PapaJohn's MVP LogoMovie Maker 2 and Photo Story
Newsletter #86 - Jan 14, 2006

The first look at Photo Story and Movie Maker in Vista build 5270...
Vista has some new visual effects... including translucent glass or plastic frame edges for the windows, and the Window Switcher, where your mouse wheel flips the open windows in one direction or the other, while each window continues on in real time.
For a warm-up... click the picture of the Switcher at the left or use this link to a video showing it in action.
The open windows in the video include a project in Movie Maker, the importing wizard capturing footage from my camcorder, my website, the video of a visualization playing in Windows Media Player 11, posts to newsgroups and forums, and the Task Manager reporting CPU and memory usage.
This newsletter is an overview of what I see in this build of Vista, as it pertains to Photo Story and Movie Maker. It's the first build with the new version of Movie Maker.
I'll point out new features, what works, and what doesn't... with the understanding it's pre-beta software, not even close to a finished product. 
Photo Story 3 isn't part of Vista... and running it gives you a message "....cannot run on this version of Windows...". Setting the Compatibility Mode of the executable's properties to align with XP SP2 results in it running fine. 
... before getting into it, here's a couple notes...


The new year is often time to take an overall assessment of what's happening, and where things are going. Sept 13 will be the 5th anniversary of my first post to a newsgroup or forum. It was about a year after that post that I started using Movie Maker version 1, and the beginning of my active involvement with the community of Photo Story and Movie Maker users. The post was followed by about 20,000 more to date, a few books, a couple websites, weekly newsletters, a radio slot, 4 Microsoft MVP awards, teaching, etc...
I plan to continue my current involvements but changing the focus a bit. For the last 5 years it's been Movie Maker and things directly related to its users. Photo Story 3 has been a secondary part of the site since its release, but this year I'll be moving it up to be on a par with Movie Maker.
The galleries in San Francisco and New York City helped me appreciate the needs and interests of those who are getting into or already in digital video... about 90% of the people want to digitize still pictures and put them into slide show type videos, and 10% go the extra distance into movies. Photo Story and Movie Maker supports both of those interests and any mix of the two.
My newsletters have covered both apps since they started, and will change the least... perhaps with a bit more frequent issue about still pictures. The website changes started with the names Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 now being the same font size, followed by a rearrangement of some menu branches...  
My first two books were about Movie Maker 2, and I'm starting a new one for the Vista version. I plan to expand the scope to include Photo Story and other closely related image software.
.... back to the main topic...

Movie Maker in Vista...
The editing environment is familiar, comfortable and enhanced... here's the view for the users.
For you 'eagle-eyed' ones who notice things like the missing 'Take Picture' button under the monitor, the feature is still in the main menu, so I assume it'll be added in one of the upcoming builds.
Project Editing
... and a different view for the geeks and hackers... the file list in the main folder of Movie Maker.
DVD Maker - Missing CodecOne interesting new file is DVDMaker.exe, which I haven't succeeded at running yet, either inside or outside Movie Maker.
The message is about a needed codec... the offer to get more info about it from a Microsoft website doesn't work yet.
The relationship between Microsoft and Sonic is still growing. The 8 codec files in the folder, those with .ax file extensions, are all from Sonic (but the DVDMaker.exe file is a Microsoft product, not Sonic).  
The CaptureWizard.exe file is also new... it opens and works from Movie Maker. If I open it outside Movie Maker without a camcorder connected, I get an error message about a digital video device not being connected.
The message has a link offering to learn more about connecting a video device... the info that's there in draft form is totally geared to digital devices, with no mention or help for analog capture devices... the future is more and more digital, as we expect.
If I open it without first opening Movie Maker, with my digital camcorder connected, the wizard works as usual and I can capture footage... when I finish, instead of the clip being imported to Movie Maker, the Windows Photo Gallery automatically opens with the new clip added to its library.... lines between video clips and photos in a gallery are blurring!!
One glitch in doing it outside Movie Maker is my mouse cursor disappearing, and not returning until the wizard finishes and Windows Photo Gallery is open. It was a good refresher in using keyboard commands to navigate the capture/import controls of the wizard. 

Memory management in Vista may be a new ballgame... with no apps opened after a fresh startup, my Task Manager says the system is using 574 MB of memory. That's more than its 512 MB of RAM...
But things seem to be working at usual speeds... would they work even faster if I upgraded my RAM? 3 of the 4 memory slots are open so I'll probably bump it up to a GB or 2 soon...  

