Standard Opening Clip - Tutorial
'Video doodling' between
other tasks can be fun, relaxing, and productive... sometimes I'll
just play around with a new standard opening clip, a lead-in to
anything or to nothing. It can be whimsical or fantasy-filled, but it can
also be a great learning experience, and result in a useful clip
for your video library.
Last week's newsletter included an
old fantasy picture of me in my office. It was assembled in Photoshop
years ago when the grands were younger. For this week's issue, I'm
going to play with that same scene a bit more, taking it a step or two closer
to being a good standard intro clip for some home
Start with this link to
see what we'll be making:
It's made from a number of
a cartoonish picture from my image
library of an office area with me pasted in
a PNG overlay image
with some transparency... done by taking the cartoon image
into Paint.NET and deleting the pixels of the big wall
a captured visualization from
iTunes, another item from my video clip library
the visualization clip fades
into a 3-D animated text clip of my website URL name...
made with RenderSoft VRLM
the heralding trumpet sounds are
from another item in my library... an audio segment from a
a clip of a Chicago fireworks
display playing in the monitor on the desk, using a custom
Picture-in-Picture XML transition to add it
The final step in the tutorial is to
use the opening clip to lead into a movie, in this case Cinderella's older
sister in a cartoon from the Internet Archives. It could be used
to lead into any movie.
The tutorial includes all of the
steps needed to make the wall transparent, make the 3-D animated URL,
and tweak the XML file to add the video to the monitor.
You've seen the software utilities
and some of these steps before in other newsletters. But this is the first one
that takes you into the animation feature of Rendersoft VRLM.
... before getting into
it, here's a couple notes...
corner... using GoToMeeting software, my son
Chris (who lives 100 miles away) had a 'virtual meeting' with my wife
Bernadette, jointly working on a Photoshop project on her computer... I
joined them from my Vista system and watched.
The software worked well so I
installed a trial version on the Vista system to explore using other
computers to run the Vista version of Movie Maker by remote control.
My first test was from my laptop running XP, and my next test was
from an older computer running Windows 98... it
worked from both, so I'm offering remote test drives of the Vista
version of Movie Maker.
The software trial is good
through Feb 4th. If you want a session, with me watching in the
co-pilot seat, send an email and I'll open a meeting and invite you... it
takes an invitation with a session key for you to participate. I'll
turnover control of the computer, but be there watching what you
is a new picture utility that helps you create a perfect
group photo out of a series of group photos. With Group Shot you can select your
favorite parts in each shot of the series and Group Shot will automatically
build a composite image. Here's the link to the free download from
Microsoft... for non-commercial use - http://research.microsoft.com/projects/GroupShot/
to the main topic...
the Tutorial... Make an Intro
Let's go through the steps to make
such a clip... you can use whatever image and source files work for you. The
plan is to do any needed intermediate renderings to DV-AVI files of 720x480...
that's the target size for all the ingredients, including any still images we
Step 1 - make the back wall of the cartoon picture
The original image has a
white wall with a picture of our 5 grands, a clock and a window. Let's
remove those pixels.
The image file as taken from my
graphics library was a BMP sized at 558x418 pixels. Open it in IrfanView and
resize it to be appropriate for a video:
use the menu > Image >
Resize/Resample > uncheck the 'Preserve aspect ratio' option if it's
checked > Set the new size as Width 720 and Height 480 > OK
save it as a new BMP image...
things will look a bit wider than normal when looking at the 720x480
pixel image, but it'll be squeezed back to normal when looking at in the
standard 4:3 aspect ratio of a video.
Open the new image with Paint.NET and remove the
pixels from the back wall:
Select the 'magic wand' and touch it
to the wall... it'll outline the area in what some refer to as 'the marching
ants'.... press the delete key to remove the pixels, and the selected area will
become transparent (indicated by the checkerboard area).
Do the same for the 3 smaller areas
of white to the right of the potted plant... and another time for the small
area inside the coffee cup handle on the desk.
That leaves the clock, picture and
window to remove. For those, use the rectangular select tool... select the area
around each and press the delete key and they'll be gone.
You don't need to do the monitor
screen because the video will be overlaid on it using the Picture-in-Picture
approach later on in the tutorial.
Save the image as a PNG file... File
> Save As > PNG file type. That's the file type that preserves the
transparency, so you can see through it when the image is used as an
overlay in Movie Maker.
Step 2 - make the
3-D animated URL
Newsletter #39 included a tutorial
about RenderSoft VRLM, but only got you as far as
rendering a still picture. Let's go a big step
further, animating it and saving it as a video AVI file.
Open RenderSoft and
adjust the size of the working window to about 640x480...
