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Make a Movie... or a Story in Windows XP or Vista,

written by: PapaJohn•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 3/5/2010

Microsoft has includes Movie Maker in each copy of XP and Vista. A lessor known free download that also makes video files is Photo Story 3. What's the difference?

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    In the Windows environment, you make a Photo Story with one software app, and a movie with another. Movie Maker comes bundled with each version of XP and Vista, while Photo Story 3 is a free XP download that works fine on Vista also. Here’s the link.

    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=92755126-a008-49b3-b3f4-6f33852af9c1&DisplayLang=en

    With the exception of video clips, story and movie projects use the same kinds of inputs. The obvious advantage of a movie is the ability to include video clips. The not-so-obvious benefits of stories are their far superior quality when panning and zooming digital pictures of more than 1/3 of a megapixel in size. Zoom into the eye of someone in a 7 megapixel image and see all the pixels available. Do the same in a movie project and see the low quality pixilization that comes with software not designed to use all the pixels. If you want superior looking “Ken Burns” pan/zoom effects, a photo story is the way to get it.

    Another advantage of stories is their far smaller file sizes. I’m used to seeing them at about 10% the file size of an equivalent movie. Both are .wmv file types, but compressed with different codecs. The straight-line movements of stories can be much more compressed than the quick almost random movements of movies. The differences in file size are due to the codecs.

    A disadvantage of a Microsoft Photo Story is the inability to view it on a Mac computer. But, with the appropriate Mac viewer, you can watch a wmv movie file made with Movie Maker. It’s the codec differences again. If your audience includes Mac users, an option is to run the wmv story file through Movie Maker and distribute the wmv movie file.

    YouTube has a pretty good success rate converting uploaded movies to the Flash format it uses, but a dismal rate when converting wmv story files. That’s another situation where running a story through Movie Maker will help.

    Movie Maker can use video clips in a project, including those made by Photo Story. I often make clips as stories to mix with video content from other places. The story clips have such smooth pans and zooms that it enhances the overall experience of the playing movie. Enjoy the best of both!