Making Movies with Windows Movie Maker 2

Windows Movie Maker 2 is a free download from Microsoft that allows you to easily create movies on your computer. It is Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s I-Movie, and while it lacks some of the abilities of Apple’s program, it will likely provide you with the most of the features you need to create short digital movies. Movie Maker 2 is an updated version of the original Movie Maker that is included with Windows XP. You can download the free update at In order to run either version of Movie Maker you must be using the Windows XP operating system.

The Process
There are 4 basic steps to creating a movie using Movie Maker 2: 1) Digitizing your source materials, i.e. get the videos, pictures, and sounds that will make up you movie onto your computer in digital format; 2) Import them into Movie Maker collections; 3) Edit your movie by arranging the video clips, pictures, and audio files in the order you wish and applying transitions, titles, narration, etc. 4) Save your movie in a format that is appropriate for delivery on the web or on compact disc.

Digitizing your Source Material
Before you can create your movie, you must digitize and gather your source materials. For convenience sake, it is usually better to create a folder on your hard disk that will contain all the materials you will use for your movie (if you have a lot of materials, subfolders may also be helpful). To digitize still images: this involves either scanning photos or moving images taken with a digital camera from your camera to your hard drive. We will not be covering these tasks in this workshop. ATS has a scanner that you can use to digitize still photos or slides and we will be happy to schedule a time with you to show you how to do this. To move images from your camera to your hard drive, follow the instructions provided with your camera or use a stand-alone card reader. Movie Maker will accept standard jpg, gif, tiff, & bmp, formats, along with a few other less common formats.

To digitize audio: use third party applications such as Sound Recorder (a standard part of the Windows OS) to record audio using the input on your soundcard, or other programs to “rip” the audio from cds. Again, this is beyond the scope of this workshop, but ATS will be happy to work with you individually if you have questions. To capture video: Movie Maker will let you capture video from a video camera (or VCR) connected to your computer. You will need the appropriate hardware to accomplish this task. Setups can vary widely, but in general, to capture video from a digital video camera you will need a firewire or IEEE 1394 port on your computer and an appropriate cable to connect your camera and your computer. This is the ideal setup, since the video is already in a digital format and can be copied from the camera to the computer without any loss in quality. If you want to capture video from an analog source, such as a VCR or a Hi-8 camcorder, you will need an analog-to-digital converter. This can be either a card that is installed inside your computer or an external device to which you connect your video device and your computer (usually through a USB port). The device takes the analog video and digitizes it. Microsoft provides a brief guide for various hookups at Once again, ATS has the equipment to help you digitize video. Contact us to make an appointment. You can also use a webcam to capture live video, and we will demonstrate that process in class. Regardless of the device and hardware setup you have, the process for capturing the video using Movie Maker is basically the same: 1) Click on “Capture from video device” 2) Select the device from which you will be recording your video click Next 3) Enter a file name for the video you will be creating and click “Browse” to select the location where you will save your video. Click Next 4) Video Setting Selection: For the purposes of this workshop, we will choose “Best quality for playback on my computer.” Please note that there are several options available under “Other settings.” Please see the section entitled Saving Your Movie at the end of the handout for a more detailed description of these settings and their usage. 5) Click “Start Capture” to begin recording from the device. “Stop Capture” ends the recording. Note that you can create multiple clips by simply selecting “Start Capture” again. This screen allows you to preview your video as you record and see the approximate length and size of your video. Check the box to allow Movie Maker to create clips at pauses or scene changes. 6) When you click Finish, Movie Maker will import the video into a new collection.

Import Your Files into Collections
Once you have all your source files on your computer, you need to import them into Movie Maker so that you work with them. Movie Maker does not actually move or change your original files. It simply makes note of where they are and creates an internal “pointer” to them that it uses. As a result, once you begin a Movie Maker project, if you move or delete your source files Movie Maker will not be able to find them and your work will be ruined. To import files, simply click on the type of file you would like to import, video, pictures, or audio. 1) Browse to the location where the files are stored 2) Select the files you want to include. The basic method is the same regardless of the medium, with a couple of exceptions for video: • You can select multiple image or audio files at once for importation into a collection, but you can only import one video file into a collection. • When you select a video file to import, you have the option of allowing Movie Maker to split the file into clips (see # 3 in the illustration). Movie Maker will split the video file into smaller segments based upon pauses and scene shifts that it detects.

Editing Your Movie
Once you have all the pieces assembled, you are ready to begin the editing process. The easiest way to begin is to use the Storyboard view:

To Assemble your Movie: • Simply click and drag the items (video & still images) you would like to include to the storyboard in the order in which you would like them to appear in the movie; • To add audio, see below; • You can rearrange the order of the items by clicking and dragging them on the storyboard.

