Big Screen Blog

Media Center, Windows Phone7 + Silverlight Goodness..

Work In Progess + Video : Big Screen Photos v2 (now in MCML…)

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I was messing around with some screen recording software (Flashback from Blueberry software) – and thought it would be a really good opportunity to capture in a video preview of a new product I’ve been working on. (one that I can blog about).

Big Screen Photos 2 is the update to the original Big Screen Photos – a Vista Media Center application (and originally standalone) for browsing content on Yahoo! Flickr.

The original ‘v1’ product was written in .NETv3/WPF (deployed as an XBAP) – however for this new version I decided to switch to MCML (Media Center Markup Language) technology as I thought it was much better suited for the job (and XP compatibility is less of an issue). Note that this was not a ‘political’ decision – and I’m still using a lot of WPF on other projects. (although will make some MS guys happy/unhappy all depending which dept. you are in).

Big Screen Photos 2 is still a work in progress – but this video shows off (some) of the updated and new stuff that this product will have. (incidently – all v1 features where applicable are in v2 even though some buttons are missing on the video).. Note that some features/graphics/screens you see are likely to completely change between now and release.


Anyhow check out the video below – and see some more info/screenshots further below. I’m not 100% clear if people will be able to view this embedded Soapbox hosted video below (as the system is closed to non registered users for the time being) – and will find out when this post goes live. You can also go to the soapbox page at Video: Big Screen Photos 2 Preview  – but I’m 80% certain this link requires a valid login.

*** UPDATE 28-APR-07 *** 
Ian Dixon is kindly hosting the HQ version of this video (30mb – 640×360 16:9, 25fps) – and also a lower res version (8mb) for those unable to view the soapbox video below (or want a quicker download).

Video: Big Screen Photos 2 Preview


This addin incorporates a lot of the new MCML knowledge + tricks I have picked up over the past few months, from working on other projects. A more major change (from my earlier addins) is that a large amount of MCML Rules/Logic have been migrated to the Managed code level (otherwise I would have had some very big MCML fiels). To facilitate this a lot of the MCML classes like Commands, Choices, Arrays, Images are dynamically generated in managed code – and have their events captured/raised at this level too.

As part of the work for BSPv2 – I (re)developed my own replacement to Flickr.NET SDK (nb: v1 of BSP originally used Flickr.NET) – however due to some additional required smarts that I wanted (like asynchronous requests) – and some uncertainty on the new licensing terms – I decided to do my own SDK (and have it embedded in the main DLL). This way I’m also more able to dynamically add the new functions appearing in the webservice (ie. labels for geotagging info appearing soon).

Some static screenshots/notes are below (which are ‘slightly’ better quality than the Soapbox mangled stuff – but do watch the video to see how these things move/groove) :

The main menu as before use a 4 way UX – (up/down to change strips and left/right to select icons per strip) – however I jazzed it up a little with some 3d zooming, reflections and blurring. (note that the icons used below will most likely be replaced).


The general results browser has been enhanced with a more Vista MC Like look/feel (to allow for ease of use for existing MC users). Different view styles and sort/group modes are offered (similar to the My Photos section) – however the row of buttons at the top are a little different and allow for a lot more than 2 to be displayed (and each button expands to reveal text when focused).

The geo browsing of photos is one of the must see bits of eye candy in the video (starts around the 54 second mark in the video). The basic idea is that you can browse photos grouped by their geo location (where available) – using a 3d "flat earth" – which zooms, rotates and pans in realtime. You start browsing first at global level and then you can drill down to regions.


In geo browsing – once you find a location you are interested in – you can then browse the list photos (per that area) – and as each photo is highlighted – the 3d plot marker will move to the ‘exact’ longitude/lattitude.


In the photo Slideshow screen – one new highlight is the mini thumbnail browser (see bottom of screen below). The concept of this is similar to that of the ‘Mini EPG’ in My TV – and allows you to quickly browse all the photos (and nominate one for immediate viewing) without returning the previous results pages.


For searching an onscreen virtual keyboard is provided. As per v1 – you can search for photos by keywords, or alternatively search for tags, users and groups.


Also – the actual video was done by the following process (and is why it may appear not to be the best quality) ->

  • Captured (and partially edited) the application running at 640×360 (16:9) in Blueberry Flashback . Original WMV was rendered here.
  • Imported WMV into Windows Vista Movie Maker and edited in some fancy shmancy titles and transitions.
  • Exported from Movie Maker into 576x###  resolution (ouch) as Movie Maker only offeres a small set of output presets (and no way I could find to customize this list) – so I couldn’t go back to the 1:1 captured resolution.
  • Added some music – this one I ‘wrote’ on a *gasp* friend’s Apple Mac using Garage Band. The term ‘wrote’ is used very losely here as I utilized used the preset midi/audio loops (and normally I would score my own tracks/loops from scratch in Cakewalk or elsewhere).
  • Uploaded to Soapbox – and who knows what resolution its in now (I’m sure its much lower – maybe 400 wide etc).

Big Screen Photos v2 will be out when the ‘fat lady sings’…. (well soon I hope)…




Written by mobilewares

April 26, 2007 at 2:08 am

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