PapaJohn Productions

Newsletter #114 - July 29, 2006
Organizing Still Pictures Before Importing


Leap-frogging pictures in a Photo Story project one position at a time, with small thumbnails and no file names, isn't the easiest task. And for the many users making enhanced slide-shows in Movie Maker, the efforts are only a tad easier.
Newsgroups are full of posts asking about how to organize pictures before importing. Vista has a new 'Photo Gallery' app to help in the future. Google has the Picasa app. Whatever you use, staging your pictures the right way before importing makes your project work a lot easier... and it's the right place to do it. We're not talking about cropping or fixing the images, simply arranging them so they can flow into a movie or story project as a batch... with you having confidence they're sorted your way.
Yves Alaire is a regular supporter of the newsgroup. Over time he had developed a lengthy FAQ type response to the posters. About 6 weeks I offered to put the info into a website page, and did it without a detailed review, just with confidence in Yves' expertise. Here's the page as it exists today:
Organize Pictures
Hurry and check it, as it'll probably change right after you get this newsletter. For sure I'll be adding some images to illustrate the text.
Yves recommends the Picasa software from Google. That's something I tried a while back, but uninstalled for some reason, one of which I remember being it was 'too virtual' for me... what the Vista Photo Gallery will be like.
For this newsletter I'll download and install the latest version of Picasa and go through Yves suggestions.
... before getting into it further, a few notes...

A forum post a few days ago was from someone who couldn't use one of my custom Movie Maker profiles. I did some checking and found a number of them for Movie Maker no longer worked on my laptop. The error message said the codec wasn't installed. 
Something behind the scenes had changed. It turned out that all of the profiles that used the Windows Media Video 9 Advanced Profile video codec had stopped. I revised them to use the standard Windows Media Video 9 codec instead.... if you find a profile not working, download a fresh copy and try again.
I don't know what caused the change. I was able to get the codec back by reinstalling WMP10, but I'm assuming the change will happen again and it's best not to be using the Advanced Profile codec when it does. 

My first for-sale video on Google Video... submitted May 3... still has the status of "Video is verified; stay tuned - it will be live shortly"... it's been almost 3 months in the queue to be online.

Vista Corner... it's time to download another build... 5472 is on the way down.

Tech Smith offered free copies of SnagIt (screen capture - still pix), DubIt (audio editor) and Camtasia Studio (screen capture - video clips) to all MVPs... I've installed them and starting to put them to good use.
.... back to the main topic...

Picasa Software 
I thought at first I'd be using Picasa as part of the newsletter, but it didn't turn out that way. It's for a related but different topic, maintaining your library of files. 
The first step to Picasa is to download the 5 MB setup file. The installation goes to a new C:\Program Files\Picasa2 folder.
Within a couple minutes, after 3 security warnings from my Norton Antivirus software, Picasa was off and running taking an inventory of my C drive. It used about 90 MB of my 2 GB of RAM, and about 5% of my CPU as it did the initial inventory while I did other things...
The initial inventory didn't take as long as I thought it would... about 15 minutes. Maybe it was too easy a task as my library of multimedia items is mostly on external drives. 
It's easy to then get mesmerized looking through the things it found on the hard drive... or having fun in Picasa's timeline view.
Video files are included in the inventory but not audio.
It's great to see your inventory in a nice layout... sharp thumbnails with drop shadows. But the time-based sorting doesn't align with my topical thinking when it comes to a library of info. My main interest isn't usually in the date a picture was taken or obtained.  
Let's move on to the staging of pictures for use in a movie or story project.

Naming Folders...
Yves recommends organizing folders with pictures by creating a new folder for each group of pictures, and including dates and events in the folder names... with underscore characters instead of blanks. One of his example folders is:
He says that naming folders by year, month, day and then event will make them easy to find. Maybe... I'm not good at remembering dates, not even the year. Most of my library of still pictures are grouped by themes or subject. But I'll go along with the guidance to see how it works out.
I used my digital camcorder's still picture feature to take some snapshots as the starting point for this exercise. They go on a memory stick, with file names shown at the right.
Let's assume the folder is for a particular project.

