PapaJohn Productions

Newsletter #172 - Oct 20, 2007

A Little 'Bluescreening'

The goal in 'bluesceening' is to make the background in a single color, so you can tell Movie Maker to treat that color as if it was transparent. In the computer environment, a single color can start as a perfectly even one.... like RGB values of 0, 0, 255 being all blue. But by the time you go through screen captures and video file compressions to get a moving image in front of the bluescreen, the end result isn't a perfectly solid color.
Movie Maker handles variations in blueness much better than variations in other colors, so we'll use a blue screen.
In last week's newsletter I gave a link to a short blue-screened video... a stage performance with our grandson Nick in it. The surprise performer was Aeromouse, added by bluescreening. Here's the link again...  
Sample Animation Bluescreened  
This image is a composite from about every 4th frame of the animation clip... being previewed in the MM2.1 collection.
Mouse Animation
Before getting into it here are...
a couple notes...



The first library training session of the season was very well attended... the subject of YouTube brought more out than the subject of Movie Maker. I hadn't prepared, and used last year's handouts made for Movie Maker and Photo Story, combined with my website. Overall it went well.


For interactive support sessions I've been using the Skype service to free up my home phone line, and an Xbox 360 bluetooth headset to free up my hands. They work well in tandem with SupportSpace and GoToMeeting sessions.



.... back to the main topic...

Background image or video clip
The background in the movie project can be any image or video clip... it's the foreground that needs the transparency to let the background show through. The overlapping is done by a custom transition with the two clips overlapped as fully as they can be, all but that last frame or two. A fade to black effect on the bluescreened clip takes away any flash of blueness at the end.

In the analog world, use blue paint, blue sheets or fabric, anything blue you can video moving characters in front of.
The digital world is easier... if all you want is a couple ducks like these... from
Any graphics app can do blueness... so can other software such as Excel or Word. For a blue background that shows animated GIF files over it, I tried a number of things and settled on a web page. In second place was an email like this one with a solid blue background.
If you want a copy of the web page and/or the ducks, here are a couple links.
a web page bluescreen
the animated GIF file - the ducks
Simply replace the duck file with your own animated GIF... and change the size in the html code to align with the size of the new image.
Shoot the ducks or other animated GIF with your camcorder or camera, capture them with the Encoder, or do whatever else you want that will give you a video clip to use in Movie Maker. 

I didn't have my bluescreen web page at the time I captured the mouse animation, so I used the Paint.exe app. Make the canvas whatever size you want. I used about 700x500, slightly larger than the 640x480 screen capture I was planning. Use the paint bucket to fill it blue - 255 (the maximum... all blue), with zero red and green. Here's a screen shot of the bluescreen as Aeromouse makes his appearance.
Here's a link to run Aeromouse. Let him run around your computer screen as you read this. No need to download first. He's fun and 'digitally clean'.
Dropping MouseI moved the bluescreen around so it was toward the bottom of my laptop screen, and dragged and dropped Aeromouse many times so I'd capture him moving across the bluescreen (you can do that... drag and drop the mouse... here he is being dropped on the newsletter).

Shoot or capture
Compression OptionsYou have a couple options to capture the mouse with the blue background.
I hadn't preplanned using it in a widescreen project like the dance scene, as I ended up doing... Movie Maker 2.1 resizes a video clip to fit the working aspect ratio. In this case, a slightly fatter mouse is OK.

the Movie Project
The bluescreened mouse clip overlaps the dance scene as fully as it can. I fade it to black so you miss seeing the last couple frames of blueness flashing by.
There are a number of custom bluescreen transitions you could apply. I used the XML code on my website's Edit Movies > XML - Persian Section > Script Types > Compositing page... the transition named "Chroma Blue". Here's a link to a copy of my xml file.
One thing to be careful of when doing such bluescreening is the audio of the starting clip. Just as the visual fades from one clip to the next in a transition, so does the audio. If you don't want the gradual fading of the audio, drop another copy of the clip onto the Audio/Music track and mute the one on the video track. 
MM Project
Once you have the blue-screened mouse footage, it's available to accent other videos. Build your own library of bluescreened clips.
CatScanI'm currently writing a review of CrazyTalk software, a specialty item that animates a face from a single still picture.
Here's a short video clip that started with Cat Scan... one of those oldie images in a book of copyright free pictures. I made the talking clip in CrazyTalk and assembled it in Movie Maker with the bluescreen mouse footage.
Cat Scan