Pixelan's new PanZoom Maker
tool is great... I'm a fan of easy to make customized effects that are specific
to one use and disposable. This new tool meets my criteria.
It's much like Photo Story 3 for motion settings...
tell it where to start and end, and it'll take care of the xml
code behind the scenes. It'll be in your collection of Video
Effects for you to apply to your project clip.
You can use it for still pix as I
did in my first test, but where it really excels is on video clips.
For a sample video clip, click the link or the picture.
The white selection outlines are by PanZoom
Maker... the red ones are 'targets' made in Paint.net to use as a
job-aid. I'll show you a bit later how I approached making the sample
To start, here's an extract from
a Pixelan mini 'press release', a forum post.
Just a quick
note here to let forum folks know we've greatly improved and expanded our
effects add-ons for Movie Maker. For the first time, we've brought a lot of
our high-end code from our plug-ins for other editing systems into MM....
(and)... we've made a cool PanZoom Maker 1.0 tool that
is a visual, non-XML way for users to create/insert custom Pan/Zooms in MM.
(And yes, it's XML is editable too, for those of you who want to dig into
To learn more, please go here: "https://www.e-junkie.com/ecom/gb.php?cl=66568&c=ib&aff=154604" target="ejejcsingle"
... Let me know if you have questions. I'll do my best
to stay in touch here for a while and discuss these plug-ins or answer
questions in the forum as much as you want. We'd also love to hear suggestions
for further enhancing our PanZoom Maker tool. But we are heavily at work on
several new projects, so sometimes I lose track of checking in on cool places
like here. ; ) Thanks for reading.
Michael's post was made while I was on vacation, and I'm just now
catching up with the new tool and changes in the SpiceFX packs. I'll cover
PanZoom Maker here, and changes in the SpiceFX Packs in issue #125 in a few
The utility reminds me of the Transition Maker tool I
sell... a stand-alone one that works on the sidelines. When you're
ready to use the customized set of 25 pan/zoom effects, click on
the big button to create and roll out (or modify if it's already
there) the xml code that Movie Maker 2 uses. Restart Movie Maker
so it reads it as it loads, and your new or changed pan/zoom effects
will be in the collection.
The Help button opens this Pixelan
... which points out the features, and explains them enough
to start using the tool.
I'll take it for a test drive, first using a still picture in a
movie project, and then a movie clip.
... before getting into it
further, a few notes...
Vista Corner... I
just read the first published book about Vista... Introducing Windows
Vista by William R. Stanek, published by Microsoft Press. It's 300
pages includes one page about Movie Maker, four about
Windows Photo Gallery, and nothing on DVD Maker. It was written
with an early beta version and DVD Maker probably wasn't
Internet Explorer 7 was
released... I was first made aware of it by a couple
newsgroup posts saying that Movie Maker was crashing after
the upgrade to IE7. There's a new section on my Crashes and Hangs page. After
doing the upgrade myself with no ill effects, I've yet to see another post about
Europe 301 project includes a new video
greeting card of Florence. It runs less than a minute and
is my first video on the newer version of mydeo's streaming service. At 340
Kbps, it's less than half the bitrate of the files I usually put
on file-downloading servers. The mydeo service is the subject of
next week's newsletter, and a tutorial about making such video cards will
be in newsletter #126 to help with making holiday
I borrowed an old 35mm slide scanner from a
friend (Chuck Bentley, who seems to be making it into these newsletters more and
more)... some of my thousands of slides from the early
70's are seeing light again for the first time in many
years... scans by the Minolta Dimage Scan Speed are as large
as 4032x2678 pixels, a bit over 10 megapixels. They'll be perfect for
Photo Stories of the olden days.
.... back to the main
PanZoom Maker, being a stand-alone
tool, has its relationship only with Movie Maker 2... with no output except
the xml file for MM2's collection of special video effects. Let's look
at it in combo with Movie Maker.
