Half of our story and movie viewing experience is about what we hear and not see... the sounds
recorded with the video clips (on the Audio track), and the added narrations, sound effects and
background music (on the Audio/Music track). If things are too quiet, I’ll add a ‘background ambient
sound’ clip just to make it more like the real world, where you hardly ever hear pure silence.
Let’s take a fairly broad look at:
· the audio that goes into stories and movies
· the limited editing features available within
Movie Maker and PhotoStory
· and the profile options when saving an audio-only
It’ll be a slice of audio info without getting too technical.
... before doing it, here are some notes about current items...
The WinDV utility has proven to be great for getting digital video files into your computer from
a digital camcorder, and back to the camcorder from a saved movie in DV-AVI format... someone asked
how to tweak it such that the captured file was one large one, as opposed to a number of small ones.
I explored it a bit... and Rehan provided the key.
The Config screen of WinDV has an entry for ‘Discontinuity threshold’ (sec.), originally set
to “1”, which results in each scene (based on timecode) being a new file. By changing it to “0”,
the captured file keeps growing until the size of the Max. AVI size in frames is reached. Set it
to 115000 frames for NTSC and 95830 frames for PAL... to get a 63-1/3 minute capture, the normal
recording duration of a digital video tape.
One thing I like about WinDV is feedback about dropped frames... I typically don’t have any,
but it’s comforting to know a file is good without having to watch it fully or bump into an issue
I tried capturing from my Sony digital camcorder directly into a WMV high-definition profile...
1280x720 pixels, using the Windows Media Encoder for the capture session.
The capture went well... I had Movie Maker and a few other apps running at the same time as the
capture, with no adverse effects.
Capturing from a digital camcorder to a WMV file is a 2 step process. First the captured file
goes into a temporary DV-AVI file, followed by the rendering of the WMV from the DV-AVI.
The temporary DV-AVI file has to be built in real time as the data streams into the firewire
connection. That part took all of 2 minutes, the duration of my test clip. But the rest of the process,
the rendering of the high definition WMV file from the temporary file took another 2-1/2 hours (on
my 2.4 GHz laptop).
I did a second test with a one minute clip to see if the time needed correlates to the video
duration, and sighed a bit of relief when I found it wasn’t. It seems there’s a needed 2 hour period
for it do something, but double the duration doesn’t need twice the time.
The sample looks and sounds great!!! even though my camcorder doesn’t shoot in high definition...
I’ll be following this up to see if a normal capture to DV-AVI, followed by Movie Maker rendering
it to a comparable high-definition video... will one way clearly out-perform the other??
.... on to the main topic
Let’s first go through the audio files that come into your computer from another source. We’ll
follow those with ones captured or generated by Movie Maker and Photo Story.
Captured by camcorder
Your camcorder probably captures in CD quality stereo... leave the lens cap on and use it when
you hear something you’d like in your library... or use the audio track from a recorded video.
audio of a digital camcorder can be 16 bit or 12 bit.... although the 16 bit is higher quality,
camcorders out of the box are usually set to 12 bit.
The 12 bit option is for 4 audio tracks, 2 to capture the audio during camcorder shooting, and
the other 2 to add narration on the tape while it’s still in the camcorder. It’s for those who don’t
do computer editing.
The 16 bit option is higher quality with only 2 tracks... those doing video editing with Movie
Maker would usually add narration during the editing phase, so changing the setting from 12 bit
to 16 bit is one of the first things to do with a new digital camcorder.
The specs for my Sony TRV615 Hi8 analog camcorder say it records in stereo FM quality sound...
my digital Sony TRV80 has options for 32 kHz stereo when set at 12 bits, and 48 kHz stereo at 16
WMP10 doesn’t report the audio properties of a captured DV-AVI file... MM2 says the audio of
my captured DV-AVI files (using MM2 for the capture) from the TRV80 are 48 kHz, 16 bit stereo (aligned
with the specs)... with a bitrate of 1536 Kbps. This is the highest audio bitrate we’ll see in this
I downloaded a track from Napster the other day using WMP10... a WMA file with properties (per
WMP10) of 128 Kbps, 44 kHz, stereo 1-pass CBR... of course it’s Digital Rights Management (DRM)
protected and can’t be imported directly into Movie Maker or Photo Story. But it’s another starting
point for music in your projects, and easy to get there...
from a CD
Use WMP 10 to rip a track from an audio disc... the properties are Windows Media Audio 9.1, VBR
Quality 25, 44 kHz, stereo, 1-pass VBR.
