Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

Official blog for the Windows Live Digital Memories Experience team

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Digital Image Suite and Windows Vista

    • 4 Comments

    We’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about Digital Image Suite, and how it works with Windows Vista.

    Mike writes:

    Hey guys...  I have been reading your blog trying to get some info on how keywords are handled in Vista Photo Gallery. I have been using Digital Image Suite Library 2006 (and earlier versions) for quite some time. I have 20gigs of photos all with keywords.

    I would like to be using the "standard" for storing these keywords on my photos and it seems, from reading your blog that XMP is the way to go...

    So my questions are:

    1. Does Vista Photo Gallery read the DIS2006 keywords and convert them to XMP format?

    2. If not, is there a way to do this in a batch job? (I just want to click a button and have it fix all of my pictures)

    3. Should I be worrying about this at all?

    4. Is there going to be a future version of DIS2006?  And if so will it batch convert all my keywords to the XMP format?

    I know you may not be able to comment on future products, but PLEASE help me out on XMP and my DIS keywords.

    To answer your questions Mike, the Windows Vista Photo Gallery does read keywords from DIS2006 and display them as tags in the Gallery. The tags will not be re-written to XMP unless you make changes that cause the metadata to be re-written to the file. There is no way to force this operation to happen (other than tagging your images). You could pretty easily add a single tag to all of your files, wait for that tag to be written to all of the files, and then later delete that tag.

    One question that you didn’t ask about is whether or not tags written by the Vista Photo Gallery will be viewable in DIS. The answer is no (for DIS2006). Although Vista can read the ‘legacy’ metadata format, DIS2006 does not know how to read the Vista metadata. However, there is a new version of Digital Image Suite – the Anniversary Edition. This updated version can read and write metadata in the same format as Windows Vista.

    One important thing to note about DIS is that the ‘flags’ are not written back to the files like the keywords are, so they will not be read by Windows Vista (which does not have the ‘flags’ feature).

    - Jason Flaks (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    HD Photo

    • 4 Comments

    Last week at PMA, Microsoft formally announced HD Photo. For more information on HD Photo, head over to Bill Crow’s blog. The official press release can be found here. Here’s a summary of the important details:

    • Microsoft is announcing HD Photo, a new format for end-to-end digital photography which offers higher image quality, greater preservation of data, and advanced features for today’s digital imaging applications
    • The HD Photo Device Porting Kit, used to implement HD Photo in devices and other platforms
    • Royalty free licensing
    • A free set of HD Photo plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop, developed in conjunction with Adobe
    • Microsoft is committed to standardizing the HD Photo technology

    HD Photo overview & details:

    • A new format for end-to-end digital photography which offers higher image quality, greater preservation of data, and advanced features for today’s digital imaging applications
    • Key benefits include:
      • Better Image Fidelity: Preserving all the original image content, enabling the highest quality exposure and color adjustments
      • State of the art compression: Up to twice the efficiency of JPEG with fewer damaging artifacts, and scalable to lossless
      • Powerful Features: Decode only the information needed for any resolution or region, or manipulate the image as compressed data
    • Technical Details
      • Support for the Widest Range of Pixel Formats
      • High Performance, Low Footprint Algorithm
      • Advanced Decoding and Transformation Operations
      • Better image quality in a file that is up to ½ the size of JPEG
      • Lossless and lossy compression with the same algorithm
      • Lossy compression is much less destructive than JPEG
      • An efficient, portable photo interchange format that preserves the entire dynamic range
    • HD Photo Support in Microsoft products:
      • Windows Vista in-box support
      • Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 support via Windows Imaging Component (WIC), a free download
      • Windows Imaging Component (WIC)
      • HD Photo Device Porting Kit
      • NET Framework 3.0
      • XML Paper Specification (XPS) – The XPS format utilizes the HD Photo format to store image data
      • Photo Info Power Toy
      • Microsoft Expression Family
      • HD Photo plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop

    - pixblog

     

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Movie Maker Vista File Format Support

    • 4 Comments

    We've had some questions about what file formats are supported by Movie Maker on Windows Vista. Hope this helps!

    Movie Maker can import a wide variety of video and audio formats.  The format refers to the container which contains the audio and video streams.  The audio and video streams are encoded using a codec which determines how the audio or video is compressed. 

    The following summaries the key format containers that Movie Maker supports:

    Video

    • DV-AVI (AVI)
    • Windows Media Video (WMV, ASF)
    • DVR-MS (Windows Media Center Vista Premium and Ultimate only, DVR-MS)
    • MPEG-2 (MPEG-2 Program Streams on Vista Premium and Ultimate only, MPG)
    • MPEG-1 (MPG)

    Audio

    • WAV (WAV)
    • MP3 (MP3)
    • Windows Media Audio (WMA)

    When a file is imported in Movie Maker, Movie Maker will open the container format and then use DirectShow to determine what codecs are required to decode the audio and video streams.  Just because the format is supported, for example AVI, doesn’t mean the required codecs are installed on the machine.  Given the wide range of codecs available this can cause confusion.  If the codec required to decode the video is not available, the file will not be properly imported.  For example, if only the audio codec is available for a video file, the video will be rendered as black.   

    One of the most popular container formats is AVI.  AVI files can contain a wide range video codecs, for example, the AVI video stream maybe encoded with MPEG-4 video.  Assuming you have installed the proper video codec, Movie Maker will import this content.  Movie Maker will always attempt to import the media file and if the proper DirectShow filter is registered, the content will be imported.   

