Civil War Project - Part 1 of ??
Last week's issue about DVDs and today's
home widescreen HD TVs was very well received... thanks again to Carol for setting the stage for
it. She's right about the subject being in the limelight.
I saw a number of posts during the week
from those wondering why the quality of their home-burned DVDs didn't look as good as what they
see on their computer...
Let's do something different this week.
This issue is part 1 of a multi-part
tutorial... I don't know how many parts there will be in all, as many as it takes to get
through it. I'll space them out, maybe with a few issues between each part.
The inspiration comes from a few places.
I begin my week thinking about what I'm working on at the moment, and how it might fit into a topic
for the upcoming issue. On Monday morning I was scanning lots of pages from an old book, this one
an 1866 school textbook about US History, written shortly after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.
There are many ways to get high resolution
images and video footage for movies and stories. Digital cameras and camcorders are a couple...
but there are others.
One is to use your scanner...
all it takes to find some great source material to scan is a walk around your home. Pick up something
you like and scan it.
Photo Story 3 and how well it handles
high resolution images inspires me to gather lots of pixels from different places and look for different
and fun ways to pan and zoom them...
I started with maps in my 1875 encyclopedia,
doing a story with a map of
England and Wales.
Then the short story of an
1804 book of arithmetic. For some reason it impressed many...
I looked around for another book related
project, something that would go beyond a single map or book. A few items started to come together...
the 1866 history book, other old maps from the 1875 encyclopedia, and a 1954 video produced by Encyclopedia
Britannica Films, a dramatization of important Civil War military events and imagery of the places
where they occurred (Run time: 14:37). I had downloaded that video 3 years ago but hadn't used it
Today we have the computers and software
tools to put different kinds of things together in unusual and amazing ways... and the internet
to display them.
It seems like a great mix of ingredients
for a Photo Story 3 and Movie Maker 2 project... maps with dynamically marked routes... lots of
pixels to zoom and pan... text from books, and professionally made video footage. We have the capability
to use Picture-in-Picture effects, high resolution scrolling text, and narration and sound. Lot's
of things to pull together, which sums up to inspiration for a multi-part project, and newsletters
to report on it.
before getting into Part 1, a couple notes...
How do you make an animated
map that shows a route?... planned or actual. It's mentioned a lot in posts.
This new book-related project seemed
to call for such a feature. I figured I could do it with Photo Story 3, but I also knew it meant
a lot of repetitious work, something you wouldn't want to do for anything more than a really special
As I explored how best to do it for
this week's newsletter, it led me to the concept of a Photo Story 3 project template...
do the bulk of the work once and re-use the project file for easy to do subsequent similar projects.
By now you may have already seen the new Photo Story 3 > Do Amazing Things page of the website which
sprouted a few days ago from this idea. The page features the map route template.
Start with the Goal
I guess the intro pretty much presented
the goal... pull a bunch of disparate but related items together and present them in a novel amazing
way. It looks like the Civil War is the main topic... but that was a 4 year war, so maybe it'll
be better to narrow the goal to a small part of it.
We'll define the goal a bit as we gather
source material and prep it for a Movie Maker project. The source material will guide us toward
the final goal as we get into it. If anyone has some old pictures of relatives who participated
in that war... scan them and send a copy for the project.
The distribution goal is to upload a
video to the internet... probably to the neptune service.
Let's gather the source materials and
start the prep work... that'll be enough for this newsletter... we'll assess what we have and figure
out what to do with it in the next part.
Scan the Books and Maps
The 1866 History Book
is old, and the heat and light of the scanning process takes its toll on the paper fibers... it's
a low-cost not-rare book and the pages are in pretty good shape... so I'm willing to scan it once.
Get all the pixels needed on the first pass. I don't want to rescan it later, or accept pixelization
in a story when panning and zooming.
What does that translate into when scanning?
The picture in the intro section shows 2 pages of the book as it's being scanned... I did a few
test scans and settled into scanning at 130% of full size. Each pair of pages is scanned to a BMP
file of 37+ MB, with dimensions of 4010x3104 pixels (just over 12 megapixels).
The image at the right shows a small
segment of one of the scanned pages... at full size.
Adjust the brightness and contrast settings
in the scanner software... to make each page similar, and to avoid having to adjust the captured
images later... do a couple test scans and then leave the scanner settings alone as you do the pages.
The uniform appearance of the pages as you turn them virtually in the story and movie is subtle
or subliminal but important.
the map from the encyclopedia is similar... a 43 MB BMP file, 3299x4353 pixels
(14-1/2 megapixels) comes from the map of the Eastern US.
Only railroads show up on the map...
no major roads in 1875. So animated route tracking will be of rail lines or drawn in paths.
Here's a full size piece of the scanned
the Video - Converting and Importing
The 1954 dramatization of important
Civil War military events was in my library, having downloaded it from the
Prelinger Archives about 3 years ago. It's beyond its copyright expiration
date and available for free use.
