Newsletter #125 - Nov 18, 2006
Pixelan Transitions and Effects
turned into a holiday greeting... a bit on the early
side. Use the link or click on the picture to view it.
To extend the wishes further, Cary Marsh, the CEO and
founder of mydeo, sent a special link offering newsletter
readers 50% off the regular one year subscription rate...
an offer valid only until December 31st... it would make a great
holiday gift for family members and friends who make movies or
I'd been planning an issue about the
latest version of Pixelan effects and transitions for weeks now, but every
time I started I found it a difficult subject to write about. How can
you adequately describe in words, pictures, or even video clips the
infinite variety of visual content you can achieve by selecting not just one
effect or transition, but multiple ones.
For effects you can apply as many as 6 of the same
or different ones, and change the sequence they are applied to the clip...
sequence changes alone can change the visual results dramatically.
Transitions can look so different when you adjust the
time it's applied; the same transition that lingers on for 10 seconds can
be great, while the same one at the default 1-1/4 seconds might look
The Pixelan website has expanded lots, in attempts to show what
each effect and transition does. It's doing it with either the sample images
that Movie Maker uses, or a new sample from Pixelan. The expansion helps a
lot, but still falls far short of getting you excited about what they will look
like with your videos and your own still pix.
Many of Pixelan's thumbnails that show up in the collections in
MM2 give added insights into the effect or transition, but your
system typically uses the same two Microsoft sample pictures in the preview
monitor... and the preview uses still pix, not videos... which often
fall far too short.
With about 1,000 effects and transitions on my laptop, and about
600 of them from Pixelan, the only way to really see them in action is to apply
them to a test project and do a preview.
In an attempt to show you more, I selected 12 video clips from
our recent vacation, each 5 seconds long, using the default transition
duration of 1-1/4 seconds (which I'd usually adjust in a real
project), and made 1 minute or less sample videos. My choice of effects and
transitions was pretty random, and I limited the effects to one per clip.
Here's a link to the baseline, the 12 clips with no
transitions or effects...
I'll cover the newsletter poll results after the regular
feature. Scroll down to below the closing comments.
... before getting into details,
here's a few notes...
There was one too many newsgroup posters wrestling with the issue of not
being able to save a movie, with MPEG-2 source files from
a DVD being used... so I did a test that I should have done long
a VOB file from a DVD to my hard drive, renamed the extension to .mpg and used
it as a project source file. It was acting a bit strangely in the timeline,
but I kept the project small and was able to save the project
VirtualDubMod to render the .mpg file to a DV-AVI one, compressing with
the Panasonic DV codec.
the new .avi file so it had the same name and extension as the
source file being used.... VTS_01_1.mpg, and put it in the same folder as the
original.... slipping in a substitute source file when Movie Maker was
re-opened the project in MM2.1, the substitute file was accepted without
question... for more editing, previewing, and saving to a
I added a new section to the
Problem Solving > Can't Save a Movie page of the site... a new
work-around, which should work for Divx, Xvid, and other file types that can get
into a project but result in issues when editing or saving the movie.
Vista Corner... I just finished
installing the final released version... my first pass to quickly check
things showed Vista itself, Movie Maker, DVD Maker, Photo Gallery, and
Windows Media Player all working well. Nothing more was needed
beyond the basic installation, which I installed on a newly re-formatted
.... back to the main
The effects packages are listed here to align
with Pixelan's website... click on either the name of the package or one of the
images to see a sample clip that uses them.
The italicized statements are from Pixelan's
The images are snapshots of some of
the thumbnails that show in the collection of video effects.
My personal comments follow the
9 Bonus Effects - These bonus
effects provide painterly and abstract looks that can add a unique touch to your
Blend in Color, Blend in Grayscale >
Chalk & Charcoal >> Cutout > Dry Brush >> ink
Outline >> Sponge, Sprayed Strokes, Strokes...
These need to be applied to real clips to see them
in full glory.
