Newsletter #146 - April 21, 2007
As usual, many readers are a bit overwhelmed with much of
what I cover in newsletters. Some have asked for more about Photo
Story. Let's do a simpler one about pictures for stories.
I'll keep this newsletter on some basics and not try to
do any complex WOW type things. Of course I'll still try to do a good sample,
and maybe get carried away at times.
sample for this week was made from a couple downloaded images. I saved
it twice and put it out on the internet in two places.
Click the picture or this link to see the copy on
The other one was a much higher
playing on a test website page on my website
server... you have to love today's internet broadband capabilities... and
how well stories can play.
There's really no story behind this sample... just a
couple randomly selected high quality pictures arranged in Photo Story so
there are 3 segments:
No matter how small or trivial a story, I always consider it
needing each of those 3 parts, even if the title and credits are nothing more
than visual suggestions or a 'hello' and 'goodbye'.
I'll make general statements about pictures
for stories, about things like image sizes, preps before
importing, and adding text... 'preps before importing' can be as
little as nothing except the selection and sequencing... to
hours or weeks of work in any number of image software
I've noticed on my submittals to Trip Advisor, stories are
consistently rated higher than movies. Part of the reason is the higher
visual quality and the much smoother panning and zooming.
Before getting into more details, here are...
... a few notes...
Expression... some pretty thorough previews rolled out at the NAB
show this week, as a preview of the announcements to be made at
the Mix07 show in Los Vegas at the end of this month.
I used the previews as a
trigger to roll out a new Expression branch of the website. It has a
couple starter pages, with links to lots of great reading material and
online videos... here are direct links to the 2 new pages.
I'm swimming around in software previews, beta
releases, online videos and tutorials, press releases and marketing material,
and newsgroup posts... just trying to accomplish something small to get started.
I just installed Expression Web on my Vista system.
I had looked in Vista for something that listed the
installed video and audio codecs, as the Device Manager does in XP, but hadn't
found it. This week I read a post about the listings being included
in Windows Media Player 11 > Help > About > Technical
Sticky Note... Making Movies with
Vista! a six page article in the Spring 2007
Special Edition of MaximumPC, is on
bookstands now to May 29, 2007. Starting on page 78... the
article covers the movie making process from camcorder tape to
viewing on a standard video DVD.
.... back to the main
Rules of thumb:
Use what you have already
Get more from wherever you can.
Image Sizes... bigger is better... Photo
Story can handle them
I used Google's image search feature to
find some large sized pictures for this newsletter... note royalty
and copyright items as you select and download them.
my search term was 'Microsoft Expression Media
Encoder', something I've been searching for info about lately
I filtered the results to include only 'Large
I downloaded 7 of the larger more interesting ones, and from those
picked 2 for the little sample.
The aerial shot of the helicopter at the Statue of Liberty
is 3,328 by 2,490 pixels in dimensions... 8+ megapixels. Thinking ahead for the
audio, I had some camcorder footage of a chopper at an airshow in
The image was part of a news release about the new
helicopter when it was placed in service... The first of its kind,
SKYFOX is an American Eurocopter ASTAR B2 and makes FOX5 the leader in airborne
The picture of the $100 bill was even larger... 3,664
by 3,088 pixels.... 11+ megapixels. It's obviously from a good quality
scanner. Funny that its source was a thumbnail in a blog about Benjamin
Franklin, by someone at the University of Michigan. An 11 megapixel image to use
as a postage stamp sized accent piece. Who knows where the blogger got it
from... I'll treat it as a note in circulation and keep it moving.
Photo Story routinely offers to remove black
borders, and I routinely don't accept.
This picture of a $100 bill is why I
routinely say no. There's no way to crop the blackness out
without losing part of the picture. And it's an option you can't go
back later to undo. If you change your mind, you'll need to delete the
pictures from the story and reimport them.
Motion settings can be
easily used to avoid the border areas as
Divide Large Pictures into
If you know you're going to
focus on different parts of a picture at different points in a story,
divide it into smaller pictures before importing. They'll be easier on Photo
divided the bill into two images, the obverse and reverse, using IrfanView. I
saved them as .bmp images.
I usually work in
bitmapped image formats like BMPs rather than compressed ones like JPGs. I don't
have issues with JPG files... I prefer maintaining whatever picture quality I
start with as I move pictures through various prepping
Add Opening Title and Closing
I mean on the pictures themselves, not later inside
your story project. Photo Story 3 is pretty limited in text features... you can
do more by adding text to pictures before importing
I'll use IrfanView again, this time to add just a
bit of opening title text on the obverse, and closing credits text on
the reverse... you can apply it anywhere you want.
I used the Berylium
font... size 36... a large font size for a seemingly small but
deceptively large picture... the higher the pixel size of the image, the
larger the font needed. That's a positive for the text effects you can
Keep the font style aligned through the
story.... mostly in the choice of font.
My pictures with text added were ready to go
into the story project, so I saved them as JPG files at 80% quality,
making JPG files that are less than 10% the size of the BMPs. Photo
Story needs less memory to render the story when it has
smaller compressed files to work with. If you're one of those who have
problems using .JPG files, continue with the .BMPs.
Make Compound Overlays with
Photo Story doesn't have features to overlay a
logo, or blend a couple images using different transparency levels. Do
those kinds of things as part of your image prep work, before importing. Paint.net
handles semi-transparent layers well.
Background music (audio)...
distribute a story without audio... it's just as important as the
I did my
usual... render a draft of the story, import it into MM2, mix the
audio there, strip the story out of the project, save the movie as a high
quality audio wma file, and use the wma file as the background
easy to do it that way, and the results are superior... trimming and mixing
audio clips by overlapping them is as much as you usually need to
significantly enhance the audio track.
When trying to use the chopper audio file in the story
project, I got an error message...
had ripped the audio from a DV-AVI file, using the TMPGEnc
Checking the file properties shows the
audio sample rate is 48 kHz... and the error message says Photo Story 3 can't
handle music files with a higher sampling frequency than 44.1 kHz.
That's why the error.
Movie Maker had no problem with the higher sample
rate. Another nudge to doing the audio in Movie Maker.
Closing... and What's Next?
If you're out to make a killer story, do lots of thinking, planning and
prepping of the pictures before opening PS3. If you don't
prep them before importing, you'll end up so involved in the story
editing that you'll not want to redo any of the
The problem that PS3 had with the
audio WAV file surprised me... I'm so used to using WAV files without problems
that I had to take a look at what happened this time. It turned out to be a well
written error message, striking me out on one of the 3 counts. It's great
when the message is so clear.
For the saving and distribution,
I had planned to just do it via YouTube. But a post on Mark Coffman's
Photo Story forum today got me to checking the html code used by someone
who was showing her story. I liked her simple page and modeled a test
page after it. I used the standard PS3 option of saving to play on my computer at a size
of 800x600. I think I'll make another custom one for that size, specific to
online viewing. One of things I do in the online profiles is use a frame rate of
24 to align with movies... to shift some of the bandwidth to use for
the audio track.
Have a great week and enjoy your video work...