A Photo Story with 300
You probably know by now
that I enjoy checking the limits of Movie Maker and Photo Story... and
seeing how to work around, break through, or put them to good
Photo Story 3 limit of 300 pictures is one I hadn't checked
beyond seeing the message it gives when you import the
I don't do large stories, as I
mainly use Photo Story to make video clips for movie projects.
But I've seen many posts by those who are using it for large slide shows,
and are constrained by the limit... they ask how to work around
The limit is an easy one to
address... when you reach it, you stop. Make two or more stories and piece them
together in Movie Maker or use them as separate chapters in a DVD.
There's the more elusive limit of a
story, the amount of computer memory needed to preview or render it. It's an
issue similar to Movie Maker, something I've run into a couple times and
have often thought about, but I've never really explored it in Photo Story
Let's take a look at it by
using a batch of 50 pictures from a 5
megapixel camera, a fairly standard sized camera today... and see how much
memory is needed to preview and render a story. I'll do it in
steps, feeding the same batch of 50 pictures
into a project over and over until I'm at the limit, and noting
what's happening with memory usage at each step.
... before getting into it, here's a
It's time to
start looking at Movie Maker in the
upcoming Vista operating system. My first chance
at taking it for a spin came with the 12/16/05 Beta 2, Build
5270... the December 2005 Customer Technology Preview (CTP).
Here's a view of my Vista
desktop with 6 open windows... you can scroll/flip through them with
the mouse wheel... and they are all 'live'.
I've been told it's not beta
quality release... more a preview of progress towards Beta 2.
Whatever it's called... I welcomed my first chance
to explore its features. Next week's issue will be an
initial overview of what I see and how it works...
A few things I see are:
a meter that reports the number
of frames captured and the number dropped during digital video
capture. I did a full hour tape without it reporting a single dropped
seeing each frame rather than every other frame
during clip splitting and timeline editing.
full quality rather than draft
quality project previewing.
DVD and High Definition
options when saving a movie.
a few new effects and
a nod to those in PAL-land... the
two sample pix are 576 pixels high, not the 480 pixels so standard
to NTSC people. You all know who you are.
The newsletter will be the first of many about the Vista
version as its development finishes and beta test results roll
It looks like it's off to a
good start. I'll be adding a little info to the Setup > Vista page of the
website, but covering much more in next week's newsletter.
As I review it, I'll be
thinking of any structural changes needed to my website.
to today's software and the main topic...
use 50 of pictures from our recent trip to New York City, taken
with a 5 megapixel camera. We shoot in high quality mode, saving to JPG
images that average a bit over 1 MB in size...
The set of 50 totals
54.6 MB. I'll use this same batch of pictures six times to get
the story up to 300, previewing and saving it after each batch is imported. I'll
check memory usage, and how big the project files are.
Photo Story doesn't economize
on info when you use multiple copies of the same picture in a story... each time
you use one, it gets copied into the project file, so using 6 packs of 50 or one
pack of 300 is the same in terms of file sizes and memory needs.
I drag the set of 50
pictures from my file browser into Photo Story as a batch... taking just a
few seconds to import them. I noted the time to add a batch doesn't
increase as the story gets bigger.
With Photo Story 3 and
my usual software apps open (Outlook Express, IrfanView, Total
Commander, personal database), the system was using 382 MB of
memory before importing the first 50-pack.
This baseline figure, and
all memory numbers, will vary a bit depending on what software is
open, what I'm doing with them, and when I last rebooted the computer.
give the numbers I see, but you should consider memory usage
figures as approximations rather than exact amounts... if you did it a
second time the numbers would be somewhat different. What I'm looking for are
overall patterns in usage as the story is created, previewed and
batch - 50 pictures total
For this first pass, I was
watching memory usage carefully through all steps of the processes. Memory usage
moved up slightly as the pictures were imported... only 2 MB was
needed... putting pictures on the film strip, one picture or 50 at a time,
uses minimal additional memory.
The first time
I previewed the story, memory usage jogged
up significantly... to 477 MB within the first few pictures,
but it stabilized pretty quickly and drifted downwards
through the rest of the preview.
Saving the project hardly
effected memory... 439 MB at the time.
When rendering the story...
using the profile of 640x480... memory usage started at 444 MB
and peaked at 713 MB toward the end. It fell back to
421 as soon as the saving process finished.
I kept an eye on the temporary
files created by Photo Story during story creation and saving,
but didn't see anything there significant enough to talk
- 100 total
was at 423 MB before adding the next set of 50 pictures...
previewing moved it up to 576 MB within first few pix, and drifted down
during the rest. The pattern was emerging, similar to what I saw in the first
Closing the preview monitor
window dropped usage back to 425 MB.