The entry field for the effect's name
shows in the collection to help you correlate the effect with your work in
PanZoom Maker. The extra notes are just for the PanZoom project file. Both are
When you Press the big
rectangular button under the right panel in the main working
window, the set of 25 custom Pan/Zoom settings are packaged into
an xml file and placed in the Movie Maker\Shared\AddOnTFX folder... in a file
If there's a file there already,
it'll be replaced by an updated one.
For most users, the PanZoom Maker 1.1
program is available by double-clicking a desktop shortcut added by the
For the 'under-the-hood'
geeks, it goes into the C:\Program Files\Pixelan\SpiceFX Packs 3.0
folder, and the executable is PanZoom Maker 1.1.exe.
A fully-functional demo is included
as part of the SpiceFX Packs 3.0 demo available at Pixelan's web site. You
can try it for an unlimited time, but an X will appear over the
About Making Custom Settings
My first test was with a still
The working viewing window is 240x180
pixels... which is a standard 4:3 aspect ratio. As I shot my trip
to Europe in widescreen mode, I'll explore it to see what if
any effect the MM2 project setting has.
I cropped part of an image of a
couple little boats on the Arno river in Florence... to check the pan
from one boat to the other in a standard 4:3 aspect ratio versus using the same
effect with the same image in a widescreen 16:9 project. I added the red
boxes in Paint to use as targets in PanZoom maker and to be able to check how
well the effect aligns with the planned selections.
didn't pay attention to the size of the cropped image... just eye-balled
it to somewhat align with either a standard or widescreen
movie. The pixel dimensions of the image were
The first thing I'll do is open this
image in PanZoom Maker so I can set the settings with it rather than guessing
where they start and end, and what size the selections should be.
Here's what it looked like in
PanZoom Maker when finished. If I get from the white outline at the left to the
white outline at the right, it'll be fine as the boats will be
From there, I imported the picture
into MM2, put it on the timeline, applied the custom pan/zoom effect, and took
snapshots of the first and last frames of the project's clip.
Something didn't work
heavy pixelization introduced by the tight zooming. It's
not caused by the Pixelan tool... it's the result
of how Movie Maker handles such things.
With the same starting image, a
comparable Photo Story 3 clip would be far superior in visual quality.
But PanZoom Maker and MM2 working together can do it with video source files,
while PS3 can't.
What happened in the first test? Was it the tool or
operator error? The retest shows it as the operator.
For the first retest, I started over with the
image resized to standard 640x480 pixels, and then used it
in a standard 4:3 aspect ratio movie. The results were perfect... here's the
first and last frames from the video.
Similarly, starting with a resized image at
864x480 aligns it with a widescreen 16:9 project, and the results
are also 'spot-on'.
Pixelan's online PanZoom usage
instructions don't tell you about the input source file sizes... the image
in the tool expands to fill the working window... each of my 3 pictures -
329x173, 640x480, and 864x480 looked exactly the same in the tool....
and generated exactly the same xml code for the custom pan/zoom
It's a user issue... knowing how the
different source file sizes will effect the results. You can do iterative
changes using the PanZoom tool and Movie Maker, or you can pre-plan it
by aligning the image in the working window of PanZoom Maker with your
About Saving a PanZoom
Project and Reopening an Existing One
You can save a project file using the
Save Button... and open a saved one using
If you decide to switch to another
PanZoom project file while working on one, you can load the one you
want... but PanZoom won't ask you if you want to save any changes made to the
one you have open. Be careful not to invest a lot of effort in
tweaking a project file, and when interrupted to quickly open another... forget
to save your work.
Like Movie Maker, the tool does not
backup your project file... if it's important enough to be backed up, you need
to do it.
When you open PanZoom Maker, it
automatically opens the last project file you were working on... and it won't
note which one is open. It seems pretty standard for Windows apps to show
the file name in the upper left border... maybe the next version will add
The Clear option
resets the settings, effect names, and extra notes... not to some defaults or
blank text fields, but to what they were when you opened the project file. I
made a project file called blank template with no
added effect names and notes, so I could use it to start a fresh
About the Custom Effects in
Each of the 25 custom pan/zoom
effects in Movie Maker use the same thumbnail. If you make
25 custom ones without notes, you might be well off keeping PanZoom with
its project file open, and use it to check what the effect is doing, as a
supplement to seeing it in the preview window of MM2.
