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Using Windows Movie Maker with PhotoStory 3

WMV-i to avi for SD DVD
This page looks at processing PhotoStory 3 WVP2 output into DV/AVI using Windows Movie Maker 2.x (XP) for aq basic 'Standard Definition' (PAL, 720x576) DVD, both 4:3 and 16:9 (wide-screen). Windows Media Encoder 9 (which is incapable of generating AVI) should be used for HD (see my Next page)

Windows Movie Maker Versions

Lots of confusion surrounds WMM (mainly due to the stupid 'help/about' that gives two 'version numbers'). A further annoyance is that most 'reviews' consider only 'import' capability and ignore the output (so many sources will claim, for example, that Movie Maker Vista (6.0) 'supports DV/AVI' (which is only true for Import, but NOT Export, which makes 6.0 totally useless for DVD preparation)

Note that Windows Media Player v7 (with WMV Codec v9) is required to render the WMV-i file in Movie Maker, however since Photo Story 3 itself will not install unless this version (or later) is already present on your PC, you should have no problems
2.1 - shipped with XPsp2/3**, supports DV/AVI output (what we want)
2.1 MCE - shipped with Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 (adds pan/zoom effects, which can be added to WMM on a straight XP PC)
2.5 MCE - shipped with Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 (adds unwanted Sonic direct DVD burning)
6.0 - shipped with Vista, lacks DV/AVI output, a waste of time and space
2.6 - optional download, 2.5 recompiled for Vista for users who complained about DV/AVI removal (also works on Win 7)
Windows Live Movie Maker (aka Movie Maker 2009) - the kids edition, won't aspect ratio distort (required for DVDs)
Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 - more software for kids
Movie Maker 2012 - has (limited) H.264/MP4 support (Win 8)

So, when I refer to '2.1' / '2.x' or 'Movie Maker XP', what I mean is any of 2.1, 2.5, or 2.6

** 2.1 was first included with Windows XP sp2, but is also in sp3, and whilst it is not available as a separate download, it can be found as a stand-alone .msi installer within the sp2 / sp3 package = which means it can be extracted and installed on Windows 7 (of which more later)

Using 2.1 MCE effects on a standard XP PC

To add the pan and zoom effects from 2.1 MCE to WMM XP 2.1, all you need are the two WMM2FXPZ files from the MCE 2004 distribition (in MCE 2005, it's on setup disc 2). The required files can be found in {drive:}\ENGLISH\WINXP\MCE2005\DISC2\CMPNENTS\MEDIACTR\I386\MEDIACTR.CAB (you can use 7-zip to unpack the .CAB). You can find all the MCE components here

The (useless) Sonic DVD burning utility can also be found on the MCE distro. 

Place both WMM2PZFX.XML and WMM2PZFX.DLL into WMM's \Shared\AddOnTFX directory - then use REGSVR32 on the .DLL to 'regoster' the DLL.

The Pan and Zoom are implemented by the DLL which adds the new component function "DXImageTransform.Microsoft.GDIPlusEffect" to WMM.

Panning is limited to choosing a 'start' (and 'end') crop from 14 different pre-set squares, however this does allow WMM to be used 'instead of PhotoStory' in many cases (and thus avoids the problems with WVP2 generated 'jitter' and (together with 'custom' o/p profiles) allows 'any' resolution)
For each of panning 'start' and panning 'end', you can choose :-
Square 0= the whole screen
1 through 9 are tighter (covering about 55-60% of the picture rather than 65-75% of the original). They also include the center squares.
1 is upper left
2 is upper center
3 is upper right
4 is center left
5 is center
6 is center right
7 is lower left
8 is lower center
9 is lower right
10 is the upper left (about 2/3 of the screen)
11 is upper right
12 is lower left
13 is lower right
14 and above are undefinned
Zooming is limited to a choice of one of :-
Zoom in, to Lower Left
Zoom in, to Lower Right
Zoom in, to Upper Left
Zoom in, to Upper Right
Zoom out, from Lower Left
Zoom out, from Lower Right
Zoom out, from Upper Left
Zoom out, from Upper Right
Zoom, Focus Lower Left
Zoom, Focus Lower Right
Zoom, Focus Upper Left
Zoom, Focus Upper Right

