PapaJohn Productions

Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story
Newsletter #62 - July 16, 2005

Photo Story 3 - Saving Projects and Stories

Photo Story 3 is one of those software apps that strives to a achieve an elegant clean simple and easy to use interface... and for the most part it has done so.
But many users still have questions, and there are places where you might be confused. One of them is the perennial issue about the differences between a project file and a rendered story.
Movie Maker and Photo Story are two of many software apps that have project files separate from rendered outputs... Adobe PhotoShop and Premiere are others. We get so used to working with graphics and video apps that 'render' the finished products from the working project environment that we sometimes don't understand why newbies don't understand the simple concept of 'saving'... '...saving what?...'
Why don't they understand that, to save a finished story, you don't look for a button or menu choice that  says 'Save the Story' or 'Render the Story'... somehow you're supposed to know that the rendering will be done when you use the button marked 'Next >' on one of the working windows... sometimes when you press the button, it'll render the story, but at other times it won't.
I used my usual approach in this newsletter... but supplemented it with my first narrated video... a short one, but a beginning.
... before that, here are a few notes...

I added a new logo and link to the main page of my website... the DV Show... the site/radio show that I'm working with for regular podcasts about Movie Maker 2. Audience reaction has been positive because of the introduction of software available and used by the masses, when their focus had previously been on the higher priced more niche audience software.
Brian, the producer, is great to work with. The two sessions we've done so far gave me the inspiration for the narrated video for this newsletter. Brian has a professional radio host voice... I'm practicing.
It's summertime and I'm back at our usual beach taking video footage of sunsets and seagulls... and reading books about video. 
Speaking of video software and books, I'm half way through my 30 day trial period with Adobe's Premiere Elements. Jan Ozer has a great Visual Quick Guide Series book on it... the software, as all of the Adobe software I've used (Photoshop, Premiere, PDF authoring), has more of a learning curve than Movie Maker, but works well. My wife Bernadette does a lot of Photoshop and Painter work... Photoshop is rock solid, while Painter can just evaporate without warning, at most anytime... no error messages to read and no way to recover your work since the last save. The stability of Adobe products is appreciated when you experience things like that.
When Movie Maker users are ready to move up to other software, they ask what they should go to... Premiere Elements seems like a good choice.
.... on to the main topic

Photo Story Projects and Stories
Opening Needs a Project
Begin a Story - or Change a Story Project
You can begin a new story or open an existing project...
You need nothing but some source files waiting in the wings to begin a new one, but to edit an existing one you need a previously saved project... a .wp3 file. 

Save Project Button
Save the New or Changed Story Project at Any Time
At any point in the process... PS3 gives you almost too many opportunities to save your project file... there's a clearly labeled 'Save Project...' button on every main window.
When you start a new story, the button is grayed out and non-functional.
All it takes to make it active is to import your first picture. At that point and anytime after it, you not only have lots of chances to save or resave a project.... Photo Story 3 will try it's best to make you save the latest changed project.... short of doing it for you.
Warnings to Save Your Project 
If you haven't opted to use the Save Project.... button on any of the main pages as you build or change your story, you can't deliberately or accidentally close down Photo Story or start another story  without seeing this warning.
Warning to Save Project
The software won't automatically save it for you... if you say "No", it'll let you close down without saving the new or changed project file. A project file contains a full set of all your source pictures and music, so it can be a pretty large commitment of hard drive space to save the project. Think twice before you do, but then do it.

Saving or Rendering Your New or Changed Story
Photo Story reminds me a bit of Monopoly... where, every time you pass 'Go' you automatically collect $200.
In Photo Story, every time you pass the 'Save your story' page, you automatically get a new story. It's the only time you can get it. And, as I mentioned in the introduction, the button you press to save or render the story doesn't say 'Save' or 'Render'... it says 'Next >'. The Save your story page doesn't have a save your story button or menu choice.
There's one difference with Monopoly... you always get it in the game. In PS3, if you've already rendered a copy of the story and haven't changed a thing in it or the saving choices on this page, then it'll go to the next page without saving or rendering again.
Save Your Story
The change to the story could be as minor as fixing a typo in one word of a title... you'll automatically be set to render the new story when you press the Next > button.

A Possible Confusion Point
There are 2 working windows with special features that could cause confusion: the picture editing window for special effects, and the motion settings window shown below are just slightly smaller than the main PS3 working windows... and have a Save button on them.
Saving Motion Settings
This is to save the picture or motion/transition changes you make in the window, not to save or re-save the project file or the story. 

A Little Narrated Video...
With the first two radio/podcast sessions under my belt, I thought I'd try narrating a captured video session to illustrate the points covered in this newsletter.
I found the radio sessions easier, probably because the main commentator was with me in a two way dialogue... this narrating a video thing has you all alone talking to your computer. Here's the link...
it's a 4-1/3 minute video on the neptune hosting service... Newsletter #62 Narrated Video

Conclusions and Closing
I used the Windows Media Encoder to capture the Photo Story 3 video, and imported it into Movie Maker to add narration... with another pass to add background music.
I'm starting to think of other places where similar narrated videos might be much better than text and pictures, or a great supplement to it... like a Picture-in-Picture tutorial, the most looked at newsletters... or using xml files to add a logo or overlying picture. Maybe using a utility like TMPGEnc.
Let me know what you think about the approach and any suggested topics.

Have a great weekend...