We started a Civil War project
in newsletter #42, rounding up some source files, making a project
template of a marked trail for a PhotoStory... then in issue #46
we reviewed what we had and picked the theme of 'Gettysburg'. We
had only started to think about what to pull together to
flesh out the project.
This issue is the
third part of the series, where we'll start to assemble some clips in
earnest, as we work toward the theme. Here's a link to the 2+ minute
clip made in the tutorial section...
We'll go through making
it, a good exercise in using a few of our software tools... PhotoStory,
VirtualDub, Movie Maker 1, and Movie Maker 2... each contributing things
they are good at.
... before getting into it, a
couple notes about current items...
Items of Note
did it!!! I hadn't seen a
professional use of PhotoStory 3 before his product review of HP's
new optical dual-layer DVD writers
- Not only was I interested
in how he had used PhotosStory 3, the content was such that, as I
passed them on a shelf in Circuit City the next day
I thought '... those who buy them won't know there's a key
piece of software missing...', unless they've seen Jason's
Re-capturing a digital camcorder
file: In February, out of desperation and having nothing
more to lose (the DV-AVI source file for a project was gone), someone
recaptured the digital camcorder footage to try to replace it...
and was surprised when it worked. I checked at the
time to confirm what she found and it seemed to be effective.
This week I went back to take a closer look. I'm glad I did.
When you open Movie Maker, it checks that the source
files associated with clips in your collections are still there. It
does the same when you open a project file, a quick check that the source
files are in place and ready for use. The checking is a cursory one... if
the drive, path and file name matches what is stored in the collection
database or project file, then it considers it present and accounted for.
If it doesn't find it, the thumbnail image gets replaced with a big
What it doesn't do is open the source file to be sure its
content hasn't changed. That, in itself, allows you to slip in a
replacement DV-AVI file (in the same location and with the same
name)... I wondered how close the replacement needs to be to the original
when Movie Maker needs to open the file and use the content... how
different can the files be? What if the starting frame of the replacement file
is not the same as the original??
I found that Movie Maker will never know if the replacement
is aligned with the original. The only time it'll open and check it is if
the drive letter, path or file name is different... and you try to
resolve the red-X by browsing to the replacement file.
At that point it won't accept anything less than an exact replacement,
which works fine when you copy or move a source file to another
It can be as different as you want. If the original source
file was a 10 minute 720x480 DV-AVI source file of a dog, and you replace it
with a 10 second 320x240 WMV file of a cat, it'll assume it's OK
and use it. Just put the replacement file in the same folder with
the same name, including the file extension... if the original ended
with AVI because it was captured from a digital camcorder, and you replace it
with a WMV, it'll continue to use it if your renaming includes the AVI
The editing in the project file will continue to work with the
replacement file... if it runs out of frames because the replacement
file is shorter, you'll have edited blackness complete with transitions,
effects, titles, etc. Throughout the editing and rendering of a movie, you'll
never get an error message. The thumbnails in the collection and
projects won't change. They are embedded in the collection database and
project .MSWMM files, not dynamically re-created from the source
file each time.
This feature can come in handy, or set you up for serious
.... on to the main topic
The Initial Approach to Gettysburg -
The downloaded video of the Civil War (newsletter issue #42)
started with Lincoln going to Gettysburg for his famous address... and then
flashed backwards in time to the battle itself. Its rendition of the battle was
from ground level.
To be different, and because of the source material collected, I
decided to create a clip of an aerial rendition of the battle... we
can use the clips from both as the project takes shape.
We already had a scan of an old map, and some aerial images
from the NASA World Wind software. Add to those some footage from last
July's Chicago fireworks show... and make a clip that would be a good
lead-in to the battle portion of the Gettysburg story.
Gather Some Fireworks Footage
I wondered if footage of a fireworks show
could sufficiently simulate small arms and cannon fire. I used MM2
to trim a 103 second segment from and saved it as a DV-AVI file
The video showed trees and lampposts in the
foreground, and the fireworks were shooting upwards as usual. To crop the
treeline and change the angle of the shooting, we'll use VirtualDub. Movie
Maker is limited to rotating in 90 degree increments and we need a lesser
... VirtualDub can only use a type II DV-AVI files, so
a quick side trip through MM1 rendered a type II DV-AVI from the
You can use multiple filters in Virtual Dub in one pass,
but for ease of understanding, let's do the cropping in one pass and
the rotations in others.
Each pass will be rendered to a new DV-AVI file using the
(the Microsoft DV codec doesn't appear in the list of
Virtual Dub - First Filter Pass - Crop Out the
Chicago Trees and Lampposts...
After opening the clip in VirtualDub, use Video >
Filters > Add > resize > New width of 720 and new
height of 480 (the same size we're starting with, but we'll be resizing the
cropped segment, and the Panasonic DV codec won't work if it's not being
rendered to a 720x480 file) > OK. That'll add the resize filter to the
With the resize filter highlighted, press the
Cropping... button to the lower right of the Filters window...
to open the working window you see at the above right.
