Newsletter #106 - June 4, 2006
the First 'Public' Beta (Build 5384)
My installation of build 5384 was the easiest ever... maybe part of it
being smoother had to do with not shooting myself in the foot
by opting to reformat the hard drive, and having the needed drivers
hanging around in folders accessible to the new Vista build. Regardless
of reasons, it's great to see the first public beta release installing and
running well before I start checking features.
As this build marks the first of the 'publicly released' ones,
let's give it a once over to see how Windows Movie Maker and
Windows DVD Maker work.
There will be lots of adapting/adjusting to align or realign
existing software with Vista, not just to make custom profiles,
transitions and effects work. For example, I installed the latest version 1.6.15
of VirtualDub a couple days ago, and saw this note on
For those of you using a recent beta
of Windows Vista, including the just-released beta 2, you may notice
severe problems when attempting to use VirtualDub with Aero Glass
enabled -- specifically, that the display keeps resetting over and
over. The problem is that the way that VirtualDub displays video is
incompatible with the Vista Desktop Window Manager (DWM), and the DWM disables
Aero Glass in response. Unfortunately, some semi-recent changes to the DWM
have made the problem much worse: when the DWM attempts to disable Aero Glass,
it resets the display and that also causes VirtualDub to reset its display
mechanisms, tripping the DWM again, and resulting in a loop of resets. Click
on another window to escape the loop. The workaround is to go to Options >
Preferences > Display and either turn off DirectX or enable Direct3D. The
technical issue is that VirtualDub uses the same window handle for GDI and
DirectDraw rendering, which the DWM really doesn't like; I will be working on
fixing this for 1.7.0.
Those not as diligent as VirtualDub programmers, and
users who don't keep their software up to date, will find themselves behind the
8-ball when they upgrade to Vista. I like my Aero Glass and don't want
to turn it off now that I've worked hard to keep it.
This newsletter won't
go into lots of details... it's just a check of the new build to be
sure Movie Maker and DVD Maker continue to work well, and to highlight
anything new, different or noteworthy.
... before getting into it
further, a few
I forwarded last week's issue about MyDVD 8
Premier to 3 key people at Sonic.... and promptly heard back from two of them.
My concerns about tech support were passed to the head of the support
function, who was already aware of and taking steps to enhance
Vista Corner... it's out of the corner
for this week's issue.
Another follow-up note about my first
for-sale video on Google
Video... submitted on May 3... the current status is still "Video
is verified; stay tuned - it will be live shortly"... 31 days and
The Renaissance Wedding last Sunday was a
hot 90+ degree day... I have 4 hours of video footage and Bernadette
took about 800 still pictures. The website page turned from a pre-wedding
countdown to the post-wedding videos... access it via the site's menu >
Living Projects > Renaissance Wedding page.... or use this direct
The Photo Story 3 tutorial for MaximumPC is
due for submittal by Monday... I'll finish it up right after I distribute
.... back to the main
The first thing I did was gather a
batch of 23 assorted files... asf, avi, flv, mp3, mpg, rm, wma, and wmv...
copying them from my XP laptop.
I made a new collection named 'Test
Files, and dragged and dropped the whole folder from My Computer into the
The batch all came into the new
folder... no new collections are automatically created for each of the
20 of the 23 made it. The Flash and
Real Media files didn't, as expected.
Note the file names under the
thumbnails at the right... they are all date/time stamps... not the file names
from the file manager.
Below is the same list of files
in my file manager... MM2 uses the same file names you see in your file
manager, but Vista doesn't... it uses date/time stamp info. To see the file
name, you need to either linger over a thumbnail and let the tool tip pop up
with the duration and file name, or check the clip's properties to see the
Another thing different is
the icons used for different file types such as music files versus
video clips... MM2 uses different ones similar to the file browser view at the
left, while Vista uses a generic document icon for any file
My batch of test files included 3
very odd sized files, ones I use on my website... I marked the above
screen shots to show that when the thumbnails display them right,
the preview monitor doesn't. And when they look messed up in the thumbnail,
they look right in the monitor. All 3 play at the wrong shape in WMP10 on XP,
but look right in WMP11 on Vista.
Maybe I'm the only one who uses such
extremely odd shapes, but you might have occasion to use a file that is
The imported files included an MP3
and 3 MPEG files, which worked fine.
I selected all 20 of the test
clips in the collection and moved them to the project...