Organizing Photos in the Folder
This is the key part of the guidance, as the goal is to have the photos going into your Movie Maker and Photo Story projects in the sequence you want.
I followed the guidance on the website page and renamed the folder to add the date... and elaborated on the pictures being for newsletter 114. The revised folder name is:
Renamed Folder
Yves suggests copying the photos you want to use into a new folder... I agree with doing the copying if the pictures for a project are coming from your library of pictures, ones you want to keep long-term. When the project is finished you can delete the folder without effecting the longer-term library.
My exercise is with a batch of pix with no long-term redeeming value, so I didn't move them from the camcorder memory stick to my library, and then copy them to the project folder. They went right into the project folder.

Renamed Files
Here's a pretty neat step... my old habit of using Total Commander for renaming files didn't support this kind of process.
Windows Explorer did it the way Yves says... using (1) Control-A to select all files in a folder, (2) right click the first one and opt to rename, (3) add the name and numeric suffix, (4) press Enter. The renamed files cascade down.
With just this short list, I tried renaming with the suffix being (1), then (01)... nope, they almost worked but not good enough.... using a 3 digit number such as 101, 201, etc. worked best. You can see from the list at the left that starting with any 3 digit number works well.
The brackets in the name are the key to XP treating the list as a sequential one... if it wasn't it would have done something like starting with 114 and going from there when it saw the newsletter number.
It's vital to have a space before the opening bracket, or it'll just rename the first file...
You can't rename the group at the left to start with (309) because there's already a file in the group that uses that number. If you really wanted to have the group start with (309) rename them to something like (101) and then back to starting with (309). Each renaming is quick and easy... give it a whirl.

Re-sequencing is easily done using either of two views
The Filmstrip view looks like you're in Photo Story, but works better. It lets you drag a picture by skipping over multiple ones, not one at a time.
Rearranging Pix
The filmstrip view might be better to work with when you want to see a larger image of a selected picture... most of the time you don't need it, and you can see lots more thumbnails at the same time by using the Thumbnails view, shown below.
You can drag and drop the thumbnails wherever you like.
Once they are sequenced how you like them, do the batch renaming/numbering process before changing views, and they'll be numbered appropriately. 

And if that's not enough... and it never is when new situations warrant more.
Go to the detail view, right click on the header for the first column... the Name... and choose more columns to see in the view.
Click the header for any column to sort it in one direction, and click it again to sort it the opposite way.

The Final Step... Into a Movie Maker or Photo Story Project
With the pictures sorted the way you want them in a project, select them all in a file manager (Control-A keys in Windows Explorer or Total Commander) and drag/drop them as a batch into a Movie Maker collection or a Photo Story project. They'll be sorted in the sequence you want.

Conclusions and Closing
I knew from reading all the posts on the newsgroup that Yves Alaire had lots more experience than I did when it comes to naming and organizing still pictures. His suggestions are top notch.
There's more guidance on the website page than I included here. I'm going over just enough to help you appreciate the sorting you can do in XP, if you're not already using it as your primary sorting and sequencing utility.
This exercise was great... and as often happens I learn a lot more than I expected to when I started. I'll be updating the website page with some images to illustrate the text.
I started this newsletter with Picasa but never really got back to it... it's on my laptop but not yet part of my routine way of handling images or video files.

External Drives
Data Exection PreventionI have 3 USB2 external drives connected to my laptop, with my multimedia library of pictures, video clips, music, etc. After writing the newsletter using a folder on my C drive, I tried to use Windows Explorer to browse the folders on the external drives, and it automatically crashed/closed each time.
The message included something about 'Data Execution Prevention' DEP.... which led me to exploring the window at the left. You get to it via Control Panel > System > Advanced > Performance Settings > Data Execution Prevention.
The default setting was the first option of using DEP for essential Windows programs and services.
I changed it to the next option which allowed me to select Windows Explorer as an app that won't use DEP.
That resolved the issue. Now I can do the same kind of browsing and organizing of the folders on my external drives.
I checked another computer that has a number of external drives. It had the DEP feature but didn't exhibit any issues when working with a folder on one.... I wonder why the difference!!

With our vacation to Europe less than a month away, I'm phasing out of newsgroup and forum postings for a while... and I won't be issuing newsletters while traveling.
But Movie Maker and Photo Story will be on my mind as I shoot video on the 40 mini-DV tapes I'll be bringing... and using the 2 megapixel snapshot feature of the camcorder to put still pix on its memory stick.

Have a great week...