PapaJohn's MVP LogoMovie Maker 2 and Photo Story
Newsletter #88 - Jan 28, 2006

Making a 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 movies.
Sample Opening Clip
Start with this link to see what we'll be making:
Intro Clip
It's made from a number of things:

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...

The Vista 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 do. 
MSR Group Shot 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 -    
.... back to the main topic...

the Tutorial... Make an Intro Clip
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 use.  
Step PapaJohn - Office1 - make the back wall of the cartoon picture transparent
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:
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 AVI.
Rendersoft - Add TextCreate 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
background color 

The working window shows my URL positioned in the upper right area... play with it by first selecting it with your mouse.
You'll know it's selected when the 'Edit Text' button/window pops up.
MovementReposition 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 project.

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....
Rendering QualityNotice 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 movies...
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 image.

Let's continue on and make the 3D text animation. From the menu choose... Animation > Show Animation PanelAnimation 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 locations.
Try it.... create and position some text with the animation panel showing frame #0.
Frame 300Then 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 general area.
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 preview.
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 numbers listed. 

Render the video...
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 codec.
Select Codec
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 to pick??
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 website.
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 images.

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:
Pass 1 Project
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 Monitor
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. 
Measuring for PIP
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:Measuring in Paint
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 60.
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 ones.
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.
Second pass project
The rendered DV-AVI file has the video playing on the monitor screen... the new clip is ready to use in a movie.

Step 5 - 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...
Using the Opening Clip

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 of work...
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...