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PapaJohn's Newsletter #54

Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story

PapaJohn's Newsletter #54

Interlaced versus Progressive

I'll assume you're familiar enough with "interlaced" and "progressive", the two methods of advancing along the visual images in a video or movie.

Interlacing 'jaggies' are seen Interlaced - closeupwhen you look at a frame made of 2 overlapping half frames, each half frame showing every other horizontal line...  

Progressive 'blurriness' is seen when you look at a moving subject in a picture taken with a slow shutter speed of 1/25 or 1/30 of a second...Progressive - Closeup

Sometimes the technology dictates which of the two to use. Sometimes you get to pick.

We'll get into the jags and blurs this week... let's first take a fun look at some of the macro factors that helped us get to our current state of having a choice.

It started with electricity... some opted for a system of 60 cycles per second while others chose 50. The systems didn't connect so there wasn't any conflict.

Movies and Hollywood, using film projectors, came a bit later. Cameras shot on film strips using whole frames. Each frame of a film reel flicked on the screen for a split second... with the frames progressively changing one at a time. Most theaters use film-based projection systems that display 24 frames a second.

If you take a sill picture with a camera and snap it at 1/24 of a second, you would have a slightly to heavily smudged or blurred image if there was any kind of movement. Stopping at any frame and looking closely would show the blurring. We don't usually get to see a frame stopped on screen, so it's not an issue.

TV sets tie into the cycles of electricity that make their Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT) work. Using the first 1/2 of each electrical cycle to show half of the lines of a picture, and interlacing the spaces with the other lines during the second half of the cycle. The 60 cycles per second wasn't an exact number, so half of the real number is the NTSC video standard of 29.97 frames per second. The PAL number is a bit more precise - half of 50 cycles per second is 25.

Computers, being digital, powerful and precise, can manage make and manage images either way. But they weren't first, so they have to align with what was already there. If you'll be heading toward a DVD for TV  viewing, you need interlacing. For computer-based viewing, progressive is better. But maybe you want both...

Which is better? I've read that interlacing is considered a sign of being associated with TV and VCR tapes, a lower class of viewers than Hollywood and movie-goers.

The technology of CRT computer monitors and TVs needs the interlacing, but the goal is not to see jaggies when viewing there. One issue, which really isn't an issue, is seeing the interlacing during the editing phase. Many extrapolate the editing environment to the final movies, assuming what they see in the project previewing will be what they see in the saved movie.

Newer LCD and plasma screens use a different technology one more akin to computers... they can display whatever is played on them. Viewing progressive home video is becoming more normal.

In home movie-making activities, here are some places that you run into interlaced or progressive:

My digital camcorder is a Sony TRV-80, a higher end model that offers "interlaced" recording or "progressive". It default is interlaced but I can change it.

Movie Maker 'preserves the interlacing of DV-AVI files' as it captures from a digital camcorder to a DV-AVI file, but 'de-interlaces' if you capture the same footage into a WMV file.

There are two sizes of WMV-HD (High Definition)... 720p and 1080i.... the number of lines followed by p for progressive and i for interlaced.

There are software options or utilities to 'de-interlace'... when should you do it?

One of the options in the Profile Editor is to 'allow interlaced processing', but my current website page says not to check it. Why not?

When I use TMPGEnc to convert a file to an MPEG-2 one for a DVD, one of the first things it does is check the file for interlacing... bottom field first is it's usual conclusion, even if I give it a de-interlaced WMV file. I need to go beyond it's defaults to tell it when a source file isn't interlaced. Maybe I'd get a better output if I told it.

When using the Profile Editor and TMPGEnc, I'm starting to pay more attention to such options, trying to choose more knowlegeably and wisely.

In this newsletter, I'll go into my camcorder to see how interlacing differs from progressive.

some notes... before going further


I attended a Microsoft MSDN seminar in Kalamazoo on Tuesday, and stopped by this Microsoft 'Across America' truck.

Across America

A reader suggested the topic of 'Video Blogging (Vlogging) using Moving Maker' as a very timely topic. I added it to the schedule.

There were some hurdles to my work during the week. On Monday the server went down for its 'longest ever' outage of 2+ days... a network card going bad. Then my main working computer, a Toshiba laptop, had it's screen stop lighting and is off to the CompUSA repair center in Texas. When I brought my old Dell laptop back into service, the power adapter chord had problems and I had to get a new one... with all these hurdles, the content of this newsletter might take a slight hit... hope it's not noticed.

