Newsletter #124 - Nov 11, 2006
a Mass of
Vacation Videos and Pictures
Browsing the 9,200+ still pix and 20 hours of video
footage from our recent Europe 301 vacation shows that getting
them into movie and story projects will be one of my most
challenging projects... or by default they'll sit where they
are doing nothing, like old boxes of slides, negatives and film
I'd been 'testing the waters' since we
returned, making a few small stories and movies, bringing
some to show the kids and grands, and laying the groundwork for
a vacation website. I'd been thinking of how and when to get
fully immersed... keep walking tentatively into the shallow end or jump
into the deep.
Armed with a new 500 GB external USB2 drive, I took the
plunge this week. The way I'm doing it deserves a newsletter, as I'm
using multiple collection database files. First some
the Photographer and
Bernadette used two cameras, one with 7 and the
other 5 megapixels, moving the files from the flash
cards and memory sticks to the tablet PC as we traveled, and from the
tablet to an external USB2 drive when we got home.
She's a Photoshop and Painter expert, and uses the
pictures for her projects. She also does 'touch-up' services
for those I use in stories and movies. Her way of
organizing picture files and working projects is
to use very descriptive folder and file names.
I'm the video guy with a different approach to naming and
organizing. I put stickers on the mini-DV tapes as I take them
out of the cellophane, assigning sequential tape
numbers with no descriptions. The Europe 301 vacation footage is
on tapes #115 to #134. I make notes about the content in my
personal database, and don't re-use tapes.
I don't change the camcorder clock as I travel, so time
code data always reflects Kalamazoo time (Eastern). In addition
to the video footage, I snapped a few hundred 2 megapixel pictures
with the camcorder's snapshot feature... which moved daily from the
memory stick to the tablet.
Here at home during the day, Bernadette works downstairs with her desktop
computer and the tablet while I work upstairs with my desktops and
laptop. We routinely pass files via our network's wireless
We spend 3 hours most every night at our Barnes & Noble store...
with the tablet and laptop, and whatever work we carry on them.
Files and projects routinely and often move back and forth between the
portable computers and the desktops, and between internal and external
drives. Red-X's for moved source files are routine.
However we manage the source files, it has it fit within our lifestyles and
the Goal and first
I want all vacation pictures and video
files instantly available for browsing and movie projects by being in
a Movie Maker collection, but I don't want a single
huge collection database with 10,000 clips. Importing large video files
(with auto clip creation) and batches of still pix takes 10 or
more minutes for each, not instantly available.
Bernadette wants the originals of all still pictures on her computer(s)...
I'm happy with copies.
To work with multiple collection databases, I made
a set of them in MM1 to use in MM2 as needed.
After many hours of importing the source files into MM1 collections, it takes
only seconds to import any of the MM1 collections into
... before getting into the details,
here's a few notes...
My impromptu short
survey gave me lots to mull over. I sent the request after
receiving an appreciated email from a long term subscriber, saying in
part: "... the last couple of newsletters I feel
like I'm a kindergardener trying to take advanced calculus. Maybe you
should have two newsletters, one for the beginners and intermediates and another
one for the techies that are into the advanced placement arena.... I'm
probably an exception but I thought you might want to test the waters and see if
you're hitting your target market....". I took his advice and sent
out the poll.
the wave of responses. Over 80% said 'great, keep up the good
work'... but on the other hand, some affirmed the feelings of the
emailer and included some good comments or suggestions. I don't see a
full change of course coming or doing 2 weekly newsletters, but
I'm thinking of ways to make improvements. I'll give a full rundown of the
poll results next week, along with my plans to change.
Vista Corner... it was Released for
Manufacturing the other day... it'll be time for another newsletter after I
install the version that was released.
a Friend - I
bumped into someone the other day who was the first person to attend
one of my Movie Maker training classes... years ago. I'd helped him lots since
then, even building his website. He was excited about finally moving on to
another movie editing app... he bought a Mac and went to the big Apple
store in Chicago and attended a class in iMovie.
.... back to the main
To get the still pix, I borrowed Bernadette's external USB2 drive,
plugged it into my laptop, and copied the folders to my big external drive.
That did it lots quicker than doing them over our wireless
network. I then rotated any that were taken in portrait
mode, about 2,000 of them. The stills are JPG images and we rotate
them using IrfanView's lossless rotation feature.
I captured each of the video tapes using MM2's 'rewind and get
the full tape' feature, with the option to auto-create clips turned
At one time back in the days of MM1, my collection database had grown
to about 11,000 clips and it took over 5 minutes to start Movie
Maker as it had to check each source file as it opened. I've not built
one that big in MM2, but I've run into too many cases of MM2 wiping
my collection database clean when I didn't want it to. For my Europe 301
project, a set of smaller collection databases build and maintained in MM1,
and used in MM2 is a good approach.
- The file list at the right shows the set of DV-AVI files on
the external drive.