    Most solid state video cameras include the required codecs that can be used by Movie Maker to import the file.  Devices use a wide range of file formats and codecs so it’s difficult to provide a detailed list of supported device and formats.  Typically, if the video file can be played in Windows Media Player, Windows Movie Maker can import the content.  If you cannot playback the file in Windows Media Player, check to make sure you have the proper codecs installed on your machine.  If the codec is not installed on your machine, download the codec directly from the manufactures web site.  It is recommended to only install the codecs that you require. Also keep in mind that DRM protected content cannot be imported into Movie Maker. 

    When publishing your movie from Movie Maker, Movie Maker can publish video files to DV-AVI, Windows Media and Windows Media HD.  Movie Maker provides a set of predefine Windows Media profiles targeting the most common scenarios, but you can also create your own custom profile.  On Vista Premium and Ultimate, you can also publish your videos directly to DVD. 

    Related articles:
    http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/player/faq/codec.mspx
    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/308464 (Windows XP)
    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/moviemaker/expert/customprofile.mspx

    - Michael Patten (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Movie Maker 2.6

    • 4 Comments

    Hi, I’m Bret Ahlstrom. I’m a program manager on the Digital Memories team at Microsoft. Most recently, I was in charge of Movie Maker 2.6, which is available for download here.

    If the Vista version of Movie Maker is working for you, you’re all set, please don’t install Movie Maker 2.6.

    Some machines with certain graphics cards (cards that don’t support the Windows Device Driver Model) are unable to run Vista Movie Maker at all.  Movie Maker 2.6 was developed specifically to ensure that those machines could run a version of Movie Maker.  No other bug fixes or feature enhancements were included in this release.

    What is Movie Maker 2.6
    Movie Maker 2.6 is simply the XPSP2 version of Movie Maker (version 2.1) brought forward to Vista with as few changes as possible. Movie Maker 2.6 is NOT an upgrade from the Vista version of Movie Maker or even an upgrade from the XP version Movie Maker. It does not replace Vista version of Movie Maker, it installs side-by-side with it. It is not designed to be able to run concurrently with the Vista version of Movie Maker, and it can cause problems if you try.

    So why did we ship it?
    Although the Vista version of Movie Maker does not have major changes to the user interface, we did make significant performance improvements to support things like High Definition video.  These changes involved tying Movie Maker’s rendering engine directly to the graphics card and driver.

    However, this change opened up the possibility that machines without sufficiently powerful graphics cards (cards that don’t support the Windows Device Driver Model) would not be able to run Movie Maker. At the time we made the decision, we were fairly confident that this would not be a big issue. Unfortunately, by the time Vista was complete, it became clear that there would be quite a few machines that would be able to run Vista, but would not be able to run Movie Maker. We didn’t want to leave those users out in the cold, so we decided to release a version of Movie Maker that wasn’t tightly tied to the graphics hardware. Movie Maker 2.6 was born.

    Who Should Use Movie Maker 2.6 (and who should NOT)?
    People who have Vista machines with Vista Movie Maker already installed, but who can’t run Vista Movie Maker are the intended audience of Movie Maker 2.6.

    When you launch Vista Movie Maker, if you get an error that says, “Windows Movie Maker cannot start because your video card does not support the required level of hardware acceleration or hardware acceleration is not available”, then Movie Maker 2.6 is for you. If you don’t get this error, the version of Movie Maker that shipped with Windows Vista is the best version for you.

    Bret Ahlstrom - Program Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Pentax RAW codec released

    • 4 Comments

    Yesterday, Pentax released a Windows Vista codec for their .PEF RAW image format.

    This format is used by the following Pentax cameras: *ist D, *ist DS,*istDS2, *istDL, *istDL2 ,K100D, K10D

    More information can be found on the Pentax website

    - pixblog

     

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Microsoft Image Composite Editor (ICE)

    • 4 Comments

    Hello, I’m Matt Uyttendaele. I normally post over on the HD View blog, but today the Digital Memories Team is giving me this space to talk about Microsoft ICE.  In my blog post announcing the Microsoft Image Composite Editor (ICE), I mentioned the tight integration with the next version of Windows Live Photo Gallery (WLPG).  That next version has been available for a while now, so I wanted to give WLPG users a quick intro to ICE.  Most of you are probably familiar with the “create panoramic image” capabilities in WLPG.  My team in Microsoft Research developed the technology behind this.  ICE is another tool that you can use to create panoramic images.  It uses the same technology as WLPG under the hood and adds a few features. 

    Orientation Tool

    Probably the most important feature is the orientation tool.  When creating a panoramic photo there are many different ways that you may want to show the result.  In the pictures below are examples of this.  In the first case, the user has modified the orientation to give the impression that a tilt/shift lens was used.  In the second case, the user decided to use a perspective projection instead of a cylindrical one.  In the final example, the user had a 360-degree panorama and wanted to set the midpoint of the panorama slightly differently. 

    Choose the panorama orientation in ICE:

    clip_image001[4]

    clip_image002[4]

    default result

    tilt-shift effect created by ICE

    Choose a custom projection in ICE:

    clip_image003[4]

    clip_image004[4]

    cylinder – notice curved roof lines

    perspective – roof lines now straight but left-right edges are more stretched

    Choose a 360 mid-point in ICE:

    initial result

    image

    subject in the middle

    clip_image006[4]

    These edits were all achieved using the ICE orientation tool.  This tool gives you interactive feedback of your adjustments, so it is easy to experiment and get exactly what you want out of it.  The pictures above give an idea of what you can do with the orientation tool, but the best way to get a feel for the tool is to try it out on your own panoramas. 