Tip: When you render an AVI
file with RenderSoft, the video file dimensions are determined by the
size of the working window... you can make a video anywhere from a
small phone sized one to one bigger than high definition.... one weakness
of this older software app is that the current size of the working window
isn't indicated, so you really don't know the exact size of your finished
Create the text using Edit > Insert Ascii Text > type the
text > check 'Extrude Text' if you want it 3-D
Change the black background to the
RGB color of your choice... Edit > Background
The working window shows my URL
positioned in the upper right area... play with it by first selecting it with
You'll know it's selected when
the 'Edit Text' button/window pops up.
Reposition the text anyplace on the screen or even
totally off it....
Use the 4 middle icons with the
arrows on them to... move, scale larger or smaller, rotate, or change the visual
orientation of the selected item.... try each of them, use your mouse and just
play with the controls to see what happens... the worst case is having it fly
off screen and not know where it is. If that happens, you can always start a new
If all you want is 3D
text image with a colored background, you could stop here and
do a File > Export > select the JPG format from the drop down list at the
bottom, and render it to the file....
Notice I said render... the same word we use when
saving a movie... a common term in the graphics environment, whenever
the output file is created from some sort of project file like
this or Movie Maker.
Try it to have the feature in your
mind... a neat 3D text image comes in handy for stories and
The default setting is to render
it fast by not using anti-aliasing... that's the smoothing effect to take
the jaggies out of the image as it's being rendered. I always change it to 15
pass... so it goes thru an automatic smoothing process 15 times for each image.
That gets you the highest quality in image smoothness.
When you render a movie with
this utility, the same setting is applied to each of
the frames... as it renders each frame as a separate JPG
Let's continue on and make the 3D
text animation. From the menu choose... Animation >
Show Animation Panel... the image at the right will be opened.
When you first open this working
panel, you're working at frame #0. We've seen that before... programmers and
movie frames start at #0, not #1.
What you're seeing on your working
window is considered frame #0 because that's what's there when you open the
animation panel. If thinking of it as the beginning of a video clip means you'd
rather have the text someplace else, like the middle of the frame.... move it
there before you leave frame 0.
Whatever you do to the working
window... move what's there, change the background color, add more text or other
objects, etc.... it'll all be considered as frame #0 until you change frame
Try it.... create and position some
text with the animation panel showing frame #0.
Then go to the next key frame.... let's say it's the 300th
frame (10 seconds into a video at 30 frames per second). To get to that frame,
simply type 300 into the frame number entry field... and you're there. You don't
need to press a Go or OK button after entering the number.
Once there, move the text, add more
stuff... do something to change what you see in the working window... move
it a little or a lot... whatever you want. Knowing I wanted my 3D URL to be in
the upper middle area of the cartoon office image, I kept the text in that
Now, ready for the exciting part?
Press the Play button at the lower left of the animation panel and RenderSoft
will preview your animated text just like a Movie Maker project
That's all there is to it. If that's
all the movement you want, you can render the video... if you
want to go to the next keyframe and have the movement change some more, do
it... go to frame 400 or 450 or 621 or whatever number you want. I used a few
key frames and tweaked the movement so I'd be flying into and through one of the
letters of my URL. You can do that pretty easily.
The other navigation buttons on the
animation panel get you to the minimum key frame (usually 0), the maximum
one you've defined so far, the previous one to where you're working, or the
next one in the sequence of them... the Show button will provide a popup window with all the key frame
Render the video...
set your rendering quality.... View
> Anti-aliasing > 15 pass for highest quality...
select the folder to save to, and
the file name
file > Export > select AVI
file type in the lower drop-down list
when you press the 'Save' button Rendersoft will ask you the
frame rate... you can select from 3 to 30 frames per second.
you can select the forward
direction only, or reverse only, or a combo to make a looping kind of
saying OK here will result in it
making a full set of still pictures in JPG format, numbering them in
sequence from 0 to the highest frame number... the message will say
'Please Wait... Rendering Frames'. If you want to, use your file browser
and go to the folder to watch the files pile up, or even get copies if you
have a use for them later.
Remember that your JPG images will be
the exact size of the Rendersoft working window... and it doesn't
give you a settings option to tell it what size it is... I just eye-ball it
because being off one way or the other isn't usually important... at least
not important until you reach the point of selecting a compression
When the set of still pix are
finished... it'll ask you to pick a compression codec, and default to
uncompressed. We're now at the topic we discussed a few issues ago, which codec
If you select one that won't work,
such as the Panasonic DV codec, then the set of still pix will be deleted...
they are just temporary files... and you'll have to start over.
Why won't the Panasonic DV codec
work? Because, for NTSC work, it needs the inputs to be exactly
720x480 pixels.... and won't adapt to another input size...
