Photo Story 3.1 and the Digital Image 2006
issue covered prepping still pictures for importing to Photo
Story and Movie Maker... and right after issuing it, I went to
the Windows XP digital media gallery in San Francisco for
the weekend, where the subject was front and center.
It was a great weekend... with enough
walk-in traffic to keep me busy both days. The gallery was nicely
setup in an ethnic/gallery flavored neighborhood (corner of Polk and
Jackson). Capping the 2 days was a visit by Blaine (the
Considerate Guy on the WindowsMovieMakers forums) with his
youngest daughter Amara. The 28th is the last
day before it closes, to be followed by one in New York
Most of the interest was in
still pix and Photo Story perked up many. While they also
loved what they saw about Movie Maker, it seemed to be beyond
their reach in the time needed to create a movie. It can be intimidating
until they take sit behind the driver's wheel and take
The weather was wonderful enough
to take a boat under the Golden Gate on Monday to get some video
footage from a different perspective.
The gallery goodies included copies
of the Starter Edition of the Microsoft Digital Image 2006
Suite, which was released in July. The Starter
Edition includes Photo Story 3.1 without its VCD
burning feature, and turns off many other features in
60 days unless you step up to the full version.
Visitors to the gallery could have their picture taken in front of
a 'white screen', enhance the picture in the Digital Image Editor, and take a
print home with them.
I installed the suite while I was
there and checked it out... like last week, my focus isn't in all
the great things you can do to enhance a picture, but more in the special
features that are of particular interest to users of Movie Maker
and Photo Story. There's enough the to fill this newsletter
... before getting into it, here
are a few notes...
I took a shot at
blogging a few months ago... from April to May... and it didn't
work. With one undated response that I couldn't figure out how to respond to, it
wasn't effective. Today I started a new one to try again. APress, the
publisher of Movie Maker 2 - Zero to Hero, invited me to blog on their
site, and I took them up on it.
I'll try to keep the blogging
on a high level... not the Q&A topics you expect on a newsgroup or
The link is on the Online
> Blogs, Vlogs, Podcasts page of the
.... on to
the main topic...
Image 2006 Suite
I'll cover Photo Story 3.1
first and then get into the rest of the Suite...
The jacket for
the software CD summarizes the features: sharing photos, organizing
and preserving memories, enhancing images, and doing more with them. There's
no mention of Photo Story being included, so I had to get into
the installation to confirm what I had heard. In late June, an
MVP sent an email saying the Suite included the 3.1 version with
a CD burning feature...
The installation results
in 3 new items in the Start menu... the Digital Image Editor, the
Digital Image Library, and Photo Story 3.1... the path to PS3.1 is C:\Program
Files\Microsoft Digital Image 2006\PIXPhotoStory.exe
This part is brief as Photo
Story 3.1 in the Starter Edition doesn't include the VCD burning feature.
The help file says "In Microsoft Digital Image Starter Edition 2006,
video CD burning is disabled."
I assume the VCD option in the
full edition is a Sonic plug-in with the one story per disc
capability, the same as the previous Sonic plug-ins for Photo Story and Movie
Maker. The Help file confirms it by saying "Only blank CDs can be used to record
photo stories. Each blank CD must have enough space available to accommodate the
size of the story."
I looked for direct
relationships between the Image Library
and Editor and Photo Story... I found one. If
you're browsing pictures in the Library, you can select a batch of
them and use the main Library menu to open Photo Story. The selected
pix will automatically be imported into a new story project to get you
started. Additional ones can be dragged from the Library and dropped into the
Story project. Beyond that, it's the same as Photo Story 3.
Looking in the other
direction.... can you use any of the advanced features of the Editor
on a picture already in a story project?... I didn't find it. Once imported,
the picture enhancing features internal to Photo Story are the only
There's an additional
profile option for a higher quality 1200x900
image size, recommended if the story is going to be played full screen on a
computer with a 3.4 GHz processor and 1GB of RAM or higher. My new HP
laptop meets the criteria and stories made with the profile play fine.
You can copy the profile
to your Photo Story 3 folder and use it there also.
The digital image/video
Library (file browser) loads fast, is easy to use, and has some
The Library picked up the
My Documents folder of my C drive, and removable media (CD/DVD drive and thumb
drive), but I had to nudge it a little to add the contents of the rest of
the C drive and my two external drives... an easy nudge by using
Import > Find on my Computer > and pointing it to the drive.
Select some pix in a
folder and use the Photo Story option in the main menu... and it'll open
the app with a new story started, with the selected pix in it.
Although the image
library includes video files with thumbnails of the first
frame, there are no video editing features in the suite. But you
can make changes or add annotations to the meta-data that is
stored in the file header...
I wondered where all the info
about the media files, and the thumbnails it was creating, was
going... as I worked on this newsletter and did other things, the library
executable was keeping pretty busy in the background... using as much as
half of the CPU and 150K of memory for extended periods. It did this for
many hours until it had cataloged all the files.
Pod.exe is the app for the
Library, and it built a file named Pictures.pd3 file
in the c:\Documents and Settings\PapaJohn\Local Settings\Application
Data\Microsoft\POD folder. It ended up being 454 MB in file size.
As I have most of my media
files on the two external drives, and the drives are at home when I'm doing my
work at Barnes and Noble.
I wondered if I could browse
the files on the external drives without having them connected.
I'm happy to say it works fine. I can select the drive, browse the folders,
see the thumbnails, and even see a larger size image, along with the file
properties... all without having the drives connected.
Digital Image Editor
found the Editor to also be a comfortable interface, with lots of
'common tasks' you can do to a still
with lots more features available from the main menu selections. There
are considerably more than those included in Photo Story and Movie
'Create a Photo Collage' is pretty neat... it's a feature more for
printing than making stories and movies, but slick enough to warrant
the sample pix at the right.
the view below, I'm using the Transparency Brush to selectively paint parts of a
picture... this is the slickest feature I found in the app that has a direct use
in Movie Maker.
Saving the marked up picture as a PNG file type is all
that is needed to then use it as an image overlay.
This clip shows
the finished picture being used as an overlay over a video clip of
swimming fish. I wasn't careful about painting
the edges as I just wanted to give you the idea.
Here's another sample that's better than the one above of Rob and I
... a short 21 second clip of Chuck and
Donna superimposed over video footage of the Palace
of Fine Arts in San Francisco. I spent no more than a minute painting
the background transparent... Chuck is a professional
videographer/producer (his studio is still analog) and play-writer, and Donna
teaches computer programming and databases at Western Michigan
University... a couple we see every night at Barnes & Noble. I ripped the
picture from their website.