Correction Effects - Pack E1 -
Expanded/improved in Version 3.0! 46 total
effects for commonly needed fixes of color, contrast, hue, and edge noise in
your clips. Five new CleanCrop effects perfectly retain image sharpness while
eliminating frame edge artifacts! For many videographers, this Pack will be
useful in almost every project!
Movie Maker does not provide any
contrast adjustment. This Pack solves that! Sometimes all an image needs is more
or less contrast to make it visually sing!
Fix common color problems in shots.
Subtly color-correct clips that are too 'hot', cool/blue or not 'white balanced'
from your camcorder. Or add a creative tint!
• Crop Out
Maker also does not provide cropping. This Pack fills the gap! Easily eliminate
frame-edge noise, etc. WITHOUT losing image quality or stretching your
• Blur Better
Increase or decrease blur during a clip for a transitional effect. Or
apply a slight constant blur -- often a more useful alternative than the strong
blur already in Movie Maker.
I have a lot of analog 8 and Hi8 video
files, which have the standard artifacts on the bottom edge...
about 7 to 7 pixels high. The crop bottom filter is the easiest way to resolve
Pan/Zoom - Pack E2 - Expanded/improved in Version 3.0! Sharper image resize
algorithms, 32 new pan/zoom variations (99 effects total now), and
easy-to-remember effect names.
• Follow Your Subject
Apply pan/zoom moves within any
image, just like in Microsoft Photo Story! Unlike others, our effects smoothly
accelerate/ decelerate for a high-end, elegant touch.
• Enliven Stills
Apply the well-known
"Ken Burns" look to animate stills. Works great at any size/resolution MM can
accept. Greatly extends the versatility of your images!
• Mix and Match
Our effects are modular. Zoom in
tighter to your subject, hold as long as desired, pan with your subject's
movement, then zoom back out. Or any other combination you
• Easily Customize
99 p/z variations are included, as
shown below. To further customize to perfectly match a particular shot, try our
visual, easy-to-use PanZoom Maker! NO messing with XML code!
Pans and Zooms are always useful... and this canned pack of them
easy to select from and apply... leaving the Pan/Zoom utility for more detailed
surgical steps. You can tell from the thumbnails what the effect will do, while
the set of 25 effects from the separate utility all use the same thumbnail, with
no indication of what it'll do.
Border/Frame Effects -
Pack E3 - Expanded in Version 3.0! Terrific ways to highlight your
subject -- using borders, frames and other useful accents. A simple, elegant
custom touch for special scenes. Ten new frame
effects have been added, bringing the total in this Pack up to 50 effects
• Highlight &
elegant approach of brightness or color saturation to highlight your subject. A
terrific accent for sports videos, family shots, weddings, special scenes,
effects to focus your audience's attention. De-emphasize background or
scene-edge distractions. Especially handy for active/complex
Choose from several useful shapes and variations of frames --
organic, soft, shadowed, and more. Nothing cheesy! Easily match the look you
Use heart-shaped effects to express love in wedding videos,
family segments, remembrances, etc. A classy custom touch for special
Like many of Pixelan's effects, the subtle ones are
often extremely effective and allow for repetitive use... much like the simple
fade transition is routinely used. But the subtlety is often not seen very well
in the samples... try them on your clips and toggle with and without
The repetitive use of these makes them an extremely
Animation - Pack E4 - 30 amazing ways to easily create color-accurate
cartoon/animation looks from your video. Or to form beautiful abstract imagery.
Just like high-end effects shown in several recent movies/commercials. A
creative breakthrough now available for Movie Maker users!
QUICKLY create cartoon-like animations from video while RETAINING color accuracy
Blend abstract/sensual artistic styles with details from your source
Simplify images to their most emotional/ compelling artistic
Revitalize. Easily and attractively revitalize/ customize existing clips
and stock footage for new projects.
