Windows Live Movie Maker: Burn a DVD

Returning to our long running Windows Live Movie Maker series (these posts and corresponding screen videos will be gathered into an online, self-paced workshop for next semester) here is the final in the series, how to burn a DVD from your Windows Live Movie Maker project.


Windows DVD maker comes with Windows 7 Home Premium, Ultimate and Enterprise editions and can be invoked from within Windows Live Movie Maker.  After performing your edits, adding title and credit screens, text overlays, background music, transitions and video effects—in short, after completing your Windows Live Movie Maker project and saving it as a wlmp file—click on the Movie Maker tab, hover over Save movie and select Burn a DVD.

Burn DVDFigure 1 Burn DVD

Note that the aspect ratio of your project will be used by DVD maker.

Movie Maker will first prompt you to save a WMV version of your project somewhere on your file system.  It will name it the same as your project file, but the name can be changed if you wish.  Navigate to where you wish to save the file and click Save.  If you have a large project the save can take some time.
Next Windows DVD Maker will be invoked, containing your project video.  Note that DVD maker will report the 1) duration of your video; 2) the amount of time it will consume of the total time available on a standard DVD-R or +R disc; 3) the DVD title, which by default is the date on which you created it, but you should change this, because it is the title that will appear in the DVD menu (only 32 characters are allowed); 4) the drive on which the DVD will be burnt; and 5) the option to add other items to the DVD,
video, audio or pictures in its supported formats.   For purposes of this description we will assume you have already added all your project assets in Movie Maker, and do not need to add any more, but note that assets can be added to this program as a stand-alone application.

DVD Maker Add AssetsFigure 2 Add pictures and video

Note that the Options link in the lower right corner of the illustration above will open a dialog that will allow you to change some basic options, like how the DVD starts and loops (if at all), aspect ratio, either 16:9 or 4:3, Video format (NTSC or PAL – and always choose NTSC for American equipment), how fast it is burnt, and the location of the Temp file DVD maker will use.  You usually will not have to change these settings.

After changing your DVD title, click Next.

DVD maker will respond by showing a sample DVD title screen with a scene from the video chosen at random with the DVD title in a large font and Play and Scenes options in a smaller font.  DVD maker will auto generate scene divisions.  This dialog box contains options to 1) Preview the menu; 2) Modify the menu text (and add a Notes section, which is a good idea for future reference); 3) Customize the menu (discussed below); 4) options for creating a slide show (DVD maker can be used in place of Movie Maker to create slide shows from photos with background music, transitions, and zoom and pan effects, but does not contain other more sophisticated effects editing capabilities).  Most importantly it contains a (5) Style gallery from which you can pick a very sophisticated looking menu for your project.

DVD Maker Menu ChoicesFigure 3 Configuration Choices

Preview

Selecting preview will place your project in a small preview window with the options chosen from the previous screen in effect.  For most projects this will mean the menu will be visible. You can test its functionality from the preview screen.

Menu Text

Menu Text will allow changes to the DVD title, the text of the onscreen menu buttons, and the addition of a Notes feature, with a text box where notes can be entered.  Only 32 characters are allowed in the DVD title, Play button, Scenes button, and Notes button fields.  256 characters are allowed in the Notes field.  The font family used on the menu can also be changed to any of the True Type fonts available on your system, and font properties like color, bold and italics can be set.  Font settings apply to the entire menu, and selective parts cannot be controlled individually.  Be sure to click Change Text after making your changes.  Note that you can preview the changes from this dialog box.

Change Menu TextFigure 4 Change DVD Menu Text

Customize Menu

The Customize Menu selection allows for similar font changes, configuration of separate independent foreground and background menu videos, custom menu audio (be sure the menu audio is set to the same volume as the project audio, or else you are liable to have extremely loud or soft audio for your menu and have to adjust the volume once the video begins playing).  You can also select from a wide variety of screen button styles from the Scenes button styles drop-down.

If you change the style, be sure to click the Change Style button before proceeding.  If you wish to Save the style for future use you may with the Save as new style button.

Customize MenuFigure 5 Customize DVD Menu Style

Menu Styles

The Menu Styles gallery contains a number of very polished looking menu formats.  Select the one you want by clicking on it.  As you click on the various styles they will be previewed in the video window.  To see them in action click the Preview button.  Even menus styles that include video within video will display properly in thumbnail in the preview window.