Many of the Prelinger Archives videos
were online in two formats... Divx encoded lower quality AVI files, and higher quality MPEG-2 files.
This Civil War one is the higher quality (418+ MB MPEG-2 file) with file properties that include
368x480 pixels, 29.97 fps, 3500 kbps bitrate, with audio of MPEG-1 Layer 2, CBR 112 kb/s, 44KHz
Being an MPEG-2 file, I had to wrestle
with it a bit to get it into a suitable source file... a DV-AVI file. I want to preserve whatever
quality I start with, so I'll be doing any interim re-renderings to DV-AVI files. Only the final
renderings for online viewing will be to compressed WMV files.
I tried MM2 first.
The MPEG-2 file came into the collection and previewed fine... but MM2 stopped responding as soon
as I dragged the clip to
timeline. I wasn't sure when I aborted it if it was still trying to figure out how to handle it,
or just stuck. I convert lots of MPEG-2 files using MM2, but this one didn't give signs of going
easily. It's time to bring out the specialty tools.
gave an error message of some sort when I tried to save it to an AVI file... another sign of a difficult
easily ripped the audio track to a WAV file, but I had a funny shaped video when I ripped the video
using the MPEG tools utility. It was a file that was about 1/2 as wide as I wanted but at the right
height (consistent with the pixel dimensions of 368x480 I was seeing). That was the best I could
do in TMPGEnc, so I did it... ripping it to an AVI file.
Then to VirtualDub,
where I used two video filters to de-interlace and resize it in one pass... this time saving it
as a DV-AVI file with the Panasonic DV codec. It ended up as a 15 minute, 3.4 GB file, up a bit
in file size from the 418 MB MPEG-2 file it started at.
I have my DV-AVI file to use in Movie
Maker. It's now time to get to know the clips in it... let's do that in MM1.
Clips and the Collection Database
As an MPEG-2 file converted to a DV-AVI
file, it had no timecode breaks to use for auto-clip generation...
Movie Maker 1 and 2 spent a lot of time
assessing it, but it imported as a single 15 minute clip, one for me to split manually... that's
actually my perferred way of doing it, getting to know the footage by going through it pretty thorougly
as I make and name the clips.
Why MM1 and not MM2? I want to save
the collection database and bring it into MM2 when I want to use the clips.
You can import an MM1 collection database,
but not another MM2 one.
This MM1 collection database
file is now in my library with other collection database files... just a thought - maybe the right
folder to keep the collection database is the folder with the DV-AVI file... more of a project approach.
Marking a Map Route... Photo Story
I mentioned the initial Photo Story
3 project template earlier... it was this part of the new project that got me into doing it.
It's easy to mark up a single map image...
try doing it as an animation using PhotoStory 3. It requires a series of images, each one adding
one more mark to get you from the starting point to the finish.
Changing the Photo Story defaults for
each image in the story is repetitious and tedious, to the point that you might try it once for
the experience, but think 'no thanks' when considering a second one.
This suggests value in a 'project
capture the efforts already applied and remove most of the repetition. I created a template story
for an animated map route... and tested its use. It worked so easy and well that it became the beginning
of that new website page.
I started by making a crude map in
Paint, just a simple outline, a single route, and marks to show progress. I made
24 images (640x480 pixels), each one adding one more red mark to the previous one. That was the
easy and quick part.
After importing the 24 images into PS3,
I did the repetitious stuff... changing the duration of each image to 2 seconds and removing the
default motion settings. That was the time consuming part, but I only needed to do it once for the
template. Note that the 2 second duration settings make for a pretty slow animation. But I'd rather
have too many frames that I can later speed up than to have too few and have to slow the animation
down. It's easy to speed up the cllp in Movie Maker.
The crude story project is now the template
for marking progress on any map... there's a link on the new website page to download it.
When you open the project template in
PS3 and look in the c:\Documents and Settings\(PapaJohn)\Local Settings\Temp\(folder for the project),
there will be a set of 24 crude JPG images sequentially named 0.jpg through 23.jpg. The one to the
upper right shows 11.jpg.
I'll be using different maps in this
Civil War project, so I did a quick test to be sure the template would work well. I cropped a 640x480
pixel piece from one of my 1875 maps, marked it up in Paint using a red brush, and saved after each
added mark to a new JPG file, naming them sequentially 0.jpg through 23.jpg to align with the set
of images in the PS3 template.
Here's what one of the
looks like versus the crude one in the template. My wife Bernadette had to enhance the map in PhotoShop
a bit for me... adjusting the colors and adding a frame.
With the story project open in PS3,
copy the new set of images to replace the set in the temporary folder.
Don't resave the project unless for
some reason you want your new set of pictures in the template project file. But if you do save it,
it'll still work fine as a template the next time if the images are different.