    Export Options

    The second major feature is the wide variety of export options. The most interesting of these are Deep Zoom and HD View.  When you create a panorama with WLPG or ICE, the result can be a very large image.  Posting this mega-image to the web results in a less-than-ideal experience for people who want to look at it.  It takes a long time to download, and viewing in a browser isn’t a great way to experience it.  Deep Zoom and HD View are a great way to solve this problem.   If you select one of these export options, then ICE will generate a web page that handles viewing these images in a much more efficient manner.  In either case, the web page uses a special browser plug-in.  For Deep Zoom this plug-in is Silverlight – which will let people interact with your panorama using any browser on PC or Mac.  You can view some examples of Deep Zoom pages created by ICE on the Microsoft Research web site

    HD View is an interesting option for those of you who want to check out Microsoft Research prototype technology.  Just like Deep Zoom, HD View allows users to interact efficiently with very large images over the web.  It has some cool additional capabilities like being able to rewarp the panorama on the fly using a fish-eye lens, auto-exposure adjust for looking into those deep shadows of the panorama, and support for wide-color-gamut monitors.  The HD View web page has some great examples to look at.

    WLPG Integration

    For most of your panorama creation projects WLPG probably does everything that you need it to do.  However, at times you may need to do some of the more advanced things mentioned here.  So, I encourage you to download ICE and give it a try.  Oh yeah, just like WLPG, ICE is free.  Finally, I need to mention the integration with WLPG.  Once you’ve installed ICE, you’ll see a new menu item in the WLPG “Extras” menu, as shown below.  You simply select a group of images and launch ICE using this menu item.

    clip_image007[4]

    -- Matt Uyttendaele, Microsoft Research

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Tell me more about Windows Live Movie Maker beta

    • 4 Comments

    Our very own JP is at it again over on the Windows Live team blog. He just posted a very quick update on Windows Live Movie Maker (Beta). Check his post out: Tell me more about Windows Live Movie Maker beta

    Quick snippet from his post:

    So, for the beta release of Windows Live Movie Maker a few months ago, we focused on making sure we had these key functionalities running smoothly first:

    • adding digital photos and videos easily
    • making editing commands easier to find with the new Ribbon user interface
    • publishing movies quickly and easily

    We know we still have a lot of work to do to get Windows Live Movie Maker ready for final release. We’ve been reading your feedback and comments on the first Windows Live Movie Maker beta post and are working to add more of the features and functionality we hear you asking for. Rest assured, there’s lots more good stuff to come.

    - Digital Memories Experience team

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    ShutterSpeed - Episode #1 is now posted!

    • 4 Comments

    ShutterSpeed is a brand new photography show for photo enthusiasts.  In this first episode, Nic Fillingham (host) teams up with a panel of company photography experts: Tim Grey, Bill Crow, and myself.  We got together in Channel 10's studio to discuss online video storage and photo editing tools. We also get back to basics and talk about the principles of photography and what to look for in a digital camera.  The final segment of the premiere show Nic visits the Seattle studio of Phil Borges, a Microsoft Icon of Imaging

    ShutterSpeed 

    We hope to make ShutterSpeed a regular series on Channel 10. For comments on the program or ideas and suggestions for future episodes please email us at shutterspeed@on10.net.

     


    ShutterSpeed Episode 01

    If you want to watch a high res version or download it to your favorite device, you can!  iPod (MP4) | MP3 | PSP (MP4) | WMA | WMV | WMV (High) | Zune

    Look for episode 2 coming soon!

    - Michael Palermiti (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Windows Live Essentials is ready to download

    • 4 Comments

    From the Windows Live team blog

    … today we’re releasing the final version of Windows Live Essentials, our suite of downloadable programs for your Windows PC. You can get Windows Live Essentials, including Messenger, Mail, Photo Gallery, Writer, Toolbar, and Family Safety, all for free from http://download.live.com. (Windows Live Movie Maker is also available, but remains in beta.)

    Check out the great Windows Live Essentials and let us know what you think as always!

    - Digital Memories Experience team

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Quickly find your best (or worst) photos

    • 4 Comments

    Our family takes a lot of digital photos and videos.

    I imagine that someday my 2 children (Serena and Lucy) will want to see what sorts of things they did as they grew up, so my wife and I—and even the kids—snap shots of all the fun things we do as a family. 

    Sounds great, right? Well, it is, but the hard part comes when you want to  find, print, or create a scrapbook from some of those photos.   So to deal with that challenge I’ve put together my own system, which also works for my kids and wife—and you. And I’m confident that 20 years from now, people will still be able to quickly find their favorite photos and videos.

    Here’s what we do:

    We have a bunch of different cameras, and at any point in time there are photos on some cameras that have not been taken off.  I’ll get the camera, plug it into the computer, sit with whoever took the photos, and we’ll quickly rate them.  Five minutes tops.  Then, to the ones we have 3-, 4, or 5-star rated, we add tags based on people, places, activities and captions for specific things we may want to find later.  Again, this takes maybe 5 minutes max. You do not need to spend a lot of time doing this.  Just nail the basics. The most important thing here is to determine what is important to you personally. For my parents, for example, they do a lot of travelling in South America, so their tags are mainly about places. For me, I focus on people, so I have lots of tags about people. You should determine what works for you and make that your structure. 

    clip_image001[5]

    At any rate, once you have developed a system for getting the photos on your computer tagged the way you want them, then the filtering part becomes a snap with Windows Live Photo Gallery. The way I think about it is that you can use the left tabs as your first cut at your photos.