Select Menu StyleFigure 6 Select Menu Style and Burn

Burn DVD

Once you have configured your DVD, click the Burn button.  If you have not inserted a disc in the proper drive, you will be prompted.  Note that if you have Windows auto play turned on, you may see a Burn dialog box appear.  Just cancel it. Windows DVD burner will start to burn the disc automatically once a blank one has been inserted.  Since burning is a background activity, you can use the computer while burning is occurring, but if you do it will slow the process.  For large projects the burn can take a significant amount of time.

Burn DVD Progress Figure 7 Encode and Burn

That’s it.  You now have a disc that can be played on any modern DVD player.  When it is finished, Windows DVD Maker will offer to Make another copy of this DVD.  If not, click Close.

Make Another CopyFigure 8 Additional Copy Option

When you exit DVD Maker you will be given the option to save your project, which you should do.  It will save you the work of reconfiguring the menu elements again should you decide to burn another copy at a future time.

Troubleshooting

If Windows DVD Maker stops responding or refuses to burn the DVD, check the Compatibility tab of the Options selection on the “Add pictures and video to the DVD” screen illustrated as Figure 2 above.  If you find any video or audio filters listed there, clear their check box to disable them, and then try again.  Other audio and video programs on your computer may have installed these filters.  Disabling them in DVD Maker will not affect the other programs.

If your DVD burns but will not play on a DVD player, be sure it is not a really old DVD player.  Also be sure that you did not inadvertently choose PAL format if you live in North America, or NTSC format if you live in Europe.

If playback of the DVD is uneven or missing elements, try burning again and do not do anything else on your computer while encoding/burning.  DVD Maker is set by default to burn in the background, but encoding and burning are processor intensive activities, so it is best to give your project as much computing power as possible.  Disconnecting from the Internet during this process and being sure that backup or other processes are not running can also be helpful.  Your Task Manager will indicate what is going on.

Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Speckled Band

Holmes:  I suppose that you could not possibly whistle, yourself, in your sleep?

Miss Stoner:  Certainly not.  But why?

Watson:  My God, I whispered; did you see it?

Holmes: That is the baboon.


Speckled Band IconTap to start; swipe to turn pages; tap to start/stop audio; double tab to sync your reading position with audio; adjust your audio layer volumes; tap to adjust your reading speed…  Ingenious, Watson.

Finally, a Holmes rendition worthy of Holmes.  “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” on the iPad by Booktrack:

“Booktrack represents a new chapter in the evolution of storytelling…by creating synchronized soundtracks for e-books that dramatically boost the reader’s imagination and engagement” says the Booktrack management blurb.

We hear the crackle of the fire in the Dickensian glow of 221B Baker Street just as Holmes says “I am glad to see that Mrs. Hudson has had the good sense to light the fire.”  In the foggy street below we hear the muffled sound of shod hooves and cart wheels.  As Helen Stoner tells her fraught tale we hear the sounds of the story within a story, “It was a wild night.  The wind was howling outside, and the rain was beating and splashing against the windows.”  Just as we read that the door was suddenly dashed open we hear it so.  As the despicable Dr. Roylott excoriates Holmes and bends his fireplace poker in a rage we hear the poker’s protesting creak, and rest assured we hear it again as Holmes straightens it.  As Holmes and Watson arrive at Waterloo, we hear the steam whistle.  We hear birdsong as they journey along in their dog cart through the Surrey countryside.  We hear footsteps grinding of gravel paths in the night, the howl of the exotic cheetah that Dr. Roylott keeps on the grounds of the forbidding Stoke Moran, the creak of Roylott’s safe, wherein resides the creeping evil, the sudden slashes with the cane against the bell pull as Holmes beats back the deadly serpent, the terrified scream and low moan of the spoiler spoiled.  What a relief when Holmes delivers his verdict:  “Violence does, in truth, recoil upon the violent…”

The speckled band certainly gains in drama and entertainment value, reading it in the Booktrack edition.  Here is a preview video:

Booktrack editions (their catalog is thusfar slight and is described in full below) are the clever idea to add background music, ambient sounds, and special sound effects that keep in sync with your reading rate.  Bear in mind the story itself is not narrated.  The app bases your reading rate on how often you turn pages, or double tap on a word to re-sync the audio.  Once it establishes your reading speed (there is also a speed test that you can use before you begin reading to set an initial rate) it stays in sync remarkably well.