Last night I was checking an uncompressed NTSC AVI clip that has each frame numbered. I was curious about which frames I could see in MM1 and MM2, which frames were dropped in the generational issues of DV-AVI files, which frames were used if I opted to render from an NTSC file (30 fps) to a PAL file (25 fps), and other things like that. With the Toshiba still in Texas, I thought it would be a good topic for next week's newsletter... the subject won't focus on the dropped frames, but more on which frames you see. If one second of NTSC video has 30 frames and you render a PAL video from it, which 25 of the 30 frames are used? Send me any guesses.

.... back to the main topic

I wondered, if the world is moving from interlaced to progressive in the high definition area, why shouldn't I flip the switch in my camcorder and do all my recording as progressive? I asked on the SimplyDV forum, where movie and video experts tend to go... and I read my camcorder manual.

The manual has a single page with an interesting title: "Recording with all the Pixels - Progressive Recording Mode". You would think that using all the pixels is better than fewer. But a footnote says the camcorder won't do a couple things as it records progressive... one is widescreen, and another is 'steadyshot' compensation for normal camcorder movement. It also says the progressive recording will be a slightly larger field of view.

The comments I received at SimplyDV included a caution about losing the 'steadyshot' feature, advice to stay with interlaced if the video is to be played on TV, use progressive if you want clearly defined stills, interlacing  looks smoother on TV than progressive, and the image quality is far better in progressive mode...

To check the manual and advice at SimplyDV, I shot some footage using one mode and then the other.

3 Sets of Clips - First Impression

Here are snapshots from 3 sets of clips, using the MM2 snapshot feature with the clips being previewed in the collection...

The first and most obvious thing is the field of view. I routinely shoot with a wide-angle lens on the camcorder, but the only change I made between the clips at the left and right was to change the option for interlaced versus progressive. The Sony manual said something about it using more pixels when it shoots in progressive mode, but I hadn't expected the difference to be as significant as this. The progressive option adds considerably more wide-angle to the already wide-angle view.

If you don't have a wide angle lens but you have a progressive option, then maybe you also have a built-in wide angle lens.

It's pretty easy to determine how much the pictures at the right differ from those at the left... the left image is comparable to cropping 480x360 pixels and resizing it to 640x480, a 33% magnification in each direction.

Interlaced Clips at Left                                 Progressive Clips at Right

Camcorder steadied on arm-rest of big cushy chair... pointing straight ahead... partially zoomed


Maximum 10x optical zoom... steadied on arm-rest but panning the shelves for minor movement

interlaced - pan booksprogressive - pan books

No zoom... wide-angle lens on camcorder, hand-held with the Toshiba on my lap

interlaced - laptopprogressive - laptop

Selected Closer Views - Magnified

I used TMPGEnc to extract each frame of the clips to sets of BMP images, and browsed the pictures with IrfanView to see the differences.

Items of interest were cropped and considerably magnified to better see the jaggies of the interlaced clips versus the blurriness of progressive.

interlaced                                                         Progressive
Interlaced - closeupProgressive - Closeup

Interlaced - pan booksProgressive -closeup

Interlaced - laptopProgressive - laptop


Low Light Conditions

With the camcorder on a tripod, in a low light situation... night-time, shooting toward a closet that had darker crooks and crannies... Because the progressive mode adds to the wide-angle view, I magnified the cropped area of the progressive frame an additional 33%.

I'm not seeing any differences to indicate one is better than the other.

Interlaced                                           Progressive - magnified additional 33%
Interlaced - darknessProgressive -darkness

Custom Profiles...

WMV Interlaced - CropWMV - Interlace Not Allowed

After checking the camcorder, I tried making a custom WMV profile that passed the interlacing of an interlaced DV-AVI file to a WMV. Could I? The Profile Editor only let me pick that option with the Media Video 9 Advanced Profile, but then it did let me.

I made a profile with settings comparable to a high quality MPEG-2 file for a DVD... the picture at the left shows a cropped section of the saved WMV movie. It doesn't look like the jaggies were passed along.

As a check, I opted to not 'allow interlacing' and rendered it again... it's the picture at the right.

The results are similar and the profile/codec doesn't result in interlacing being passed along to the WMV file. Checking or unchecking the option doesn't matter.

Doing this exercise left me off at a good starting point toward 2 new custom profiles as WMV alternatives to DV-AVI files.