These look like they will be lots of fun in
selected cases... I haven't explored them a lot beyond adding some to the
Cosmetic - Pack E5 -
30 effects adapted from our powerful
CreativEase BlurPro plug-in for other video editing systems. Typical blur
effects alter the entire scene, limiting their usefulness for digital video. The
unique technology in this Pack makes it easy to SELECTIVELY SOFTEN your clips
and/or create fresh animated blur effects. You can even use it to nicely SHARPEN
scenes without introducing typical sharpening artifacts.
Soften Yet Retain.
Soften areas AND retain edge definition (i.e. smooth skin but keep fine hair,
eyelashes) so the overall scene does not blur or lose depth.
Enhance the Sensual.
The opposite of above is also handy… easily soften ONLY certain details
(i.e. blemishes, harsh reflections) to produce lush/sensual
Apply just the right touch of SELECTIVE softness for dreamy/ surreal looks in
wedding videos, dream segments, etc.
SHARPEN Better, Too!
This Pack also is for sharpening! SHARPEN only desired areas, accenting details
more effectively and reducing sharpen 'halos.'
The Pixelan website does a good job of showing the
before and after images, but using a close-up of one eye, something I've
only done a couple times for fun clips. My sample clips show them as they are
more apt to be used on a story or video clip. It's not just what it does to the eyes and face, but to the rest of the
picture too, as the filter gets applied to the whole frame.
Film - Pack E6 - 30 effects to help your video look like various
looks/grains of contemporary film. Also includes OLD film effects, such as
scratches, flashing, and strong grain.
Add Filmic Grain. Apply subtle
luminance-based grain to emulate contemporary film. From subtle to strong, we
include several choices.
Age Your Footage. Scratch,
tint, flash, and decay your clips to emulate old film looks. Much more
tailorable than MM's one built-in Film Age effect.
Film Looks Galore!
Dozens of terrific film looks (selective colorations) to stylize your clips. A
great complement to applying grain (described at left).
Mix and Match. Experiment with
applying more than one look to the same clip -- to create unique blended styles
of your own!
If it looks old, users want an effect to
make it look new. If new, they want one to make it appear old. I guess the
perpetual quest is to take something good and make it different. It's
complimentary to the video that it looks so good that they want to put
their personal stamp on it and make it different.
Time - Pack E7 - 30 ways to add image
ghosting, motion trails, and other cool time-delay effects, such as in
sports/active shots or dreamy/surreal scenes. Also includes unique blended
stop-action, strobe, and flash looks.
Look Dreamy. Slow down your
clips and apply this Pack to create terrific dream looks -- for special
segments, wedding or religious videos, etc.
Emphasize Motion. Use ghosting
to highlight motion in the scene or a pan/zoom of a still-image. Echo light or
dark, or both.
Blend Stop-Action. Freeze
frames per a set interval, with blended action in-between, for an
attractive/unique stop-action effect.
Add a Hot Strobe.
Easily apply a strobe, a fun effect especially when used with other effects. Add
a hot white flash too, if desired.
My holiday greeting video, in case
you missed it, used a number of these.... ghosting and flashing effects. That's
why I used the bouncing globe, something with enough movement to appreciate the
WOW - Pack
E8 - 30 amazing effects;
your audience will think you used a high-end FX system! From organic blurs to
creative color effects, it's terrific for a wide range of
Creative Quickly. Quickly drag-and-drop creative color effects into your
scenes, from cutting-edge distortions to glowing color
the Organic. This Pack's organic, flowing visual effects are far more
compelling for artistic treatments than standard
the Unique. Easily create fresh, unique blur looks that were previously
possible only in high-end video effects systems.
Flow. Form incredible
fluid/molten effects quickly. To amplify the effect, simply apply it repeatedly
to the same clip. Easy!
This and the following ones
are really fun... for occasional use.... especially for music
I'll run through the transition
packs alphabetically, as they appear in Movie Maker's
CoolFX - 3
Bonus and the rest in Pack T3 - 43
cutting-edge transitions, such as organic, fire, beautiful irises,
bands & reveals -- all with soft, seamless edges. Ideal for videos of
family, events, music, or sports.
