Las Vegas - Photo
Let's do a story with a few
self-imposed goals or constraints for fun and learning
widescreen 16:9 story of
852x480 pixels... Photo Story 3 by default provides for only standard 4:3
a background that runs through
the entire story... with the pictures pasted on... PS3 doesn't
offer background styles
use multiple images for at
least some of the pictures...
I made stories before with the custom widescreen profile,
but not one with a full-window background image. I had to scratch my
head a bit over the starting dimensions to use for the background.
Start by viewing the finished
story.. use this
link or click the picture at the right
... before getting into
it, here's a couple notes...
My free trial period for
the GoToMeeting software ends Feb 4. I had one taker of my offer to do a
remote-control test drive, but we couldn't get our schedules to mesh.
Info about Vista is starting
to bubble up and roll out. A newsgroup started this week at
I added a new page to the
Vista section... about the new DVD Maker software.
Thanks to Randon Myles
local music artist, I added 4 CDs to my library of music I can freely
use in stories and movies... this week's story project is the first
with one of his pieces.
to the main topic...
Part 1 - Plan
With a goal and some
constraints, it's time to plan the project... as
simple as looking around for a topic that has some source files to work
Remember the condor story from
newsletter #44? It used some great pictures my brother
Jim took at the Grand Canyon... he recently sent a
disc with other pictures and two mini-DV camcorder tapes
from recent trips. I picked his package to be the source files,
and dug in to see what was there.
The CD of pictures had a strange
flaking off of the upper painted surface in one spot (a CompUSA disc),
and wouldn't play on my laptop... the flaking was still happening so I
didn't want to try it in other computers. I moved on to the video
Jim takes still pictures, and
his wife Linda shoots video... the tapes included 32 minutes
of footage from a stop in Las Vegas which looked
This was a first for me. I'd
made movies from only still pictures, but not a story from only video
clips... that was enough of a plan, a new
Part 2 - Create the
For a custom background with an
embedded logo (URL), I turned to the combo
of Rendersoft VRLM
Make a 3D text image in Rendersoft,
and then use it in Illusionae to emboss the texture.
Rendersoft in last week's tutorial to make some animated
text... this week it's much simpler, making a 3D text image and
saving it as a JPG... in brief, the steps are:
Size the working window area so
it's about 850x480 pixels... I do it by opening an image of that size and
eye-balling it... it's not a critical step, so anything close is
Add text.... Edit > Insert
Ascii Text... the text window pops up
Type the text... www.papajohn.org... check the 'Extrude
Text' option to make it 3D > select a font >
Close the window
Move the text to the lower left
corner of the working window... click the 'Pick Object' blue arrow icon
and, holding the right mouse button down, move the text around and
For a high quality render,
select... View > Anti-Aliasing > 15 pass
File > Export > change
the file type to JPG > Save it to your file name and folder
Newsletter #39 was a tutorial
about Illusionae... let's take the graphic from Rendersoft and
use Illusionae to make the textured image you see above.
Change the Bump dropdown
list setting to 'Texturizer'
Change the Texturizer Type to
<Load File> and point it to the 3D text image we just made with
RenderSoft... you won't see anything different until you render the first
image with the loaded Bump file
Play with the larger texture box
and the 12 smaller ones around it... until you see one you like in the large
one. There are infinite possibilities... select something you
think is appropriate for the project.
Don't forget to zoom in and out of
the image using the magnifying glass icons... a texture that doesn't look good
at one level of magnification might be terrific at another
To blend the selected texture and
the text file, click the 'Merge Image' icon... the one to the left of the
Set the image size to the
dimensions you want... for this story it's 852x484 pixels (I added a
few extra pixels to the height to help avoid black bars in the
story) > OK to do the merge
If you don't see the rendered image
in the merge window, grab the right side of the window and open it up more by
pulling it to the right until you see it
If you don't like it, select the
garbage can to delete it, and do it over until you do
When you like it, save the
merged image to a file... File > Save as > BMP type > name
and folder location > Save
You only need one custom
background image for a story... that's for some style. Now
we're ready to move on to rounding up the pictures for the
Part 3 - Gather the
pictures from video footage is easy...
Capture/import the file
with Movie Maker, browse the clips in the collection and press the 'Take
Picture' icon under the monitor whenever something looks like it'll fit
your vision of the story.
I made a 'Snapshot' subfolder for the
newsletter project, and when finished snapping moved them all into it. When
I stopped clicking, there were 211
snapshots from the 32 minutes of raw video footage. That should be more than
enough for a story of a couple minutes.
Part 4 - Make
The snapshots from a video file
are fairly low quality... 640x480 pixels is about 1/3 of a megapixel...
Rather than pan and zoom
with low quality images, and end up with even lower quality close-ups,
make them into composite pictures over the background image, and minimize
the use of pans and zooms. Use other things to add interest, such as
composite images and an interesting audio track.
Making composites is
quick and easy. Using IrfanView in one
window, open each image and crop/resize to taste.... and
Paint.NET in another window to place each image on the
background, and position/rotate to suit.
The Control-R keys are the
shortcut to the resize feature of IrfanView... cropping is as
easy as scrolling your mouse across a selected area with the left mouse
button held down, followed by Control-Y to extract the selected
When ready in IrfanView, use
Control-C keys to copy the image into the clipboard, and then paste it into
the composite image in Paint.NET with the Control-V keys.
