Plus! Digital Media Edition, photo, music and movie enhancement pack for Windows XP provides consumers with an easy way to enjoy timely content on the go on their desktop as well as on their Pocket PC running Windows Mobile 2003 software for Pocket PCs.
To learn more about Plus! Digital Media Edition, visit http://www.microsoft.com/windows/plus/dme/dmehome.asp, or download the complete Plus! Digital Media Edition reviewers guide by visiting http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/press/revguide.aspx.
With Windows Mobile 2003, consumers can take their personal photos and home movies with them on the go and play them back in Windows Media Player 9 Series for Windows Mobile 2003. It’s easy to create digital photo albums made with Plus! Photo Story or home movies with Windows Movie Maker 2, and enjoy them wherever and whenever they like with friends and family.
Introducing Plus! Photo Story — Share and Enjoy Photos in a Whole New Way
Digital photography is coming of age. Today 27 percent of the entire U.S. population owns a digital camera, and that number is growing rapidly.
Photos capture some of our most-treasured moments in life. And digital photography makes it possible for people to quickly send a photo in e-mail only moments after it was taken, providing friends and family with copies of photos without the cost or time of ordering duplicates. While these obvious benefits have driven the popularity of digital cameras and photos, many of the personal stories that used to be shared while gathered around a photo album on the couch have been replaced by just an oversized e-mail message full of JPEG files.
Plus! Photo Story is designed to enable the sharing of photos by giving users a way to tell stories and share memories associated with the pictures. More specifically, Plus! Photo Story offers a four-step way to quickly enable users to combine digital photos with narrations, music, and panning and zooming effects, so that friends and family can now enjoy high-quality photo stories that tell the tale behind the pictures whenever and wherever they want. As part of this process, Plus! Photo Story automatically adds motion effects that dramatically enhance the visual experience of digital photos by putting photos in motion.
In addition, Plus! Photo Story sets a new standard for fast and easy sharing of digital photos, enabling users to create a story in just a few easy steps. It’s the fast, easy and innovative way for digital photo fans to share photos and the stories that go with them.
Plus! Photo Story uses advanced Windows Media compression technology so that photo-story videos retain great quality yet are small enough to send via e mail or post to the Web. For example, a typical photo story with 10 digital photos taken from a 2.0 megapixel camera, together with music and motion effects, will result in an approximate file size of about 2 MB. This varies based on the number of megapixels in the images used, the file size of the photos, and the saved profiles used. Sharing digital photos is a whole lot easier and more meaningful with Plus! Photo Story.
Users can easily create a Plus! Photo Story in only four easy steps:
Import digital photos into Plus! Photo Story.
Arrange and narrate the digital photos.
Add a title and/or background music (if desired).
Save and share!
Import up to 150 Pictures, Images and More
For each photo story, users can import up to 150 pictures or popular image file types. Plus! Photo Story accepts most popular digital image file types, including BMP, JPG, GIF, TIF and PNG. Consumers can also draw a picture in Microsoft Paint or fine-tune a digital image with a wide variety of photo-editing software and then import the enhanced image right into their Plus! Photo Story.
Easily Arrange Photos — Drag and Drop
Plus! Photo Story makes it easy to drag and drop photos and images into the desired order, and also provides helpful arrow and delete buttons that make it easy to rearrange or remove photos from the timeline. This makes it simple for users to easily reorder their pictures, especially when compared with the time it takes to reorder photos in a traditional photo album.
When narrating, users need to be able to ensure proper microphone input volume to obtain good sound quality. Users can simply click on the Configure Microphone button from the Record Your Story page, and the Sound Hardware Test Wizard helps even the newest users obtain the proper microphone volume level.
Narrate and Highlight Each Photo — Use Your Own Words
Plus! Photo Story gives users the ability to add narration to any or all photos and images on the timeline, and users can emphasize an area of interest on the photo by simply pointing with the mouse. To get started, users select the photo they would like to narrate, press the red Record button and describe the photo in their own words.
Users can choose to narrate each photo individually or use the Next Picture button to narrate the entire series of photos all at once. Users can easily delete a narration and rerecord it by using the Reset Picture button. Plus! Photo Story displays the length and status of the picture’s narration on the right side of the Record button.
While narrating a photo, users can choose to hover the mouse over a point of interest on the photo. Using this information, Plus! Photo Story intelligently selects a pan or zoom effect to highlight the area of interest on the photo. When the Plus! Photo Story is played back, it looks as if the narrator is there gesturing at the photo.
At any time during the recording process users can instantly preview their photo story.
Manual Pans and Zooms
Plus! Photo Story will automatically select pan or zoom effects, but if users want more precise control they can select manual zooms from the Record Your Story screen by selecting Advanced and Control pans and zooms manually. This will enable them to manually select which areas of a picture will appear at the beginning and end of the picture’s pan or zoom.
With Plus! Photo Story, users can choose any of 10 start and stop positions that control the areas of the photo that will be displayed at the beginning and end of the clip. By using the Preview Motion button, users can instantly preview their selected motion.
Add a Title Page — Start the Story off Right
Users can easily add a title page, complete with titles and descriptions, at the beginning of their stories. Plus! Photo Story users can choose the font, size, color, alignment, bold, italic and underline properties of their text. All installed TrueType fonts are available.