Rendering the story peaked at
718 MB toward the end, not much higher than it did with 50 pix....
back down to 426 MB when finished. A minimal extra (2 MB) was
used when saving the project, updating the existing project file.
The patterns were emerging... just had to see them and confirm them
through the next 4 passes.
3nd batch - 150...
Confirming the patterns... 428 MB at the beginning...
preview jogged up to 654 MB within the first few pix, and
drifted down. Closing the preview window dropped it back down to 438
Rendering the story peaked at 727 MB toward the end... down to
436 MB when finished. 2 MB extra to save the revised project
next day, a new session... different apps running in
4th batch - 200...
362 MB at the start... preview jogged up to 687 MB
within first few pix, and drifted down. Closing the preview monitor window
dropped down to 395 MB.
Because this session started with the opening of an existing project,
another temporary folder was created with all 150 pix in it. Want to know how
many pix your project currently has? Save it, then reopen it, and
the temp folder will have copies of them all... your file browser
gives you a count.
Rendering the story peaked at 697 MB toward the end... back
down to 403 MB when finished. And as usual, a minimal extra 2
MB when updating the existing project file.
5th batch - 250...
405 MB at the start... up to 767 MB within
the first few pix when previewing, and drifting down
afterwards. Closing the preview monitor window drops memory needs back down
to 406 MB.
... rendering the story peaked at 701 MB toward the
end... back down to 407 MB when finished.
Minimal extra 1 MB when updating the existing project
6th batch - 300...
408 MB at the start... preview memory usage up to
839 MB within the first few pix, and drifts slowly down afterwards.
My laptop has 2 GB of RAM... if it had a more normal 512 MB, the
previewing wouldn't be smooth.
Closing the preview monitor window dropped memory usage back down
to 412 MB.
Rendering the story peaked at 703 MB toward the end...
back down to 410 MB when finished. Minimal extra 3 MB used
when saving the project.
now you couldn't miss the patterns if you tried.
Story and Project file
Here's the file list of the six rendered
stories and the final saved project with 300 pictures. The stories
were all rendered to the Profile for computers - 2 (640x480).
As you'd expect, the size of
the story goes up directly with the number of pictures.
The overall playing duration
of the 300 picture story is exactly 25 minutes.... with default settings for
picture duration, transition type, and transition duration.
The memory needed
for Windows Media Player 10 to view the stories is minimal.
Playing the largest story showed peak memory usage of 442 MB.
the price of music in memory usage...
re-rendered the 300 picture story using computer generated music
throughout... with 414 MB being used at the start...
the rendering is now a 4 step process:
preparing video - 484 peak
generating the 25 minute music file - 424 peak (minimal memory needs
but it's by far the longest of the rendering steps... really really
long... I didn't time it but perhaps over 15 minutes when the other steps took
only a few.
3 - mixing
the audio... quick with 431 MB peak...
rendering the story.... very quick compared to making the music... peaked at
701... no more memory was needed to do it with added music than
doing it without.
The file size was 53.1 MB
versus the 40.0 without it... a healthy increase in file size... but
that's the price of music. If file size was an issue for you, a custom profile
could reduce the audio quality its contribution to file size.
the price of rendering higher quality, and the savings
to render lower...
rendering so far has been to the 2nd option for quality when saving to a
computer... a file of 640x480 pixels.
Let's render the 300 pix story to the one lower and 3 higher quality
profiles included in Photo Story 3.
Starting at 422 MB, the peak memory usage when rendering
for computers - 1 (320x240) - 501 MB, over 200 MB less than for the
640x480... a considerable amount.
for computers - 3 (800x600) - 880 MB
for computers - 4 (1024x768) - 1140 MB
for computers - 5 (1200x900) - 1412 MB
file sizes for the 3 higher quality profile stories were 51.6, 91.9 and 109.2 MB
versus the 40.0 MB of the 640x480... larger sizes but fairly easy for the
computer to play them with the low bitrates of story files.
the memory cost of custom motion settings...
Setting just the first image to use motion settings as shown in this
image, and saving to a 640x480 story...
Memory usage went up to 724 MB at the start of the
rendering, peaked at 741 midway... and stayed up there at 741
toward the end...
went back a couple days later, and added similar motion settings
to the next 4 pictures...
extra memory needed when rendering the story didn't
change significantly from that needed when the motion setting was applied
only to the first picture.
Custom motion settings like this, applied to 5 megapixel
pictures, don't require more memory.
Have a great week...