Let's do something a bit
on the lighter side, after last week's heavy techie topic
of quality settings in custom quality-based
VBR profiles... how about a broad look at special video effects?
Just a few years ago, in
the days of Movie Maker 1, there was one special transition... a fade
or dissolve from one clip to another... and no special video effects
unless you used other software to make and clip and
then import clip. Before that were special effects that your
camera or camcorder could apply as you took the shot or footage.
a proliferation of fantastic special effects, and the choices are
growing daily. Some you can apply to your pictures and clips with
other software before importing. Photo Story and Movie Maker 2
have many built-in effects, and many others are
available in add-on packages. And then there are the infinite
possibilities from custom XML files.
Let's look at:
Effects embedded in the picture or
video, added by the camera or camcorder. I'll illustrate it with a
in my Sony Hi8 camcorder, which gives the video a
Effects added in your computer,
before importing for a story or movie.
Effects in Photo Story 3 and Movie
Maker 2... those that came with the apps, and the additional packages
available from Microsoft and others. Photo Story limits you to one effect per
picture, but Movie Maker lets you mix and match any of them up to a total of 6
on each clip.
Custom XML which can take you
wherever you want. I'll illustrate with a 'privacy
to cover or hide a person's face.
... before getting into
it, here are a few notes...
From programmer Bruce
Shankle comes a new Utility for users of Movie Maker. Select a
project file (.MSWMM) and it'll show you a list of the source files, including
custom XML files and the source files used by them. It's a great tool to
help you stay organized.
If you like reading XML files,
use the Show XML button to see the internals of the project file. And
if your source files are spread all over, you can round up a
set of selected ones into one folder... by clicking the Copy
Bruce is still enhancing
it and adding features being requested. Get a copy from his
. I'll be adding a link on mine.
Corner... you've no doubt heard the release will now be after the end
of the year instead of in time for year-end holidays.
I received my first formal
positive feedback this week from Microsoft about them incorporating a
suggestion... I noted you could copy and paste from the Photo Gallery to the DVD
Maker, but you couldn't drag and drop. Now you can do both.
.... on to the main
Effects Applied by
a Camera or Camcorder
These of course vary by the brand
and model. The party line is to not use them on the original, and
add effects during computer editing. Yes, but maybe there's
something the camera can do that your software tools can't, or it can to it
easier or better.
My Sony Hi8 camcorder has a pastel
effect which gives the video a cartoonish appearance. Here's a clip that used
the feature during recording:
The other effects on the camcorder
are: negative, sepia, black and white, solarize (makes it look like an
illustration), mosaic, slim, stretch.
Our digital camera is a 5
megapixel Olympus C-5050... the options for effects are B&W,
Sepia, Black board, and White board... had to dig out the manual to find
the settings and take a set of pix... here's what the 4 shots look
They might see some use in
transparent overlays when the black or white needs to be transparent... or as
still images by themselves.
Are these better
Images and Video Clips Before Importing
Your image editing apps have features to edit pictures however you
want. Beyond that there are great add-in filters. I'll use some
filters that work with most things from Photo Shop to IrfanView.
two filters from Richard
... the Pinocchio one for this part of the newsletter, and
the Pixelate an Image one a little later.
As long as you're there,
download the rest too, as each of them is great.
Install them to IrfanView...
by copying the .8bf files to the Plug-in folder.
open an image
drill down to the 8BF
double-click on the Pinocchio
... play around
I made a slight adjustment
to the Golden Gate in the middle of the main span.
in Photo Story 3 and Movie Maker 2
There are many that
come with the apps, and additional packages available from Microsoft
Photo Story 3
has 3 'auto fix' options... for contrast, color levels and red eye. You can
apply one or more to a picture. Beyond that it has 10 visual effects that
you can select from, using one effect per picture.
Movie Maker 2
has lots more choices, with 60 or so built-in special effects.
Additional 3rd Partly Effects (Movie
Maker) - Microsoft
released some additional packages... and Adorage and Pixelan
sell very professionally made ones. The Setup Movie Maker > Other
Software page of my website has links to them.
Movie Maker lets you mix and
match any of them, up to a total of 6 on each clip.