The 'start and end' square definitions are implemented by the .xml - this means you can modify the definitions for your own use (for example, add new 'squares' as '14' and above). The existing WMM2PZFX.XML file can be used as a 'template' :>-

<TransitionsAndEffects Version="1.0" SpecialIconFileID="220" SpecialIconResourceID="101">
<EffectDLL guid="{CD5BBF3B-70CB-4e3e-9A74-97E8E2638F88}">
<Effect name="Zoom in, to Upper Right " iconid="0">
<Param name="StartSquare" value="0" />
<Param name="EndSquare" value="11" />
<Effect name="Zoom In, to Upper Left" iconid="1">
<Param name="StartSquare" value="0" />
<Param name="EndSquare" value="10" />

For more on adding custom effects to WMM, see Microsoft MSDN

Essentially, the GUI allows you to select from a lost of pre-defined values = i.e. you have no abilityy to 'drag' the pan/zoom start or end 'box'

Using Windows Movie Maker to 'bolt together' a multi-part Story


You should have no problems creating a Story of 200 or 300 photos and outputting at DVD resolutions, especially if you 'build' using on a PC with 4Gb RAM (and set the LARGEADDRESSAWARE flag in the PStory.exe as per my previous 'Advanced use' page).

300 photos is the limit, and at (say) 10 seconds each that's 3000s = 50 minutes. At 'high quality' 5mbs (5/8 Mbytes/sec) you will get 4.7Gb/(5/8) = 7520 seconds (125 mins) on your DVD, so you can get at least 2 full length Stories onto one DVD

It's a 'good idea' to build your Story (and DVD) in multiple 'episodes' (or 'Titles' as the industry calls them) anyway (I stick to 10 minute 'clips' and put 10 - 12 on a DVD). However if you do want to join multiple Stories together, you will run into the 'sound synchronisation' problem

One thing to 'watch out for' is a tendancy for WMM (and other Movie / DVD Author software) to assume that 'blank space' at the start and end of a 'clip' is 'unwanted' and automaticaly chop it off. If you happen to start and end your clips with 'blank' space, you can run into all sorts of timing problems = so stick to fade ins / fade outs where possible.

Sound synchronisation issues

(1) PhotoStory 3 only builds 'changes' after the first 'preview', so after making multiple timing changes the video / audio the 'preview' can 'slip' by 3 or 4 seconds in a 10 minute Story. So getting the photos to transition 'in step' with your music can be a very frustrating process

The key is to keep 'Saving', closing PhotoStory 3 and then re-launching the project - which you should be doing to make 'back-up versions' anyway - but, of course, the longer the Story the longer it takes to 'open' each time

(2) The second problem is the audio 'fade out' at the end of the Story. This is fine if each Story is a 'stand-alone' Title (episode), however if you want to 'join' stories (clips) together you will want a 'seamless' audio transition - and that's quite hard to achieve

The 'trick' is to start and end each clip on an extra long 'static frame' (non-panning non-zooming photo) and use 'sound cues' to 'mark' the exact join point (it's a lot easier in WMM to join clips together by 'synchronising' on the music track, rather than trying to synchronise on an image transition).Even if you achieve a 'perfect' join on the video, chances are there will still be a 'glitch' on the audio at the join. So you replace the sound track during DVD 'author' process with one that has been 'joined' perfectly in Audacity (most likely you will do this anyway to get 5.1 surround sound onto the DVD)So build the clips in PS3 with a 'marker' (tone) at the start and end. You also need to make sure you end one clip and start the next on the same photo and at a 'static' time in that photo (i.e. not panning, zooming or transition fading).

