PapaJohn Productions

Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story
Newsletter #67 - August 27, 2005


Create Your Story's Audio Track in Movie Maker
JoustingOne of the goals of my website is to use the synergy between Photo Story and Movie Maker to do amazing things, doing more with both than you can do with either one by itself. This newsletter is an example of that... using a 3-step process to create the audio track of a story:
1 - Create the visual track for a story in Photo Story 3
2 - Take the visual into Movie Maker and create the audio track for it
3 - Back in Photo Story 3, render the visual and audio together into the final story
I'll use camcorder footage and camera pictures from the  medieval festival we went to in the spring. Bernadette was taking pictures with our 5 megapixel camera, and I was taking video, as usual. I'll use the high quality pictures to make the video track, and the audio from the camcorder footage.
Here's the link to the sample story I made for this newsletter. It plays for almost 5 minutes and has a number of different topical segments... each marked by a lead-in title picture and with different and appropriate audio. The audio, being mixed in Movie Maker, flows across the transitions between scenes in a way that you can't achieve in Photo Story 3.
With just a couple exceptions I used the default motion settings of Photo Story 3. I didn't use any special transitions, and didn't take great care to fix the audio issues such as wind noise. It's more of a rough draft than a polished video, simply to illustrate the subject of this newsletter.
... before getting into the tutorial, here are a few notes...

The president of neptune sent a positive note about last week's newsletter about neptune and mydeo... no comment yet from mydeo.
I bought a polarizing filter for my camcorder this week... on a trip to Chicago last weekend, we passed by the Tribune building, where the WGN radio was being broadcast live from the studio room at street level. With it being daytime, the reflections of the street scenes in the windows prevented me from capturing video through the window. The polarizing filter should eliminate such reflections.
PapaJohnThe MVP Summit meeting at Microsoft is about a month away. One of the things the MVPs in the digital media area are doing this time is introducing ourselves at the meetings with a Photo Story instead of the usual standing up and saying something. We're going to practice what we preach. Here's a link to my intro story... it's another one made by doing the visual in Photo Story 3 and the audio in Movie Maker. For this one, I made the audio first and then fit the visual to it. The goal was a 30 second story... note that it's a widescreen story, using the custom widescreen profile on my website.
My Toshiba laptop is in the CompUSA repair center in Texas for the 4th time in less than a year... they tell me it needs a new TV Tuner and DVD/CD combo... both were replaced 3 months ago and the TV Tuner didn't work since I got the computer back from it's last visit there. I'm about ready to write a long letter about my ongoing issues with CompUSA's support.
.... on to the main topic

create the video track in Photo Story 3
I first sorted the pictures into sub-folders with topical themes... bawdiness, children, classes of people, dining, fashion, fighting, horses, housing, love, music, religion, and singing... moving each picture into the appropriate topical sub-folder.
Then I looked though each group to select interesting ones. I didn't resize any, as Photo Story 3 does such a great job with 5 megapixel pictures.
For the topic of religion, there was only one picture of the nun, so I took a snapshot in Movie Maker to get a second one... you can tell which one it is in the story... the only low quality one with lots of pixilation. A snapshot from a DV-AVI file is 1/3 of a megapixel, 15 times fewer pixels than pictures from our digicam.
For a background image for text overlays I went to Paint, set the canvas size to 640x480 pixels, painted it red, and placed a cropped section from one of the pictures on it... the text will be added in Photo Story. I used the same picture for the opening title and between each topical segment of the story... with different text on each. 
I used my file manager to drag and drop the pictures into the story in topical groups.
Video Story
I didn't do much in the way of editing the visual track of the story. The purpose was to spend any extra time on editing the audio track in Movie Maker.
At this point, I saved the project, and rendered a low quality story WMV file. The project file let me go back for more editing after the audio track was ready. The rendered story was an aid to working on the audio in Movie Maker.

create the audio track in Movie Maker
To prepare for the audio project in Movie Maker, I captured footage of the event from my camcorder tape, imported it into Movie Maker as a single clip, put it on the audio/music track of the timeline, and saved it to a high quality audio WMA file. That was to get an audio-only file. I could have gotten a WAV file instead by ripping it from the file using TMPGEnc... either one - WMA or WAV - works well.
I imported the audio file and split it into segments in the collection. From there it was a matter of dragging the clips to the timeline and working them there so they worked well with the visual... 
Here's what the timeline looked like when I finished the arrangement... with a few notes about it:
Audio Track
... Audio Ends Lasta few things about the Movie Maker project:
  • The audio needs to finish a bit after the video or Photo Story 3 won't play the sound during the last picture in the film strip. We had learned that in an earlier newsletter.
The picture at the right shows the timeline zoomed all the way in to better see where the tracks end. The audio (the track with the wave patterns) continues beyond the video, just a bit... less than a second... use a quiet or muted clip there if you don't want to hear audio after the video finishes... but have some extra frames of audio.
  • I split the video track into the 6 topical segments on the timeline... as a job aid to more easily see the topical break points during the audio editing. I didn't need to do it. Be careful not to instinctively add any transitions that can change the overall duration of the story. Any transitions need to be done in Photo Story.
  • Again for some visual feedback during editing, I added titles... one for each segment. They aren't needed when looking at the zoomed out view above, but when fully zoomed into the timeline and in the middle of a segment, the title with the name of the segment is handy as a reference point.
When the audio editing is finished and ready to render... strip away the video and text overlay tracks so the rendering will be to an audio-only WMA file.
To strip the tracks, my usual is to select a clip on the video track, use the Control-A keys to expand the selection to include all of the clips on that track... and press the Delete key. Do it again on the title overlay track, and you're left with only the audio/music, arranged and positioned as you want it.
Here's the timeline just before rendering a high quality WMA audio file for the story.
 Audio Ready to Render
With the new WMA audio file, we're ready to take it to the story project.

combine the video and audio in Photo Story 3 
Reopen the Photo Story 3 project. It already has the video track, so all you need to do is go to the Add Background Music window and select the WMA audio file (Select Music...), with the first picture of the film strip selected so the audio plays throughout the story.
We never had to do any calculations about the story's duration... by saving the story and using it in Movie Maker, we only needed to check that the last audio clip ends a little past the end of the video clip. We didn't have to know how long the overall story plays.
You're ready to render the final story to a high quality file for viewing and distribution... for online viewing I picked a 640x480 size.
Add Audio to Story

Conclusions and Closing
Almost all of the Photo Stories I see have background music... and some have a little narration. I haven't seen any with an audio track that uses various sources such as camcorder tapes. Even if you want music from your CDs, mixing it with some personal audio clips would add a lot to a story. 
In addition to the audio that is automatically recorded with the visual scenes, I often use the camcorder simply as an audio recorder... sometimes not even removing the lens cap. I collect audio clips as I do video.
It's much easier to find some good audio from my library of camcorder tapes than it is to search the internet for royalty free files... and the audio is much more personal.

Have a great week...