PapaJohn Productions

Newsletter #141 - March 10, 2007
from Picture to Story and Movie

Roy Feldman is a top-notch professional photographer. He's also a user of Photo Story and a subscriber to this newsletter. I was sending out routine renewal notices a few days ago and, as usual, I use the moment to check what's going on with the subscriber. In Roy's case I went to... 
Detroit Photographic Company
Detroit Stories
Detroit Stock Photo
You can see he's very much into online multimedia... and I saw him using flash files to deliver videos to all computer platforms. That's the usual today. 
This picture on the Detroit Stock Photo site attracted me...

Detroit's Renaissance Center (G.M. World Headquarters) with the Detroit Fire Department's boat the "Curtis Randolph" photographed from the Detroit River
The original is 2500 x 1656 pixels... a great size for a photo story, and the scene would make a good opening for some of my backlogged personal video footage, especially a Thanksgiving Day parade in Detroit, where the parade route is only a few blocks from the Renaissance Center.
Original Picture
Photo by Roy Feldman
Instead of sending a routine email renewal notice, I opted to see if Roy would barter... extend the subscription for limited rights to use the picture. I filled out the online form and embedded the renewal notice in it. That set the stage for this week's newsletter... how to use the picture in a story or movie.
SnapshotIt was a fun exercise, which I'd like to share it with you...
The picture at the right is a link to the opening clip for my home movie, annotated for this newsletter.
Here are a few steps to make it...
Here are a few notes before going into the details.
... a few notes...

Leaving for the MVP Summit... next week at Microsoft in Seattle, followed by a 6 day vacationing stop in the San Francisco area on the way home. I'll be skipping next week for the newsletter, and possibly the week after that.
MaximumPCMaking Movies with Vista! is a six page article in the Spring 2007 Special Edition of MaximumPC, on bookstands now to May 29, 2007.
Starting on page 78... the article covers the movie making process from camcorder tape to viewing it on a standard video DVD.
I have a box of copies and will bring some to the MVP Summit... one of them and a few dollars will get me a mocha in Starbucks.
MaximumPC Article
Vista Corner... 
I'm following with interest all the newsgroup and forum posts about the problems that some users are having... but I'm not trying to note every possible issue and work-around as I did in the early days of Movie Maker. Now that my priority is on 'doing amazing things' with story and movie software, rather than 'problem-solving', there's an appropriate shift in where I'm putting my energy.
.... back to the main topic...

Using the Picture
Like most video projects I do, I make the parts of it as separate modules... for this one, it's a photo story, a custom title overlay, the animated water clips, and then the final assembly in Movie Maker.
Photo StoryThe Photo Story...
For the panning and zooming of a large image such as this, Photo Story 3 is the tool.
I resized the original from its 2500 x 1656 pixels to a JPG file of 1500 x1875 pixels to align it exactly with the standard 4:3 aspect ratio of stories and movies. I opted for a little distortion rather than cropping something from the picture.
The story clip was made with 5 copies of the same picture. All I did for each was...
  • pick the points to pan and zoom from and to
  • set the starting point of each to be the same as the ending point of the previous picture
  • uncheck the default of starting each picture with a transition... this is needed for seamless changes in direction as the story plays
I saved the story to a 640x480 size to align with the movie file I was heading toward.

The Custom Title Overlay... and the Water Animation

To animate the water, I used With the magic wand, eraser and rectangular selection tools, it was a quick job to remove the pixels from the water and fireboat hose sprays.
Here's a cropped portion of the saved .png file... the transparent areas appear black now, but are see-though when used as an image overlay in Movie Maker.
Transparent Water Areas
To animate the water, I went to my stock of video footage and looked at beach scenes of Saugatuck, and some water fountain shots in Chicago. I put clips on the timeline and applied the overlay, trimmed the video clips and slowed the speed of the ripples and waves by applying the Slow Down-Half effect as needed.
When the animation looked OK, I saved the clip to a DV-AVI file. There were a number of rendering passes to make the overall intro clip. I used DV-AVI for each of the interim steps to maintain visual quality.

The Assembly in Movie Maker...
This is where it all comes together. Going down the project tracks, here's what I did...
The first two video clips were from the renderings to get the animated water scene, and mixing it with the photo story. During the assembly I split it on the timeline at about the 10 second point... to apply some zooming out effects from Pixelan to the first part of the clip... ending it at full screen. It stayed full screen until the photo story started its zooming and panning.
The snowflakes effect was added to each of the video clips. It was a Christmas parade and the snowflakes across all clips help visually integrate them.
The parade clips got the Pixelan Crop All 2% effect... to get rid of flaky 7 lines of pixels at the bottom of the clips. The camcorder was a Hi8 and the bottom of all my footage when imported to DV shows bottom artifacts. The 2% effect zooms in just enough to move them out of the way. 
The transitions are simple overlapping fades.
The audio associated with the video is silent until the parade clips begin.
The audio/music track starts with a copy of the fire engine clip from the parade, significantly lowered in volume. The 2nd clip is another copy of the same but with slightly higher volume as the zooming toward the city begins. The 3rd clip is normal volume. In all I was ramping the sound of the fire engine and parade up as the visual moved more and more toward the city streets.
The title overlays are the words you see in the sample clip, added just for the newsletter. The custom overlay used to animate the water had already been folded into the opening clip in an earlier rendering, so you wouldn't see it in this assembly step.
Movie Project
My personal parade video would of course be much longer... just a couple clips to show you how the opening flows into the parade itself.

Conclusion and Closing... and What's Next?
Being a 'do-it-yourselfer', it's a rare treat for me to use such a professional picture. I sent Roy the link to the video to show him how I used it... thinking it would give him a chance to have any second thoughts about me using it. We're still good, at least until he reads the newsletter. Thanks again Roy!!!
What's next is the MVP Summit... lots of mingling, learning and partying.
Have a great couple/few weeks!!