    Imagine I just wanted to quickly print all 4- and 5- star photos of Lucy from 2008. Use this easy process to get that view on your photos:  (1) Select Date Taken and then 2008.  (2) Then type Lucy in the search box.  (3) Then you select 4-star and higher in the filter menu on the top, and all of the photos and videos of Lucy that are 4- and 5- star in 2008 will be in the view.  (4) Then you select Arrange by and select type.  (5) Next, right-click the background at the bottom and select Sort by -> Date Taken in the menu.  (6) Finally select Photos in the top bar, and that will select all of the 4- and 5-star photos of Lucy. 

    From there you can print them.  (7) I prefer to print online, so I click Print and Order Prints. Walgreens is on my way home from work, so I click Walgreens and Order Prints. Walk through the order process and you are done!

    clip_image002

    It’s a snap :)

    JP

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Seamlessly publish your precious photos on Spaces

    • 4 Comments

    As you (hopefully) know by now, we released our first public beta of Windows Live Photo Gallery a few days ago.  Even though we’re not quite done tinkering with it I’d like to tell you about one of the best new features we’ve worked hard on these last few months. 

    First, a question: Why do most people take photos?  OK, I admit, there isn’t a 100% correct answer to that question but I’d be willing to bet something along the lines of “to share with my friends and family” would be darn near the top.  In fact, when I was at CES earlier this year and I was working at the Microsoft Digital Memories booth, hands down the most frequently asked question I got was “Can I publish my photos to the web from the Photo Gallery?”.  Sadly, at the time, we didn’t have any features that enabled this but we heard you loud and clear!

    The brand new Publish on Windows Live Spaces feature provides a seamless and streamlined way to share your digital photos on your space directly from the same application you use to import, organize and edit them.  Allow me to walk through the play by play:

    After you’ve selected one or more photos you’d like to publish on your space, click on the Publish button and then select Publish on Windows Live Spaces…

    In order to enable users to publish on Windows Live Spaces, we needed a way to allow users to sign in with their Windows Live ID (a.k.a. Passport).  So, if you’re not already signed in with your Live ID in the Photo Gallery you’ll be asked to sign in when you try to publish.  Since Photo Gallery is integrated with Live ID, as soon as you sign in with your Live ID we’ll automatically know your space information so you won’t be asked to provide any information or configure anything.  If you’ve never even used Spaces before, no worries… the first time you publish photos we’ll take care of setting up your new space and we’ll even configure it to use one of the photo themes available on Spaces.  Nice, eh?  ;)

    OK, so after you’ve signed in the Publish on Windows Live Spaces dialog will appear (below).  You have two main choices when it comes to publishing: you can either publish your photos in a new album or to an existing one already on your space.  The default option is a new album.  The thumbnail displayed as the new album cover will be automatically chosen based on the data taken metadata.  The album title will be pre-populated with the folder name where that first image is located on your hard drive.  The idea is when you import your photos many users give the folder containing the set of photos a useful name, so we’ll assume that might be a good starting point, but you can change it.  If you're looking to allow people to enjoy great prints and full screen slides shows of your shared photos, select the Optimize photos for printing check box (checked by default in a few markets). 

    If you don’t want to create a new photo album and just want to keep adding photos to an existing album on your space, click the Add to an existing album link (on the main Publish dialog, above) and we’ll show you the list of albums on your space.  We provide a rich look by showing you the album cover, album title, the last modified date, # of photos and eventually the permission (note: during the Beta the permission displayed will always be “Public” because we haven’t quite finished this dialog yet).

    Regardless if you choose to publish to a new album or an existing one, once you click on the Publish button on the dialogs above, the upload progress will appear.  *Power user tip* If you want to upload more than one group of photos at a time, you can!  As one group is being uploaded, you can select some more photos and repeat the publish steps.  As photos are being uploaded, the follow-up publishes will be queued up behind each other and will start automatically as the previous one completes.  Try it out!

    As each upload completes a summary dialog will appear (below).  We’re guessing most users will always want to check out the album online, maybe customize it, and then send a link to it to their friends.  The View album button gets you to the album directly.

    That’s the Publish on Windows Live Spaces feature in a nutshell.  Since we’re in Beta we’d love to get your feedback.  What do you like?  What do you hate?  What can we do to make your photo sharing experience better? 

    - Michael Palermiti (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    We make it easy to share on your Soapbox

    • 4 Comments

    As I blogged about yesterday, we’ve built some pretty quick & simple sharing features into Windows Live Photo Gallery.  In this post I’d like to go through the steps to publish your video memories online at the recently updated MSN Soapbox service:  

    Step 1: Select a video from your library inside Windows Live Photo Gallery.
    Step 2: Click on the Publish button and then select Publish on MSN Soapbox…


     
    In order to enable users to publish on Soapbox, we needed a way to allow users to sign in with their Windows Live ID (a.k.a. Passport).  So, if you’re not already signed in with your Live ID in the Photo Gallery you’ll be asked to sign in when you try to publish.  Since Photo Gallery is integrated with Live ID, as soon as you sign in with your Live ID we’ll automatically know your Soapbox information so you won’t be asked to provide any information or configure anything.  If you’ve never used Soapbox before, the first time you publish a video we’ll take care of setting up your Soapbox account.

    Step 3: Fill in all of the fields on the Publish dialog:

    We’ll automatically fill in the Title using the video file name (minus the file extension, of course) and the Description using the caption (if you’ve previously set one).  Of course, you can edit these if you want to.  In addition to those fields, just like the Soapbox web upload tool, we allow you to add up to five Tags and set the Category from a list.  Finally, you can choose to make your video public or keep it private for just you and whomever you send a link to by setting it to private.  After you click the Publish button, we’ll take care of the rest…

    Since Soapbox currently has a 100MB file size upload limit, if you video is over 100MB we’ll re-encode it to the bit rate that Soapbox supports, compressing the overall file size.  Technically, there is a limit to the amount of compression we can do in order to make sure the end result is still under 100MB in file size.  To make it easy just remember as long as your video is 20 minutes or less, we’ll be able to upload it on Soapbox.  It’s that simple! Note: There are some video formats that we are unable to re-encode and if that’s the case we’ll tell you when you try to publish them.

