Newsletter #133 - Jan 13, 2007
Vista - the Shortest Path from Camcorder
This has been a whirlwind week of Vista for me... I
drafted this issue on Monday and put it aside to work on an article
for MaximumPC due in a few days.
Here it is Friday, time to finish it. In mid-week I did a
total change in my approach to the magazine article, so I'm curious about how
the change will effect the newsletter... I started the article thinking
of Vista software programs and wizards as being about Movie
Maker, DVD Maker, Photo Gallery and other related apps and wizards. That's
how I have the new Vista section of the
website structured. I listed the apps in the article and
dove into the writing about them, one at a time. For some reason that
approach wasn't working.
What got me back into gear was stepping through the
process to take screenshots... the process, not one of the apps. I picked
one of the paths to go from a camcorder tape to a video DVD...
and was amazed to see the app coordination and wizardry that
At the front end, I didn't need to open Movie Maker to
capture or import the source material as Photo Gallery did it for me.
At the back end, when I finished editing the Movie Maker project, I didn't
need to render the movie. DVD Maker didn't need a saved movie
to make the DVD. Between Photo Gallery and DVD Maker, they had
taken away key parts of what I was going to write about when I
covered Movie Maker 6...
... it changed my thinking about Vista from being
individual but somewhat related programs to being a movie
making process where the apps and wizards work together to help you
achieve what you want. I wanted a DVD, and was starting with a camcorder
I had been testing a couple of the paths to go from tape to
disc. The magazine article got the long path that worked well each
time. The newsletter got the shortest path which had never succeeded, that
is until Monday when I started writing about how it didn't work. It
proved me wrong by burning a good disc and letting me get the final screen
Both paths started with a camcorder tape and ended with a
video DVD playing in WinDVD on my XP laptop.
autoplay in XP
The settings in my XP laptop have aged, and I
didn't put them back to the defaults for this newsletter...
When I connect a digital camcorder by firewire and turn
it to VCR mode... the Digital Video Device window
pops up and asks if I want to open Pinnacle Studio or Adobe Premiere Elements.
Movie Maker stopped showing in the list long ago...
When I insert a blank DVD nothing pops up. If it's a video
DVD, WinDVD opens and starts playing it.
With the new DVD Maker app in the Home Premium and Ultimate
versions of Vista (I'm running Ultimate on an HP desktop
system), the new choices and paths they lead you down are
AutoPlay opens when I connect the camcorder or
put a blank DVD disc in... with different options for each.
Vista help says
Q. Why does AutoPlay behave differently when my media program
A. If a media program is open in an active window, it can
cancel AutoPlay and just run or play the content itself. AutoPlay won't appear
and the default action won't happen. Some programs do cancel AutoPlay when
they're open, depending on the type of media you insert.
It's easier to try it than to read about it....
let's check the options that AutoPlay presents when no app is
Vista's AutoPlay automatically opens when I...
Connect a digital camcorder
computer by firewire and flip the switch to the VCR
There's only one option 'Import Video' using
Windows Import Video. It's not offering Movie Maker, but my XP
system only offers Pinnacle and Premiere Elements which I haven't installed on
- Burn a data disc with Windows Media
Player... select it and the wizard closes as WMP opens. You can
use it put video, pictures, music and other files on a data disc.
- Burn a disc using Windows... go with it and
the Burn a Disc application opens as the wizard closes.
The app is part of the Windows host process rundll32.exe.
You get a data disc when you go down this path... the same as you get
with the WMP option.
- The 3rd choice is the only one that makes a video DVD,
as the wizard opens Windows DVD Maker.
AutoPlay, Windows, Windows Explorer,
and Burn a Disc are not in the start menu list
of All Programs, but Windows Media Player and Windows DVD Maker are.
Some things are programs, others are apps, and some are wizards.
When I insert an audio CD in the disc drive WMP opens and
starts playing it. When I insert a video DVD Windows Explorer
opens to the Video_TS folder of the disc.
These are the defaults on a clean system... use the start button
> Default Programs > Change Auto-Play settings to change how it
responds.... for example, DVD movie disc options can be to play it in
WMP or Windows Media Center.
... before getting into more details, here
are some notes...
... the cost of
Vista came in with an email from Amazon... I made a link and put it on the
Vista > Introduction page of the site. Maybe this will be the year that the
cost of an operating system and software suite like Office exceeds the cost of a
new computer. The Vista Upgrade to the Ultimate version is $250 and the Home
Premium upgrade is $155.... and the upgrade to Microsoft Office Standard 2007 is
When I mention features
of Vista to Bernadette, who uses two XP computers. We took a step
closer this week by running the Vista Upgrade Advisor on
them. The desktop system was cautioned that her two printers might not
work... an Epson photo 2200 for her big artwork prints, and a
Minolta PagePro 1250W laser. The Epson is the biggie.
To check it further, I
added the two printers as network printers on my Vista system, opted
for the option of copying the drivers from the XP computer, and
printed test sheets. They both looked fine, so the green light for her
desktop is getting brighter.
For the tablet computer,
the other one she uses, the Upgrade Advisor crashed in the middle of
making its assessment.
Back to my Vista system... the
Launch Kit I got included a 2 GB SanDisk Cruzer Micro, a smart USB flash drive.
When you first plug it in, it offers to be used as a 'memory boost' for
your system, or as the usual thumb drive for storage... or a mix of
both. I'd been carrying it around for storage use, but I put it back
in the Vista system this week and opted for the full use as a 'memory
boost'. The system has 1 GB of RAM... with the usual swap file being on the hard
drive. The memory boost is something slower than RAM but quicker than the
hard drive... to speed up the system. I can't tell yet what I'm getting out of
it but I'll leave it in.