App controls are simple.  First, you are able to adjust font (from among three), font size and screen color.

font settings

Tap the lower case or upper case A to raise or lower font size successively.  I find reading stark black on white on a backlit screen difficult, so when I have the option I change the screen color to sepia with contrasting dark brown type.

Volume of the three audio tracks can be adjusted independently, or can be dispensed with altogether by turning them off (though there would be little point to the app if you did).

audio settings

Clicking on the little wrench icon at the bottom right of the screen (these icons only appear when you have paused your reading by tapping the screen) will cause the reading speed tools to appear.

Reading speed tools

The reading indicator tools are just what you think they are, an underline or bouncing ball that travel word to word or an arrow shaped slider that slides down the right margin of the page as you read.  I want to meet the reader who leaves these turned on.  They are off by default and should stay that way.  I experimented with them and found them terrifically distracting.  I suppose is you found the text getting out of sync with the sound effects you might deliberately use these tools to slow down or speed up the audio track, but it is much easier to keep things synced by double tapping any word, which I had to do just a couple of times in reading the story.  It was remarkable how well it stayed synchronized.  Finally, the speed test button is how you access the speed test.  My only complaint about the test is that it was a couple of paragraphs from the story, but in a very tiny font size that I wish I could have enlarged, but could not.

Do the sound effects, background music and atmospherics enhance the story?  Yes, of course they do.  But then again it is a very familiar story.  Very few people will encounter the Booktrack version as their first exposure to Holmes or the speckled band.  It is therefore hard to judge if I would have found it distracting if I were reading the story for the first time.  That’s not likely to be an issue, though, judging by their catalog.  Booktracks markets a number of titles: short stories, like the Holmes story (free), and Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death,” for $1.99; childrens’ stories: Kipling’s “Riki Tiki Tavi,”  Wilde’s “The Selfish Giant,”  the brothers Grimm’s “Hansel and Gretel,” all free, and “The Ugly Duckling,” for $0.99; and a couple of novel length productions Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, for $1.99 each and  The Power of Six for $12.99.

I have only minor criticisms of these apps, which are really just wish list items.  You cannot create multiple, working bookmarks (there is a bookmarking feature, but you can only create one effective bookmark).  It would be nice to be able to add multiple bookmarks and have them appear on the book’s table of contents, to go to at a tap.  I also wish the app had a simple way to jump to a certain page.  If you are seeking a quote from a later page there is no simple way to jump there other than by paging through one page at a time.  A more distant wish would be the ability to annotate and highlight, but that might be going a little far afield from the producers’ intent.

Do these editions have a serious academic use beyond the simple pleasure of re-reading these stories in a more dramatic treatment?  I’m not sure.  I can see them being used in reading labs as benchmarks for testing reading speed, but I suspect reader teachers would regard the soundtracks as distractions rather than enhancements.  Nevertheless, they might just be the hooks that interest young readers in an author or genre.  I think they are great, and have to admire the effort put into them by the developers.  If you go to their web site and register, one of the questions you are asked is “Would you like a Booktrack created for your book?” which may hint at a business model.  Let’s hope they do well.  They deserve it for creating these enjoyable apps.

Fly the Friendly Classroom – Imation Wireless Video Extender

I’m just barely old enough to recall that sound through the speakers of an airplane: “*Ding* You are now free to move about the cabin.” It was never fun to know that I had to stay in one place, even if there wasn’t really any better place to be; sometimes I just wanted to know I could move around. (Of course, nowadays you’re discouraged from ever getting up unless you have to. Grumble grumble, get off my lawn.)

I feel the same way when I’m projecting my computer screen through a data projector. I want to move around, but the keyboard and mouse tie me down to the computer. Sure, there are some things I can do, like use a presentation remote to advance through PowerPoint slides while I walk around, or getting a remote keyboard that I can carry with me, but sometimes I just need to go back to the computer. That’s true even if I’m projecting from a laptop, which… is just wrong. The whole computer is portable, but because I have to be cabled in to the data projector, I’m stuck up at the front (if the classroom is well designed, at any rate) of the room, tied to the wall.