    Again, just like the Publish on Windows Live Spaces feature, we also provide a summary dialog with a View video button here too. 

    There will be a brief period (time varies depending on length of video) when your video is being processed by Soapbox.  During this time you’ll see your video placeholder on your Soapbox account, but you won’t be able to play it back until the processing is complete. 

    Do you dig it?  What do you like/dislike about this?  What can we do to make your video sharing experience better? 

    - Michael Palermiti (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Windows Live Spaces updates

    • 4 Comments

    Today, Windows Live Spaces launced a bunch of new features, including Windows Live Events. You can read all about what's new on the Spaces team blog.

    Below is a re-print of the photo-specific features that were launched today:

    Do more with your photos

    With this release, we’ve made it easier to share photos using Spaces.

    clip_image004

    Here’s how:

    • Let your friends know about new photos you’ve added to your space. Click Send a link and you’ll get a formatted e-mail with links to your album – just add your friends and family to the “To:” line and click Send.

      clip_image005

    • Put your photos and albums on other websites. Click Embed and then copy the web address or embed code and paste it into the appropriate location on the other site.
    • Blog about your own or other people’s photos. Click Blog it and a new blog entry is created automatically with the photo already in the entry. Just add your thoughts and click Publish entry.
    • No more downloading an entire album of photos one by one. Download all the photos in an album by clicking Download and then selecting Download album.
    • Share photos from your space on Facebook (only in some markets where Facebook is available)
    • For those wall-worthy shots, you can order prints online from HP Snapfish in 9 new markets including Australia, Belgium, France, Italy, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.

    Control who can see your albums

    Want Mom to see the pictures from your hiking trip, but not the shots from your friend's birthday? No problem! Now you can choose who can see which albums on your space.

    clip_image006

    Just go to an album and click Edit album. You’ll see what the current permissions are for that album. To change them, click Change permissions. (By default, all albums are set to use the same permissions as your space.)

    Add photos to your blog entries

    You can now add and resize photos directly in your blog entries to make a richer experience for readers.

    clip_image007

    Note: If you want more options for editing your Spaces blog entries, download Windows Live Writer. It’s free, and it makes it easy to compose, edit, preview, and post entries to Windows Live Spaces.

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Creating Panoramic Stitches with the Windows Live Photo Gallery

    • 4 Comments

    Creating panoramic stitches in the Windows Live Photo Gallery is quick and easy.  Using technology from Microsoft Research, we’ve been able to integrate panoramic stitching into the Live Photo Gallery in a way that’s fast and automatic.  Check out the following screencast for a walkthrough of how to stitch a number of photos together into one composite.


    Video: Live Photo Gallery Panoramic Stitching

    When taking photos to create a panorama, remember to have at least 30% overlap between shots to get the best results.  Look for unique features in whatever you are photographing that you can use as common elements between neighboring photos.  If you are stitching a large number of high resolution photos, the task may take a while since it’s quite computationally intense, but the results are worth the wait!

    - Karthik Anbalagan (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Resizing Photos in Windows Live Photo Gallery

    • 4 Comments

    One of the top pieces of feedback we received after the release of the Windows Photo Gallery was that there was no easy way to resize photos.  Well, you asked for it and now you’ve got it in the Windows Live Photo Gallery!  Resizing one or more photos is very simple and takes just a couple of steps.  First, select the photo or photos you want to resize.  Then, go to the File menu and select the “Resize…” option (you can also find the “Resize…” option in the right click context menu).  Once you’ve done this, a simple dialog shows up.

    Resize dialog

    In choosing a size, you can select a few presets from the drop-down menu or type in your own custom size.  We only ask for one number because we will set the longest side of the photo to that size.  For instance, if you have a landscape being resized down to 600, the horizontal dimension will be 600 pixels wide.  If you have a portrait being resized down to 600, the vertical dimension will be 600 pixels tall.  Basically, when you specify the maximum dimension, you are defining a bounding box.  In the example above, the bounding box is a 600x600 square, and all of your photos will be resized to fit within that square while maintaining their aspect ratio.  Photos will only be sized down, so if the specified dimension is larger than the longest side of the original photo, the photo will not be resized.

    Once you’ve picked the size, you can choose a destination folder to save the newly resized photos.  Then, it’s as simple as clicking “Resize and Save” to complete the operation.  All resizing is done using high quality bicubic interpolation and all files are saved as JPEGs.

    - Karthik Anbalagan (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    ShutterSpeed – Episode 2 is posted!

    • 4 Comments

    We're back again with a new episode of ShutterSpeed, a relatively new online photography show for photo enthusiasts.  In episode 2 Nic Fillingham (host) is joined by Bill Crow, Jeff Greene, and myself.

    We talk about a handful of topics including Photosynth on CSI, Microsoft Pro Photo Tools with geo-tagging, and I give a hands-on demo of Windows Live Photo Gallery from importing your photos to doing some quick tagging and editing.

     
    ShutterSpeed Episode 02

    If you want to watch a high res version or download a version to your favorite device, you can! iPod (MP4) | MP3 | PSP (MP4) | WMA | WMV | WMV (High) | Zune

    Feedback? Comments? Suggestions? Please let us know via the comments section below or email shutterspeed@on10.net.  Thanks!