Synchronising a single music track across multiple clips

If you have a single sound track (eg classical concert piece) that you want to run across multiple clips, just chop up the track in Audacity (and insert 'silence' or some audio 'tone' to the start and end of each section)You then built each clip with part of the track, ensuring that the 'tone' is on a static/dummy photo (that will be chopped off during the join)

Since a single music track is being used across multiple clips, it's easy to replace the 'chopped up' music track with the original (unmodified) source track at the DVD 'author' step.This will ensure any slight join errors can't be heard (and if you end & start each clip on a static frame, you won't be able to see the joins either).

What's needed to make a Standard Definition (SD) DVD movie ?

To maintain image quality, the number of 'resolution conversions' (interpolations) has to be kept to the absolute minimum. This means generating PhotoStory 3 output that is as close as possible to that required by the TV 4:3 display

The PAL standard consists of 576 'scan lines' each of 720 'equivalent' pixels - and this is what 'video recorders' and 'camcorders' saved to VHS tapes / mini-DVD and thus what was placed onto SD DVD's.The NTSC standard has only 540 scan lines, which is a significantly lower resolution and something I won't waste your time with further

The astute will notice that 576 scan lines at 4:3 aspect ratio implies a pixel count of 768, not 720 ....

Why is a 4:3 TV (and DVD) 720x576 pixels (and not 768x576) ?

Because a 4:3 TV does not display square pixels !

'Fortunately', TV pixels are 'almost square', so it's hard to notice the difference when switching between a computer's 4:3 display (768x576) and a TV's 4:3 display (720x576) i.e. squeezing or stretching the movie width by 6% (48 pixels) is hard to see

How did analogue broadcast TV support 'Widescreen' ?

The most important thing to understand is that the analogue broadcast of 'Widescreen' involved NO increase in bandwidth or data rates. So the 'transmitted' width ('720 pixels') and height (576 'scan lines') stayed exactly the same - and this, of course, is what you get on a 'movie DVD' !

To achieve 'Widescreen' display, the width of each scan line was simply 'stretched out' to fill the 16:9 widescreen TV. In order for this trick to work 'correctly' (i.e. avoid everything looking 'fat'), each scan line was 'squashed' before being broadcast !The 'squash before broadcast' trick is why widescreen movies played back on an ancient 4:3 TV will look 'all squashed up' (tall and thin) ... whilst slightly less ancient 4:3 TV's will show them in 'letterbox format' (i.e. with black bands at the top & bottom of the TV screen).

For compatibility, almost ALL wide-screen video sources (such as a DV camcorder - Digital8, Mini-DV, DV-CAM) did exactly the same. i.e. they took a 16x9 'picture' (which would be 1024 x 576 in 'square pixels') and 'width squeezed' it into 720 x 576 before recording it to tape or mini-DVD etc.

Of course the same applies to wide-screen movies recorded onto DVD's. When a widescreen (16x9) movie is played back, the video data on the DVD is stretched out horizontally (by the DVD player) so that the 720 squashed width pixels are 'spread' over the full 1024 (equivalent pixel) display.

What this means is, to get widescreen 'output' from your DVD, 'all' you need to do is 'record' your movie in 'pre-distorted' (width squeezed) 720 x 576 resolution and 'mark' the DVD with a 'display at 16:9' flag !

When building a 16:9 DVD from your own photos, rather than 'squeeze the width' (which means throwing away some of the detail) you can 'expand the height' instead (of which more later)

The DVD (widescreen) standard

Pop a DVD movie into your DVD drive and (after overcoming the DRM that stops you examining the files on the disc) use 'Media Info' on any of the 1Gb (full size) VOB files. You should see something like :-

Video, MPEG 2, VBR (adaptive) 4-6 Mbps, 16:9, 25.000 fps, PAL, Interlaced
Audio, AC-3, 6 channels (5.1) at 448kHz (or 384Kbps**, or 2 channels at 192Kbps) all at 48kHz

**There will be more than one Audio 'stream' on a multi-lingual disc. The 'main' language (Audio #1) is usually '6 channel' (5.1) 448Kbps and the others 384Kbps (or even 2 Channel 192kbps).

