I'll walk you through it in
12 steps... substitute your own tools if you use different
- Capture the camcorder footage
My footage is from a family outing to Chicago on Saturday,
using MM2 with a firewire connection to my mini-DV camcorder. Most of the clips
I took were in standard 4:3 mode, but some were taken in widescreen
For the video clips of the game-playing in ESPN Zone, I changed
the camcorder to shoot in progressive mode instead of interlaced. I wanted to
test the flickering or banding when shooting video screens, to see if it
varies between modes. I don't think I could tell.
There were not outstanding stand-alone scenes, just 17+
minutes of assorted clips. The editing will need to make it
into something worth viewing. The presentation will need to be
more of the WOW than the content, and from the first wave of feedback, I
2 - Use MM2 to take a video snapshot
of one of the frames from the video to use as
The famous 'Water Tower' view is what I used. I took the
snapshot of the video clip in the collection... Movie Maker saved it
as an 856x480 pixel jpg file.
The pixel dimensions of the snapshot tell me to make the
overlay and other images to use in the project at those dimensions to align
with the video.
- Scan some images
I often use books of 'thousands of copyright-free images'.
There's a pretty good selection at Barnes & Noble. The images
are oldies but goodies... and free to use.
The one with the fancy scrollwork was to use on the
back of the card, with an area to frame the video.
The other was a small squarish picture to make into a
4 - Scan at full size for good resolution,
and crop and resize images as needed
using IrfanView (newsletter #13).
I resized the scrollwork frame from its original 952x1608
pixels to fit nicely into the 856x480 pixel dimensions of the video.
I resized the image for the stamp from 463x540 pixels to a
smaller size that looks appropriate when placed on the corner of
the postcard. The image wasn't of a stamp, but looked like an easy one to add a
5 - Use Paint.net (newsletter #77) to
manipulate the images.
I use it when needing something more than IrfanView or
Paint... I wanted to be able to rotate at any angle, carve out a
transparent area to see the video playing in the background, and build the
images in layers.
In addition to adding a 10 to indicate the quasi-stamp's value,
I punched the edges a bit with a circular eraser brush to make
it look a bit more stamp-like.
I colored the stamp blue to more easily see the
perforations, added some straight lines for cancellation marks, along
with a bolder circle at the left, the name 'Chicago', and the date. The
cancellation gives the aura of you being the receiver... use just the stamp if
you want to give the aura of the sender.
I apply the text as it normally goes... horizontally... then cut
the area of text out and paste it back in. When pasting Paint.net gives you the
option of rotating to any angle you want. I do that with all the objects I need
Using the magic wand and eraser, I removed the central area
within the scroll work so it was a transparent area... to see the
video beneath it when used as a custom image overlay.
When finished adding and tweaking things in Paint.net, I saved
the front and back images as .png files, a file type you can either import
into MM2 to use as a picture clip, or use as a custom title 'image' overlay
without importing (see step 9 below).
(newsletter #16) to rotate a video file
For the postcard, I had rotated the image in Paint.net
about 7 degrees, so I wanted to rotate the video the same amount.
Open the video file in VirtualDub, apply the
'rotate2' filter, and double click it to open the settings box.
Guess at the angle, and then select the preview feature. I had
the image open in Paint.net so I could eyeball the angles between it and the
preview in VirtualDub.... close is good enough.
I specified the compressor as the Panasonic DV codec, and saved
the rotated movie to a new DV-AVI file.
7 - get background music
I leave them in midi format, play them in WMP, and
record in MM2.1 as they play, coming in as WMA narration files... using
the Stereo Mix option in the narration settings window.
8 - get other clips for fun and WOW
As the midi file was playing in WMP11, I
noticed the visualization with a holiday theme. I
turned around right after the narration and used the Windows Media
Encoder (newsletter #43) to capture some.
Once I setup the capture session, I tend to overdue it and put
lots of footage in my library. The star in the closing credits of the
postcard is a small part of what I captured.
The alignment of the names in the credits with the star's
position was coincidental.
9 - Make or tweak an xml file for the title overlay
The two saved png files from step 5 were the front and
back of the postcard. I used them as overlay1.png and overlay2.png in my
title overlay starter kit (website > Edit Movies >
XML - Persian Section > Script Types > Custom
The kit has starter images to replace as needed, like I did
here. The xml file to make them work was already in
place and no changes were needed to it.
10 - Select special video effects and
I used a few special video effects and transitions made by
Pixelan and Adorage were used.... things like
the snowflakes from the Winter Fun Pack 2003 and the sparkles transitioning in a
I used the sparkles to kind of get your attention when
changing from the front of the postcard to the back, instead
of flipping it over.
11 - Use Movie Maker 2.1 to put it
all together and save the video postcard
I made the card in widescreen 16:9 mode, but 13
of the 17 minutes of video footage were shot in standard 4:3 mode. I had enough
clips for the short sample postcard, but for a longer home
video, I used VirtualDub to crop the standard footage to align it
with the widescreen shape.
When saving the movie, I opted for the Video
for LAN (768 kbps) profile, my current 'standard' when uploading movies for
online viewing... to mydeo, YouTube, my website, wherever.
12 - Upload the video postcard to a website
I used the mydeo streaming service and
distributed the link.
As often happens, no sooner do you send out notices with
the link than you think of something to change. If it was on my own website I'd
just swap out the file with the new one and the link wouldn't be broken... but I
haven't seen an online video hosting service yet that allows the
changing a video without having to use a new URL for the new one.
That leaves a trail of broken links, so I submitted a suggestion
to mydeo to add such a feature.