    - Michael Palermiti (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    HD Photo plug-ins for Photoshop released

    • 3 Comments

    In case you missed it, our friend, Bill Crow, announced the availability of  the HD Photo plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop on his blog. 

    "HD Photo plug-ins for Adobe® Photoshop® CS2 and CS3 have been officially released for both Windows and OSX.  They're available now from the Microsoft Download Center. 

    Here are the separate downloads for Windows and OSX."

    The release has received lots of press in the blogosphere.  Perhaps you've seen it here or here or here

    In Bill's blog post, he goes on to say: 

    "Take a look at previous blog entries here and here.  I also gave a presentation at WinHEC 2007 about HD Photo Best Practices.  While targeted primarily for hardware developers, the presentation contains a lot of information that may be useful for Photoshop users that want to best optimize their encoder parameters.  You can find a copy of the presentation here:  WinHEC 2007: HD Photo Implementation Guidelines."

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Tree in the way? No problem!

    • 3 Comments

    One of the cool things about panoramic stitching in Windows Live Photo Gallery is that you can use it to shoot around foreground objects.

    Here’s an example from the Woodland Park Zoo where branches (and a fence) prevented me from getting a clean shot of two Zebras in a field. However, by repositioning my body for the source images (to shoot around branches) and later stitching the images together, I was able to easily get the image I wanted.

    Here’s a diagram of how I shot through the trees:

    Diagram

    Here are the three source images with the tree branches highlighted:

    Originals

    Here is the resulting stitch image. No branches! :)

    2009-02-05 Grant and the Zoo 099 Stitch

    To see a few other interesting uses of panoramic stitching, check out this blog post.

    - Mike Morrison, Program Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Video in Windows Vista

    • 3 Comments

    Windows Vista introduces a wealth of new and improved media experiences for users.  The following highlights some key new video features you will find that make sharing your digital memories easier than ever before.   

    Windows Photo Gallery
    When making a home movie, I like to only include the best photos and videos.  The gallery makes this easy because I can now find and locate memories by using Photo Gallery’s rich sorting and filtering features.  For example, if I am making a video of my daughter’s birthday I can filter by my daughter’s birthday or filter by keywords like my daughters name and the category birthday. 

    After filtering my photos and videos, I can preview them to ensure they are what I want to include in my movie and make fixes to photos by correcting red eye or improving the contrast.  After I have located my photos and videos I can choose to Make Movie or burn directly to DVD.  The Windows Photo Gallery saves me a lot of time by simplifying the workflow to create a movie.   

    DVD Maker
    Back in 1999 I purchased my first DVD burner for $500 and blank discs cost about $10 a piece.  The software back then was very difficult to use and creating a professional looking DVD was nearly impossible.  The tool I was using required a good understanding of the DVD specification and graphic tools like Adobes Photoshop.  I spent hours and hours trying to create great looking DVDs.  The entire process was very time consuming and the results were average. 

    In Windows Vista, our goal was to allow users create professional looking DVDs that highlighted their content while requiring minimal effort.  I believe the DVD videos you can create with DVD Maker look outstanding.  It’s easy to create a great looking DVD which you will be proud to share with friends and family.
      
    DVD Maker includes over 20 different DVD styles that allow you to create a professional looking DVD that matches the theme of your home movie.  You can choose to customize the DVD further by adding a disc title, a notes page and editing the menu text.  I love the ability to add a notes page to my DVD.  For example, I like to add the names of all the people in the video and time of year.  In the past, linking pages and laying out the disc has been very tedious.  Rarely would I add a notes page because the process was just too difficult.  When you add a notes page, DVD Maker automatically updates the menus, buttons and transitions. 

    DVD Maker allows you to preview your DVD before you burn to disc.  The preview option quickly renders your video and includes full motion video.  This allows you to see exactly what your final disc will look like. 

    Direct to video DVD
    One of my favorite features is the ability to automatically create a professional looking DVD from my DV tapes.  While I enjoy creating home movies, I don’t always have the time.  With Vista, I can now capture and record directly to DVD with just a few clicks.  The Video Import wizard captures the entire tapes and the burns a DVD.  This saves a lot of time and allows me to easily archive my tapes to DVD. 

    Movie Maker
    Windows Movie Maker has some great new features too.  The two main features to highlight is the new rendering engine and HDV camcorder support.

    Movie Maker has an entire new video rendering engine that takes full advantage of GPU.  This allows you to preview standard definition and high definition content with transitions and effects in real-time.   

    Last year I purchased a new Sony HDR-HC1 HDV camcorder.  Up till now, capturing and editing content from the device has been difficult and cumbersome.  I am pleased to say that with Movie Maker we now support editing high definition content.  High definition content can be published to Windows Media HD for playback on PCs and the Xbox 360.  Windows Media HD allows you to preserve the high definition quality while reducing the storage space required on the hard drive.  I save all of my home movies on my Windows Media Center PC and then use my Xbox 360 to playback the movies in my living room.  It’s great.

    - Michael Patten

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Hierarchical Tags and XMP

    • 3 Comments

    A question came in via the blog from Hans regarding our implementation of hierarchical tags using XMP. He writes:

    You chose to use a forward slash as a delimiter (path/path/keyword), which requires that this character cannot be used within a keyword.

    Two problems with this approach:
    1, This limitation is not in the XMP standard, XML has also an explicit, different way of how special characters are supposed to be handeled.
    2, Since XMP allows forward slash - all other apps allow them, too. You can freely enter "Bugs Bunny/Mickey Mouse" or "nuclear/atomic" as a keyword. BUT: Vista Photo Gallery (and Vista Explorer) will think of it as a hierarchical keyword. Not good.

