Matt's Macs

Multimedia Greeting Cards for Any Occasion

- 2001.11.21 - Tip Jar

The last 30 days saw several birthdays in my family. For one reason or another, over the years my family has created home made greeting cards. This meant cutting and pasting pictures and other objects on colored construction paper.

"Let's try something different," I thought, so I create a multimedia card on the my Mac. The following is a hands on look at putting one together.

The tough part was deciding what I wanted to create! My definition of a "multimedia card" was to create some Web pages with dynamic HTML content, moving text, animated graphics, and links to two QuickTime movies. Two pages total plus links to the movies. The tools at my disposal were AppleWorks, iMovie, QuickTime, GifBuilder, and BBEdit software; a Graphire 2 tablet and an iMac DV 400 SE; images and JavaScript files from previous downloads; several books on using HTML, JavaScript, iMovie, and QuickTime 5; four voices; and my daughter playing a clarinet. I'm now ready to create.

First, I drew 24 (yes, 24) slides, each containing one word of "Happy Birthday to Sally" using the Graphire 2 tablet and AppleWorks. Thank goodness for the ability to create templates in AppleWorks! I made sure they were the same size, 640 x 480 pixels, and gave them simple file names, such as h1, h2, h3, etc. The files were created and saved as AppleWorks painting files. The visuals were done.

Then I opened up iMovie and began a new project. I created several titles and saved them on the video track. Then I decided to use the audio record feature of iMovie to record an instrumental happy birthday and a chorus of four singing happy birthday. Using the built in iMac mic, the sounds were recorded in a jiffy, and iMovie saved the sound as a sound track. Moving on, I decided now was the time to import the slides to the iMovie clipboard. Imagine my consternation when iMovie did not recognize the AppleWorks files! Switching back to AppleWorks, I opened all 24 files at once. Using the AppleWorks macro feature for the first time, I quickly recorded a macro to open a painting file and save it as a PICT file. Translating the files was a snap, and I learned something to boot.

Back to iMovie: The files were imported to the clipboard and then place on the video track where they were synchronize with sound. The resultant Digital Video (DV) movies were neat, and the files large. I used the export feature of iMovie to create QuickTime files. By selecting "create a Web ready movie," the file size was reduced from nearly 100 MB to less than 1 MB! Now my movies are made, 240x180 pixels in size.

Using BBEdit, I created several Web pages. To create moving text on the Web page, I used a download from the JavaScript Visual Quick Start site and tweaked the script. One of the animated GIFs was created as an AppleWorks 5 clipping file (AppleWorks 6 cannot create GIF files) and created an animated balloon GIF using GifBuilder; the fireworks GIF was part of a collection. Then I remembered that my sister uses a Wintel machine, so getting her to even think QuickTime would be something. No problem. Using QT 5.0 Pro, I was able to export the movies as .avi files. The books were handy resources to answer technical questions on the fly.

The results of some of my efforts are at http://home.att.net/~sally2001/index.html.

The cards went over great. It was worth the effort. Make someone happy by creating a multimedia greeting card.

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