Note that encoding your Video at 6 Mbps for a 'home build' DVD is generally 'overkill' - I suggest limiting your Video to 5 Mbps or less (TV movies are broadcast at 3.5 Mbps maximum (sometimes as low as 2.5 Mbps !) and (usually) look just fine on a widescreen TV.

How do I prepare a widescreen 16:9 DVD movie in PhotoStory ?

The PhotoStory 3 'crop box' tool is fixed at 4:3 aspect ratio. This means you have to 'fool' it into 'cropping' the required 'area' from your photos (to make a 16:9 movie) by 'pre-distorting' them

In other words you have to pull the same 'trick' that the analogue broadcast TV uses to support wide-screen = you 'squeeze' your photo width so that when it's 'expanded' later on a wide-screen display it will be correct

However, unlike the analogue broadcast system, you have a choice of two approaches - your can 'pre-squeeze the width', OR you can 'pre-stretch the height'

Both approaches means PhotoStory will use it's 4:3 'crop' tool on 'tall and thin' photos to get the 'correct' area for 16:9 playbackSince 'squeezing the width'** means you are loosing data, my approach is always to 'expand the height' (to 4/3rds = 133.33%)**The width will be squeezed (from 768 to 720) when you go to 'non-square' pixels anyway. So, in theory, to maximise data preservation you should expand both the width and the height (the width to 768/720 = 106.67%, the height to 142.22%) HOWEVER as already mentioned, every 'resolution conversion' (interpolation) means some loss of detail and makes the photo 'smoother' - so I stick to a 4/3rds height adjust

To pre-distort the photo height (x133%) I recommend the ImageMagick tool-set.

To convert multiple photos into x133 height versions, use a simple cmd batch file like this (C:\IM66210 is the default install folder of ImageMagick)An alternative for Photoshop Elements users, is to use it's Process Multiple Files option

Rather than distort individual photos before using them in PhotoStory, I recommend 'building' your Story using the original (undistorted) photos and running a 'script' to do the distort just before outputting ....

How do I 'convert' a Story for 16:9 output

To achieve 16:9 output you need to 'pre-distort' all the photos before output. Fortunately, PhotoStory keeps the full** original images (and all the crop data etc.) in it's project file (.wp3) cabinet, so 'all' that is necessary is to extract the images, adjust their individual heights by 4/3rds and 'rebuild' the project file !!

**The images (0.jpg etc) in the .wp3 are the original imported photo's i.e. the full photo is included even if you allowed PhotoStory to 'remove black borders'.Note that it is necessary to adjust the values for the 'crop start' and 'crop end' boxes (so they are 're-centred' after changing the photo height)

Processing a 4:3 Story prior to 16:9 output is best done using a 'script (see my QBasic scripts for PhotoStory page)

Converting PhotoStory 3 WMV-Image into 'DVD ready' DV/AVI

It is assumed that you have read my previous page, advanced PhotoStory usage, to obtain 'glitch free' output. For using Windows Media Encoder and 'square pixel' playback (including HD AVCHD), see my Next page (and 'Making a movie DVD' topic)

Output from PhotoStory 3 will always be a '.wmv' file, but don't be fooled .. the only video* format supported by PhotoStory 3 is a sub-set of .wmv known as "Windows Media Video - Image" (WVP2). This consists of 'key frame' with 'pan' and 'zoom' instructions on how to get to the the next 'key frame'. If is actually closer to a GIF than a 'real' movie. Whilst this generates a very small file, ONLY MICROSOFT really knows how to 'interpret' it

*the Audio can be 'set**' to any .wmv supported format (by using a 'Profile') however PhotoStory 3 limits the actual Audio to 2 channel 44.1kHz 'stereo'*****to get PCM with WMV-image for PhotoStory 3, you must 'hack' the Profile using a text edit utility (such as Notepad++). My 'pre-hacked' Profiles are available for download from my PhotoStory 3 Profiles page.***if you output PCM, you can use 5.1 packed into Dolby ProLogic II with PhotoStory 3 (Movie Maker DV/AVI audio is also PCM, so it will 'pass on' your Dolby ProLogic II without 'trashing it')