The samples on Pixelan's website use
the sample landscape picture... these are great but subtle
transitions, and my sample video clips show them better.
Transitions are easier to check on
your real project as you can only have one transition... so applying another one
removes whatever is there before it. No need to remove one first.
Pack T4 - 36 'natural' transitions that use wind,
gravity, etc. to reveal the next scene. Especially handy when you need an
eyecatching transition that looks "real".
The default transition duration of
1-1/4 seconds is often too short for these. I tweak the durations after
Pack T5 - 44 exciting particle-effect transitions
as sophisticated as those made by the highest-end visual effect systems.
Includes bursts, page curls, drops, spills, spins and
I agree with Pixelan's comment...
soft sophisticated quality, as are most of their effects and transitions. I'm
sure that's why Microsoft goes to them.
Picture - Pack T2 - 54 professional PIP
(picture-in-picture) transitions, allowing you to fly clips in or out of the
scene, hold them, softly slide in or away, or zoom in/out effortlessly. Great
for many projects!
The samples on Pixelan's website use
the sample landscape picture transitioning into a plain pink image... with
My samples with the default
transition durations don't do as a good a job as they could... if I were to
adjust the durations manually and appropriately for each, something I'd do when
using them in movies.
released by Microsoft and developed by Pixelan - 2 crack, drain, erode, 2
evaporate, 2 fire, fizzle, 3 flow, 2 organic, random scan, rip vertical,
snow, 2 star, 6 texture
Long and slow in many cases makes for
A couple snow transitions from
a Microsoft Holiday Fun Pack
I like the snowflakes
effect more than the snowy transitions.
SoftFX - Pack
T1 - 35 ultra-soft, subtle 'directional' dissolves, a great
alternative to regular fades/ dissolves in Movie Maker. Tie transitions
seamlessly to your subject, action or theme -- for a terrific "pro"
The samples on Pixelan's website use
the standard sample landscape picture... these are great but subtle
transitions, and my sample video clips show them a bit better.
Conclusions and Closing
I think my actual video clips show
the Pixelan effects and transitions a bit better, but I'm not satisfied with
them.... Using the right ones in the wrong place doesn't do justice to
either the effects, transition or the video clips they are used on.
When selecting from these, you're
heavily into the creative part of the movie making process...
You can't apply them if you don't
have them... get at least the trial versions and check them out. Beyond that,
it's a reasonable investment in tools you'll use over and over.
... the Newsletter Poll and
the kickoff for the poll was an email from a subscriber
saying... 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 thought you might want to test the waters and see if
you're hitting your target market. (I won't be going to 2 different
newsletters... I put a lot into each issue and couldn't do 2 of them without
drastically lowering the quality of each... but yes, used the comment about
testing the waters).
I asked all subscribers to rate them
as being too hard, OK, or
80% of the responses selected great, keep up the
good work. Thanks for that and I intend to... but emailed newsletters,
like websites, are always different, changing, and getting better...
Regardless of the rating, many of them had good comments.
Here are the suggestions for changes.
- More on
Vista - from one responder...
- ... from another - Learning about Vista
is not as interesting (Vista will become more interesting as time goes
by... I'll mix issues about it in pretty slowly... and as I decided not to
write a book about Vista, I'll be adding all the basic 'How-To' info on the
website, and won't need to cover it in newsletters.... which are for more
advanced info than the basics.)
articles... assume a basic knowledge of the features described... in many
cases, that may not be the case. and will leave some users in the dust
(I've given refunds when subscribers tell me they didn't understand what
they were ordering, but not if they are beyond getting 1/2 of the issues for
the subscription period).... on the otherhand, those that subscribe
probably do have a basic knowledge of most new features so getting too
basic may be annoying to those who are well informed (I agree... my books
and websites cover basics and more... the newsletters were meant to go beyond
them)... there is enough background and direction to get even
the most novice user the start they may need to try new things and do further
research on their own.
