PapaJohn Productions

Newsletter #188
Photo Story 3 Countdown Clock Templates

Last week's issue about codecs was kind of deep. Let's balance it with a lighter subject, 'countdown clocks' for Photo Story 3. They are my newest in the series of project 'templates', ones you can download to get a jump-start on your project.
To start the countdowns, here are two that differ only in the audio. Play the samples with the first link and download the project templates with the second.

Sample 1      Project Templates - both in a zip file

Sample 2     

Countdown ClockOnce you have the template... open it with Photo Story 3, run the preview feature, and edit the images over on the sidelines using the temporary files that the preview creates. We'll get into how to do it.
This image is a link to a sample story made from the first project template.
I added a different thumbnail picture from a trip to Europe to each of the template's images. It runs for 16 seconds, a one second black opening, 10 seconds for the countdown, and a 5 second title picture that would lead into the rest of the story.
The project files were made in XP and the Europe-motif sample in Vista. Photo Story works the same in both.
Before going further, here's...
a couple notes...

As I mentioned last week, codecs are on my mind as I read newsgroup and forum posts and browse online info. Here's a couple of the more interesting items I read this week.
One video codec to break everything - from the world of VirtualDub
Guide to Codecs in Vista Media Center - a blog by Chris Lanier
I restructured the Setup Movie Maker > Other Software page of my website. There's a lot of things on the page so I've moved things into different sections. It has one about codecs, another about codec assessment tools, and one on conversion utilities.
JL4Video (John Lauwers) started a Photo Story Magic channel at vimeo, a gallery for PS3 stories. Discussions about it are in this forum thread at
... back to the main subject  

Using a Photo Story Countdown Clock Template
Preview ButtonDouble click on the downloaded template... a WP3 project file. That'll open Photo Story 3 with the project in it. Go forward a few windows until you get to one with a project Preview... button.
Running the preview is the key to hacking/editing the pictures in the template.
To make the preview, Photo Story 3 takes copies of all the files from the project file and puts them in a temporary folder on the C drive... pictures, music, and narrations. The file names are just sequential numbers, not related to the original files you imported. The file numbers are in the sequence they are used.

This picture shows the folder path to the temporary files on my XP laptop, slightly different than the path in Vista that we'll see in a minute...
There's a project-specific xml file also in the project, which exists in the temporary folder for a split second, just long enough for the computer to read it and put its contents in memory... then it promptly deletes it. That's why you don't see the xml file in my snapshots. We don't need the xml file to change the pictures or audio files.
The next time you save the open story, the project file will be made from these temporary files. Now is the time you can do what you want with the pictures, customizing them to align with the subject of your story.

Leave Photo Story 3 open as you edit the temporary files using other software. If you accidentally close PS3 before you save the project, this set of temporary files will be deleted.
To prevent such an accident making you start over, you can copy the files you want to edit to another folder, fix them there, then copy them back over the temp files.

Edit any of them using Paint,, IrfanView, Photoshop... whatever tools you use.
This next picture shows the path to the temp files on my Vista laptop. Note the slight differences from XP... 'AppData' is an added folder level.
Now we're looking at the 'enhanced' pictures. For this demo I added overlay images to the corners of those in the template, added text to the final image, and tweaked the motion settings and duration of the final picture, The motion settings were tweaked in Photo Story.
Temp foldefr
After editing a picture, save it directly over the temporary one. If it doesn't ask for permission to replace it, you've done something wrong and the new picture won't be used in the project.... the names have to remain as you see them in the temp folder.
At this point you can do as much editing as you want. Enhance or change the narration and background music files also.
This snapshot shows me saving the last picture, having used IrfanView to add some text.
Edit Story Pix
When finished, go back to your still-open Photo Story 3 window. Save the project and the changes will be folded into it. If you haven't made any changes within PS3, do something to be sure it thinks the project should be repackaged. It's not aware of the hacking you're doing on the sidelines. I usually move one of the pictures on the film strip to the right or left one place, and then back to the starting point. That's enough for it to repackage the files.
If you want to keep both the starting and new projects, do a save as and give the new project another name. The newly saved project will have the original motion settings but with the edited pictures instead of the originals.
When you close the project... the temporary folder and its contents are erased.

Conclusion and Closing... and What's Next?
Changing images in what I call a Photo Story 3 template is pretty easy. The hardest thing was getting over a 'permission' hurdle or two in Vista to get access to the temporary files. Photo Story 3 doesn't lock the files as it makes them... but you might run into other permission type issues. I got past it by my usual hacking around in the security settings.
I think countdown clock templates... and many other kinds of templates... have lots of uses as openings for stories. As stories are not videos with lots of motion, the use of the transition 'Wheel' for this clock opening adds an illusion of video-like movement. Unlike in Movie Maker, the transitions in a story can fully overlap the images. Once started, the wheel transitions keep moving through the 10 second period.
The kinds of story transitions are limited and you can't add third party ones or create custom ones. It's an opportunity to use your creative talents in making the most with what is provided. Enjoy!!
For other templates, and more clock ones as I roll them out, see the website's Photo Story 3 > Do Amazing Things page.
Have a great week....