Doesn’t that just make you angry? Wouldn’t it be great if you could project from your laptop, but be wherever you want in the room? Even though walking around with a netbook or laptop in your hands is cumbersome, wouldn’t it be nice to have the choice?

There are many expensive data projectors that would allow such, but… I’m cheap. I want to find something inexpensive, have my cake and eat it too.

Meet the Imation Wireless Video Extender!Imation Wireless Video ExtenderThis device works on both Windows and Mac computers, and is comprised of two (or three, if you count an AC adapter as a separate piece) components. The USB dongle is plugged into your computer (so you do need to have a powered USB port available), while the curvy base station has a power adapter and the data projector plugged into it. (The base station can connect via VGA or HDMI, and will support sound from the computer, too.) Once the USB dongle is recognized, it loads the drivers onto your computer (from a USB key partition on the dongle itself; no downloading drivers needed). Depending on your operating system your computer may require a restart the first time the drivers are loaded, but after that your computer will recognize the device as being a separate screen on your computer.

On the computers I’ve tested this with, the default behavior is to make the data projector an extended desktop, which is perfect for running PowerPoint in Presenter’s Mode (where the slides show on the projector, but the presenter notes show on the laptop). Alternately you can just tell your computer to mirror the screens, and what you see on your laptop is what will show on the projector. Look Ma, no wires!

I have also tried extending my laptop to my TV using the HDMI connection from the base station, but quickly decided that my own television is not a good enough device to watch computer content on. (The colors were wacky, and the resolution was low enough to look bothersome. There’s a reason the purchase price of a monitor is higher than the purchase price of the same sized TV!) So, this isn’t what I’d want as a solution for watching video on my TV or anything, but so long as you’re piping to a data projector or additional computer monitor it seems to work very well.

And… given that at the time of writing this blog post the device is under $100 from Amazon, the price is fairly right, too. You are now free to move about the classroom. *Ding*

Logitech C310 HD Webcam

Logitech C310 webcamIf you teach an online class, you may want to include a welcome video for your students.  You may also decide that brief videos explaining assignments, telling students what to look for in readings, showing artifacts, explaining difficult concepts, or just being present to them are all things you would like to include in your Blackboard course shell.  If so, you need a webcam to make the videos.  We recommend the Logitech C310 HD webcam as a good, inexpensive camera that has all the features you would need.  As I say, they are inexpensive ($34 at Amazon), but if you would like to try one out before buying we have several to check out to faculty members.

The C310 takes 720P (1280 x 720 pixel) video, that is, wide-screen, “HD,” 16:9 aspect ratio video, the HD default at YouTube.  It is designed with YouTube and Facebook in mind, with one-button upload, but can as easily be used to capture video locally.  In fact, you may want to capture it directly into Windows Movie Maker for quick editing.  If not, editing software comes with the camera.  In addition you can use the camera to take 5 Megapixel snapshots.  Of course it will work with Skype too (a service NOT blocked on the wireless network at Palomar).  The microphone is built-in to the camera, eliminating the need for an additional mic.

The C310 is for PCs running Windows XP (SP2), Vista or 7 (32 or 64 bit versions).  It comes with a 5 foot cable, and a couple of software apps that you will probably find unhelpful (though fun to play with, like Logitech video effects and fun filters).  For a general purpose, PC webcam it gets the job done and the picture will look good, even in low light conditions.

Contact Terry Gray in Academic Technology for camera checkout.  The checkout period is 1-week with 1-week renewal.

