Newsletter #159 - July 21, 2007
Beginning a 'Promo'
Activities such as this provide
endless photo and video opps... for high quality pix and
As often happens in the editing phase, we try to
make old stuff look new, and new stuff look old. Everything I'm
using is new, so some pix and clips will get shots of sepia toning and
old-film effects to jog them back in time.
I don't want to keep all the clips
old, so I'll move from the old to the new in a way no-one
will notice... at least they won't notice right away if I'm
the picture of a
is a link to the first
of the 30
opening clip... made to look
I'll make the final project
file in Vista. I like how it's v6 of Movie Maker lets
you mix standard 4:3 and widescreen 16:9 video clips.
I shot a few opening clips in
standard and then switched to widescreen for the rest of the footage.
Copyright issues at such an event
are refreshing 'non-issues'. Asking permissions when
shooting close-ups or asking for specially posed ones is just for
politeness. Requests are always cheerfully granted and lead
to discussions and more behind-the-scenes opps. One of the reenactors took Bernadette to a tent to
see a Civil War vintage camera. We've
come a long way in the technology of photography.
Some reenacters played Civil
war vintage music played on period instruments. The camcorder did
This is just the material gathering phase. I won't be putting it
together into a finished video soon enough to make this issue.
Before getting into details, here's...
... a note...
Digital Video... DV
It's interesting how few digital8 and mini-DV camcorders
are in stores today. If Movie Maker 6 hadn't come along, I'd say it was a
sure bet that Movie Maker would phase out, as the XP version hung its
hat on the DV format transferred by firewire.
I get my tapes in Sams Club. On my last visit, they didn't
have any Hi8 tapes... just mini-DV. One of these days I'll have to stock up good
before they stop being sold.
With so many people starting with or moving to the MPEG-2
files of DVD and Hard Drive Camcorders, I expect to shift more and more
to covering Vista and MM6. By the first of 2008, MM2.1 and XP will be
fading into the background.
.... back to the main
Processing the Material
I work in a modular way
making an opening clip in MM2.1 where my custom
xml file is setup to scroll an image overlay
using Photo Story 3 to make
stories from 10 megapixel pictures... or scanned material. My usual
is five copies of the picture in the story project so the panning and zooming
can change directions that many times.
making segments of the video, each as a
separate movie project
rendering the segments to DV-AVI
putting the segments together in an overall
assembly project... adding background music and other
accenting sound effects.
The project is almost finished now, but not ready
to put out a full draft. Here are notes about the highlights...
I captured the 2-1/2 hrs of mini-DV video from the 2 day
event, by firewire to an external USB2 120 GB SimpleTech drive on my
XP laptop system... using the WinDV utility as I wrote this newsletter and
did other stuff... there were no dropped frames.
My new Toshiba laptop, where I'm pulling the project parts
together into the final assembly, doesn't have a firewire connection, so
importing the video with it isn't an option.
The main reason I used WinDV was to get a pack of 172
DV-AVI files instead of the 3 big ones I would have gotten with
MM2.1. It makes for easier copying of a selected clip to move to
another app such as an audio-editor... or to process thru Virtual Dub for some
visual enhancements.... or to delete clips that are not usable for any
325 pictures came from the 10 megapixel Nikon D40x.
That's more than enough material for the kinds of Ken Burns pan/zoom
effects that's a natural with Civil War material. The camera has been doing
a yoeman's job... it's great!
I scanned the admission tickets and a few pages from the
handout brochure... things that are appropriate for the video and tie
it more personally to the actual event. The image at the right is from the
first page of the brochure... you'll see it scroll upwards over a few background
clips in the opening scene.
The scrolling upwards is done with a custom xml title overlay
and a partially transparent PNG file (using paint.net).
I'll make a few photo stories to mix
with the video clips and still pix... using selected pictures from the Nikon and
I made 3 stories from the
pictures... the lines of union and confederate forces, and bodies
strewn in the field after the battle.
I added the sepia toning in Photo
Story and saved the stories as standard aspect ratio clips... using the built-in
profile of 800x600 pixels.
And I made 2 panning/zooming stories
using marked up scanned images from the inside pages of the
exploring my Vista Home Basic laptop to see the combo of features provided by
Vista and those added by Toshiba... the image shows it in the process of
doing narrations and recording audio files.
As the system doesn't have an internal sound card mixer,
I'm placing a small microphone next to the laptop's speaker and
taking the analog route out and back in.
Web Speak is a Toshiba app. Select some text on a
website, have the utility read it, and capture it to as an audio
file using Sound Recorder or Movie Maker. I tried both
and got comparable quality files.... not great but workable for home
The computer reading is getting better with each operating
system version. The picture is a link to the unretouched wma file from the
Sound Recorder for this capture. Does the computer have an
After enhancing a narration in an audio editing app,
it would be ready to use as an audio accent in the movie project....
this one doesn't fit, as the Gettysburg Address came years after the battle
of Charles River Crossroads.
Another way to get audio for accenting is
to download it from the Internet Archives. A radio broadcast
special about Abraham Lincoln, done by Orson Wells, includes a
segment from the time of the reenacted battle... I might use as background
audio over some of the 3 panning stories...
Vista's Movie Maker beats MM2.1 'hands-down' as the best
assembly tool. I say that because it lets me freely mix standard and
widescreen video clips without distortion.
I set the project option to widescreen, as that's how I
shot most of the camcorder footage. Here's the start of the storyboard,
an opening clip made by MM2.1
a Photo Story 3 project showing one of the brochure
the 'Battlefield' segment... a widescreen video made in
another Photo Story 3 project made from another of
the brochure pages
the 'VillageScenes' segment... widescreen by MM6
one of the imported camcorder clips... shot
Doing this in MM2 would stretch the clips to suit, to remove the
black side borders from the standard aspect ratio clips... distorting the
images. Doing it in Vista adds borders as needed to retain the video
Closing... and What's Next?
guess I'm now the volunteer videographer for this library event... the
participants who are so involved are so much in keeping with the times that
they leave all their modern stuff home, including cameras and
camcorders. I know a number of them are looking forward to seeing our pix and
posters ask where to get copyright free images, video, music. A great
option is to record them yourself at such an
This newsletter is a little
later than usual... yesterday at the Ann Arbor Art Fair got in the way...
more pix and clips went into the library, but nothing close to the material
for the Civil War reenactment movie.
Have a great week and enjoy your summer fun
and video work...