Spider Overlay

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Movie Maker 2 - Editing Text - Custom Overlays


Beyond adding a logo or frame, you can easily use custom image overlays over part of your movie, or the entire one... using any graphic overlay you want. The overlay can be opaque and block the underlying pixels, or have whatever degree of translucency you want, to partially see through it.

The overlay images can be in a fixed position like a logo or trademark in a corner, or move like the two spiders in the upper left... playing over a captured visualization video clip.

Fading the overlying image in and out is often needed for a smooth visual appearance. That can be done also.

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Here's how it works:

  • When you open Movie Maker, it checks for custom xml files that include custom overlays, adding them to the list of title animations you can select from.

    Sample - Text Overlay

  • The custom xml file can point to a custom image that loads on the title overlay track, so it is viewed on top of the video track. If the image is a PNG file with one of its colors selected as 'transparent' you'll be able to see through that part of the image, and see the underlying video clips.

    The text going through the coffee cup handle in this video snippet is a creative example of using customized overlays (courtesy of Dave - dlk).

    If you're interested in how the xml files work, and how to do them yourself, start with the Title Overlay Starter Kits below, and the other items on this page. Then go to the Editing > the Persian Page.

    Newsletter #52 is an introduction to using xml files for custom text effects.

    Newsletter 52


    Title Overlay Starter Kits and tutorial

    There are two starter kits, one for static images like a logo... and one for moving images. Each contains sample images and the associated xml file.

    Title Animations

    Download the Starter Kit for MM2.1 or 2.6 or the Starter Kit for Vista's MM6 and unzip the contents.

    Download the Moving Overlay Guide for MM2.1 or MM2.6 and unzip the contents. Moving Overlays Guide Click the image to see what the moving overlay guide is about. To read the detail info open the png image in your graphics app and the xml file in notepad.

    Put the PNG files in the appropriate c:\Program Files\Movie Maker\Shared folder

    Put the xml file in the correlating c:\Program Files\Movie Maker\Shared\AddOnTFX folder. If you don't have an AddOnTFX folder yet, create it manually.

    If you did this while Movie Maker was open, close and reopen it... it checks for new xml files as it starts up, adding any new items to the list of animation choices.

    Custom Overlays

  • Try them...

    Tip: you need to add at least one character of text or it won't work... and the text you enter won't appear in the overlay... so type anything, even if it's just a single pressing of the space bar.

    Tip: if you want both an overlay image and text, as shown at the left, you need to make two title overlays, one with the image and the other with text, and overlap them on the timeline.

  • Select a custom overlay. Overlay #10 in the starter kit is a group of birds on a branch.

    The first 10 of them on a video clip would look like this Sample Video.

    Overlay Images

    Here are some downloadable PNG images ready for use in movies... click on a link to see and/or save it... feel free to use any of them.

    spiders with web - widescreen

    Assume they are standard 4:3 ratio unless noted as 'widescreen', which will be 16:9.

    Make your own custom PNG files, name them the same as those in the starter kit, and swap them out. You're off and running with your personal custom xml files and overlays. You won't need to touch the xml file, just keep swapping the images used.

    Paint.NET (link on the Setup > Other Software page) is a great tool for making part(s) of an image transparent... and then saving it as a PNG file that'll work with Movie Maker.

    Images used as overlays are sized by Movie Maker to fill the screen, leaving no black borders. The birds in the picture above is a 640x480 image being used in a widescreen movie... in this case, slightly fatter birds look OK. If I wanted to keep the birds' original proportions, I'd use an overlay image of 856x480 pixels (16:9 ratio). It'll depend on the content of the overlay image being used if it's worth the effort to resize it.

    If you use small overlay images that don't align with standard or widescreen aspect ratios, they'll be stretched to fill the video frames, and become pixilated and mis-shapen. It's best to use overlay images aligned with the size you'll render the movie to.

    Sometimes you want an overlay image that fades in and out rather than abruptly turning on and off. The starter kit includes 2 that fade over 5 seconds each way. The number is easily changed in the xml file. Click the link or How To image to see an example of the fading... HowTo.. Fade an Image Overlay in and out.

    Sample of an Overlay Fading In and Out


    Custom Overlay Projects

    A series of related title overlays (using images instead of text) can be an unusual and fun way to start a video.

    Newsletter 73

    Newsletter #73 is a tutorial about how to do an overlay project, using the puzzle project to illustrate it. Click the image to read it.


    Here are some sample projects with downloadable packages ready to use on an XP system ... to help you understand what's needed, and get you started without having to write or tweak xml code. Each project has a downloadabe zipped package.

