PapaJohn Productions

Newsletter #179 - Dec 8, 2007
Video Tutorial - 'Brady Bunch' Project

A couple issues ago the video tutorial about my personal database kicked off a new approach of Welcome to.... the new How To button...using screen capture tutorials. This issue takes things a step further... the start of my new series of 'PapaJohn How To's.
I can see hundreds or thousands of short How To's similar to the eight of them used in this issue'
To get them started on the website, here's what the Other Software page now looks like in the AviSynth paragraph... linger over a How To button and the tool tip will tell you that it's How To... Get AviSynth for the first one, and How To... Check AviSynth for the second. I'll use tool-tips to save space.
HowTos on Site

I wanted a somewhat complex topic to lead off the use of the How To's...
Sample ClipThe making of a 'Brady Bunch' style video clip has been a pretty popular topic. It's made from 17 different clips, all wmv files, and is best done using a couple software apps in addition to Movie Maker. 
The picture at the right is a link to a 30 second segment of the sample made for this newsletter. The clips at the upper left, and the right, are high definition 720, the mid-left one is from an old 8mm camcorder tape, and the video in the lower left is a Photo Story, a good mix of wmv files.
HitTheBongo, one of the regulars on the forums, put lots of time into making a perfect AviSynth script that creates a Brady Bunch video from your inputs.
However easy the Bongo made it for everyone, I think installing and using AviSynth is pretty daunting for most Movie Maker users, making the overall process a great subject for this first set of How To's.

These 8 HowTo's total 13 minutes. By making them modular you can look at just the ones you're interested in, and repeat one easily if you need some more time to study it. Note that the videos are not standard wmv videos... they are made by Camtasia using the wmv screen capture codec. If you have problems watching them with your Firefox browser, try Internet Explorer. 

HowTo.... Get the script from HitTheBongoStep 1 - Get the script from HitTheBongo - 1 min, 18 sec.
link to HitTheBongo's Brady Bunch Page
As my personal database is my all purpose info management tool, you'll see it often in the How To's... it's the first thing to come into view. One of the items in it is about the Brady Bunch script from the Hit the Bongo site.
HowTo.... Get and Install AviSynthStep 2 - Get and Install AviSynth - 1 min, 11 sec.
the link to get AviSynth
Total Commander shows up in this one. It's my preferred file management utility... a modern derivative of the old Norton Utilities' Norton Commander, from the days of DOS. Among other things, I use it to copy and move files from one place to another, go into zip files as if they were unzipped folders, make ftp connections to my website for file transfers in either direction, reach across network drives, etc. You can do most of these with Windows Explorer but Total Commander is like having two copies of Explorer open at all times. 
Associating AVS script files with Notepad means... double-clicking an AVS file will automatically open it in Notepad for editing, not opening it in VirtualDub to play.
HowTo.... Check AviSynthStep 3 - Check AviSynth - 49 sec.
In this one, you'll see that, instead of opening the avs script by double-clicking, which would open it as a text file in Notepad, I right-click and open it with VirtualDub, where it plays as if it was a video file. The script is telling it what to do... in this case without needing any source video clips.
The background colors shown are blocky due to it being captured by Camtasia at the same time it's being viewed in VirtualDub. It actually looks much better when not being recorded at the same time.
Looking into this script with notepad shows you... there's a whole other computer programming language used. I personally don't get into using it except for very minimal easy scripts, or copying them from places like HitTheBongo.
An avs script can be opened in other software than VirtualDub... most any of them that can use avi files... but not Movie Maker. 
HowTo.... Setup and Check HitTheBongo's ScriptStep 4 - Setup and Check HitTheBongo's Script - 58 sec.
If you look closely at the 16 second mark... I'm using Total Commander to copy the contents of the downloaded file from my software library on one external drive to the newsletter179 folder on a different external drive. 
Bongo includes 3 scripts... I've only used the full one, and it's worked great each time.
HowTo.... Replace Bongo Filler Clips with YoursStep 5 - Replace Bongo Filler Clips with Yours - 1 min, 24 sec.
I'd used the script before with DV-AVI files, which needs some script editing. For this example I used WMVs... it works fine with either.
Three of the files I used were downloads of sample 720 HighDef clips from a Microsoft site. I found them on the CD included in the Peter Symes 'Digital Video Compression' book.
HowTo.... Check the Script Using Your ClipsStep 6 - Check the Script Using Your Clips - 2 min, 28 sec.
The screen capture of VirtualDub playing the script looks pretty blocky. The 30 second sample file you saw on the way into this newsletter looks lots better, but the How To gets the points across fine.
I guess getting and installing the Panasonic DV codec will be another of the early How To's. Making DV-AVI files requires a DV codec but apps such as VirtualDub can't use the Microsoft DV codec... and Movie Maker can't use the Panasonic DV codec. That's how the world of codecs works.
There's a peek into the world of VirtualDub filters in this one. A DV codec won't work unless the video being created is 720x480 pixels (NTSC). The resize filter gets it to that size. If it's not set at that size, then trying to save a new video file from the input simply doesn't work... no error message, leaving you to scratch your head and wonder what you did wrong.
This is all being done on my XP laptop, using MM2.1 for this step.
Camtasia offers two audio tracks. I used just the first one for the narrations up to this point. As the clip started to preview in Movie Maker for this capture session, I brought the audio track from the finished sample movie and used it in the second audio track. I renamed the wmv file to wma, used it in the Camtasia project, then renamed it back to wmv when done. That's easier than ripping the audio from the movie to a wma file. When a wma is needed and the audio of a wmv works for the need, rename the file and there's a good change the software will use it as an audio file.
The playing video in this step is much better looking than what we saw when watching the script play in VirtualDub... and it's even better in the final saved movie.
I stopped at the preview, as using clips in Movie Maker projects would be part of another subject. There's no need to call it a 'Brady Bunch' clip when using it... the impact of such a clip on the viewers will speak for itself. Many won't even remember the Brady Bunch, nevermind associate what they see with it.
Here's a couple notes before finishing off this issue.
a couple notes...

BrightHub is chugging along really well, just in time for some holiday gift shoppers... 
I was looking at my reviews the other day and noted that I had given thumbs-up to about half of them, and thumbs-down to the others. The reviews should help you when it comes to deciding on a software app. 
SupportSpace released the next version of its support software, which now runs on Vista in addition to XP. Users will be prompted to upgrade as they open the site. 

Conclusion and Closing... and What's Next?
I'm excited about this new wave of 'How To' clips. As I practice, I'm going beyond my initial hesitation about doing narrations. 
I ended up streamlining this issue a bit more than expected by not splitting the opening section from the details, with notes between. It wasn't planned.  
Have a great week!!