Newsletter #99 - April 15, 2006
Special Effects and
It's been a year and half in development... neither ProDAD nor I have been
hurrying this project along, but it's finally completed and being
published... PapaJohn Editions of special effects and transitions for Movie
Here are the thumbnails for the package of 30
... and the package of 40 special effects.
Contrast those to the current classic Adorage thumbnails that
look like these, and you can see one aspect of progress that we're
making with the new ones...
There's a new page on my website for info and links to
download the packages, see a demo
, and a video of my grandson Nick and his
classmates on a Mission to
a couple days ago... my first video that used the new
packages. The website page is Editing Movies > Adorage - PapaJohn
Beyond this news, I'll cover the general state
of extra special effects and transitions, and take a look at the added
demands of such items on your computer resources.
... before getting into it
further, here's a
Trivia Question: Which app (Photo Story 3 or Movie Maker
2) can import the highest quality still picture? A: Movie Maker... Photo
Story 3 gives an error message if an image is greater than 7200 pixels in
height or width... Movie Maker accepts bigger ones... I've tested MM2 with
ones up to 10,000 x 10,000 pixels.
Vista Corner... nothing done during the week except to
schedule and record a TV series...
Inkscape is a vector-based graphics app
that I just added to the Other Software page of the
It's great and fun for doodling, drawing, has a calligraphy tool that
works well (better with a pen tablet), and is a free
Some technical info: it uses the SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics)
format for its files. SVG is an open standard widely supported by graphic
software. SVG files are based on XML and can be edited with any text or XML
editor (apart from Inkscape, that is). Besides SVG, Inkscape can import and
export EPS and PNG files.
.... back to the main
of Special Effects and Transitions
I've yet to meet someone who doesn't
like special effects and transitions. On the other hand, there are many who
go way overboard in using them. It's easy to do as they are fun and easy to
There's never too many to
select from, like you can never have too many albums in your music library.
But in the quest for more, there's a few things to be aware
Microsoft cautions about a limit
of 100 DirectShow video transitions or video effects that a system can
handle. Here's the item in their FAQ,
the first item in the Troubleshooting section.
For all my studying of this item,
I still don't know what or how to count.
I have 307 video effects and 550 transitions on my laptop, and
the system runs fine... so it's not about how many thumbnails are in
the video effects and transitions collections. If you know how to translate
this caution into something that I can pass along to users, please let me
All of the optional extras are
great... but if you run on a pretty lean system, and tend to collect lots of
extras, you may be at the point of needing to manage them better. Let's
look a bit deeper.
It's easy to study the extra memory
needed to have all of the optional effects, transitions, and custom title
overlays available for a moment's use. They all use AddOnTFX
folders... not one folder, but two.
The first Adorage MM2 package
uses the AddOnTFX folder under my c:\Documents and
Settings\PapaJohn\Application Data\Microsoft\Movie Maker. It's interesting that
it's also the path to the MM1 collection database. So I'll call
this one the MM1 AddOnTFX folder.
The two new Adorage MM2
packages align with what all of the other ones use. I'll call it the
MM2 AddOnTFX folder, the
one under c:\Program Files\Movie Maker\Shared.
Here's my file manager looking at
both of them.
If you've turned codecs on or off by
renaming them, that's similar to switching on and off these folders of
extra effects, transitions and custom overlays. Of course you won't
want to turn them off if you're relying on any
of them in a current project.
I turn the AddOnTFX folders off
by renaming them to AddOnTFX-Off... and then back to usual. When I want to
go back to basics to see how MM2 works without all the extras, I simply rename
the two folders as shown in this figure.
Let's do some turning on and off to
help study memory needs for these extras.
Here are some interesting
If you don't have either
AddOnTFX folder, then opening Movie Maker 2 costs you about 20 MB of
memory... until you actually touch a thumbnail for a video effect or
transiton... when you do, memory usage jumps up another 20 MB,
effectively doubling the initial memory needed to run Movie Maker
If you have only the MM1
folder with the first Adorage package in it (the new ones use the
MM2 folder), memory usage is the same as without it. There's no apparant
memory cost to having the MM1 folder sitting there with the
first Adorage package in it.
The MM2 folder costs you. If
your MM2 folder is fully packed like mine, Movie Maker uses an
extra 40 MB when opening, and then another 20 MB on top of
that when you touch a thumbnail. The memory picture is the same if the MM1 folder is on
or off in tandem with the MM2 folder... so again, the MM1 folder isn't
adding to the needs.
It's easy to turn off
all the extras by renaming the two folders, but more
difficult to do it selectively. To remove some of the packages or the
specific items in them, you would need to do an uninstall or move them
to another folder, and reinstall or move them back when you want to use
You can turn off the folders with
MM2 open... but as the effects and transitions are already in memory, nothing
changes until you restart Movie Maker.
Movie Maker 1 uses 5 MB of
memory... and has no extra effects or transitions... much of our memory
needs for MM2 is because of those extras. And we love them...
I couldn't stop short of doing
a test project and watching memory usage. Here's what I did and
memory usage before opening MM2... 392
opened MM2... moved up to 450
added 50 still pictures to
a project... 468 MB
added a 2nd copy of the same pack of
pictures... 474 MB
1st touched a thumbnail... 488
added a different transition between
each... 50 to start... 522 MB
finished adding transitions to the other
50... 556 MB
project file.... 559 MB
added a different effect to each... 50 to start.... 580
finished adding effects, one to
each... 100 total.... 588 MB
saved the project.... 589 MB
rendered to a DV-AVI file.... it
spent a long time thinking and using 50% CPU as it did....
then memory usage started to move up, and at the same
time the progress indicator kicked in... 1595 MB max of memory
used, about 1/4 way through the rendering. Memory used during the rendering
was fairly level.
Nothing noteworthy happened during
the rendering. It finished and my peak memory usage never reached my 2 GB of
As I watched the
video in Windows Media Player, amused at the random showing of pix,
transitions and effects... the show stopped short... sitting on
the 89th picture for the duration. But there were 11 more on the
timeline after that picture. Had it reached some limit during rendering???
I had to check further.
If someone asked for help at this
point, I'd probably be inclined to tell them to spit the project in two, as it's
too complex, but I didn't get the familiar error message during rendering, and
my memory limit wasn't reached.
I went in the other direction,
making it more complex. I copied and pasted the full timeline to double
everything in it... and started another render.
Memory usage never went over
750 MB, less than half of my RAM. So it's not really a memory constraint as
memory relates to RAM and virtual memory. It might be that limit of 100
Direct Show Filters that Microsoft cautions about... but I don't know. I
had no issues putting all the extras into the Movie Maker folders and using
them... it's only when making such a complex project that
I hit the brick wall.
That's enough for this newsletter...
more learning to do for a future issue.
Conclusions and Closing
Extra effects and transitions are
here to stay... the computer makes them so easy to apply. However, if you run
on a pretty lean system, and can't afford the memory needed to have them
all instantly available, you need to manage them. More RAM is always a good
If you run into performance
issues when editing projects, rendering movies, or viewing the saved
movies, consider the impact of your add-ons.
I wish I had more answers about what
we call the 'complexity' issue... until then, have a healthy respect for
whatever it is. Fortunately you can make great movies by doing it in parts and
putting the parts together.
Have a great week...