Newsletter #179 - Dec 8, 2007
- 'Brady Bunch' Project
A couple issues ago the video tutorial about my personal
database kicked off a new approach of
using screen capture tutorials. This issue takes
things a step further... the start of my new series
of 'PapaJohn How To'
I can see hundreds or thousands of short How
To's similar to the eight of them used in this
Each screen capture session will have a consistent design
style... I'm thinking here about the background stage. I used a plain
black one with some added text (in Paint) for this week's set. I
still need to add a logo and maybe some other info to it. Cute curtain
openings/closings might work too... don't know yet.
A new How To graphic will be added to the
website, and used as the link to the screen capture video. The first draft of
the button is used here and on the website.
As small very modular topics that can be produced in pretty
much random order, or revised just as easily, you the regular
newsletter subscribers will be the ones to set my priorities.
If you have something you don't understand enough, and think such a 'How
To' would clarify it, let me know.
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.
I wanted a somewhat complex topic to lead off the use of
the How To's...
The 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
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
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.
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.
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
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
If you look closely at the 16 second mark... I'm using Total
Commander to copy the contents of the downloaded BradyBunchProject.zip 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.
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
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.
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
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
chugging along really well, just in time for some holiday gift
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.
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
Conclusion and Closing... and What's
I'm excited about this new wave of 'How To' clips. As I
practice, I'm going beyond my initial hesitation about
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!!