    Thanks for the question, Hans.  I'm sorry to hear that our implementation of hierarchical keywords is causing you problems. We actually made a conscious decision to allow users to manually enter a slash in a keyword (as in "Washington/Seattle") and have that interpreted as a hierarchy. We chose this solution with the behavior of other XMP-supporting applications in mind.

    It is true that XMP doesn't support any notion of hierarchical keywords, but we didn’t want to invent a brand new way of storing this metadata. We chose to use a simple character separator for hierarchical keywords so that the hierarchy would be visible and available for all of the existing applications that support XMP.

    Why slash versus something else? There is no perfect choice here. We wanted to use a character that would show up correctly in every application that didn't support hierarchical keywords (so extended Unicode characters were out of the question) and that would make sense when users saw it (which would not be true for, say, "}"). Additionally, we wanted to choose a character that was not as likely to be used in a normal keyword (which would rule out "." or "-", for instance).

    This left us very few choices. The backslash was considered too DOS/Windows-specific. Ideally, we *do* want third-party applications that support XMP to adopt this convention, so we didn't want to use a solution that seemed Windows-specific. The slash character existed in English punctuation long before computers. Other possibilities were ":" (similarly Mac-specific) and "|" (which is very hard to read when placed between words).

    We knew there was a risk that someone might use a slash in a keyword (such as the examples you gave), but believed these cases would be rare and easily avoided. Without knowing the specifics of your scenario, I would imagine that you could enter "Bugs Bunny" and "Mickey Mouse" as separate tags, which would be more useful for searching and browsing.

    Again, thank you for contacting us about this issue.  Getting feedback on how our solutions work in the real world is critical to making ongoing improvements in future versions.

    - David Parlin, Principal Program Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Nikon Codec Updated

    • 3 Comments

    The issues with the Nikon RAW codec that we reported last week were due to an expired certificate. The issue has been addressed, and the updated codec can be downloaded from the Nikon Website.

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    3 Technologies That Will Change Photography

    • 3 Comments

    (This is a modified version of a post I originally wrote for Waggleverse, another blog to which I contribute) 

    Generally, when people think about the game changers in the digital photography world, they think about improvements in sensors (more megapixels!) or lens quality improvements. If you go to the trade shows, you’ll also see a lot of activity around moving smarts and processing onto the camera (e.g., using face detection before the snap to decide where to autofocus the lens).

    There are definitely advances going on all the time in those areas, but I’m going to take the slightly contrarian position that, at least in the consumer space, we’re close to maxing out the innovation in those domains. Honestly, the pictures my camera take today look pretty good. We’ll see some advances in how they handle low-light conditions and some other weak areas, but overall, we’re getting close to good enough.

    Instead, here are three technologies that I believe may lead to a sea change in the way that people think about and use photos in their daily lives:

    Mini Projectors

    At January 2007’s CES, Microvision announced an ultra-miniature full-color digital projection display about the size of a Thin Mint (and yes, that’s an actual Thin Mint in the picture if you don’t believe me).

    Who wants to watch a tiny projection of a photo? Well, you do!

    How often have you huddled around the digital screen on a camera back for a quick post-picture re-enjoyment session? Or passed a camera or cellphone around a table to show off pictures of your vacation?

    Face-to-face photo sharing is an emotionally appealing, satisfying experience that lets you tell an interactive story and see the reactions on the listeners faces. Unfortunately, print-less photography and web-based photo sharing has largely wiped this phenomenon out. With the advent of the ability to carry a projector built into your cell-phone, the dynamic changes and the types of photos that people take, as well as how they share them, will change, too.

     

    via Uber Review

    Liquid Lenses

    Cameraphones promised to change the way people thought about picture taking by making camera carrying ubiquitous. But let’s face it, the pictures your cameraphone take are very often very poor quality. They look grainy and out of focus and all your 2x digital zoom is doing is cropping an already low resolution photo down smaller, then stretching it.

    There are a host of reasons that the photos taken by cameraphones lag in quality: sensor quality and lack of a flash are two big ones, but lack of a meaningful optical zoom is more important than you think. If what you’re trying to take a picture of is far away (as it often is) and you can’t zoom, you end up spending much of your valuable photo on the thing around the thing you want to take a picture of. Unfortunately, due to the size constraints of a cameraphone and the traditional structure of a zoom lens (two lens set apart, with the distance between them being a factor in the magnifying power of the pair), we have seen very few cameraphones with much optical zoom capability.

    Along come liquid lenses. As reported by Nature Photonics, using electrical impulses to control the curvature of the meniscus on a drop of liquid, it’s possible to create a variable focal length lens much in the way the human eye works. This will eventually allow cameraphone manufacturers to create reliable, responsive zoom lenses at sizes that make sense for a cameraphone, vastly widening the situations in which the cameraphone can be an effective replacement for a standard point and shoot.

     

    These lenses haven’t made it into production yet, but several companies are in a race to productize their prototypes.

    GPS

    No, this isn’t just for geocachers looking to document their success. Imagine you’ve got a GPS built into your camera such that every photo is stamped with the exact location it was taken. I’m not even going to mention the most obvious use (viewing your photos laid out on a map) (oops, I mentioned it). Instead, let’s focus on what new scenarios it opens up:

    • You’re at a wedding, and want pictures but without the hassle of actually taking them yourself (maybe you want to be in the picture instead of behind the camera). Don’t bother exchanging e-mail addresses with everyone there, just do a search for the time and location of the event and start enjoying the slideshow.
    • Want to know what it’s like to be at the Super Bowl from home? Go to any photo sharing site and search for cameraphone pictures taken now at the Super Bowl stadium and get a real-time multi-perspective view of the event unfolding.
    • You’re a newspaper publisher looking for photos of a political rally (or riot). Just name the time and the place, and you’ve got the photos.
    • Wondering what a particular lake or beach is really like (not just what the travel agent’s picture says it’s like)? No problem, click the spot on a map and start flipping through all the pictures taken there. You can even order them by season, so you get a sense of what the weather’s going to be like at that time of year.