... I want to make better MM2 videos. I like to burn them
so that I can share. I’ve used your information to buy better equipment, to
use different software so that my final video with MM2 is great. I even like
learning about 3rd party vendors that provide a great tools to
enhance my viewers experience. (in the beginning my focus was on Movie
Maker... but I quickly expanded it to include all the places you get video or
pictures from, and the ways you can distribute the final
I like learning a new tool or
feature. I like learning about your experiences. I like learning about other
uses for MM2 and other software. Here’s my profile: I use MM2 and kept it
because of your information. I also have Nero and Roxio Premier 8 based on
your recommendations. I have a video iPOD and use Jodix video converter based
on your recommendations. I have Pixilan software and just picked up PanZoom1.1
based on your recommendations. I use Adobe PhotoShop Elements 4.0 to clean up
my images. I have both Windows Movie Maker 2, Zero to Hero and Movie Maker 2,
Do Amazing Things. I also have iMovie but it’s old and I decided a couple of
years ago to commit to MM2. Someday I will want to change my format to wide
and I will use your information to pick the right equipment. New creative
ideas would always be interesting. Perhaps adding contributors or readers
experiences would be good to add. (thanks, you demo the fact that Movie
Maker isn't the only tool in the box... and I'd be happy to publish a short or
long article in an issue from any reader... send an email if you have a
subject and want to do it... it'll make that week easier - I
Some of the newsletters that you send don’t pertain
to me but for the most part they have extremely useful information that would
take me forever to find on the internet. (you can find all of the
older than 6 to 8 weeks' issues on the internet, all in one
library... I try to keep the new ones fresh enough to be useful
to those with the quest for
have been disappointed in many of your recent newsletters. I don't know
if it is me not keeping up with what everyone else is interested in or
what. For me, personally, I most enjoy the newsletters where you provide
new ways to make my videos more interesting and professional looking.
For example, Picture-in-Picture, tricks with titles and transitions, importing
clips and audio, using Photo Story 3 and other packages in conjunction with
MM2 are all areas that I am interested in. Again, it may just be me, but
I am more interested in basics and the more 'cookbook' techniques you can
provide the more I will get out of
it (this is a good comment.... I don't
know if this issue helps you enough... hopefully next week's will,
when I do a tutorial about making a video greeting card for the holidays...
it'll be more of a card than the holiday greeting video you might have seen at
the start of this issue - I need a good mix of cookbook techniques in
with other topics).
subject that I must take some time to review, is that of storage and
archival/cleanup of old files uses in different MM clips and videos. I
have a 160 GB hard drive and a 160 external drive and scattered about are
probably 200 GB of files including 90 Gb of Original .avi clips related
to MM. Call me a pack rat as I seem cautious about deleting anything.
(maybe you hadn't read my last issue about my vacation pix and
videos when you wrote this)
I think that some of us are getting ready to
move to HD... Of course the HD world at
this moment is in a state of flux, editors not working correctly, too many output selections... 60i,
24p, 30p ect..ect...So it may be a
little early for you to move your newsletters into
release of Vista and the versions of Movie Maker, DVD Maker and Photo Gallery
in it kind of fixes the picture for us, and will be the subject of occasional
issues from now on)
I think they are
too hard to understand and way too technical for me. I just want to
learn techniques on how to make good movies through the software, not how the
software is made, etc. I am not a sophisticated techie, but very
interested in how to make movies, new techniques, etc. (you might
need to subscribe to another newsletter in addition to this one... all I have
in my resume is a 2nd place award for a Neptune editing contest.... no
feature films or other creative movie-maker accolades.... I'd not
suggest dropping this subscription as the more you learn about using
the tools, the more energy you can put into the creative
Vista is fine
but that is not coming out retail for 6 months. I want to start
going thru the prior letters #1 thru about #75 and would like to see an
overview / topic index of these. Maybe there is one and I have not seen
it yet. Would like to know which of these are now obsolete and not worth
going thru due to advances in technology, so I can focus on the ones that are