Conclusions and Closing

I'm going to continue shooting in interlaced mode. I like widescreen and prefer steadier video.

The manual doesn't come right out and say it, but gives hints about progressive frames being taken at 1/30 of a second and interlaced at 1/60 in order to get the two half-frames. If so, I'd expect the interlaced frames to be sharper than progressive... but if the shutter is open twice as long for a frame, why isn't it better in low light? I'd guess it's because of the step back to a wider angle view, which uses the extra light rather than giving it to the selection. That means zooming in tighter would give the pixels back to the area of interest and the lower light situation might be better... I need to do some more testing. The next 'last dance' at a wedding might be better shot in progressive mode.

While playing with the WMV profile to see if the interlacing of a DV-AVI source file would be passed through to a WMV file, I noticed that the profile I made emulated a high quality MPEG-2 file. Pulling on that thread a bit, I used TMPGEnc to convert the 10 second WMV file into files needed for a DVD and compared the file sizes (the WMV file was 10.7 MB.... the .m2v was 8.9 MB with an associated 1.9 MB .wav file = 10.8 MB total). If bit-rate correlates to quality and file size, then the WMV made with the profile correlates to high quality DVD MPEG-2 files.

Could this be a better work-around of the generational loss issues with DV-AVI files, and the audio issues in DV-AVI files... avoid rendering to DV-AVI by rendering to a single high-quality WMV file that aligns with the bit-rate and other parameters of an MPEG-2 file made for a DVD? The bit-rate is 4 times as high as the highest WMV profile included in Movie Maker 2.

I made custom profiles to use when saving a WMV file headed for a DVD, for both NTSC and PAL. The settings include quality-based VBR audio and video, a quality setting of 95 for the video, and lossless audio. If you want to try them, there are new links on the Saving Movies > Custom WMV Profiles page of the website. I checked them by rendering WMV files and running them thru TMPGEnc to get MPEG-2 files.

I look forward to comments and discussion about this and other newsletters on the forums at:

Windows Movie

 Have a great week... PapaJohn

Movie 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 regularly. Here's a list of what is available to the public. Some are free and others reasonably priced.

Do Amazing ThingsBooks 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

MaximumPC's winter 2005 quarterly special... had a 7 page tutorial 'Make a Killer Home Movie with Maker 2'. The special edition of the video made for it is now on my website as a file download.

Virtual DubPackt Publishing of Birmingham, U.K. issued the first book about VirtualDub. The last word I got on it was this Yahoo press release, along with a note that my copy was going in the mail.

My contribution was the introductory chapter... I'm glad to be part of any effort that helps join the worlds of Movie Maker and open source software.


Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 3 - - the site's 3 goals are: an online companion to the Do Amazing Things book, a detailed tutorial for PhotoStory 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 key 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 Makers

Movie Maker 2 forum at

Newsgroups are wide open for all to view and post... moderation is collective by the participants.

Windows XP Movie Maker newsgroup - microsoft.public.windowsxp.moviemaker

Photo Story 2 newsgroup -

Photo Story 3 newsgroup -

Weekly Newsletters

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):

#55 - May 28 - MM2 is an every-other frame project environment, so what frames do you see?

#56 - June 4 - Civil War Project - part IV - continue building clips into a more complete movie project. Pickup where issue 51 left off.

#57 - June 11 - Video Blogging (Vlogging) using Moving Maker

#58 - June 18 - open

#59 - June 25 - Converting MPEG-2 files for use in Movie Maker - Part III. This will cover getting recorded TV into it, completing this 3 part series.

#60 - July 2 - open

Older newsletters (more than 6 issues ago) are posted by Rob Morris to an Archive Site at his Windows Movie Makers website.

Drop an email at any time to suggest a topic of interest to you...


Add-On Transitions and Effects

Transition 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.

I 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.

Personal Database

Managing your personal information is more of a challenge as hard drives get bigger and the internet more robust.

My personal database has been an ongoing project over many years, and is now available to others. Info is on the Managing > Personal Database page of my site, and in the database package itself.

It's available free to regular newsletter subscribers... send an email request.

To others it's $10. To order, use the button on the top of the Managing > Personal Database page.

Online GalleryNeptune Gallery

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 two new training sessions: Introduction to Movie Maker, and an Advanced Movie Maker Workshop. The initial sessions will be:

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

If 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 - 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
John 'PapaJohn' Buechler 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.

This 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



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