 

Your PowerPoints on Your iPad

slideshark logoWant to display your PowerPoint presentations on your iPad in class?  There is a great new, free app for iPad from brainshark that makes it possible.  It’s called slideshark, and couldn’t be easier to use.  Here is what you do:

  • First, create an account at slideshark.com (click the Register button in the upper right of the page).  This will give you 25MB of free storage to which you can upload your presentations.  More storage is available, of course, for a fee.
  • Next, upload one of your presentations to the account.  It will automatically be converted for web display.  It is now ready for display.
  • Download/install the free slideshark app from the app store.  (Did I say it’s free?).
  • Finally, start your iPad, open the slideshark app, and login to your slideshark account.  The presentation(s) you have uploaded will be displayed.
  • Download a copy for offline display.
  • Press the Present button and voila, you are presenting PowerPoint, with animations, fonts, colors, design preserved on your iPad.  Just tap or swipe to advance the next slide or animation.  Note that embedded audio or video will not play in the slideshark presentation, nor will transitions, animated gifs or 3rd party add-ins, but for most of us these minor inconveniences will be outweighed by the convenience of using the iPad to present, rather than having to lug around a laptop or, worse, depend on the classroom computer.

Slideshark App Screen

How do you delete them?  Delete the presentation from slideshark.com and it will also be deleted from your iPad.  Remove it from your iPad to free up memory, but until you delete it from slideshark.com it will always be available for future download.

I can hear you thinking:  so how do I connect my iPad to the classroom projector?  You will need the VGA adapter for iPad from Apple.  Just connect it to the external VGA cable—probably among a sheaf of dangling cables on the rostrum.  You can call the AV dept. for help.  If you are displaying on a big screen LCD display rather than a projector, you may want to get the HDMI adapter instead.  In this case, you will probably have to supply your own HDMI cable, however, unless there is a spare in your classroom.  They are inexpensive through Amazon.  Most, if not all, of the projectors on campus are not cabled for HDMI, though the newer ones have HDMI ports.

OK, that’s it.  Simple, free, and it works.

Windows Live Movie Maker: Publish/Save Your Movie

Let’s assume you have finished editing your movie.  You have added title and credit sequences, captions where appropriate, faded in/out audio, added background music where appropriate, used transitions, pan and zoom, visual effects, the works.  Being a responsible workman, you have repeatedly saved your project file each 5 minutes or so while building the movie (by clicking the Movie Maker tab and choosing Save Project to save a WLMP file).  Remember your project file (that WLMP file) is not the same thing as your movie file.  The project file is just a textual list of the assets and edits that define your movie.  Now it is time to either publish or save your movie, or both.

Publish and Save are two separate operations.  Publish uploads your movie to an online service: YouTube, SkyDrive (you get 25GB of free storage, called a SkyDrive, when you sign up for a live.com account), Facebook, Windows Live Groups, or Flickr.  Save simply saves a WMV (windows media video) version of your movie, in a resolution you pick at save time, to your file system.  Here are the details.

Publish by either using the “Share” options on the Home tab

Movie Maker Share Options

or click the Movie Maker tab and hover over the Publish Movie choice, then select the service to which you wish to share your movie.  Remember, you 1) must have an account on that service; and 2) you must first authenticate with your live.com account and then with your service account in order to publish.  Beyond that, it is a typical publish, or upload, operation to the service.  Publishing does NOT save a copy of the movie on your local system.

Save movie, on the other hand, saves a WMV version of the movie to your system,and then you can decide what to do with it.

Save Movie Choices

For example, after saving, you could upload your movie to Vimeo or TeacherTube or some other service not built-in to Movie Maker; upload to YouTube at some other resolution; upload to Blackboarf; send it to your students; whatever.

When you save, Movie Maker will make a recommended resolution setting for your project, but you will do better to choose one based on the media on which you expect to display the movie.  If you are making a movie to be displayed on a large screen LCD display, choose “For high-definition display.”  If you intend to display it on a computer monitor and display it through a projector in class, “For computer” is probably appropriate.  You can see the other choices indicated above.  Note that it is possible to define custom save resolutions, if you have special purposes for the video.  The following chart may help understand these resolution choices.

Project Aspect Ratio

16:9

4:3

High-definition display

1920 x 1080

1440 x 1080

Computer

854 x 480

640 x 480

DVD

720 x 480

720 x 480

Email

426 x 240

320 x 240

Don’t worry about the choices listed under “Mobile device settings” especially Zune HD settings.  The Zune doesn’t even exist any longer.

The “Burn a DVD” choice above will choose a proper publishing resolution to a standard DVD, and will also invoke the Windows DVD Maker program after it has saved.  A future pose will cover how to use that program.

Here is the screencast that covers this topic;