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Pixelan's Wizards 4.0 for Movie Maker... Pan/Zoom PRO Tutorial

written by: PapaJohn•edited by: PapaJohn•updated: 7/23/2008

When I first explored the Pan/Zoom PRO features of Pixelan’s Wizards 4.0 for Movie Maker I was intrigued by the great viewing experience you can achieve by creatively mixing non-linear motions of a high quality still picture with audio.

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    As with most software, a little tutorial helps. I’ll show you a sample clip and take you through the 11 steps to make it. Here's the link to the clip.

    http://www.papajohn.org/video/Detroit.wmv

    Take a good look at the movements. It pauses at each point of interest before moving on to the next, speeds up as it moves off to the next one, and then slows down as it approaches. This is what I mean by non-linear movements. It’s not a constant speed all the way through.

    The picture was taken by Roy Feldman. I annotated it with numbers to guide us around the picture’s highlights, and then played 'connect-the-dots' to pan and zoom through the numbers in sequence. Once you do it a couple times to get the hang of It, such effects are easy.

    Pixelan's Pan/Zoom PRO feature of Wizards 4.0 is part of the package from http://www.pixelan.com/mm/panzoom.htm

    Let’s go through the making of this sample in eleven steps:

    Step 1 - Open the Wizard and Look Around

    Select the PanZoom PRO effects from the drop-down list. Pick any of the 40 effect numbers. I’ll go with #14 for no particular reason.

    Open an image using the Clip icon at the upper right. I’m using a 2,500 x 1,656 pixel JPG file [Image 1 – Renaissance Center with Fireboat]. I added the word ‘Detroit’ to the custom effect name to show in Movie Maker’s Effects for help with locating it.

    If you’re using a high quality still picture and want the highest quality through this process, check the option to ‘Attach the clip… for best quality…’ and leave the image in place as you do your Movie Maker project.

    Take a good look at the two side-by-side work spaces. You’ll be using both to build custom video pan/zoom effects. The right pane is where you’ll set keyframes, sort of like building a min-Movie Maker project all within the one effect, or it’s like working in Photo Story 3 using up to about 10 copies of the same image to get smooth pans/zooms that start where the previous one left off.

    The position within the clip opens to the mid-point. Grab the position control in the left window and drag it all the way to the left. See how that view shows the starting position of the first keyframe. [Figure 2]

    Move the position control all the way to the right. See how the view now shows the ending position of the first keyframe. [Figure 3] A clip always has starting and ending keyframes. It can have more if you opt to add them. That’s coming up.

    Step 2 – Change Settings if You Wish [Figure 4]

    I do a lot of work in widescreen 16:9 and find myself usually making the preview duration 5.00 seconds. For this sample, the standard 4:3 aspect ratio aligns with the shape of the photo.

    The duration setting, which you can set between ¼ of a second and 5 seconds, is the time the preview runs in the Wizard. Once applied to a picture on the Movie Maker’s timeline, the duration can be as small or large as you want. Longer durations mean slowing panning and zooming.

    Step 3 - Take Another Good Look Around

    The preview monitor at the left shows the position at the center of the clip. At the same time, the working window at the right shows a few things:

    • The view is the full image with black borders as needed to show it all.
    • The first and last frames are always keyframes, indicated by the anchor points on the timeline.
    • The current position within the clip is the mid-point, aligning with the position shown in the monitor at the left.
    • The controls at the right move from one keyframe to the next, not from frame to frame.
    • To add a keyframe, position it using the monitor at the left, and then hit the plus sign at the right to apply it. Once added, these in-between keyframes can be selected and dragged to the left or right.

    The selected starting and ending positions of the image are outlined in the right working window. Grab the middle of one to move it, and grab any of the 4 edges to resize it.

    Step 4 - Add First Keyframe

    It’s time to use the plus sign at the right for the first time. Move the left slider to set the position within the clip where you want the keyframe [Figure 5]. That’s the ending position of the initial movement. In my sample I started the scene with a full screen view of the Detroit skyline, and decided to zoom into the upper area around the GM tower from there. It’s a quick overview followed by one of the items of interest.

    I did the keyframe by moving to about 1/5 of the way through the duration and hitting the plus sign. While on the keyframe I move and size the beginning position to my selection.

    For now the ending position is on the fireboat… I’ll tweak it later after adding more keyframes.

    Step 5 – Add More Keyframes [Figure 6]

    For this sample I selected points of interest in the picture and planned the points to move to. As I added each keyframe I selected the position and size of the start. The ending position from the previous keyframe is automatically set as the start of the newly added keyframe.

    It can get a little confusing if you randomly jump around selecting keyframes independent of thinking through the path you want to take your viewers through as they see the animated picture.

    Step 6 - Select Motion Ease Settings

    Click the Ease button in left pane [Figure 7]. One of the things I love about the wizard is the ability to use non-linear movement from one place on the picture to another. Here’s where you get to choose between the kinds of motion.

    The top three ‘Ease’ choices affect only the active segment (the green line between blue and red points) of the PanZoom Pro keyframe line. The bottom 3 affect the whole timeline, as indicated by the blue/green above the keyframe line stretching all of the way across the icon.

    Step 7 - Preview Movements

    If you haven’t tried it by now, press the ‘Play’ button on the left working space [Image 8]. It’ll preview your motion settings… looping them over and over until you stop. One of the wizard’s settings is the overall duration of the effect, with the maximum time being 5 seconds. I often make motion effects that take 30 seconds or more when applied in Movie Maker, so things whizz by pretty quickly for me in this preview.

    Step 8 - Save Motion Settings

    Use the save option to save your custom motion settings to a .pzmf file [Figure 9].

    Step 9 - Export Motion Settings to Movie Maker

    When you’re ready to check the motion settings in Movie Maker, export your current set [Figure 10]. Do it with Movie Maker closed and your custom effects will be there when you reopen it.

    The settings made in the wizard are passed to Movie Maker via an xml file. Movie Maker reads all such files and puts them in memory as it opens.

    The settings are copied from the effect in the collection to the project file, so technically you don’t need the effect in the collection once it makes it to the end point. But if the picture is used to enhance the visual quality, you’ll need to keep it in its folder. Xml code is passed to Movie Maker but pictures aren’t.

    Step 10 - Use the Motion Effect in a Movie Project

    Open Movie Maker, add the image to the timeline and apply the custom effect [Figure 11]. Grab the trim handle of the clip and pull it to the right to make the picture duration play for the length of time you want.

    Step 11 - Tweak to Suit

    If you’re like me, you’ll be back to the wizard to tweak the settings after seeing how they first worked in Movie Maker. I leave the wizard open and go back and forth as many times as I need. Be sure to delete the effect from the clip on the timeline and reapply it each time you make a change.

    To see how the non-linear motions enhance the overall clip, try making a similar one with the same picture in both Microsoft's Photo Story 3 and Movie Maker. Compare the results and you’ll see the value added by the wizard.

    Photo Story 3 has a limit of 7,200 pixels for the width or height of a still picture. I’ve used images of over twice the pixel dimensions in the Wizard and Movie Maker and not bumped into any limit.

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    Images

    Add PictureScroll LeftScroll RightSettings - StandardAdd KeyframeAdd KeyframesSet Motion TypesPreview MotionSave FavoriteExport to Movie MakerAdd Effect in Movie Maker Project