Intro to AviSynth
I've mentioned a number of times that I've
been working on the introductory chapter to a book about the world of
and learning much as I go.
has been in my video editing toolbox for a long time. I included it the 'Do Amazing Things'
book, and used it to rotate the embedded airplane clip in the video on the main web page for
the book's online companion.
In the weekly newsletters it was featured in
issue #16, and just last week in issue #35 was one of the apps used to adjust a dark video.
The book work introduced me to more of the
VirtualDub world, especially to two related but different apps,
VirtualDubMod (VDubMod) and
new to me and just added to my toolbox. I'll make one comment about VDubMod
in the section with notes, and devote the heart of this issue to AviSynth.
One thing that makes AviSynth
different is that, on first glance, it appears to be something only for real geeks who love
the hand-coding of things like XML files for transitions and effects. But that's just with a
cursory look... when you dig in a bit, you're quickly amazed at what
doors you can open with it.
recommends AviSynth on his site:
http://www.rehanfx.org/ as the easiest way to reverse a clip; I agree with him and changed
my site the other day to say so... it's method #4 on the page, and is now the preferred one.
In this newsletter I'll cover downloading,
installing and using it, and encourage you to adopt it too. It's free from the world of open
... before getting
into it, a couple long notes
about things going on...
• First the comment about
It's VirtualDub with lots of extra features.
One extra is its ability to use MPEG-2 files
as inputs, something VirtualDub can't. As I wrote about it for the
book chapter, I had to check... yes it opens MPEG-2 files. More than that, I tried opening the
VOB files on two different DVDs and saving them to AVI files for use in Movie Maker. Here's
how it went:
The first one I tried was a computer-made
DVD from someone in California...
a Movie Maker movie burned onto a DVD disc by Sonic's
MyDVD 4.5, the same app I use. VDubMod
took a while to open it... it parses the interleaved MPEG-2 file as it does so (whatever that
means). Once opened, I had it save it as an AVI file, choosing the Panasonic DV codec for compression.
The rendering went well, and the video and audio in the Panasonic DV-AVI file played fine...
and worked as a source file in Movie Maker.
The second disc was a mini-disc my son gave
me from his Sony DVD camcorder.
This time I got an error message... the Panasonic DV codec couldn't handle it.
I changed the compression setting to try the
Microsoft Windows Media Video 9 codec and got another error message, this one pointing to the
need for the Windows VCM... that option used to work before my laptop went off to the shop for
its new hard drive.
My records show the Windows VCM codec package
was released 1-1/2 years ago, and did these two things: (1) Legacy encoding and editing applications
can now support the WMV9 codec in file containers such as AVI, (2) WMV 9 content can now reach
desktops running Windows Media Player 6.4. Yes, this fits the case. I downloaded the VCM package,
installed it again on my laptop, and the encoding went fine (note that aborted the rendering
due to time, so I didn't get as far as checking it's playback quality).
So I had gone directly from the VOB files on
DVDs to a DV-AVI file in one case and a WMV9 file in another.
If you're interested in the VCM package, the
• My website will be 2 years old in March and
it still had it's first priority on problem-solving... until earlier today. With the roll-out
of a new venture I have with Neptune, it's time to change. I moved the priorities around.
Doing Amazing Things
in your videos is now first, the Photo Story 3 tutorial aspect of the site is second, and problem
solving is third.
What's with Neptune? We're working toward a
PapaJohn Gallery at Neptune that will show some of my videos and
selected others, with a link from Neptune to my website. On my website, I'm adding more links
to Neptune and working on a tutorial about how to use the Neptune service.
Neptune is the only web-hosting service so
tied into Movie Maker that it appears in the list of providers when you opt to save to The Web
in the Save Movie Wizard. If we're going to make and exhibit amazing movies, Neptune is the
best place for the gallery
If you're familiar with
AviSynth, then you're way ahead of where I was a few weeks ago.
But I've been studying to catch up.
The heart of the software is its frame server
engine, a DLL in your Windows/System32 folder... waiting for you to double-click on a file with
an AVS extension... you don't run the engine directly.
There are two kinds of files with AVS extensions
and unless you have installed this app, you can search your hard drive for AVS files and probably
not find one of either type.
• One is a video file that you rename to add
the .AVS extension... I rename them like this: from videofile.avi
Why would you want to do this? I don't have
any good answers yet. I've read about some reasons but haven't been able to confirm one yet
or come up with others on my own. Just realize that you can redirect a video file to go through
the AviSynth frame server engine by adding an AVS extension to it
(after you've installed the software of course).
• The other is a small text script file that
you rename to give it the extension. Now we get into the instant usefulness of the app.
The DLL takes each frame of a video file and
sends (serves) it to whatever software you associate AVS files with. The default at installation
is Windows Media Player 6.4.
Installing and testing it taught me that XP
has two versions of the Windows Media Player installed - 6.4 and the newer 9 or 10.
the AVS files to use WMP10 on my laptop. The software playing it (sometimes WMP10)thinks it's
coming directly from some video file, but it's really coming from the frame server.
This sets the stage for the scripts and the
neat things you can do with them.
Create a simple text file in Notepad and save
it with an AVS extension (maybe it'll be a TXT file first - then rename it). In the script you
tell the frame server to do something to each frame as it passes through from the source video
file to the playing software.