germane. Maybe you could recommend a series of them to emphasize
certain subjects? You are the only one that can help us sort thru what is
germane and not. We can whack thru the jungle and get nowhere quick. I
consider myself advanced on jpeg but high end novice on video mpeg and
avi. Would like to strengthen myself here and I know the older
news letters could help. I would rather start on smaller chunks
than start and give up on a big effort. (good comment... I'll do a
review of the past issue subjects and give you a short list of those that are
the majority are too far advanced for
me. I would like to see more on transitions for PS3, simple things like
ok here is a website that has great transitions. Most of them charge for
a download, which I have done on several occasions and then have trouble
getting them into the PS3 program. I'm sure they are on the
computer, but finding them and getting them into the right program and making
sure they pull up when I go onto PS3 is an entirely different
matter. Or how about a little more detail on doing something
really creative with PS3. I have tried unsuccessfully to do a small clip
in MM and then import it into PS3 with varied results. (the comment
confuses me a bit... PS3 doesn't support extra downloadable transitions... do
you really mean Photo Story 3, or are you thinking of Movie
MM is not as intuitive as PS3. The
tutorial that MS provides leaves a lot to be desired. I have your book
on Zero to Hero and it helps but I get a little confused by the format.
It appeared to me that three experts (obviously you were one of the experts)
divided up the chapters and each wrote on their area of expertise; but to the
layman just picking up the book and trying to figure out the basics it wasn't
as helpful as I was expecting. Some of my problem(s) with MM is
that it probably works best if you are downloading some recent footage from a
camcorder, while most of my attempts have been downloading video from either
my old digitized 8mm's (which is a whole other set of problems) or maybe
trying to capture some footage on the web and incorporate it.
Either way it's extremely more complicated than merely taking some footage out
of the minicam. (yes, I wrote 1/2 of the chapters fro 'Zero to Hero' and
the overall editing was done by Friends of Ed and one of the other authors...
but I tell those who ask that the book is a better choice than 'Do
Amazing Things' for use by a classroom teacher... Movie Maker is optimized to
make it easy to go from a digital camcorder by firewire... Vista is even more
that way.... and downloaded footage is often in highly compressed formats
that are difficult to deal with... you need more learning about capturing
and conversion issues than many, but it's you're only road to easily
using the things you have or
I think I have finally mastered getting
the songs over to either PS3 or MM. The biggest challenge is
getting them into the library of Windows Media Player and ensuring that they
are in an mp3 format. Forget IPOD. I have downloaded music
from paid websites like Walmart.com and have the music on my harddrive, but
still can't use it in PS3 as they block the transfer. So
frustrating. Maybe some help along these lines. (see the Import
Movie Source Files > Music and Audio page... life couldn't be easier
than playing a tune in any player and capturing it into Movie Maker as a
narration file... try it if you
Another thought as you are talking to
your subscribers....maybe ask them what issues or problems they are
encountering. Or you probably get a sense for this by the number of
questions you get on your website. Anyway, hope this helps. (I
don't have a website feature for people to ask questions, not yet
anyway... I use newsgroups and forums... the one forum for my newsletters, at
windowsmoviemakers.net gets little if any comments from subscribers.... when I
write an article for Maximum PC and it sells to millions of readers over 3
months, a total of 3 emails is a lot over the life of the article.... same
goes for other articles in the magazines. Seems that people want
to browse or read, not make comments in writing.... the feedback I got on
this poll was
I'd like to see more 'How To Do XYZ with
MovieMaker. And maybe a *regular* 'Tips & Tricks' section. (good
comment.... are you aware of my official tips and tricks thread at SimplyDV,
which has almost 22,000 views so far... here's a
I am a Novice so some revisiting of the
"How to get started in MM2 etc" would be nice for newbees that have less
experience. As you do more newsletters your reader base will become more
diverse. (Good comment... an overview every so often is probably a
good thing even for the experienced users, as the world of computer hardware
and software changes over time and we need at least an occasional
Have a great week...