Out of habit, and knowing it'll work
here and in Movie Maker... I pick Cinepak. It's a good choice for a short
clip, but it has the second longest rendering time of the codecs listed on
the Importing Source Files > Video > Video Codecs page of the
When the rendering is finished,
you have an animated 3D AVI file that will work fine in Movie
Maker... no audio of course, as RenderSoft is just for making
Step 3 - First Pass in Movie Maker
We've been preparing things for a movie project... and it's
time to make the project for the first pass. To do a picture-in-picture
effect with Movie Maker, you do the movie in at least
a couple passes. Each is easy, quick, and quality isn't lost when
saving to the DV-AVI format.
Here's the project file.... look at the contents:
the video track has 2 clips that are almost totally
overlapping with a fade transition. The clip opens with some captured
visualizations from iTunes, which gradually fades over to the emerging 3D text
clip from Rendersoft.
neither video clip has audio... so some appropriate gala
opening music is placed on the Audio/Music track... it's an extract from
a Cinderella cartoon. The sounds from a movie will often work
in other projects and places... don't feel you need to find the audio in your
music or sound effects libraries.... a video file often has a good
the visual of my fantasy office is the overlay image we
made above in Paint.NET. I swapped out the Overlay1.png image in my Title
Overlay Starter Kit (it's a download from the Editing Movies > Text
> Custom Overlays page of the
That's enough for this pass... I rendered it to my usual quality
choice, Video for LAN (768 Kbps), and put it online with a forum
post. One of the responses was that it would be better if something
was playing on the computer monitor at the same time... that would mean
a Picture-in-Picture pass... so I rendered it again to a DV-AVI file.
Step 4 - Put a Video on the
There are now various
Picture-in-Picture tools, but my favorite is still the do-it-yourself custom XML
file, one always sitting in my Movie Maker\Shared\AddOnTFX folder waiting
for another use.
Because I work with DV-AVI files at
each pass... the underlying video clip is always 720x480, so I don't need
to make any changes to the first 4 lines of the XML file... let's go
through the remaining 4 lines.
The goal is to tell Movie Maker
where to place the overlying video clip... in this case we want it in the
computer monitor. You tell it by determining where the corners of the overlay
should be positioned.
Use the same image we used for the
overlay (remember that we're working in a 720x480 environment, so we want
to measure using a 720x480 image, regardless of what size you'll be rendering
the saved movie to)
Use Paint to see where the upper
left corner is and how long the top and sides are:
The offsetX value is the horizontal
distance from the left side of the image to the upper left corner,
210 pixels for this case
The offsetY value is the vertical
distance down from the top of the image, 140 pixels
The width is the width of the
computer monitor, 60 pixels
The height is the height of the
computer monitor, 48 pixels.
Being a pixel or two off isn't
critical... when working in Movie Maker it's always a good idea to use even
numbers... if I think the height is 59 or 61 pixels, I'll use a setting of
Once the XML file is tweaked (using
Notepad to change the settings), it's time to open Movie
Maker and do the second pass.
Tip: Movie Maker reads the custom
XML files as it starts up, so changes to them need to be followed by
a re-opening Movie Maker.
Tip: The XML file settings in a PIP
project are embedded in the project file... if you change the
settings you need to delete the custom transition from the project and add it
again, so the new settings will replace the prior
Here's the project... the
first clip on the timeline is the office with the animated URL playing on
the wall... the second one is the clip to add to the monitor.
Slide the 2nd one over
the first to start the transition going... then drag and drop the
custom PIP transition onto it.
Give some thought to the
audio, as the long overlapping transition will result in the audio of the first
clip fading out over the clip, as the audio from the second clip fades in. I
didn't want the first clip's audio to fade out so I muted it and put the same
audio onto the Audio/Music track... I didn't mind the audio of the second
clip fading in, so I was all set to render.
The rendered DV-AVI file has
the video playing on the monitor screen... the new clip is ready to use in
- Use the Opening Clip
To illustrate, here it
is as an opener to my personal Cinderella cartoon. I'm using
a basic fade transition.
If this wasn't just
for a tutorial example, I'd add a little more audio by doing
a "J-cut" and apply a title overlay to give it more of a feeling of a
fully integrated opening leading into a main feature... and to introduce the
main topic sooner. In today's world, taking 20 seconds to mention the title
is too long...
Conclusions and Closing
It's taken me many hours to prepare
this tutorial and it might seem intimidating to you... but once you've
learned your tools, making such a clip from scratch is less than 30 minutes
Some of your tools may be
different than mine... if they work and you're comfortable with them, use them
instead. The efforts to learn and use the tools needs to end up taking
a back seat to your energy being applied to the creativity of getting
what you want... It'll come!!!
Have a great week...