Tip: the reason
for using Paint.NET versus Paint is its feature to easily rotate an
imported image to any degree desired... hold the left mouse button
down to move the newly added image, and the right mouse button to rotate
it a bit or a lot. I did a lot of fine rotations for this story, some to
straighten them up, and some to add interest.
Save the images from
Paint.NET as BMP files... use BMP files to maintain image quality
through the various processing steps.
Once started you'll easily get into the rhythm. Going through a
couple hundred pictures this way is easy.
Part 5 - Squeeze the
If Photo Story 3 had a
widescreen option, you'd be all set to go with the composites from Paint.NET...
but it doesn't. You need to use a custom profile, and squeeze the pictures
before importing so they'll look right when rendered to a widescreen
16:9 aspect ratio.
IrfanView's batch processing
feature with custom choices makes this the easiest step of all. Resizing a
couple hundred images takes a minute.
In IrfanView select File > Batch
Conversion/Rename to get to the working window shown below. I've
marked the items of interest.
I have all the composites
made in Paint.NET in a folder named 'Prepped Images'... that's so I can
select 'Add all' at this step. I have another folder named 'Squeezed
Images' to accept the outputs from the batch process.
The button at the lower right
'Set Advanced Options' lets you set the resize options. Squeeze the images
going into a widescreen story so they are 75% of their original width...
and leave their height as is.
From this point, you'll work
with the squeezed images and pretend they are normal... as they will be in the
Part 6 - Draft the Visual Track
I didn't talk much about my
selection of images, or the composites being made... I'm covering the technical
steps of the process, and leaving it up to you to decide on your personal
As I reviewed the
pictures and composites at each step, I thought about how to sequence them,
picking topical themes like fashion, food, and lights... Las Vegas with
no gambling theme??? They might not let Linda take video in
By naming each composite
image to align with the themes (see the list of images at the right), it
was easy to sort the final list alphabetically, and easy to drag
and drop one group at a time into the story. The intro clips were
first, the subject themes followed in the order I wanted, and the 3 credit
images were last.
View the draft with the
default settings, make adjustments, redraft, adjust,
redraft... until ready to move on. At this point don't think about
the audio track... it's OK to drop your intended music file into
the story at this point if it helps you review the visual.... but don't
fine tune the sync yet, as you'll be making the audio track later in Movie
want to give a big thanks to Mark Coffman for his TweakPS
I can honestly say that I
wouldn't have gone down the path I did with this project if I didn't know I had
Mark's utility to globally change picture durations and remove
the pan/zoom motion settings.
With full screen background
images in each picture, and low rez images to start with, I wanted
pans/zooms only for a few hand-picked places, not globally.
Changing the pace of the
story to align with the music and other factors was also important... as I
wanted the composite images to flow at an appropriate speed,
whatever that was. I couldn't define it, but assumed I'd recognize it
when I saw it...
I wouldn't have tweaked the
settings of 50 pictures by 1/2 second or so each time I wanted to do
another check... TweakPS makes such an adjustment easy.
The 5 second per picture
pace was a bit too slow... so I went to 4 at first... and then later,
after adding the audio track, pulled most of them all the way down to
Part 7 -
Create the Audio Track...
....with narration and
Linda records more
than the visual and ambient audio as she shoots... she narrates the
clips frequently... the total opposite of me who says nothing under the
guise of being able to add it later during editing, even though I rarely
with Linda's raw footage, and not having her or Jim here to narrate it
during the editing, it was great to have her built-in audio snippets to work
Using Movie Maker, I split the video to make individual clips
of the more interesting audio snippets, put them on the audio track of an
empty project, as shown in the above figure... leaving some space between
I saved the movie as a
WMA audio file, brought it back into Movie Maker, and then
split it into the same segments... see the list of audio clips at the
left. I suppose I could have worked with the segments of the video clips
the same way, but being DV-AVI files, I thought it would be easier on the
computer during the project editing phase to handle the audio as a batch of
clips from a WMA file.
Import the draft story into
Movie Maker, and work the audio snippets into place while seeing and hearing the
interplay between the visual and narrative...
When the mix seems about
right, render the movie and import it again, this time to add the background
music.... and then once more to render just the audio track to a WMA file for
I used lossless WMA audio to
do these renderings, not caring what the video quality was as
it would be left behind when taking the audio track to Photo
Part 8 - Do the
Final Adjustments and Render the Story in Photo Story
Open the project and import
the audio track that was made with Movie Maker... and make the final
At this stage, the audio
track is the yardstick, and adjustments are done
by changing picture locations and durations to align the content
of the two tracks. In my case, I found the need to shorten the visual track
by removing some pictures and/or reducing the durations of others.
To render the story, I
used the custom widescreen 852x480 profile that is downloadable from the Photo
Story 3 > Saving page of the website.
Positive comments are often
just courtesy acknowledgements, and don't help a lot... neutral to negative ones
tell you more. I got one comment on a newsgroup saying "... I suspect
that in an effort not to bore us, you have made most of the shots
about two seconds too short!....". That hit the nail right on the
head, exactly what I had done, partly not to bore, and partly to do
the final aligning of the pictures with the audio.
I agreed with the poster and,
if this wasn't just an exercise for a newsletter, I'd go back and adjust the
audio track a bit more in Movie Maker... but it's just a newsletter, so I called