newsletter, sharing the link to the online footage, and my
future use of the material. They were nothing but supportive and appreciate
any exposure the festival gets. This particular event is only a couple
years old and they are committed to helping it grow.
Capturing the Footage
I used the WinDV utility and a firewire connection to get the
footage to a computer. The utility does a good job and gives feedback
about any dropped frames (there were none). I opted for type II DV-AVI
which is more usable in other software than Movie Maker, such as
VirtualDub and the new Light Saber Maker app.
I added a few overlying text clips for the date
and occasion... but that was it for editing. I didn't drop or trim any
clips. I even included a couple extra... a hawk flying overhead during the
ceremony and a far shot of a portion of the overall festival.
The online version is a 320x240 sized WMV
file with a bitrate of just over 500 Kbps, one that works fine
for a broadband connection. It's 118 MB in size with a duration of
30-1/2 minutes, but startup after clicking the link is
usually quick... just needs enough in the buffer to start, and a broadband
connection should fill the buffer quickly. Here's the link - remember that
it's totally unedited footage:
Their downloading the file completed the informal contract
for a copy of the footage... I'll leave it there for a couple weeks to
support readers of this newsletter.
And for Chris and Ash, I rendered another higher
quality version and copied it to a data CD.
For the CD I used a profile of 640x480, 1.5 Mbps...
the file size is 345 MB. I included 17 still pictures that Bernadette
had taken (5 megapixel size). From my file browser it was simply a matter
of selecting the pack of files and using SendTo > DirectCD Drive (D) to
burn the disc. I burned 2 copies, one for them and another for my
I recently purchased an Epson Stylus Photo R200 printer (about
$100) to print directly on discs... I avoid stick-on labels
and printing on a disc is a top-notch alternative to scribbling with a
Sharpie marker. This was another perfect opportunity to test it.
The Epson disc printing software that came with the printer
is great. I selected a background color (opting for a gradient pattern), cropped
4 sections from still pictures, and added the date to the disc... It looks
great on Verbatim Inkjet Printable CD-R discs, the ones with more of a
translucent silvery upper finish, not those with a bright white
opaque surface... the quality of the printing on the bright white surfaced
ones isn't as good. This was my first use of the translucent discs and I'll
be staying with them.
The disc itself looks much better than the scanned picture from
it in the introduction above. A bow-tie shaped shading on the
scanned picture cuts across the couple at the left and their bound
hands at the right... it's not on the disc itself, more a result of the way
the lighting is reflected during the scanning.
from Sword to Light
Turning to another corner of the festival, where some sword
fights were taking place. Let's get that specialty software app and go through
the installation and initial use.
Download, Install, Open... and Start a New
unzip the contents of the 524KB lsmaker.zip file to any folder you choose.
There isn't an installation process.
Open the app (LSMaker.exe)... and as is often the
case, the main window has you wondering what to do first.
Start by opening a new project. From the main menu
use File > New and two windows will
automatically open, the one on top inviting you to pick the color of the light
I picked blue for the saber, followed by green (maybe it was
red, I don't remember) for the blade.
Select Your Video File
Then you'll be asked which file to use. This is where you point it
to the DV-AVI file from the camcorder... WinDV had given each of the clips long
names with dates, times, numbers, etc. I copied one to a working folder for this
project and gave it an easier name Swords.avi
The type II captured by WinDV opened fine. See in the list
at the left that LSMaker took the single AVI file listed each of
the frames in it as if they were individual files.
LSMaker isn't smart enough to know which part of the image is
the sword, or the starting and and ending points of the blade. You'll
be pointing to them in each of the frames. That's one reason I picked a 3
second clip with about 90 frames, and not a 5 minute fight scene with
3 seconds can sometimes be a long time, long enough for my
guy to lose the battle...even after I armed him with a light saber. It didn't
change the result.
After saying OK to the file, it returns to the main working
window, this time with your video file in it with the first frame
You can skip around the frames, but I
tend to do it from the beginning. Here's my first frame, clearly showing
Look at the shape of the cursor in the
image at the right... when it's that shape (and it should be automatically)
you're ready to tell the app where the sword or saber begins and
A left mouse click defines one end and
a right mouse click the other. The click places the little white or black square
on the image. If it's not where you want it, click again in the right
After doing each frame, I tended to
drag the timeline progress indicator a notch to the right to go to the next
frame, define the two points there, and keep going that way... that's enough to
get you as far as I got. I didn't give the ogre a light saber too, nor did I do
the flashes at the contact points. If you're serious about using the software,
I'm sure you can figure it out from here.
Save Your Project and Export
the New Clip
Use the main menu to save your project and export the working
project to a new AVI clip.
Import the original and new clips into Movie Maker. See
that the new clip on the video track of the timeline doesn't
have audio... the audio is stripped by going through LSMaker.
I added the original clip to the Audio/Music track to
pick up the sounds of the swords clashing. See from the picture that the
durations aligned well.
There were no issues when rendering to a new DV-AVI clip
with audio. On playback, the sounds of the swords were in sync with the
Conclusions and Closing
Chris and Ash picked up their copy of the
CD, and invited us to the follow-up ceremony at the next annual festival... a
real Renaissance wedding.
The Light Saber software is in beta stage... it
acted a little quirky as I moved from frame to frame to define the points... but
never crashed or lost any info. It acted about how I'd
expect an initial beta version to. But beta
software can hit a buggy point at any time. I don't recommend
putting significant effort into a project... just play with
it and make small clips. It's off to a good
Have a great holiday weekend...