PapaJohn
 
Newsletter #142 - March 24, 2007
Microsoft Expression Media
 

 
I left the MVP Summit and its surrounding parties with lots to mull over... and did some of the mulling while in Carmel for a six day post-Summit vacation. It looks like I'll be setting a new course for my website and associated writings which include the newsletters... this issue is the beginning of the change in course.
 
Let me start with Dean Rowe. He was on the Movie Maker team from it's inception in 1999, through the major expansion of features in MM2, and the development of Vista's DVD Maker. Read his March 12th blog entry and you'll see that he moved to the Expression team, working on a new Expression Media Encoder. What's that? Let's explore the subject of Microsoft Expression Media in this newsletter. The Microsoft site says 'Trial Available'.
 
Dean says they'll be releasing info about it at MIX07 in Las Vegas at the end of April. Using the link to MIX07, we see that...
 
"MIX is for cutting-edge Web professionals
 designing and building next-generation experiences"
 
MIX07
 

Here's an extract from the sponsor's page of the MIX07 site...
 
Microsoft® Expression® takes your creative possibilities to a new level. Whether you are designing standards-based websites, rich experiences on the desktop, managing digital assets and encoding video to reach a broad cross-platform audience, the professional design tools and innovative technologies in Expression give you the flexibility to bring your vision to reality. Utilizing the power of the Windows® Presentation Foundation™ (“WPF”) and XAML, Expression tools deliver a new level of collaboration between developers and designers for better productivity and quality. Take it further with WPF Everywhere (“WPF/E” ) to deliver rich, cross-platform, interactive experiences including animation, graphics, audio, and video for the Web and beyond. Microsoft Expression Studio includes the following products: Microsoft Expression Web, Microsoft Expression Blend™, Microsoft Expression Design and Microsoft Expression Media. Take a test drive today at www.microsoft.com/expression!
 

 
I started my involvement with Movie Maker a couple years after Dean began developing Movie Maker, first focusing on 'problem-solving' and later shifting priorities to 'doing amazing things' with Movie Maker and Photo Story. I'll be following Dean and getting involved with Expression. But I'll be adding Expression to my website and other writings, not creating a new site or leaving Movie Maker and Photo Story behind.
 
As I'm under a non-disclosure agreement with Microsoft and the Summit is an NDA event, I'll be careful not to say anything that isn't already public knowledge... I'll start with Dean's blog entry and fish around from there. 
 
Here are some notes before downloading the trial version of Expression Media.
 
... a few notes...
 

 
Notes...
 
One reader thought the perspective of the picture of the Detroit skyline used in the last issue was a bit too distorted in terms of perspective, and emailed a copy with the buildings vertical.
 
The MVP Summit and our six day vacation in Carmel, CA after it were great. Another 4,000 pictures and 4 hours of camcorder video footage was added to our library... natural beauty and wildlife abounds in that part of the country. Here's a one minute flick showing a couple frustrated birds trying to join their friends. They stopped trying only after the owner of the car came back to drive it away.
 
Vista Corner
 
Making Movies with Vista! the six page article is 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.
 
 
.... back to the main topic...
 

 
Microsoft Expression Media
 
Of the four parts of the Expression Suite of tools, I'll focus on Expression Media. The Microsoft site provides some info, and says it's available in a trial version. I'll get a copy, install it, and give it a quick once-over.
 
Here's a composite image from the website info, illustrating a couple key features of Expression Media... 
For the trial version of Expression Media, the Microsoft site has a link to iView Media Pro. I thought Apple owned anything starting with the letter "i"... is Microsoft passing us to an Apple-oriented app?).
 
iView Media Pro
 
The 21 day trial is a full-featured version... the downloaded file is small, at 9MB. The file is install_iview_mediapro.exe
 

 
Items of note from the included documentation and a little internet browsing...
About iView Multimedia

Digital asset management pioneer iView Multimedia Ltd. developed iView MediaPro to help creative professionals quickly and easily locate, capture, organize, annotate, search, retrieve and present their digital content. Widely used today by professional photographers, iView MediaPro integrates seamlessly into a professional’s established workflow, permitting them to streamline their processes, shortening time to market, and eliminating costs from the production cycle. Microsoft Corp. acquired iView Multimedia Ltd in June 2006 and is continuing to develop this powerful cross-platform cataloging tool into a next-generation product named Microsoft(R) Expression(R) Media, scheduled for release in the second quarter of 2007. For more information please see: http://www.iview- multimedia.com

iView MediaPro enables you to create customized, centralized and searchable repositories, called catalogs, through which you can manage a wide variety and high volume of digital files. MediaPro supports more than 100 different file formats including images, audio, video, fonts, illustrations, desktop publishing files, HTML and digital camera RAW files (including Adobe DNG, Nikon NEF, Canon TIF, CRW & CR2 and Kodak DCR).

 

 
Installing and Starting iView MediaPro...
 