If the MM2 preview
window used your project image instead of the default sample, it would
reduce the need for such notes, but it doesn't.
The xml code flows from the PanZoom
project... to the custom xml file that's saved when you add the
effects to Movie Maker... to the selected clip(s) in
the movie project... to the saved movie project file.
If you want to change a
setting in one of the custom effects, you need to repeat the process all
the way through, and do an extra step of removing the previously added
effect. A movie clip can have as many as 6 effects, so adding a tweaked pan/zoom
without removing the previously applied one would result in two of them in the
clip and the xml code embedded in the project file. Movie Maker won't
change already added effects to align with changed
settings in the PanZoom file.
Sample Use on a Video
The opening gave a link to a sample
video clip that plays first as shot by the camcorder, and then again as adjusted
with a PanZoom Maker effect. If you didn't view it on the way in it's a good
time to go back and watch.
... here's the link
My first test of the tool was with a
still picture. For panning/zooming of those, my favorite tool is Photo Story
3.... but PS3 can't handle video files. That's where PanZoom Maker has quickly
become a key new tool.
For a test run with a video clip,
here's the starting and ending frames of a 17 second video clip from our recent
vacation. As I shot it I was panning from left to right, noting the passing
police and ending up with a couple fairly famous statues.
It's hard enough to pan well when
shooting, nevermind try to do well at both panning and zooming at the same time.
But now, when looking at the clip in Movie Maker, I thought I'd try adding
the zoom to the pan by using PanZoom Maker... to focus more on the police
at the beginning and the sculptures at the end.
Jumping ahead to the end result so
you can compare the before and after... here's the new starting and ending
frames when the PanZoom effect was added... exactly what I
Here's how I got to it... by using
what I call a 'job-aid' (a term from my past).
One of my personal preferences is
to use a job-aid when determining where
to position the starting and ending points for the clip in PanZoom
Maker... here are the steps I took.
Trimmed the clip in the MM2 project
to get the frames I wanted for the movie project
Used Movie Maker to take snapshots
of the first and last frames
Imported the two snapshots into
Paint.net as 2 layers... the ending frame over the starting one
Changed the opacity setting of the
ending layer (double-click on the layer to open the settings window) to 114 so
I could see both frames at once
Saved the compound image as a
Used the Paint app to add red
rectangles over my selected starting and ending points... the police and the
Opened the newly annotated
image in PanZoom Maker (it would be good if PanZoom Maker was tweaked to let
me drag and drop an image into the working window from my file manager...
instead of having to drill down to it)
With the job-aid in the working
window of PanZoom Maker, it was easy to select the starting and ending positions
and appropriate sizes for the effect... the white rectangular
In my mind, when viewing the clip in
the project, the police were in the middle or at the left and the
statues at the right.
But the job-aid in PanZoom Maker
showed the starting selection to be closer to the right and the ending
selection of the statues closer to the center.
That's because the video clip already
includes some panning... and why it's easier for me to work with the
job-aid in PanZoom Maker.
It's a trade-off. PanZoom Maker
special effects can be tweaked and revised. But you have to close Movie Maker,
re-do them in the tool, open MM2 and the project file, remove the previous
effect and apply the revised one... doing it over and over in an iterative
manner until the setting is just right for your needs.
Even with the job-aid I had to do one
iteration related to the size of the source files in MM2 versus PanZoom
Maker... The video clip is a DV-AVI file shot in widescreen
mode, and the MM2 snapshots from the timeline used for
PanZoom Maker are 424x240 pixels...
It feels pretty good to be so close
with the first pass, which makes the second pass something to look forward to
rather than a source of frustration.