Let's look at effects in
Movie Maker... by splitting some video footage of a parade at MGM Studios
in Disney World, taken in 1999 on my Hi8 camcorder. I split the clip into a
batch of 10 second clips.
Here's the start of the
storyboard... notice that I have the first clip in twice.... to illustrate
the use of different effects on the same clip.
The Fade-in and Fade-out options, so easily accessed by right-clicking
on any clip in the timeline or storyboard are in fact video effects, and counted
as 2 of the 6 effect limit....
If you're like me, adding the
fade in or out, or both, are done anytime the mood strikes, and usually at a
different time then adding other effects from
the full collection... by doing it that way, I'm sure you don't stop to
consider the difference in overall playback that happens based solely on when
you decided to add what effect.
Let's use the first clip
of the project to illustrate what can happen, by chance or design.
I took frame snapshots with
Movie Maker as I stepped slowly through the frames.... when watching the video,
you might blink and miss something important.
Five selected frames of the
first clip in the project are at the left....
... and the same five
frames of the second clip are at the right. Remember that the second clip
is a copy of the first.
The first clip starts by
seeing fully the Adorage: Egypt motif frame effect, with blackness in it...
blackness changes to show a couple other Adorage frame effects working
inside the Egyptian frame.
Outside the window of the
frame in the frame is the Chinese parade going on...
At the end of this 10 second
clip, the view inside the Egyptian frame turns to blackness, until totally
black.... followed by the clip ending in a straight cut with no
The Fade-In, From Black, and
Fade Out, To Black never effect the overall view... just the view inside
The second copy of the same
clip uses the same 6 effects, but sequenced differently.
It's the whole frame that
fades in from black, not the view inside the Egyptian frame... and at the end of
the clip, it's the whole frame that fades back to black.
The sequences of
the effects used on each clip are shown... the positions of the Egyptian
frame and the Fade In and Fade Out effects are the only ones that are
I'm spending a bit of time on
this, as it's more important than you might have known or thought.
The overall viewing experiences you create can
be dramatically different. Which of these two panning spotlight
effects do you want? The difference isn't in the effects used, but in their
I prefer the one on the left
with the bright white frame. There are many lighting and border/frame
effects... check what you get with a different sequence when you use
The next clip in the project
is a normal situation at a parade or other spectator event.... when you're not
in the front row, you can end up with heads to the left and right of your
Applying a zoom-in effect will
get you closer and remove the people in front of you, but at the cost
of reduced quality... here's the Pixelan Pan/Zoom Center effect
applied 4 times to get closer and closer, just enough to crop the
Here's a link to a
sample that shows these clips, with an extra clip thrown in for the
multiple frame effects...
Wide-World of Custom XML Effects
"....when is a title overlay
really an effect? when it's used to add a custom image overlay...."
For those who can't
get enough effects, or when the thrill of developing a new different
effect is more satisfying than making a movie, custom XML can satisfy
Let's go through a
sample... a 'privacy overlay' to hide a face. We'll bounce
around a few apps as we go... leave them open in separate windows, and
with copy/paste there's never a need to save a file until you're
finished. With a few windows open, it really doesn't make a difference if
you're using a few windows in a single app or a few windows with different
apps... the process is quick and easy.
Here's the link to the sample
clip this part of the newsletter ends up with... about a minute long.
The steps start and end
with Movie Maker...
1 - Movie
take frame snapshots from the video at various places along the path of
the face you want to hide... I took 8 of them for the face in the Chinese
parade float, starting with where the face first comes into view and ending with
when it leaves the scene.
the snapshots, taken from the
clip in the collection, are JPG files of 640x480.
2 - Paint.NET
put each of the snapshots on a
select the area of the face,
and delete the rest... I used the Ellipse
selection tool to copy round sections from the
original layers to new ones
layer individually (by making the other 7 layers
not visible) to a new BMP file... 8 files - 640x480
here's a new fun part of
the process... open one of the new BMP pictures and use Richard
Rosenman's Pixilate an Image filter to hide the face.
using the menu of
IrfanView... Image > Effects > Adobe 8bf Filters (or Control-k
keys from the keyboard)
double-click on the
Pixelate... filter to open it...
here's the 7th
one before changing from the default settings. If you
still recognize the face, increase the Horizontal/Vertical
settings (use the Horizontal slider and the Vertical moves with it to keep
the pixilation as squares)....
stopped when the settings were notched up to '21'... OK and
it's applied to the original picture. Now you can't tell who it is.