All you need to do is render the story
to a selected profile (I used 640x480 for this one) and exit Photo Story. The saved story will be
your custom map with animated route marking. And beyond map making, it'll work for any sequential
set of 24 images, when you don't want any panning or zooming.
Using the Map Route Story in a Movie
I imported the story into MM2, put it
on the timeline, and added the speed-up, double effect to move it along at a quicker pace.
I also added a snippet of audio from
the Civil War video, and ended the clip with the vintage train coming in, the opening scene of the
video. Here's a link to this sample map route clip.
Map Route Clip
This may end up being an important part
of this project... the book has many maps and the video a number of scenes that go well with such
an effect. This PS3 template process will make it easy to bring any of them more alive with animated
The multi-part project is already beginning
to take shape... I just need to finish gathering the source material, study it a bit, and think
about how to put it together.
The book can provide the background
and continuity... the cover will open, go into some text, and then when the viewers are expecting
more text, surprise them a little with an emerging annotated/animated map, go back into some more
text, and then WOW them with Picture-in-Picture video clips mixed in.
That's enough for this week. I've got
some work to do to finish the scanning, test some more ideas for how to mix things, and select something
good to be the focus for the next newsletter in this series.
I look forward to comments and discussion about this and other newsletters
on the forums at:
Windows Movie Makers.net
Have a great week...
Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 -
Photo Story 2 -
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 reasonably priced.
Books and Magazines
Movie Maker 2 - Do Amazing Things
its online companion on
Movie Maker 2 - Zero to Hero - with
support on the
Friends of Ed forum
MaximumPC's winter quarterly special
- with a 7 page tutorial 'Make a Killer Home Movie with Maker 2' - currently on newsstands in the
USA through March 7th.
Packt Publishing of Birmingham, U.K.
is publishing the first book about VirtualDub. My contribution was the introductory chapter.
Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 -
- 3 goals: the online companion to the Do Amazing Things book, a detailed tutorial for Photo Story
3, and helping you solve Movie Maker 2 problems.
PhotoStory 2 -
- a detailed tutorial about using it. It's not a problem-solving site.
Online Support - Forums and Newsgroups
I'm a regular on many online forums
and newsgroups, the main ones being:
are open to all for viewing, but require registration of those who
want to post. Moderators actively participate to ensure the forum discussions move forward and stay
Movie Maker and Photo Story forums at
Maker 2 forum at
are wide open for all to view and post... moderation is collective by the participants.
Windows XP Movie Maker newsgroup -
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):
#43 - open (I'll post to the forum as
soon as I know)
#44 - open
#45 - open
#46 - Civil War Project - part 2
Older newsletters (more than 6 issues
ago) are posted to an
Archive Site at Windows Movie Makers.
Software - Add-On Transitions
Maker 2 (TM2) is a utility for the ultimate in
making your own personal and custom transitions for Movie Maker 2. It's a joint product from Patrick
Leabo, the programmer, and myself. Version 2 was released a week ago and I'm still working on updating
the online tutorial.
routinely beta test the
Pixelan packages and think very highly of their people and products.
ProDAD's Adorage package for Movie Maker 2
provides an additional source of professionally developed transitions and effects.
An online gallery that fully aligns
with the main priority of the website is the
'PapaJohn Expert Zone' at neptune.
Check it at
Neptune and the Distributing > Neptune page of the website, where there's a developing
tutorial about how to use the service.
The Portage, Michigan
library is adding a new training session to their regularly scheduled ones: introduction to Movie
Maker and Photo Story.
The first sessions will be in the spring
or summer of 2005.
Other fee-based services
you can't save a movie because your project has become too complex, e-mail a copy
and I'll divide it into manageable sub-projects, and provide detailed instructions about how 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 training
and support services start at $50 per hour - send an email -
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
Jill-MarkWedding or the bottom branch of the Movie Maker 2 website for a sample
of what you can expect for the online portion of the package.
About John 'PapaJohn' Buechler from Microsoft.com
||John "PapaJohn" Buechler, of Kalamazoo, Mich., goes by PapaJohn
online. An avid user of Movie Maker since its first release, and
a regular supporter of the community of Movie Maker users, John
received a 2003 MVP award from Microsoft for that support. In March
2003, he started a comprehensive website about Movie Maker 2 at
He maintains the website, writes books and articles, teaches, and
provides support services - all for the community of Movie Maker
2 users. An engineer by formal education, John is a computer database
and multimedia expert by business and personal experience. He co-authored
the first book about Movie Maker 2 and is actively working on a
second one. You can find his advice in the
Windows XP Movie Maker newsgroup and in the
Windows Movie Makers Forums.
newsletter is republished with permission of John "PapaJohn" Buechler.
Please note that this is an archive of newsletters and some information
may become outdated. PapaJohn, and the webmaster of this site, provides
this information "AS IS" with no warranties.
Visit - PapaJohn's Movie Maker 2 and
Photo Story 2 Newsletter Index