The treeline of the Chicago shore was at the bottom of the
video... moving the bottom border up (the Y2 offset control at the
lower left) to crop 82 pixels off the image was enough to keep
the trees and lampposts out of sight.
To keep the aspect ratio the same, take the same percentage
of pixels off the width... my calculator said we need to take 122
pixels off the width. (480 original height - 82 = 398 pixels left, 17.08%
of the height was taken off... so take 17.08% off the width (17.08% of 720 =
122, which leaves 598). Split the 122 pixels appropriately, pulling the left
border (X1 offset) in by 82 pixels and the right border (X2 offset) in by
40 pixels. Once it passes the math test and eyeballing it confirm
it looks OK, you're done.
The resize filter is now set to take the cropped 598x398
image and render it to a new file at 720x480.
... set the compression codec (the default
is uncompressed, so don't forget to set the compression
codec)... Video > Compression > Panasonic DV Codec >
... save the file using File > Save as
AVI > file name and location > Save. The re-rendering took about
3 minutes (on a 2.4 GHz computer).
The figure at the left shows the before and after clips in
Virtual Dub, at one of the bright spots in the clip, when you can see the
trees being cropped off.
From the newly saved file, it's time to make another pass to
Virtual Dub - 2nd Filter Pass - Rotate the Video to
Suit the New Use...
Open the new clip and use the > Video > filters > Add
> rotate2 filter for fine rotation control.
Check a few different angles by looking at the preview. When
you like what you see, use it. When going counter-clockwise by 70
degrees, use a negative angle like this one of -70.000 degrees.
The setting has the fireworks being shot off at a 20 degree
angle above the horizon, from the left (check it visually using the filter
preview feature)... another 3 minutes to render the new video clip.
For the answering shots from the other side at Gettysburg, keep
the file open and use the rotate2 filter again,
setting it to another angle. Let's use a positive 30 degrees
(later I thought it would be better if I had used something like
positive 60, but I didn't go back to make a new one... not yet).
The second fireworks (now gunfire) clip will be shooting
at an angle from the right side toward the left.
After another rendering we now have two 'shooting clips' at
Put the Gunfire Simulation Together in Movie
First the Audio: We have left and right
shooting clips for a 30 second visual... but the Chicago
orchestra was playing in sync with the fireworks, and the best I could find
with good fireworks noise, no orchestra notes, and no serious
crowd noise was a 3 second segment.. it had lots of staccato type
small firearms sounds, with some cannon type booms. But it was pretty
Mix the 3 second audio clip in Movie Maker, adding it to the
audio/music track a few times... overlapping the clips a different amount each
time, and raising or lowering the volume of each clip.... for
variety. Similarly, use the 9 second audio clip to build into a 32
second audio to align with the visual clip duration. If you use a
simple repeating 3 second clip, it'll be a bit like the routine
sounds from a big clock with a steadily swinging pendulum or the rythmic lapping
of waves coming ashore... a battle is more chaotic and the audio needs the
variety that Movie Maker can add so easily.
Combine the Video and Audio: Overlap the
two shooting clips to get some crossfire as the first clip fades into
It help it not look too much like sideways fireworks,
use the 'Threshold' effect on both clips... to
make them seem more like explosions. Here's what the completed 32
second cross-fire project looks like.
Gettysburg - Aerial Story
Whenever it's time to assemble still pictures that
need panning or zooming, open PhotoStory 3.
The first picture is a section of the scanned
antique map, with Gettysburg circled in red (in Paint). Set the motion
duration to use 26 seconds.
Why 26 seconds? To sync the pace of the still
pictures with the narration file from the old documentary video... use
Movie Maker 2 to rip the audio track to a wma audio file, and
have PhotoStory use it as the background music.
That lets you include the audio each time you
preview one of the pictures in the story, and make the duration adjustments you
... the rest of the pictures go in with their
durations set similarly.
A far shot of Gettysburg with the NASA
World Wind app was next, for 17 seconds... the zooming/panning toward
5 closer up images from World Wind, the first
one marked 'Little Round Top' picture for 5 seconds, 'Devil's Den' for 14
seconds, 2 images of 'Cemetery Ridge' for 10 seconds and 5 seconds,
and the last one of 'Pickett and Mead' for 54 seconds. I did all
the annotating in Paint.
the Clip Assembly
The final step in this issue is to assemble the two clips,
the story and the gunfire simulation clip. It's a simple project for
Movie Maker 2.
The simulated gunfire clip is 32 seconds. Insert it in
place of that many seconds of the last picture in the story, which has a
duration of 54 seconds.
Add the full copy of the WMA narration file that was ripped
from the Civil War documentary earlier. Use it as the overall audio
track for this project.
Split the story
clip, insert the gunfire simulation, and trim the last clip to
align. Use the audio wave patterns to do the alignment, and when
done mute the audio of the two story clips.
Leave both the audio of the gunfire simulation clip
and the Civil War documentary to play together... adding more
variety and interest to that segment of the audio. The documentary
narration includes small real firearms and cannon fire during that segment, to
mix with the snaps, crackles and pops of the fireworks.
The link to the final rendered video clip was in the
introductory paragraph. Here it is again, if you missed seeing it then.