Tracks ripped from CDs import fine into MM2... which report properties of 81 Kbps, 44.1 kHz,
16 bit stereo.
narrate the timeline in Movie Maker 2
Voice narration can be lower quality than music from CDs... but Movie Maker 2’s narration feature
facilitates the capturing of high quality audio. Play the CD itself or a ripped track from it, and
at the same time narrate the timeline using an audio source such as the Stereo Mix.
You’ll get a new WMA file with properties of 131 kbps, 44.1 kHz, 16 bit stereo... a higher bitrate
than a file created by WMP during the ripping... the file size is comparably and appropriately higher
also. That leads me to believe you’re better off ripping directly from the CD using Movie Maker
instead of using WMP10 as a middle man.
The narration wizard lets you test and adjust your sound hardware, but it doesn’t offer you the
option of using anything other than your microphone.
record audio or narrate the timeline in Movie Maker 1
is interesting in that you have two options for capturing audio or narration... the Record >Audio
only feature and the timeline narration. You get very different results with each... most notably
high quality stereo with the Record option and mono with the narration.
The Record feature of MM1 is for video or audio, whereas the Capture feature of MM2 is for video
only. With the Record option you can use the stereo mix source to create a new WMA file from whatever
is playing on your computer, or use it to record from the microphone. Either one gets you, for the
best audio option, a WMA file that MM2 reports as 128 kbps, 44.1 kHz 16 bit stereo.
The other option, the timeline narration feature, regardless of source - microphone or stereo
mix - gets you a WAV file of 352 kbps 22 kHz 16 bit mono. If you want to preview the project as
you record narration, and don’t mind the mono file, it’s a good option.
Photo Story - Narration and Music Generation
narration in Photo Story 2
Narration files recorded by Photo Story 2 are 1411 kbps, 44.1 kHz, 16 bit stereo WAV files, the
next highest bitrate files to the camcorder tracks.
A narration is limited to 4 minutes and 10 seconds, and the WAV file can be copied from the project
narration in Photo Story 3
Narration files recorded by Photo Story 3 are the same as Photo Story 2, 1411 kbps, 44.1 kHz,
16 bit stereo WAV files.
If you want the higher quality stereo narration of PS3 for a movie project, you can easily preview
the project in MM2 with your speaker volume down, and narrate it in PS3 as your view it. This might
be nothing more than an exercise. The narration of a PS3 story is limited to a maximum of 5 minutes,
and you need to copy the temporary project narration file to get it. I’m looking at a temporary
narration file right now.... a 5 minute one is a hefty 53 MB WAV file. But, if you plan to do audio
editing with something like Audacity that doesn’t handle the WMA files, then narrating a movie this
way might be easiest and best.
generated music in Photo Story 3
How long of a background music file can you create in Photo Story 3? The help file doesn’t say,
so I tried a 15 minute story (3 pictures at 5 minutes each in duration) to see if the music file
would go that long...
The saved story was 15 minutes, but the music stopped at a point just past 11 minutes and 2 seconds.
You can see in the portion of the timeline at the right where the wave patterns ended. But an 11
minute file would be more than enough for most movie projects.
I’d need to run another test to see if the duration seen in this one is a limitation of Photo
Story 3. For now, it’s just a note of interest.
The audio properties of the story were 103 kbps, 44.1 kHz, 16 bit stereo, another high quality
That’s about all the ways of getting audio into a story or movie project. We’ll now go into the
topic of using the files.
With your audio/music files in Movie Maker 2, what can you do with them?
A great feature of Movie Maker is its ability to render an audio only ‘movie’ as a high quality
WMA file... this is so for MM1 and MM2.
Unlike the video track of a movie, you can have empty space between clips on the audio/music
track... and similar to a movie, you can overlap the audio clips to have them dissolve into each
With Movie Maker 2, you can adjust relative volume levels between the audio of the video track
and the clips on the audio/music track, adjust the volume of an individual clip, fade a clip in
or out over ¾ of as second, or mute a clip. For anything beyond that you’ll need to use other software...