Capturing Video
The capture wizard and window are similar...
For whatever reason, I'm not seeing the video preview in the wizard window as I capture... but it comes in OK.

Imported video goes into the current open collection by default... Microsoft listened to all those posts from those who wanted it to work that way.
There are some differences in the way files work in Vista versus XP... differences that I'll need to explore. A DV-AVI file created in Visa from my camcorder shooting live (not putting to tape and capturing from there) can be auto-split in Vista, but the same file taken to XP can't be. It still works fine as a source file in XP... I'm curious about why it can be split in Vista but not XP. The auto-split process may have been tweaked for Vista.
A project file made in Vista (with the .MSWMM file extension) could bite you if you try to use it in XP. After copying one and all it's source files to XP, it seemed to open OK, even letting you edit it, but it doesn't work. There are no error messages when rendering a movie from it, but CPU usage never moves up, progress never starts, the Task Manager says the app is running, but nothing happens... video file creation never starts.
To try a work-around in XP, I copied the contents of the timeline to a new project and resaved it in MM2... all seemed normal, but it still wouldn't render. It lets you do some editing (like adding effects and transitions), but not do other things (like splitting a clip)... the bottom line is that a project made in Vista should stay in Vista.
This is another area to study further. I'm guessing that changes in the way clip info is stored in the collection database, copied from there to the project file, doesn't sync with the way things work in XP.

New effects... some pan/zoom effects made the cut. And edge detection, which is one I like. 
New Effects 1
New Effects 2
New Transitions
Three new transitions, the two shown plus a Whirlwind from top 

Publish Options
AutoMovie continues to work as usual... with the same choices of styles.

Publishing a Movie
The options for publishing (called saving in XP) are changed a bit....
The Computer options are streamlined, with fewer choices. The list itself is interesting... higher bitrates... DVD orientation.... HD
There's a new option to publish to a DVD... but selecting it says there's a missing codec... maybe it'll be there in the next beta build!!
Saving to a Windows Media CD is still there, clearly labeled that it's for a disc that only plays on a computer or device that supports WMV files.
The option of going to the Web, uploading to a service like neptune or mydeo isn't there... such services have their own methods of working with users to get files uploaded so perhaps the direct upload pipeline won't continue.
Publish - Save to Computer OptionsThe setting for the maximum E-mail size limit, which is 10 MB in XP, can be notched up to 25 MB in Vista.
The option to go back to a digital video camera tape is one I didn't test yet.

I have 60 Custom profiles on my laptop... copying them all to the folder in Vista results in them showing up in the pick list (the screen shot at the left is without them).
Checking shows that most work but some don't... another study area. I'm happy to see that custom profiles can still be used.

Dropped Frame Issues
One of the long-standing more serious issues in XP is the dropping of frames when rendering to DV-AVI from DV-AVI source files. I did an exercise to check it in Vista, and found the issue not yet resolved.
Last Frame
I used AVISynth and Virtual Dub to add frame numbers to a one minute DV-AVI file made with Vista. The last frame was 1796, and appropriately numbered.
After putting the single clip on the timeline and splitting it into twelve 5-second sub-clips, I rendered it to a new DV-AVI file. The number of frames was down by 12, with the last one still being #1796.   
The same project saved to a WMV file results in a file with just one dropped frame, also typical of what happens in XP. With WMV files, it's the last frame, a non-critical one.
I didn't know if I should resubmit any formal bug reports when the issues is an already documented one for XP, but I did it anyway into the Vista feedback system... 

The beta of WMP11 plays odd custom sized videos appropriately. WMP10 distorts them to fit the window of a standard 4:3 or widescreen 16:9 video regardless of pixel dimensions.
Playing Photo Story 3 stories in WMP11 are a bit quirky. I haven't filed a bug report on it... yet, but I might soon. I did file one bug report for quirky PS3 story playback in the Internet Explorer, about stories embedded in my web pages, but not yet for them playing in WMP11.   
Neptune's site is another issue for playback. The interface opens and the videos can be selected, but they don't play in the neptune player... neptune checks the operating system and installs some software, or stages the videos to work with it... maybe it's just a matter of them aligning their end to this new version. I'll be checking this with neptune. I didn't try mydeo, the other hosting service.

Conclusions and Closing
It's pretty early in the Vista beta process... many things can and will change. It's great to be able to be looking, testing, and writing about the new operating system this early.

Have a great week...