Movie Maker 2 and Photo
#58 - June 18, 2005
Civil War Project - Making
the Final Movie
Newsletter #42 (Feb
26) started a little video project about the Civil War. Rounding
up source material included such things as scanning an old history book
and map, taking screen shots from the NASA World Wind
software, making a photo story of an animated map route, and
converting an MPEG-2 documentary video downloaded from the online
Prelinger Archives. The issue ended with some source material, but no
theme to focus on. The 4 year war seemed too large in
Newsletter #46 (March 26) studied the material and narrowed the
focus to Gettysburg. In it, we made some photo stories from the scanned
map, World Wind images, and the old history book. We also brought in some
visualization snippets from iTunes and WMP, and started to think
Newsletter #51 (April 30) started to integrate the
collected material toward the final video. To add some special
effects, camcorder footage of a Chicago fireworks display was captured...
and run through VirtualDub. The newsletter issue ended with a 2
minute snippet of the battle scene, one of the source files for the final
movie of this issue.
In this issue we'll finish this mini-series, bringing
in a music piece and editing the inputs collected in the previous
issues into a little movie.
The movie is finished and on neptune.
It's 9:18 in duration, a 54 MB file with a total bitrate of 778
kbps... rendered with the Video for LAN (768 kbps) profile choice, one of
the standard ones in MM2.
some notes... before going
The first of the library training
sessions was held Monday. The classroom had
13 computers, all with version 1 of Movie
Maker; they decided to upgrade them to SP2 before the session
began. There were no upgrade issues, and the overhead projection
system worked great... for video. The system didn't have audio unless it came
from a DVD player or VCR... but the main switch is wired to let
video come from a computer, but not audio... the connection to the
computer is a standard monitor cable. I knew that from the prep session
and had a set of speakers with me, which worked
Only one of the three who had registered showed up,
so it was a small class... but a good one. The regular
monthly sessions are off and running.
I don't know if it was just coincidental after last
week's issue about vlogging, blogging and podcasting... I was asked by
Brian Alves, the Executive Producer of the www.dvshow.com to do a
10 to 15 minute interview Saturday for a podcast, and a short
regular weekly segment beyond that (at least for a trial period).
.... on to
the main topic
Custom Profile Emerges)...
The distribution goal for this project is
easy... it's an online video that assumes you have a broadband
connection. One of the good things about focusing on a Movie Maker 2 audience is
that I know you are running Windows XP... or you wouldn't be using MM2.
As mentioned last week, Google's new service isn't ready for
video submittals, so my choices are uploading it to neptune or my
website... I opted for neptune, where I've been putting my better
material lately. Their server is for hosting images and video. My
son's server where my website is located mostly does database
DV-AVI or High Quality WMV for intermediate
rendering steps? Let's try WMV for a change.
The original source video clips for this project were DV-AVI
files... although the initial goal was for an online
video, I still like to do the
intermediate renderings using DV-AVI. If I do a dozen
generations of renderings as I add PIP or other special effects, I only want the
quality hit to be in the last one, where I can choose how much of a hit to
But having studied generational
and other issues with DV-AVI files, I'd been wanting to experiment with
making higher quality than usual WMV files, and using those in project steps in
place of DV-AVI and it's generational losses and audio
issues... this project was a good chance to do it.
I made a custom profile with comparable
settings to a high quality MPEG-2 file for a DVD, using 8000
kbps as the video bitrate. With it I re-rendered the clips and
stories already made as DV-AVI files for issues 42, 46, and
51... the starting point for this issue.
Here are the properties of one of the
new files made with the profile, using MM2 to check. I've
circled a few key figures.
The bitrate is about 4 times the highest of the
canned settings for Movie Maker... the file sizes are large, about 1/4 of
DV-AVI, and rendering times are significant, more so than to DV-AVI...
press the button and walk away for a while. Those are costs
associated with higher quality.
My laptop has been laboring lately with DV-AVI
source files... mostly in the smoothness of preview playing... these WMV
source files resolved most of it. And they looked great.
I made the profile to render 640x480 wmv
files when computer-based viewing is the goal.
I published some info about the new
profile and received a suggestion to use the video WMV8
codec with a setting of QVBR100 instead. It would render
faster and be almost lossless... I made another profile and did some
testing, comparing DV-AVI renderings to the WMV8 and WMV9 profiles. The
rendering times and file sizes for the final project, using the 3 options, were:
DV-AVI - 24 minutes to a file size of 2.01
WMV9 profile - 46 minutes to a file size of
WMV8 QVBR100 profile - 17 minutes to a file
size of 246 MB
The WMV8 profile easily won the speed and size
round... and all 3 looked equally good with a quick check.
To look closer at visual quality
differences, I went through 9 generations of re-renderings, took some
snapshots in MM2, and compared them for visual differences.
After many re-renderings, all the files looked
pretty good. The first difference to catch me eye was the blue lines
evolving to black one with a blue highlighting under it in the WMV9 files.