    The zip package includes the xml file, a set of partially transparent images, a Movie Maker project file (MSWMM) with the overlays already on the timeline, and batch files to install or remove the set of project files.

    The download is a zipped file with:

    I've also included two batch files in most of the packages, one that automatically installs the items when needed, and one that removes them... see the newsletter for info about how I use these files with my personal database. If you don't know how to use them, or are uncomfortable doing so, don't... they are optional and not needed to use the project.

    Click on any of images below to see a sample video that was made from the overlay project package.


    Do Amazing Things

    Puzzle...

    ... pieces are removed to show the video clips on the timeline. Click the image at the right to see a sample video, with fish at the Monterey Aquarium in the background.

    and here's a link to download all the files needed to use the puzzle overlays in your own movie.

    Puzzle Overlay Project Download


    Keyboard...

    Keyboard Overlay

    ... as time passes, random white keys disappear to reveal more of the underlying video.

    Click the image to see the sample video with a clip from Seattle's 'Experience Music' exhibit in the background, and the download link to get a copy of the custom package.

    Keyboard Overlay Project Download


    Countdown Clock...

    ...as each second passes, one of the clock faces is removed.

    Countdown Overlay

    When the last one disappears, the movie begins... unless you started it in the background at the beginning of the countdown.

    The background video is whatever you want to use. The sample uses some scenes from Times Square in New York City.

    Click the image to see my sample video, and the download link to get a copy of the package.

    Countdown Overlay Project Download


    Opening Curtain... (XP)

    ...this one takes you further than the first three. It includes an opening animation clip with audio and two overlays that align with it...

    Countdown Overlay

    The background video starts with an animated clip, and is followed by your personal clips. The sample uses a Happy New Year clip from kathokatho of the windowsmoviemakers.net forum, and a Chirstmas scene from Rockefeller Center in New York City.

    Click the image to see the sample video, and the download link to get a copy of the package.

    The package has: a custom XML file and two custom PNG image files... a WMV file for the opening animation with sound... and a Movie Maker project file (MSWMM) with the opening clip and custom overlays in place.

    To get the curtains to open to show your personal clip behind it, apply the standard 'Split, Vertical' transition between the opening clip and yours.

    Opening Curtain Overlay Project Download


    Newsletter 83

    Newsletter #83 is about fine tuning image overlay positions, and tweaking them so they work with fades or other transitions. Click the image to read it.


    Moving Overlay Images

    Positioning Guide

    It doesn't stop here... in early 2006 the hackers at the WindowsMovieMakers.net forums broke the next layer of ice for custom xml code with overlay images... the images can now be made to move.

    Here's my first test clip with the code, a virtual sailboat. It can be made into a big boat going up a river, or a little boat moving among the reeds. The overlay is the same, but the background video changes.

    Here's the forum thread with the xml code.

    The image at the right is a positioning guide to help you understand the co-ordinates used in the xml code. For example, to have an overlay image move from the upper left to the lower right, make the EntrancePosition 0.0, 0.0 and the ExitPosition 1.0, 1.0.

    Trugga's Logo Locator is a great guide to help you get the code you need, and to let you play with things interactively to understand what happens as you change settings .

    Newsletter 92

    Newsletter #92 is about moving image overlays. Click the image to read it.


    Moving Overlay - Birds

    Another sample... big birds (California Condors) flying around my office... each of them a moving overlay image... click on the picture to see the video.

    The 3 condors are from a single still picture of them flying over the Grand Canyon... the steps to doing this are: crop each out > make the background transparent > save as PNG files > use as title animation in Movie Maker with custom xml code.


    Moving Overlay - Text

    The 3rd sample scrolls a moving image overlay smoothly upwards as you would show ending credits.... with transparency you see an audio player's visualization playing in the background.

    Using such an overlay, you can add about any kind of text effect you want... click on the picture to see the video.

    In this clip the background video is a captured visualization...


    Moving Overlay - Text

    The latest sample in this series is one that uses 8 moving image overlays with transparency to put together the starting picture that leads into a video... of an airshow for this sample.

    This frame grab at the left shows the last of the 6 planes moving up into position. Click on the picture to see the video, about 40 seconds long.


    Newsletter 96

    Newsletter #96, about special effects applied to images and video clips before or after import, includes a mini-tutorial about using custom XML files to censor someone's face. Click the image to read it.

    The link in the newsletter to the sample video is obsolete. Here's one to a copy of it on YouTube.


    Extreme Moving Overlay

    Click on the fish to see a 'proof of concept' Movie Maker project, a 5 minute 'linear story' over a 'background'.

    As you can see, it's possible. It's not yet practical as a single pass movie, as my fairly powerful computer took 13 hours to save this 5 minute video.

    Linear Story Over Background