Here's a script to illustrate it:
This script has 3 lines or commands (I squeezed
the first line to wrap into 3 lines for the snapshot):
1 - StackVertical
- play the source videos on top of each other, vertically with the first one on top. This isn't
Picture-in-Picture... it's Picture-on-Picture.
2 - Subtitle
- add my URL in the upper left corner
(default position). The text isn't in the source file; it's being added by the script.
3 - ShowFrameNumber
- add the frame number on each.
When I saved the script and double-clicked
it, WMP10 opened and played what you see in the following figure.
I took the snapshot as frame 51 went by. You
can see that each of the 3 commands in the script are working.
Let's check the file properties
in WMP10. Both of the source files are DV-AVI of 720x480 pixels... the combined height of both
is 960 pixels and the aspect ratio is an unusual 3:4.
WMP10 is opening automatically because I associated
it with the AVS script file extension.
What other apps can use the AVS script as a
proxy for a video file?
Video Tools and TMPGEnc
open them fine. Movie Maker 1 and 2 don't.
If you want to save the file as you see it,
use one of the apps that accepts the script and save it as a new file. The new file will have
all the attributes you see playing in the player.
WMP10 serves as my preview app... while cycling
thru it, I keep the script file open in Notepad, tweaking the commands and trying different
source files until it's doing what I want.
Reverse a Clip
Back to Rehan's
recommendation, which provides a more useful example of a script. If all I wanted to do to my
countdown car clip is have it play in reverse, the two line script would read:
I won't go through other things you can do
with the scripts... there are lots. I just wanted to introduce you to the idea of using the
Downloading and Installing
The download is a 1.71 MB file AviSynth_255.exe
- from SourceForge.net (I used a server in Australia as the USA site took forever and timed
Run the executable... it'll put the frame server
engine, the AviSynth.DLL, in the Windows/System32 folder and create a new
AviSynth 2.5 folder under Program Files, with 3 subfolders - Docs,
Examples and plugins...
Use whatever folder you want and wherever you
want it for your script files.
Online info about AviSynth
and the help files with it seem a bit dated. They suggest that any file that runs in the Windows
Media Player can also be used as an AVS file... to kind of force it to open in an app that wouldn't
otherwise accept it.
I didn't find it that way. The WMV and DV-AVI
type I files from Movie Maker certainly play in the Windows Media Player, yet renaming them
to AVS doesn't make a difference when it comes to trying to open them in Virtual Dub... I believe
the current info about Virtual Dub. It checks the file itself to see what type it is and doesn't
go by the extension. Renaming a WMV file to AVS will drive it to the frame server engine but
you'll get an error message saying it can't play that type of file.
I look forward to comments and discussion about
this and other newsletters on the forums at:
Have a great week...
Movie Maker 2 -
Photo Story 2 -
Photo Story 3 - a branch of -
Products and Services
I'm involved in many things that support the
users of Movie Maker and Photo Story, and adding more daily. Here's a list of what is available
to the public. Some are free and others are reasonably priced.
Books and Magazines:
Movie Maker 2 - Do Amazing Things (with its
online companion on
Movie Maker 2 - Zero to Hero (with support
on the Friends of Ed forum at
winter quarterly special - with a 7 page tutorial 'Make a Killer Home Movie with Maker 2' -
now on newsstands in the USA through March 7th.
Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 -
- 3 goals: be the online companion to the Do Amazing Things book, provide a detailed tutorial
for Photo Story 3, and help you solve Movie Maker 2 problems.
- a full tutorial about using it. It's not a problem-solving site.
Online Support - Forums, Channels and
I'm a regular on many online forums and newsgroups,
the main ones being:
Movie Maker and Photo Story forums at
Movie Maker 2 forum at SimplyDV.com
Windows XP Movie Maker newsgroup at
Photo Story 2 newsgroup
Photo Story 3 newsgroup
Movie Maker 2/Photo Story newsletter. The annual
subscription is $20 and the link to subscribe is on the main page of my Movie Maker website
for upcoming newsletters (always subject to change):
#37 - open (I'll post to the forum as soon
as I know)
Older newsletters (more than 6 issues ago)
are archived by Rob Morris at:
Maker 2 (TM2) - a utility
for the ultimate in making personal and custom transitions for Movie Maker 2:
TM2 is a joint effort by Patrick
Leabo, the programmer, and myself.
I routinely beta test the
packages and think very highly of their people and products: Their SpiceFX
packages of additional transitions and effects for Movie Maker 2 are available at:
Adorage package for Movie Maker 2 is available at:
Other fee-based services:
you can't save a movie because your project has become too complex, e-mail
it to me and I'll divide it into manageable sub-projects for you, and provide detailed instructions
to render the parts and assemble them into your final movie. $49.95 - for details, see the sidebar
on the Problem Solving > Can't Save a Movie page of
Movie Maker 2/Photo Story 2 training
and support services start
at $50 per hour - send an email to
PapaJohn@CharterMi.net and I'll help you determine your needs, and work
with you to plan and implement them.
Wedding combo website/video packages
- starting at $2,500 + travel expenses. See
www.jill-mark.papajohn.org or the bottom branch of my Movie Maker 2 website for a sample
of what you can expect for the online portion of the package.