    Sure, all that could have happened if people applied tags manually to their photos, but for many, many people, they don’t and they won’t because it’s just plain tiresome. Automating this process adds a critical piece of metadata to every photo, making it relevant to day-to-day lives.

    - Jordan Schwartz, Program Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    FAQs from the booth at CES

    • 3 Comments

    We've been working the booth at CES for two days now. Over those last two days, we've talked to A LOT of customers, and answered A LOT of questions. Naturally, some of the same questions come up over and over again. So we figured that this would be a good forum to share some of the questions that we have been hearing often, since a lot of people who couldn't make it to the show probably have the same questions.

    What's new in Windows Vista?
    This is the easiest question that we get. At our stations in the booth, we're all showing the Windows Photo Gallery, which is pretty much all new functionality for Windows. Even for those features that had equivalents in XP (e.g. Movie Maker, Printing), most of the users that I've talked to either weren't aware that they existed on XP, or had never used them because they were hard to find or too poorly integrated. The Photo Gallery goes a long way towards correcting these problems by bringing all of your photo and video tasks together into one place. So far, the reaction from everyone I've talked to on the show floor has been very favorable.

    Is the Photo Gallery included with Vista, or do I have to buy something extra to get it?
    The Photo Gallery is included as part of Vista. You don't have to buy, download, or install anything extra, it comes installed as part of Windows Vista. The only caveat to this is that the DVD burning features are only available in the Home Premium and Ultimate editions of Windows Vista.

    What are the different editions of Windows Vista?
    The Microsoft web site has a page that describes the differences better than I can (including pricing information). I expect that most people will get Home Premium for their personal use, and will use one of the business editions at work. For the person who has everything - there's the Ultimate edition that combines all of the features from all of the editions.

    Is my machine ready for Windows Vista?
    Download the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor to find out:

    When will Windows Vista be available?
    January 30th, 2007

    How do I get into the Windows Vista party at CES?
    Sorry, you're on your own for that one...

    If your question isn't answered above, ask away - we're here to help!

    - Scott Dart (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Call-out for Photo Fun

    • 2 Comments

    When I think “photographer”, I picture some guy with a khaki, pocket-riddled vest, two or three camera bags slung around shoulders and back and a camera with a lens like an elephant trunk.  It’s funny, because I’m a photographer and that certainly doesn’t describe me. I shoot with a Canon SD700, a simple but powerful point and shoot.  I like it because its image stabilization technology lets me take pictures without a flash (so I get nice, warm colors) in low-light conditions (e.g., late-night events), but, more importantly, because it’s small enough to drop it in my pocket and forget about it.  Anything bulkier would be too awkward to carry around and I’d use it less.

    Another common image of the “photographer” is of a darkroom purist, carefully editing each picture to maximize its artistic and aesthetic qualities, the end result destined for black and white matting or a personally-hosted web album.  Obvously, there are a lot of people like that (and, honestly, I share a hallway with many of them here on the PIX team), but again, that ain’t me.

    I like to have FUN with photos.  Sure, I crop them, remove the red-eye and tweak the colors, but I also muck with them.  Sometimes I’ll throw a cartoon or neon filter over them to add a bit of drama or scrawl a word balloon or a mustache. When I share my photos, sure I put them on-line, but as often as not, when my friends actually see them, I’m sitting at the computer, narrating the stories, jumping around between pictures and providing color commentary (if you’ll excuse the pun).

    ZingFuThat’s why I love services and apps like fd’s flickr toys. It lets you do fun things like make it look like your photo is a roadside billboard, add comic book style caption and put your face on the cover of a magazine. Zingfu is another one for making “your photoz dumber”. Here’s me on the side of a milk carton, courtesy of Zingfu.

    So here’s my question to you all: what are other fun sites like these that I’d enjoy?  Not just sites that let me add a template to my photo, but sites that let me play and build things with photos?  Send in your suggestions through this blog's comment feature, and I’ll post a follow-up with a round-up of the best (IMHO).

    - Jordan Schwartz, Senior Program Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Welcome

    • 2 Comments

    Welcome to the inaugural entry in the PIX team’s blog.  We are the Photos and Imaging eXperience Team at Microsoft.  OK, the acronym is a bit of a stretch, but it beat out my personal candidate for a team name, PIG (Photos and Imaging Group), so that’s who we are. 

     

    Of course, we don’t spend all our time voting on team names.  Our team is responsible for the Digital Image Suite box product and most of the photo-related pieces of Windows Vista as realized in the Windows Photo Gallery.

     

    For those of you who haven’t had an opportunity to try out Windows Vista yet, we think you’re in for a treat.  It’s chock full of improvements to the end-to-end photo experience, from rich organization features to built-in photo fix-up to an improved printing experience.

     

    The truth is, the folks on the PIX team have been working on these features for quite some time now, and they’re pretty eager to tell people about it.  So, we’re going to start this blog off with tours of some of the features in Vista that we’re most excited about by the people who worked on them.  Sprinkled in, you’re also going to see some more speculative pieces from people who just love photography and have done some deep thinking about what the future could (or should) hold.

     

    I hope you enjoy what you read here. Please feel free to leave comments or send us feedback directly through the link in our navbar. 

     

    - Jordan Schwartz

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