Note that the tool tip info
shows the same file name as the clip in the collection, not the real
file name that shows in collection's tool tip. Unless you rename the clips in the collection, you'll have
only date/time stamp names in the project.
I saved the project file, one with
a 15 minute overall duration.
The project preview looked and
sounded good, not counting the distortions resulting from the odd sized
Full screen project previewing shows
the full quality of the source files... my system kept up with the audio, but
the video wasn't as smooth as it would be with a better video card or
system. For now, it's fine.
Movie Maker didn't provide any
feedback about the name of the project I was working on... no 'Test
Project' showed where it usually does in MM2.
I opted for the biggest
and best choice, and the biggest rendering challenge... Windows Media
HD 1080 (7.8 Mbps)... Movie Maker said it would need 882 MB to
make the 1440x1080 sized movie... it took a couple minutes to size it
up, forecast a 78 minute rendering time...
There were no video effects or transitions, and no titles. Except for
the large output size, it's a fairly easy rendering task.
I had mixed widescreen and standard
movies and stories, and had Movie Maker's option set at standard 4:3. The
pixel dimensions of the rendering choice of 1440x1080 is
I really didn't care how things
looked... more wondering how easily and well Movie Maker worked when given an
assorted batch of source files.
too 75 minutes. The file size was 818 MB, a bit less than the
My system has a 3.0 GHz CPU and 1 GB
Playback in Vista's WMP11 showed
the individual clips looking different in terms of black
borders... standard sized clips such as the Big
Ben story were squares with borders, while widescreen source
files played at 4:3.
This wasn't a test of the
playback aspect ratio or sizes... just noting in passing what I see. The bottom
line was the rendering went well and the playback looked and sounded
Movie Maker in Vista still works...
let's go onto Windows DVD Maker.
Vista Build 5384
The first step is to add some
files to use as inputs...
I started with the HD
1440x1080 movie that was just made... and then dragged the same batch
of source files used to make it in Movie Maker.
You can see My Computer in the
background of the screen shot at the right that the file names in
DVD Maker align with those in the file managers, not the date/time
stamps as they appear in Movie Maker.
The image at the right shows the
feedback from Windows DVD Maker after the batch was dragged and dropped. A well
written message, and confirms the issues with the 3 files that didn't make
it into Movie Maker.
DVD Maker thumbnails try to adapt to the image
sizes, but some are too wide, too thin, off-based totally for odd-sized
input files... whatever.
As disposable temporary items, there are no
issues other than for the sake of neatness.
Note the reading at the bottom of the window...
where it says there's 120 minutes of total room on the DVD... better than the
one hour limit of many disc making apps.
With Minimal to No
I had submitted a request for a project-saving
feature, so I was checking for it.... but didn't find one. I put little efforts
into making choices worth saving, and I was eager to burn and watch
After selecting the style, I skipped
the preview and pressed the start burn button.
2 hrs, 20 minutes later the disc drawer
popped open and DVD Maker asked if I wanted another copy.
I won't say yes or no until I check the first
on my XP
My Vista system burns to DVD+R discs and my
laptop to DVD-R ones... as Vista made the disc, I go to the XP system to check
Here it is on my laptop playing in
InterVideo WinDVD... the main menu window first... with some motion previews.
The Play button takes you through the videos in
sequence. The Scenes button takes you to the sub-menus.
If you think these still shots look pretty
cool, wait till you see it in action playing on the DVD. The choices of styles
in Windows DVD Maker are outstanding... by the way, the video being previewed
here is the parade at the Renaissance wedding on Sunday.
The next picture shows one of the 'Scenes'
sub-menus, each a 6 pack of 'buttons' to click on, to play the movie
or story files used as inputs.
There are a few of these sub-menu screens. With
6 to a window, additional sub-menu's are added as needed... the left
and right arrows move you among the sub-menus, while the up arrow gets you back
to the main menu.
Windows DVD Maker works too...
Conclusions and Closing
I'm pleased to see how well Movie Maker and Windows DVD Maker in Vista
work at this point in the beta phase....
A little more work is needed on Movie Maker's user interface... feedback
about which project is open, and file names that align with those used in
file managers. I'll be submitting formal suggestions to
As more builds roll out, and Vista gets closer to final release,
I'll do newsletters with lots more depth for both Movie Maker and DVD
Have a great week...