So the first step in DVD making is to 'convert' from WMV-Image into 'something else' that your DVD 'author' package will 'understand'. Fortunately, almost all 'author' software will accept AVI (even Microsoft's 'version') and Windows Movie maker 2.x (XP) will output DV/AVI

Movie Maker DV/AVI output will always be of the 'correct' pixel resolution required for a DVD - specifically, for PAL, 720 x 576 (which means the pixels are 'non-square') at 25fps (no matter what fps is 'fed' to it)Whilst most 'author' software can process the AVI generated by Movie Maker into the final MPEG2/AC-3 required for a movie DVD, it's actually a 'good idea' to generate the MPEG2 before 'going to author eh DVD'.This lets you check each 'Title' plays back as expected, and, perhaps more vital, check the timing to make sure it's all going to 'fit' (many 'author' packages faced with 'too long' a movie will automatically 're-code' everything at a lower bit-rate to 'force fit' it onto the DVD - this typically means hours of processing that turns your nice sharp movie into mush)

PhotoStory 3 output resolutions

PhotoStory 3 always crops 4:3 aspect ratio square pixel sections from your photos, HOWEVER you can create a custom Profile that will generate any aspect ratio output you like - and since Movie Maker DV/AVI will always be 720x576, you can output 'anything you like' from PhotoStory and Movie Maker will still create 'DVD ready' .avi

The question is, what output resolution should we choose to best maintain output quality of the final DVD movie ?We know that PhotoStory 3 is going to create a series of 'key frames' at the output resolutionSo (unless you avoid all 'zooming' and all your 'pans' both start and end on an exact output sized 'crop box'), it's impossible to stop PhotoStory from 'interpolating' pixels to make the (intermediate) 'key frames'In order to minimise the number of times pixels are 'interpolated', my 'SD DVD ready' Profile outputs 720x576 at 100% QVBR (with 2channel, 44.1, 1411kbps PCM audio) - if I output 'square pixel' 768x576, Movie Maker will have to re-interpolate every pixel to 720x576 non-square !Note - I also set the fps to 30 since this 'matches' my 60 Hertz monitor setting to minimise preview flickerIn my 'DVD set' you will also find a 'double SD DVD' Profile (1440x1152). The idea is that 'double sized' key frames should better maintain image quality during the 'morphing' process - however the higher the output resolution, the higher the 'jitter' and 'jumps'.The output size chosen sets the minimum 'crop box' you can use in PhotoStory (remember the 'golden rule' = DON'T LET PhotoStory "interpolate UP" !)To optimise your PhotoStory 3 Project file prior to output, see my Hacking the project file and QBasic scripts pages

Movie Maker will convert ANYTHING from PhotoStory into DV/AVI - so by all means 'experiment' with other PhotoStory 3 Profiles until you find one that gives you both 'zero jitter' and decent image quality

Jitter minimisation

The only way to minimise 'jitter' is to 'slow down' the Story (see my QBasic scripts page). Of course this means that the audio will no longer 'match' the video

Movie Maker DV/AVI (PAL) output is always 25fps, so a 'half speed' Story will contain 'double the movie frames'.To 'correct' this, the DV/AVI 'fps' can be adjusted from 25fps to 50fps using the Open Source AVI Frame Rate Changer v1.10 utility (which actually halves the playing time) - before the .avi is passed to your DVD 'author' applicationOf course Windows Media Player 10 is too 'dumb' to spot the change so continues to 'play' at half speed, however VLC will 'pick up' the change correctly

Be aware that whilst the audio will 'preserved' across a double length story, PhotoStory 3 will not 'fade it out', since, in the 'double length' story, the audio will simply 'run on' past the half way point until it 'runs out' (instead of running all the way to the end and being 'faded out')

