This weekend is the Windows Brand Gallery
in San Francisco
... with my scheduled presentations at 1,
3 and 5 pm on the Saturday and Sunday, and informal chats between. Stop by
if you're in the area.
Here's a link to
a brief Photo Story that shows the Gallery
at 1830 Polk Street, the corner of Polk and Jackson.
Last week I
mentioned differences in how Movie Maker and the Windows Media Player
display standard and widescreen movies and stories versus how Sonic's
MyDVD handles them. MM2 and WMP take their cue from a tag in the
file, but MyDVD uses the pixel dimensions. It's not a bug... just
a difference in how they work.
This week I have another
note about MyDVD, a positive one. Having run into major problems with
MyDVD in May, I had lost confidence in it and stopped recommending it to others.
new HP laptop came with the DVD plug-in for Movie Maker 2, a Sonic plug-in.
And it came with MyDVD Plus v6.1.0, starter DVD software that
doesn't have such features as the 'Fit-to-DVD' option, or the
ability to edit an existing Read-Write (R-W) disc.
I put them through some
testing and didn't run into any issues, so I gathered the courage
to try the MyDVD Studio Deluxe 6.1 package again. I was very
cautious as I didn't want the issues I had with it on
the Toshiba laptop.
The upgrade process gives
you 6 times to grit your teeth and decide to continue biting the bullet...
it first notices you have another version of the Sonic Audio Module and
offers to delete it.. OK... then the Sonic Data Module... OK..., the Copy
Module, the full MyDVD Plus software, the Update Manager, and finally
the Express Labeler. There's no option to install in another folder
and have both versions.
The installation went
without issue, and I've exercised it enough to say it works
and works well.
I'll be writing to Sonic about
the standard/widescreen item, just to learn a bit more about it... most
importantly for me, confidence in my DVD software is back
and I have something to recommend. Was it the Toshiba, the software, or a
combo of both? I'll probably never know.
A couple users of my
custom profiles had problems and resolved them by
unchecking the option to 'allow non-square pixel output'... something I had
checked for the profiles used when heading toward a disc. I revised
them all to uncheck the option.
The first of the
annual newsletter renewal notices went out to
those whose subscriptions end with this issue. With the renewal
extensions, I've received a number of very positive
notes... thank you!!
I won't be sending more
notices beyond the one. If you don't renew, I'll assume you moved
on to other software or other interests.
Let's go through some of the
reasons to prep still pictures for stories and movies.
Enhance quality and
add special effects...
Photo Story and Movie Maker
include a number of enhancers and special effects... and many more are
available in other software. I won't go into them here. Use the
software you're skilled and comfortable with. We saw some of the features
of Paint.NET in issue #77, which has many enhancement options. Most of the time,
the enhancement features of Photo Story and Movie Maker are good enough, but
sometimes the additional features of other software is needed.
the project sizes of PS3 and MM2 are limited
by system memory, any enhancements or special effects you
add before importing a still picture reduces the memory
demands of the project, and
makes project previewing and rendering easier
for the system.
Save a copy of your original
pictures so you can change your mind later.
Pixels per Inch (PPI) and dots
per inch (dpi) are often referred to as picture resolution by those who
work with images that go to a printer. For stories and movies, the terms have
minimal meaning. For us it's about the overall size of the
picture as measured in pixels - width and height. The MPEG-2 files for high
quality NTSC DVDs are 720x480 pixels, not large...
Photo Story can handle
pictures as small as 1 pixel and as big as 52 megapixels (7200x7200
pixels), making the most of all the pixels a high resolution
Movie Maker can
handle pictures as small as a pixel... and higher, but the upper
limit isn't important. It resamples big ones to 800x600 before using them in the
project... consider 800x600 the effective practical limit for the
source files for your movies. More than that usually doesn't enhance
the visual quality.
My testing doesn't show a significant difference in memory needs when
using large pictures versus small ones... use what you have without
resizing unless you run into a situation that warrants the change.
It's easier to let Movie Maker resize the images for the project than to do it
elsewhere. You can resize the source files without opening the project file,
and the new sizes will automatically be used as long as you keep the location
and file names.
Adding text before
Reasons to add text
within Movie Maker and Photo Story include the animation
choices of Movie Maker, having transparent/translucent text over video
clips, spanning a number of images/video clips with a text clip,
and easily making changes right up to the end.
But there are times
when adding text to a still picture before
importing has its advantages:
fancier text such as 3D or text
with drop shadows...
positioning the text more
using a mix of fonts, text sizes,
using a combo of text added to the
source picture before importing and the text added by PS3 or MM2
having sharp text when doing a
significant zoom into a still picture... when the text
is important to the presentation.
The PhotoStory I
made last week of the Windows Media Gallery in San Francisco is a
good example of the last point... having sharp enough text
to support the motion settings.
For the first draft
of the story, I used the picture as I received it in an email... adding 8
point text on the 480x321 pixel picture. I used the font size that
made it fit well on the screen in the picture.
I was zooming into the
words on the screen and wasn't concerned as much about other parts of
the picture getting all pixilated, like the light standing to the left.
text looked bad, ugly enough to redo the story after making it
better in the source picture.
To improve the text, I
resampled the picture to a much larger image size, to 1680x1124
pixels. Doing so doesn't make the picture any better in quality, but it
allows the added text to improve as you see.
The extra pixels in the image
supports a larger font size which, when zoomed into, remains
Heading for a widescreen story?...
Photo Story 3 is made for standard 4:3 aspect ratio stories,
and doesn't have a built-in option of 16:9 widescreen stories.
with a custom profile, you can make a widescreen story. To do it,
you need to squeeze the picture sideways so it's 75% the width of
the original image.
IrfanView, go to Image > Resize/Resample... uncheck the 'Preserve aspect
ratio' option, check the 'Set new size as a percentage of original', and
change the width percentage to 75.
dialog window at the right shows me squeezing a 6 megapixel picture to 75% of
its original width... from 3072 pixels wide to 2,304. Don't change the height.
the squeezed image, I made a Photo Story and saved it with the custom widescreen
profile, zooming into and panning small areas of the picture.
The figure below shows the widescreen story playing in WMP10...
nestled in the big picture to show that, although it was squeezed to 77%
width to make the story, the shape of the rendered story aligns with the
If you add text to an image
before squeezing it to the 75%, it'll look normal in the rendered
widescreen story. If you add it after squeezing it'll look
wider/fatter than usual. Text added in Photo Story 3 will also look wider.
Some fonts will look OK wider
and some won't. Choose a narrow font that looks OK and you'll be
Movie Maker doesn't have the
cropping features that Photo Story has, so you should remove
unwanted black borders before importing.
To avoid the borders in
movies, resize pictures so the pixel dimensions align with the 4:3 ratio
for standard aspect ratio movies, and 16:9 for widescreen.
The original 6 megapixel
picture of a canal shown above is 3072x2048 pixels, not aligning
with 4:3 or 16:9. Avoiding black borders in Photo Story is easily
done by selecting the area to start and finish with in the motion
settings. Photo Story 3 offers to crop as needed to remove black
borders... I usually don't accept as I'd rather use the custom motion
settings to show selected parts of the picture.
Image overlays in Movie Maker...
Images used as overlays in
Movie Maker, such as this one of the Golden Gate fact sign with its
background made transparent to see the underlying Photo Story, always need
And the prepping is
with other image manipulation software such as Paint.NET and IrfanView
used for this one...
You can't apply any Movie
Maker video effects to an image used as an overlay.
covered making and using png images with a selected transparent color,
and the xml file needed to have it function as an overlay.