In addition, users can decide how long the page appears at the beginning of the photo story and can also easily import a background image or photo for the title page.
Add Background Music
Want to jazz up your photo story? Set the mood with background music that plays during a Plus! Photo Story. Plus! Photo Story can import WMA, MP3 and WAV formats. Users can easily adjust the volume of the background music in their photo stories by moving the volume slider.
Set Standard Photo Length
Plus! Photo Story gives users the ability to select the number of seconds to display pictures without narration or advanced narration settings so that their timing is just right.
Automatic Song Loop — Never Run out of Music for Your Plus! Photo Story
For stories that are longer than the background song selected, Plus! Photo Story will automatically loop the song so that it plays throughout the photos and narrations and fades out when the photo story ends.
Preview Before Saving — Get Instant Feedback
Plus! Photo Story users can preview their entire story, complete with the narration, title page and background music, before saving. This is the perfect way to see what the finished product will look and sound like before saving and sending to friends.
Saving a Plus! Photo Story
Users can select the quality settings for the audio and video, enabling them to choose between audio and video quality and file size. Users have two simple video resolutions for Windows Media Video 9 variable bit rate (VBR) encoding from which to choose:
High quality is 640x480 video resolution at 24 frames per second (fps). This resolution provides the highest-quality playback experience but requires more disk space.
Medium quality is 320x240 video resolution at 24 fps. This smaller resolution provides medium-quality video but requires less disk space. Users may want to select this setting if they require smaller file sizes.
As part of the Windows Media Video 9 VBR encoding mentioned above, users have two simple audio resolutions from which to choose that can improve audio quality or save file space depending on their needs:
High quality. CD-quality audio (using VBR encoding) provides the highest-quality playback experience, but requires more disk space.
Medium quality. FM-quality audio (using VBR encoding) provides medium-quality audio, but requires less disk space. Users may want to select this setting if audio quality is not as important as a smaller file size.
Power Tip — Additional Save Profiles for Advanced Users
Advanced users can specify audio and video quality settings for their story by using a custom encoding profile (PRX file) downloaded from the Microsoft Plus! Web site (http://www.microsoft.com/plus/). Profiles of 800x600 and 1024x768 are available for users to download, which enables them to customize how the audio and video content of Plus! Photo Story is encoded. When users select a custom encoding profile, the standard audio and video settings are turned off. Plus! Photo Story then generates images and motion data based on the video width, height and frame rate specified by the custom encoding profile specified by the user.
Although these advanced profiles provide users with increased quality settings, they also require higher system requirements for playback. For details about advanced feature system requirements, see http://www.microsoft.com/plus/.
Small File Sizes Make It Easy to Share Via E-Mail and the Web Thanks to Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series
Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series delivers unmatched audio and video quality at any bit rate. Plus! Photo Story utilizes the Windows Media Video 9 Image codec to put photos in motion with the highest quality per bit.
Windows Media Video 9 advanced compression makes it possible to create a Plus! Photo Story with a final file size that is dramatically less than the sum of its parts. As mentioned earlier, a typical photo story with 10 digital photos taken from a 2.0 megapixel camera, together with music and motion effects, will result in an approximate file size of 2 MB. This varies based on the number of megapixels in the images used, the file size of the photos and the saved profiles used.
Burn to DVD or VCD, using third-party DVD authoring software supporting Windows Media Video such as Sonic’s MyDVD version 4.0 and MedioStream’s NeoDVD version 4.0.
Playing Back Plus! Photo Stories
Users and their loved ones can play back photo stories from within Plus! Photo Story in a number of ways. Users can play back photo stories by using programs that support playback of Windows Media Video 9 files such as Windows Media Player version 7 or higher on a variety of operating systems (Windows 98 Second Edition and later). Users do not need to buy Plus! Digital Media Edition to play back Plus! Photo Stories.
In addition, users with third-party DVD authoring software supporting Windows Media Video 9 can also burn their photo stories to DVD or VCD and play them back on almost any DVD player.
Gets Even Better With Windows Media Player 9 Series
After saving a Plus! Photo Story, users are prompted to play back their videos in Windows Media Player so they can see and show off the finished product. Windows Media Player 9 Series offers new and improved features for fast and flexible playback of digital media, including videos created with Plus! Photo Story. Here are two:
Users can create their own auto playlists of photo stories, accessible from the Media Library in Windows Media Player 9 Series, making viewing photo stories or groups of photo stories on the PC easier than ever.
Consumers can use Variable Speed Playback to speed up or slow down photo stories without changing the pitch of the narration or music. They can speed quickly through a Plus! Photo Story without missing any of the narration.
Play Back Your Home Movies Created With Windows Movie Maker 2 on a Windows Mobile 2003-Based Device
With the Plus! Digital Media Edition, Windows Movie Maker 2 provides consumers with an easy way to create home movies like a pro and share them with friends and family on Windows Mobile 2003. Windows Movie Maker 2 uses Windows Media compression to make home movies smaller so that users can take them on the Pocket PC and enjoy them whenever they like.
For more information about Windows Movie Maker 2 for Windows XP, please visit http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/moviemaker/.