When you 'double the fps' (halve the playing time), the audio will be simply 'cut off' at the new 'end' timeThis will only be 'a problem' for those who want to pass on through Dolby Prologic II all the way from PhotoStory to final DVD (rather than replacing the Story 2 channel audio with 5.1 in the DVD 'author' step) and have PhotoStory do the 'fade out'

Output DV/AVI from Windows Movie Maker (XP, 2.x)

Windows Movie Maker defaults to NTSC. To get PAL, go to the Tools / Options dialogue to select PAL and set the 4:3 (or 16:9) 'flag' (all this flag does is tell the DVD author software how the .avi should be 'played-back'). The setting is 'remembered', so only has to be done once

Movie Maker DV/AVI settings can not be changed by modifying a 'Profile', nor are the settings anywhere to be found in the registry.Your only choice is 'PAL' = 576x720 at 25fps, or 'NTSC' = 480x720 at '30fps' (actually, 29.970)).If you want decent resolution, you have to choose PAL

Getting higher resolutions out of Movie Maker

Whilst it is possible to use Profiles to get other (higher) resolutions out of Movie Maker, output is restricted to 'single pass' .wmv (and no support exists for 'speeding up' a .wmv file)

I thus recommend Windows Media Encoder 9 instead (see my 'Next' page). You can directly change the output settings (as well as using Profiles) and is also capable of 'slowing down' your WVP2 input by up to 2.5 times

If you must use Movie maker, the only way to change the output is to create a Profile with the settings you want.To generate WMV Profiles, use the Windows Media Profile Editor (included in the Windows Media Encoder 9 package)To download my Profiles (including those that have been hand-modified or 'hacked') see my Output Profiles for PhotoStory pageWarning - like PhotoStory 3, Movie Maker does a rotten job of 'interpolating up' = so never try to obtain a higher resolution output from WMM than you have (WMV-i) input

Using Movie Maker XP to convert WMV_image into .avi

Launch Windows Movie Maker and in the Tools/Options menu, Advanced tab, make sure PAL is selected. Choose 4:3 or 16:9 to set the widescreen display 'flag' in the output (the output for PAL will always be 720x576), then proceed as follows :-

Make sure you have deselected 'make chapters' (if you don't, your Story will take ages to import and MM will break it up into small bits which you then have to join together again ..).In Windows Movie Maker, under 'Capture Video', 'Import' your wmv-i PhotoStory clip (or just 'drag' it's icon to the main window)Use 'Ctrl c' to copy the imported file name.Drag the imported file icon to the movie 'bar' at the bottom, then, under 'Finish Movie', click 'Save to my computer' (DO NOT be tempted to change anything).In '1. Enter file name', use 'Ctrl v' to paste the video's name over the default 'Movie' name & then add some version number to the nameIn '2. Choose a place ..', browse to where you are want to collect your PhotoStory 'AVI for DVD' files  .. note - to collect all the AVI files for a 4 Gb DVD, you will need AT LEAST 16Gb of disk space.In the next window, Movie Settings, click the 'Other Settings' radio button and, from the pull down list, select the "DV/AVI (PAL)" option (if you see is "DV/AVI (NTSC)", go set the PAL flag in the Tools/Options menu, Advanced tab)Click 'Next' to start processing.

When complete, check the 'play movie' radio button and click 'Finish'. If the AVI plays OK, you can delete the just finished file from the movie 'bar' and Import the next. WMM will remember your settings for the next cycle.

You should always 'play' your finished .avi before going any further, to make sure the video quality is all you expect

To check the what's actually hiding in the .avi file 'container', use the Open Source MediaInfo utility.