Running the executable creates a c:\Program Files\iView Media Pro 3 folder. In addition to the main files, it has sub-folders of Documentation and Plug-ins. I installed it on my MCE XP laptop, not on my Vista system.
 
On startup, it offers to search your computer or let you select specific folders or files. Here's the results of it doing the automatic searching, which it limits to My Documents folders.
 
The app has 3 tabs... first the List view
 
List
 
The Thumbnail view...
Thumbnails
 
The Media view is a player of a selected item... in this case a VOB file
Media
 

 
Make Menu
Making Things...
 
You'll find lots of things to explore from the menu, as you drill down into things that appeal to you.
 
I'll pick the Make option from the main menu and show you some of the slide show and HTML Gallery options, and touch on the Contact Sheet...
 

 
Slide Shows
 
Run Slide Show
 
A slide show can have up to 16 images/videos playing at once. The 16 shown below right are two photo stories, 2 wmv videos, and 12 still pictures.
 
Collage
It works on my laptop having 16 videos running at once, but it's too much of strain to have them all playing smoothly....
 
 
Slide Show Options
 
Set the duration per slide (up to 60 seconds), background color, transitions (10 to choose from... or none or random), scaling and various other options.
 
 
Save Slide Show as Movie
 
I selected JPG files and the feature worked fine.
 
Another more agressive test, this one with 16 WMV files as inputs. It sort of worked but mostly didn't. It said it finished successfully, but the MOV file it made opens in the Quick Time Player, but plays a set of thumbnails that are not animated. It's too small a file to have all 16 videos in it.
 
Save Slideshow as Movie - ErrorA third test, with various video file formats ran into something and gave me this message.
 
It was starting to add one of the VOB files, so maybe there are limits on file types you can include in a slide show when saving it as a movie. Moot point as the one that was successful isn't animated.
 
 
 

 
Web GalleryHTML Gallery
 
Here's a feature I like... whipping out a good looking video gallery on a website.
 
I selected 16 random videos, opted for the Darkroom Special theme (one of 14 themes), tweaked only a couple things, and saved the gallery...
 
Impressively, I copied the files to my website, and here's what I got. Click the link or the image to check it out.
 
Website Gallery
 
there are some size/aspect ratio issues... but it looks like a great easy start for an online gallery
 

 
Contact Sheet
 
The feature makes JPG images (one of about a dozen image formats) of the thumbnail views (or the list view)... with options to add a header and footer.
 
The file saving process is really quick and the contact sheets good looking.
 

 
Convert
File Conversion
 
There's one more feature I want to show you... the main menu > Action > Convert Movie Files
 
Note the absense of WMV as a choice... in a Microsoft product. Hey, they've only owned the company since last June. I don't think the WMV format is going away.
 
Each of the format choices gets you a dialog box to choose settings... sometimes with more than you expect.
 
To illustrate, opt for the QuickTime format... press the Settings button... then the Filter button... explore the choices such as in this Special Effects 'Lens Flare'...
Convert Video
 
I didn't stop to render any file conversions... this newsletter issue has grown enough... time to wrap it up and get it in the mail, a couple days later than usual.
 

 
Conclusion and Closing... and What's Next?
 
We know what's next... MIX07 at the end of April... to find out what info Microsoft will be releasing about Expression Media and the new Encoder.
 
The trial version of iView MediaPro doesn't have anything that looks like the screen shot of the Expression Media Encoder... this note from Sean Alexander, another member of the Expression Team, explains why.
 
I found the note at http://discussms.hosting.lsoft.com/SCRIPTS/WA-MSD.EXE?A2=ind0701a&L=wmtalk&T=0&P=2969
Date:         Thu, 4 Jan 2007 10:12:52 -0800
Reply-To:     WMTalk <[log in to unmask]>
Sender:       WMTalk <[log in to unmask]>
From:         Sean Alexander <[log in to unmask]>
Subject:      Re: MIX 07 and Microsoft Expression Media Encoder
In-Reply-To:  <[log in to unmask]>
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;

Hi Sanj.  Expression Media Encoder is a part of the Expression Media
asset management product announced late last year (details at
http://www.microsoft.com/expression).  It is not designed to replace
Windows Media Encoder, rather is a tool optimized for the compression
and publishing of video with "WPF/E".  It's not currently in the
downloadable version (Expression Media was previously known as iView
MediaPro) though we're working to make it available for evaluation in a
later release.

I'll be at MIX07 J.  Also I'd like to again encourage those with
suggestions on what additional topics they'd like to see covered at
MIX07 to shoot me a line.  We're published the first round of sessions
and are looking for feedback on others.
 

Thx

Sean
The interest in video is all over the place... our Sunday newspaper today had a front page picture that was blurry, to simulate movement.... with a note to go to their website to see the picture as a video. Everyone wants to do videos, even a newspaper!!!!
 
 
Have a great week and enjoy your video work...
 
PapaJohn