The DV-AVI held up well with the well known dropping of the 27th frame, causing
the file size to shrink a tad with each generation. The WMV8 rendering help up
just about as well, although it's file size went down by about 40% from
generation 1 to generation 9 ... the file sizes for the WMV9 renderings
stayed pretty constant... it was just those blue lines changing to
The picture below shows three pairs
of images, each pair from frames of the 1st and 9th generations of
renderings. The frames were close in position but not exactly the
the left pair are segments
of DV-AVI files... the 9th generation looks the same as the
the middle pair are from the files made with
the WMV8 codec... the paper color seems to have changed a
the pair at the right are from WMV9
encodings... not only has the paper color changed, but a very noticeable
change has occurred to the blue lines - they tuned black with the blueness
shifting to accent/highlight the line.
The starting point for all 3 pairs was the
same project and source files. I took the
snapshots with MM2 from the clips in the collection. The segments
are cropped from the full frames but shown full-size.
In theory, DV-AVI is only re-rendered
where something changes, so there shouldn't be any generational changes...
but a WMV is re-rendered each time, so successive saves should
result in some visual loss.
Give this round
to DV-AVI, followed by the WMV8 codec.
You may or may not be
surprised to see how well both the WMV8 and 9 codecs hold up through 9
generations of renderings. Don't let the thought of a few generations of
renderings ahead of you in a project deter you from using a WMV profile as an
alternative to DV-AVI.
I used the WMV9 profile for
this project, which only had to go through 2 generations of renderings. One
generation to make the set of source files to work better on my laptop, and
the 2nd generation the final output which went to neptune.
I had started the final assembly on my laptop, with the source
files being DV-AVI on its hard drive... for my
evening sessions at Barnes & Noble. But the lack of smooth
previewing got me to moving the source files to my external USB2 drive... which
I only use at home.
The new WMV files let me get back to the laptop drive for a
while, until project complexity started slowing things down again. Again moving
the new WMV files to the external drive helped a lot, but I was still limited to
On my desk next to my laptop at home is a 3 GHz desktop... one
that I move the external drive back and forth between the laptop and it.... I
ended up plugging it into that computer as I got into the home-stretch doing the
This might sound like
more effort than it was.... it was Monday morning when I re-rendered the
source files to the higher quality WMV files, late Monday when I started
editing the final project, and mid-day Wednesday when it was done and being
uploaded to neptune. A part time effort over a day and a half.
Most of the time consuming prep work was done
for the earlier newsletters. It was simply a matter of assembling the
well built parts and doing the overall fine tuning. I didn't rebuild any of
the pieces this week. It was time to take things that worked and use some
creativity in putting them together. I did bring in a new music
Audio/music often sets the project bounds. The
section of the William Tell Overture was just about the right duration (I mean
the total of the 4 sub-clips I split the music into). Beyond opening the video,
it added some continuity to a couple later book stories, and then again for
the closing credits section... tying the ending to the opening.
Video track - 3 visualization
clips, 10 PS3 stories, 5 video snippets, and a couple still
Transitions - just a
smattering of 19 fades by overlapping the video clips... nothing special
except 5 or 6 of them were unusually long... as much as a 36 second
Audio steam of the video -
some of the stories had no audio and some clips with audio were
muted so the stronger audio of the Audio/Music track could be heard without
excessive fading in or out.
Audio/Music - the William Tell
Overture was a late add-in to the project... I'd been listening to many of the
player piano midi files over the past few weeks and selected one that would
build suspense throughout... for those who know the rest of the piece
and have an association with it and an old TV show, I ended it at the point
the Lone Ranger would be riding in.
I split it a few
times and moved the pieces to align with the clips that
had no audio.
The closer view of part of the timeline in the
image below shows the use of one particular audio clip. The audio was
on the video clip named G2 - Gettysburg - Aerial View. The fade transitions of
the clip for visual effects resulted in the audio also fading in and out with
the adjacent clips... I wanted the video to fade but not the audio. So I copied
the video clip a second time, to the Audio/Music track. By doing that the audio
segment played at full level throughout while the video faded.
Title Overlay - 4 clips...
nothing special. I've sort of adopted the Verdana font and use it in my website,
newsletters... and even videos. I'll use something else when there's good
reason, otherwise Verdana is my overall font consistency for style
The project is finished... with my laptop off
to the repair shop so long, it took a while to get around to finishing it, and I
didn't expect it to work out as well as it did.
After viewing it a couple times, I
put it on neptune Wednesday night and posted the link a few places on
Thursday. One of the first to respond gave me some hugs, and she was from South
Carolina, the state that started the war...
Comments have been extremely positive. One asked
how I got the panning of a book page to change directions; when I told him, he
said he'd have to give PS3 another try. What can look so subtle to many can be
interesting or even exciting to others.
The project used one of the downloaded player piano
midi files, my first use of one. If I use one a week, I'll get through them
all in 50 years.... a really great resource.
Have a great holiday weekend...