The .avi file should be :-

Video, 720 x 576, 28.8 Mbps, 4:3, 25.000 fps, PAL, 4:2:0, Interlaced
Audio, 16bit PCM, 2 channels, 48.0 KHz, 1,536 Kbps, DV muxed in the video.
You will note that the Audio, whilst still PCM, has been 'up-sampled' from 44.1kHz to 48kHz. Whilst this is 'correct' for DVD's, it may effect the quality of a Dolby ProLogic II encoded track.Of course, if you intend to replace the Audio later, you can ignore any audio problems

How do I convert the .avi into DVD compatible mpg ?

You can import the .avi direct into most DVD Authoring Packages (such as DVDFlick - see my 'Making a movie DVD', Using DVDFlick page), HOWEVER I recommend performing the conversion into DVD standard mpg before 'authoring' (unless you like the idea of waiting hours for the Authoring package to process 16 Gb of data only to discover the result is just bit too large fit on a standard DVD - or, worse, the 'author' package has spend the rest of the night dropping the resolution by 50% to 'make it fit' :-) ).

After each clip (or DVD 'title') is converted, play it in VLC to make sure the aspect ratio and video quality are what you are expecting. If anything looks 'odd' use MediaInfo to check what's in the source (.avi) and output (mpg) files.

Remember - the aspect ratio 'flag' (4:3 and 16:9) only controls the playback = i.e. on a computer monitor, the 720x576 is expanded and played as either 768x576 (default 4:3 mode) or 1024x576 (flag set 16:9 mode).If your conversion software fails to 'set' this flag correctly, most DVD Author packages (such as DVDFlick) will allow you to 'override' the setting of the 'input' clip without changing the actual pixels - but don't count on it - Windows 7 Movie Maker 'Live', for example, adds 'black bars' to the sides of 'source' that is marked as 4:3 .. and NOTHING you do within MML will remove these 'bars' (you have to change the 'flag' in the source file and re-import)

To convert to MPEG before importing to DVD 'author' software (DVDFlick etc.) I now recommend 'TMPGEnc v2.5' (later) rather than eRightSoft 'SUPER' (below) which has become harder and harder to use without being 'spammed'


WARNING - current versions of this utility are 'infected' with some unasked for and stealth installed crap-ware called 'iminent'. Further, old versions of SUPER will no longer run if allowed to access the internet (via your web browser i.e. bypassing many firewalls) when launching.

The "iminent" 'infection' will, among other things, attempt to reset your browser 'home page' and set itself to RUN during 'boot up' by modifying your Registry.Of course you will be running WinPatrol (so this will warn you and prevent the registry change) and most Firewall / Anti-virus (eg Comodo) software can be set to prevent the "iminent" component running or reaching the internet.

However, despite it's silly name (and attempts to 'hijack' your home page etc~), this software actually does a really good job of converting from .avi into .mpg (mpeg2 / ac3) format.

It's main drawback is the minefield of options and settings presented to the poor user (plus my belief that no-one could ever have tested every possible combination !).

Having selected mpeg layer 2, mpg container and AC-3 audio, one really useful setting is the choice of VBR 'average data rate'. Since you know that a standard 4.7Gb DVD will support approx 100 minutes at an average VBR of 6 mbs, if you want to squeeze more onto your DVD, you can choose a lower data rate.

Since you have to do a format conversion anyway (from avi), it's a good idea to get the data rate correct at this step and avoid spending hours waiting for data rate conversion at the DVD 'authoring' step.You do not need 6mbs to achieve a 'Broadcast Quality' DVD. Your 'average' broadcast TV program will typically have a VBR of 2.5 to 4.5 mbsMost PVRs will record TV programs (in mpeg2) at a rate of (approx) '1Hr per Gb' = which is an average VBR of less than 2.5mbs !Even a 'high quality' film for wide-screen TV (720x576 PAL expanded to 1024x576 16:9) is typically broadcast at 3.5mbs (or less).

Using TMPGEnc v2.5 (or later) NOTE = THIS IS NOT OPEN SOURCE

The 'trial' version is fully functional and will generate MPEG2 for 15 days after installation without restrictions (or the insertion of 'Trail version' notices etc.) After this, you must pay the license fee ($37) for the 'Pro' version.