- The set of 78 folders below are my copies
of the 9,200 still pix. They are from 3 cameras...
references to 'jo' are to our daughter Joanne's 7 megapixel camera... the
'olympus' is our 5 megapixel camera... and the 'camcorder' ones are
from the snapshot feature of my mini-DV camcorder (2 MB
The DV-AVI files are the backups of the original tapes... and if
I lose a DV-AVI file, I can re-capture it from the tape, even if it's being used
as a source file for projects.
The original files of the still pix are on Bernadette's external
drive, and my set is the backup.
Preparing Still Pix Before
We rotated the couple thousand pictures that were shot in
portrait mode... before my importing.
Building Collections in Movie
The pix and video
files were ready for importing into Movie Maker collections... into
the set of MM1 collection databases. Here are the steps I took.
Made the normal MM1 collection database folder
shareable and easy to reach.
Right click on the
folder with the MM1 collection database and select
the folder 'shareable' and give it a short easy name like MM1.
This makes it accessible as the MM1 folder on the Hummer laptop,
saving the need to drill down through layers of folders and
to let network users change the files, so you can write over the current
collection database with a different one from the set in the Europe 301
You don't need to have a
multiple computer network to get the benefit of setting up the sharing this way.
You'll see in a minute.
Step 2... Make a
vacation collection library, a starter set of MM1 collection
I made a set of sub-folders in
the Video Tapes folder of the external drive, one for each of the main stops
of the vacation... Alps, Florence, Istanbul, etc.
I kicked each off with a copy the MM1
collection database file that was empty, copying it from c:\Documents and Settings\PapaJohn\Application
It's these folders and the MM1
collection database files in them that I'll refer to as the collection
library for the vacation files.
Step 3... Make an
associated set of batch files, one for each of the collection
database files in the library.
A batch file is a simple text
file that runs when you double-click it. Your computer does whatever
you tell it to in the file. Run the batch file when MM1 is closed or
it won't be able to copy over the database file currently in
Make a batch file
using Notepad... type the command line and save the file to
whatever name you want, but with a .bat extension.
When I double-click the Get
Alps.bat file, it copies the MM1 collection database for the Swiss Alps part of
our vacation from the Alps folder in the library on the external
drive to the laptop (named Hummer)... see that it's putting it into
the folder named MM1, the advantage of having set it up in step 1 for easy
access. Here's a chart to help you see it all...
By double-clicking on any of the
batch files, I get the associated collection database file in a split
Import source files into the
Run one of the batch files to get the
latest collection from the library. I'll do the one for
Open MM1 and note that it's now using
the Istanbul collections. Import more source files, arrange things, rename
collections and clips... do all the normal things you do
When you close MM1 it offers to make
a backup of the collections file... whenever it offers, I say yes and point it
to the original file in the library on the external drive. That provides
the latest copy where I want it for the next use.
The collection tree opens in MM1 in
the fully collapsed view... not the fully expanded view in
Step 5... Use the
MM1 Collections in MM2
MM2 can import MM1 collection
files. I select them as needed from the vacation library
on the external drive. Import more than one if you want. It takes
lots of time to build a collection, but only seconds to
import it into MM2 ready for use.
The collections open in the
fully expanded view, as shown at the right for my Alps collection file...
It's convenient to have both MM1 and
MM2 open at the same time when browsing clips in MM2. If you want to rename
a clip, fix a typo, move one to a different collection, delete some, etc...
use the window with MM1 running and make the change so it'll be saved
in the collection file in the library when closing it.
The cost in computer memory to
have MM1 open in addition to MM2 is minimal. The picture below shows open
processes ranked by memory usage when I have both MM1 and MM2 open with the
same collections in each. MM1 is using
only 9% of the memory that MM2 is using.
I run MM1 and MM2 together often,
sometimes using the same source files. I've never run into a clashing
Having the library of collections on
my external drive means that neither MM1 nor MM2 is using the 'original'...
which kind of frees me up to play with the clips in the collections, not being
concerned about what I'm doing to the master files. For example, if I want
to crop a segment of music from a clip and save it as an audio file, I can
split it in the collection, put the segment on the timeline and render it to a
WMA file. If my temporary splits or other changes in MM2 get out of hand, I'll
close MM2, delete the collection database and start over.
My feeling of freedom to chop up
or move around clips in the collections of MM2, with the safety
net of getting another copy of the collection file from the library if
I go overboard, helps me when making projects... helps shift to
doing creative things without worrying about the administrative end of
preserving things that I've invested much time in.
That's it for setting up the Europe
301 collections... now to put them to good use by making projects.
Conclusions and Closing
I've fluctuated over the years...
sometimes having one large collection file, other times having many
small ones, and most recently just working with a clean slate and importing
what I need at the moment. The right way to work depends on the project, how
stable MM2 is (mine is very stable... I wipe out collections by doing
a system restore and then undoing it, nothing to do with Movie
Maker... testing new versions or different software that results
Something told me that, before
jumping into the mass of Europe 301 source files, it was time to not
risk losing the dozens of hours it's taking to create the library of
I'd forgotten how useful that MM1
option of backing up the collection file is... wish it were part of MM2. I keep
telling users about the need to backup their collection and project files, but
there's not an easy way for newbies to do it.
Have a great week...