Do this for each of the 8
pictures, and you'll have roundish highly pixilated things on white
backgrounds... all positioned right if placed over the frames we started
with... but BMP files are not transparent, so we have to take them
into Paint.NET to make them into PNG files for our overlay images.
it's here that we not
only make the white background fully transparent... we also make the
big blocky pixels translucent to the degree we want, somewhere
between fully opaque and fully transparent....
open each in turn and
use the magic wand tool
to select the white background, followed by the delete key to remove the
white pixels (with a selection tolerance of zero if some of the blocks are
initially included in the selection)
double click on the layer in the Layers toolbox to
open its properties
in the drop down list of blending
modes, change the blending mode to Multiply, Difference, or Darken...
these 3 modes will work in Movie Maker and the others won't
set the opacity to 200... that's the
degree to which you'll be able to see thru the pixilated area (actually the
degree to not see through it)
Save it as a .PNG file for use
as the overlay image in Movie Maker...
do each of the 8 to end
up with a full set of PNG files... still at our 'standard' size
for the movie, 640x480
the image at the right
shows the 7th image being worked on
... is where you do the XML file editing...
of course you don't need to write it from scratch... you copy
and tweak the code. In this case, I started with the XML file
used for the condors flying around my virtual office a little while back.... the
full code is in newsletter #92
the XML file had 4 sections for 4 flying birds... I'll copy/paste
one of the sections to expand it to 7 sections, one for each of the path
segments between the different face positions... and change the
pointers to the appropriate overlay images
here's the section of code for the 6th portion of the movement... to get
from position 6 to position 7. I learned in this exercise that zoom values
of 1.0 double the size of the overlay image, and 0.5 leaves it full size....
letting me use overlay images of 640x480 over a video of the same
and then it's tweaking the settings for the entrance and exit
positions. In doing it, I'll make the entrance position of
each the same as the exit position of the previous one... like motion
settings in Photo Story 3. And I'll use the Moving Overlay Images Positioning
Guide on the Editing Movies > Text > Custom Overlays page of my website
for the first draft... just taking a rough stab at the right numbers. We'll fine
tune it after seeing what the first cut looks like in Movie Maker.
to avoid doing all the math and getting it wrong anyway, I did the position
settings visually... by trial and error...
6 - Movie Maker
leaving the XML file open in Notepad, here I am in Movie
Maker working on Moving Overlay #6...
by swapping out the usual Sample1.jpg preview picture with a
temporary one showing the faces in positions 6 and 7, I'm able to make
the XML file adjustments while previewing the title overlay
animation... seeing the pixel blob moving from one face to the next... all
without needing to apply it to the project
if the size of the overlay is too big or small, I'll change the zoom
setting. If the pixel blob starts or ends at the wrong spot, I'll change the
I didn't start the movie project itself until all the animation
previews showed the overlays moving just right from one face location to the
with the XML file open in Notepad through the whole tweaking
process, see which direction the overlay should move, wing it with an
XML setting change in the right direction, save the XML file... and
reboot Movie Maker to check how it changed... Movie Maker reads the XML
file as it boots up, so forgetting to reboot it after an XML file tweak
will result in you not seeing the change.
... over and over as needed until each of the 7 overlays
are working as well as you want. Moving the overlay a little more to
the right means increasing the x value, the first of the two position
settings... a little more down means increasing the y value, the second
from there, it was creating a movie project as usual,
applying the 7 custom title overlays in sequence, positioning
them to align with the underlying video, and changing the overlay durations
to not have any gaps in the overlay track from the first face position to the
That's it... you've got a hidden face.
Conclusions and Closing
The custom overlay sample was
a fun and rewarding learning experience. There are often requests for help
on covering a license plate, a body part.... maybe an ex-spouse in a wedding
video. Lot's of applications.
I learned what the zoom figures
did to the size of the overlay image, how to apply the translucency
settings in Paint.NET and which blending modes work, and the exercise of
swapping out the Sample1.jpg file with the face pictures was invaluable in
avoiding any heavy-duty... or light-duty... math.
Have a great week...