.... back to the main
The Quickest Route from Camcorder to
The magazine article will be about the scenic route
from tape to DVD, where you can get involved to whatever extent
you want in selecting scenes, fixing files, editing the
movie, and selecting DVD options.
For the rest of this newsletter, I'll show you the quickest
route, where you don't stop at any of the apps like Photo Gallery, Movie
Maker, or DVD Maker. You make the minimal number of choices to get a
video DVD to your player as quickly as possible.
I'm glad it worked on Monday because I really wanted to see what
it put on the disc. Would it include a DVD menu style? If so, which one? If
not, what then?
Step 1 - Connect
by firewire... and turn it to the VCR
Select the only option, Import Video
using Windows Import Video.
We know it's an official wizard as the Task Manager shows the
open window as being part of CaptureWizard.exe, a
new file in the Movie Maker folder. The folder in XP has only
the MM2 executable (unless you also have a copy of MM1 in it
like I do).
Being in the same folder as Movie Maker, you'd expect it to be
Step 2 - Select a Format
... the wizard offers 3 choices
AVI single file (DV-AVI)... a single big one, perhaps your
usual capture option in XP
WMV single file... another choice comparable to a high
quality WMV choice in MM2, but of higher bitrate/quality
WMV - one file per scene... a new choice for a pack of WMV
files rather than a single one
Absent is a choice for a pack of DV-AVI files like you can get
with the WinDV utility.
Also absent is a choice of WMV file quality... it gives you
the single big one or the pack of individual ones at about 2 GB per hour size.
The properties of the files show them as 720x480 with a
bitrate of 4000 kbps... double the bitrate of the highest choice of
Movie Maker in XP. That's DVD quality without having to capture it at
I selected the single WMV file.
Note that the single DV-AVI choice might be the quickest and
best of the choices for this process. Going with a WMV file choice is a
two-step import process, first to a temporary DV-AVI file, and then to WMV
files rendered from it. It takes more time and may be a quality hit due to the
Step 3 - All or Part...
Moving on to the wizard's next window...
Choose to import all of the tape or selected parts.
Notice the 2nd option... taking the whole tape to
a video DVD.
This is the shortest route to get a disc, the one we'll
Step 4 - Insert Blank Disc...
If you haven't yet... insert the disc.
Note this message says it's coming from Windows DVD Maker. Its
burn wizard is the software
running in the background as you make selections
in the windows.
Parts of DVD Maker come into play as the process
moves toward the disc.
Step 5 - Watch the Importing...
Moving on to the next window starts the importing.
Even though you gave it the OK to do the whole tape, if you only
want the recorded footage up to the point it's at, press the stop
button and opt to have it continue with what's already come from the
I stopped it after 5-1/2 minutes and watched it
complete the importing, rendering the wmv file from the
temporary DV-AVI. It's here when I thought I should have picked the DV-AVI
Tip: With this route, there isn't
an option to start the importing from somewhere else in the tape other than at
the beginning. If you plan to use the route, be sure to have the
desired material at the beginning. There's nothing worse than doing a
hurry-up to disc, give it someone, and have them call laughing about
the first scenes that you forgot were on the tape.
Step 6... DVD Burning
When the Import Wizard finishes, it closes and the
BurnWizard of DVDMaker opens.
It encodes the MPEG-2 files needed for the disc, and
then burns it.
One Possible Step 7... Cannot Create the
I went into the newsletter on Monday fully expecting to
write about how I get this far, but no further. I'd always run into the
I had my screen shot ready from the many previous
But as things happen with computers, things turn. As I
stepped through this step one last time, to finished successfully and
gave me the first good disc.
A Good Step 7... Your Disc is Ready, Do You
Want Another Copy?
The disc drive drawer opens and the wizard asks if you
wan another copy.
I take the disc and check it on a DVD Player before answering.
It's the perfect time to make more if you need them, but not if there's
something wrong with the first disc, or something about it you want to change,
like a spelling error in the title.
The wizard will wait as long as you like for your choice. When you go
with 'Close' it'll clean up and delete the MPEG-2 files made for the disc. It
won't leave a set of them for you to use later if you change your mind.
Step 8... Play the DVD
I checked the disc on my laptop in WinDVD,
where I took these snapshots. The style is DVD Maker's Full
The scenes are dark. It was indoors in a
darker than usual setting, a Whirling Dervishes of
The only entry I had made during the process was the name
of the disc, which it used. The wizard chose the font and position. If it had
turned out really great, I'd wish I had entered something like 'The Whirling
Dervishes instead of Newsletter 133. For this disc, my name is
The footage was shot as widescreen and it
plays appropriately, but the scene thumbnails look standard 4:3.
The Play choice starts the video, which plays full
The Scenes choice takes you to the menu of 6 scenes
per page. 11 scenes for a 5-1/2 minute test video. Are the scenes set to
start at regular 30 second intervals, or at timecode breaks... an item
to explore later.
Conclusion and Closing... and What's Next?
The wizard approach to making a DVD isn't one I expect to use
often, so its high failure rate on my system isn't a concern.
When I first used the DVD Maker app, the failure rate had also
been high, until I changed the burn speed from the default fast
speed to slow speedt. I asked Microsoft if the wizard was using the default
They checked and confirmed it was using the default of fast
speed, and not the user's option in DVD Maker's settings. It explained
Have a great week!!
I'll be changing the Vista section of the site to somehow
add the various processes in addiition to the app by app info... right
now I'm just thinking about how to approach it.
PS. If you want to change the default choice of the
AutoPlay wizard, use Start > Default Programs > Change AutoPlay
Have a great week...