... or use some imagination and use more than one of your tools at the same time.
For example... open a video or audio file in Windows Media Player 10. Start the Graphic Equalizer
feature - from the main menu:
View > Enhancements > Graphic Equalizer
As the file is playing, adjust the balance, change the built-in preset equalizer style, or tweak
the equalizer settings manually... the changes won’t interrupt the smooth playback, and will be
immediately heard in the sound.
And if you are hearing it, you can easily get it into your movie project. Capture it as a narration
file with MM2 as it plays (use the stereo mix source), or record it with MM1 (again the stereo mix
If you’re busy working on something in MM2, capture it with MM1 and import the new WMA file for
your MM2 project.... multi-task.
For parties, or just relaxed listening, it’s so easy to drag and drop tracks from a dozen music
CDs into a collection, delete the ones you don’t like, arrange them to your liking, batch them into
the timeline, overlap to mix them, and save them all as one long playing WMA file.
Play it on your computer or your portable music player.... 5 to 10 hours of playing time in one
neatly packaged file. No need to think about changing discs during the party. My longest movie to
date was a 22 hour one using MM1 to create a music file that had a playing duration longer than
Rendering an Audio File
The image at the lower right shows the rendering choices of Movie Maker 2 when you save a movie
that has only clips on the audio/music track...
clips can be a mix of audio and video files - just don’t have any other tracks in use that would
make Movie Maker 2 believe you want a movie file.
The first choice, high quality audio, is a VBR choice. The others are constant bitrate.
In addition to the audio quality choices built into Movie Maker, see the last one in the list...
a custom profile that I use when I want to rip the audio track from a DV-AVI source file...
My profile is currently set to rip the audio to a file of 192 Kbps, 44.1 kHz, 16 bit stereo (I
guess that’s the same as the high quality choice... but it changes as I tweak it).
Conclusions and Closing
There’s nothing but easy to use and good choices when capturing audio into stories and movies...
the only things to be aware of are the limitation of mono in the narrations of MM1, and the maximum
time limits when using Photo Story narrations.
I look forward to comments and discussion about this and other newsletters on the forums at:
Have a great week...
Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 - www.papajohn.org
Photo Story 2 - www.photostory.papajohn.org
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
Books and Magazines
Movie Maker 2 - Do Amazing Things
its online companion on www.papajohn.org)
Movie Maker 2 - Zero to Hero - with support on the
Friends of Ed forum
MaximumPC's winter 2005 quarterly special - with a 7 page tutorial 'Make a Killer Home Movie
with Maker 2'.
Packt Publishing of Birmingham, U.K. is publishing the first book about VirtualDub, expected
out next month. My contribution was the introductory chapter.
Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 - www.papajohn.org - 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 - www.photostory.papajohn.org -
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:
Forums 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 on track.
Movie Maker and Photo Story forums at Windows
Movie Maker 2 forum at SimplyDV.com
Newsgroups 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 at:
Topics for upcoming newsletters (always subject to change):
#48 - Converting MPEG-2 files... there are new utilities and revisions to older ones... the issue
will look at the current state of the conversions needed to get files that work with Movie Maker
#49 - open
#50 - Civil War Project - part III - finishing the parts and moving toward the integrated movie
#51 - open
#52 - Capturing video clips from DVDs... another topic where new utilities, and changes to existing
ones, are now available.
#53 - open
Older newsletters (more than 6 issues ago) are posted to an
Archive Site at Windows Movie
Drop an email at any time to suggest a topic of interest to you....
Add-On Transitions and Effects
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.
Managing your personal information is more of a challenge as hard drives get bigger and the internet
more robust. Developing my personal database has been an ongoing project for many years and it is
now available to others.
A free copy is available to the regular subscribers of this newsletter... send an email to request
To others, it's $10... to order, use the button on the top of the Managing > Personal Database
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 added new training sessions to their regularly scheduled ones:
introduction to Movie Maker, and an Advanced Movie Maker session. Scheduled sessions are:
Monday - June 13 - 6-7:30 Introduction to Movie Maker 2
Monday - July 18 - 6-7:30 Movie Maker 2 Workshop
Monday - August 15 - 6-7:30 Movie Maker 2 Workshop
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 www.papajohn.org
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