TMPGEnc allows conversion from .avi into mpeg 2 - however (with v2.5) the only settings actually that work are those generating 'elementary stream' data, specifically, separate video (mpeg2 in a .m2v 'container') and audio (in a .wav 'container').

This is a huge advantage for those wishing to include multiple sound-tracks (languages) on their DVD but does restrict your choice of DVD authoring packages to those supporting 'elementary stream' data (i.e. DVDFlick).

For Audio, TMPGEnc offers a choice of 'Linear PCM' or (the somewhat lower quality) MP2 audio to go with your .m2v video (although for some reason known only to the (Japanese) programmers, audio is always output in a .wav container). Since, BY DEFAULT, TMPGEnc uses a 'Low Quality' sampling frequency converter, you should ONLY select PCM.

If you want to waste time experimenting with Audio conversion, you can change the Sampling Frequency Converter to 'High Quality' (via the 'Option' menu, Preferences window, Audio engine tab).In the same tab, there is a box 'MPEG-1 Audio Layer III encoder'. If the 'External program' radio button is set, you can browse to an external audio Codec. Both the TMPGEnc forum and the LAME forum suggest that attempts have been made to get TMPGEnc to work with LAME MP3, however it seems no-one has ever succeeded. Rather than waste hours experimenting, just leave the audio 'as is' :-)

What about 'MediaCoder' ?

This heavily over-promoted Shareware [actually 'Adware' (or 'crapware') since it is advertisement supported] - pretends to 'do the job' from .wmv-i to .mpg in a single step - however (as of late 2011) the video quality created from Photo Story 3 ('square pixel' 768x576) really is totally unacceptable. It shows obvious motion artifacts and very visible 'mpg block edge' defects no matter what bit-rate you set

Since VLC does a 'reasonable' job of playing back WVP2, there is 'some hope' that conversion utilities (such as 'MediaCoder') will one day do the same. Just don't expect it to happen 'any-time soon'

At a 'guess', MediaCoder is using some sort of ultra-low-bit / frame-rate during the 'conversion' (morphing) from the WVP2, followed by some sort of 'expansion' that 'inflates' the bit-rate to the one you specify

This sort of behaviour seems quite common for 'hyped up' utilities. See, e.g. my PowerPoint conversion page for other utilities that adopt the same trick of 'converting at low res.' (for speed) followed by 'inflation to the resolution / bit rate you specify' which fools the reviewer into thinking they have obtained high resolution at high speedOf course it's also possible that MediaCoder is simply hopeless at 'interpolations', since even the DVD (720x576) MPEG generated from 1280x960 was amazingly poor, even at 6mbps !

My advise is, don't waste your time trying to convert PhotoStory WVP2 output using MediaCoder (or any other non-Microsoft app) = it just proves that only MS really understands the WMV-image format

Can you use MediaCoder for other .wmv to MPEG ?

Those who still want to experiment with 'DVD' output from MediaCoder will also discover that it's unable to generate (DVD) AC-3 audio correctly from (Microsoft) .wmv AAC.

It 'goes through the motions' without reporting any error, but, when the finished .mpg is played in MPG player software (such as VLC), the playback either lacks audio or it is drastically distorted.MediaCoder supports MP3 audio (via the LAME Codec plug-in), and this does play back correctly in VLC, so it may be usable with DVD authoring software (so long as you don't want Dolby ProLogic II or 5.1).However since the video quality from MediaCoder is so poor I have never bothered import it's efforts into any DVD authoring package so can't say if it's attempt at mp3 is as broken as it's attempt at mpg.

The problems I encountered with MediaCoder shows how vital it is to check your clips at each stage of processing - without such checking you can end up wasting hours generating un-viewable DVD's and have no idea what to blame or how to fix it.

Click 'Next' for PhotoStory 3 WMV-Image processing using Windows Media Encoder to prepare movies for HD (AVCHD)

Next page :- Using Media Encoder - (and AVCHDs)