To Trim Your Clips: You may want to include only a portion of a particular video clip. You can mark the precise beginning and ending spot that you would like to include: From within the Timeline view: • Select the clip you wish to clip. The first frame will appear in the preview window. • Play the clip until you find the frame where you wish to trim. You can use Alt+Left Arrow and Alt+Right Arrow or the player controls to advance the video frame by frame. You may also choose the begin and end points by referring to the length of the clip. • Once you have selected the spot to begin trimming, go to Clip > Set Start Trim Point. • Follow the same procedure to locate the desired end of the clip, go to Clip > Set End Trim Point. • You may also trim the clip by positioning your cursor on the clip until the red arrow appears and simply clicking and dragging.

Changing the Duration of a Still Image on the Screen: By default, when you add a still image to your movie it will appear onscreen for 5 seconds. You can change the duration, however: • Follow the same procedure as above, except that you will need to choose your End Trim Point based on the length of the clip shown at the top of the timeline. To Apply Transitions between Scenes: • Select the Video Transitions from the drop down menu above the collections area; • Drag the transition you would like to apply to the box between the appropriate scenes on the storyboard; • Preview the effect by pressing play on the video monitor; • To remove a transition, simply click on it in the storyboard and press delete; • Tip: transitions shouldn’t be distracting to the viewer; be conservative with your choices. To Apply Video Effects: By applying video effects you can make your movie clips play faster or slower, can blur the picture, make the film appear aged, or any number of other effects. • Choose Video Effects from the drop down menu above the collection area; • Drag the desired effect onto the appropriate clip on the storyboard; • Effects are indicated by the small square in the bottom left of the video clip thumbnail; • You can preview the effect in the video monitor; • You can apply more than one effect to a single clip; • To delete an effect, simply highlight the effect on the thumbnail image and press delete; if you have more than one effect applied to a clip all effects will be deleted.

To Add an Audio Track: Movie Maker can handle two audio tracks simultaneously: the audio portion of imported video clips and a separate audio/music track. The second audio track could be a musical score, for example, or a voice-over narration. Audio tracks can only be added using the Timeline view. • Toggle the view to show the Timeline; • Move to the point in the movie where you would like the audio to begin; • Drag the audio clip from the collection area to the timeline; • You can trim audio clips just as you can video clips (see above). To Add Narration: You can record narration for your movie directly within Movie Maker. Because the narration is stored on the same track as the audio/music (see above), you cannot have both narration and background music at the same time. Audio that was imported as part of a video clip is stored separately, so you can have narration and the ambient audio from your original video playing concurrently. To record narration, you must have a microphone connected to your computer. • Make certain you are using the timeline view; • Drag your timeline indicator to the spot in the video where you would like to add narration; the Audio/Music line must be empty at this spot; • Click on the icon of the microphone; • A new screen appears; here you can adjust the input level of your microphone; o Speak normally into the microphone and watch the level indicator; o The level indicator should not go into the red, but should come close; o Adjust the level up or down as required; o Repeat the process until the levels are set appropriately; • Click the “Start Narration” button to start recording; • Your film will begin playing in the video monitor from the spot you indicated; • Speak into the microphone; • When you are finished, press the “Stop Narration” button; • You will be prompted to save your file; • The recorded narration will automatically be added to the collection currently open and added to the Audio/Music track timeline. Managing Audio Tracks: You can add a few effects to your audio and make some adjustments to its playback. To mute an audio track: • Right click on the track, and select mute; • This is particularly useful for stripping out the audio for video clips you have imported.

To adjust the volume of an audio track: • Right click on the track, and select volume; • Adjust the level as needed. To fade in or fade out: • Right click on the track, and select either fade in or fade out. To control balance between 2 audio tracks: • When you have two audio tracks, you can control their volume in relationship to one another by adjusting the level; • Click the Set Audio Levels button; • Adjust the slider to the right to allow the Music/Audio track to dominate during playback and to the left for the Video Audio track to dominate; Movie Maker does not allow you to adjust these levels for various segments of the movie; the same setting applies for the entire movie.

Adding Titles: Adding text titles to you film allows you, for example, to display the title of your masterpiece at the beginning of the film, or to put a person’s name onscreen during an interview segment, or to create the list of credits at the end of the film (you know, that part of the movie that is still playing as most people start to leave the theater). • Click on “Make Titles or Credits” • You have the choice of creating a title at the beginning of the movie, at the end of the movie, before and after individual clips, and on an individual clip. • Select the placement for the title you would like to appear in your movie. • Another screen appears where you can enter the text. • Enter the text that will appear on the title. • Click Change Text Font and Color to select fonts and colors. • Click Change Title Animation to select how the text appears on the screen. You can have it scroll across the screen, for example, or have it fill in like dripping paint (particularly effective using red font for those slasher flicks).

Saving Your Movie
Once you have finished editing your movie you need to save your movie so that others can view it. This is different than just hitting the “Save” button. When you press the save button you are saving the Windows Movie Maker project. This file contains the “pointers” to your source files and instructions for what you want to do with those files (all of your editing work). It is not your movie, however.

To make your creation so that others can view it as well, you need to save it as a video file, a process called rendering. Rendering takes all the clips, images, sound files, transitions, etc, and creates a single video file that, depending upon the settings you choose, you can play on your computer, export to DV tape, burn to a cd, email to a friend, etc. To Render Your Movie: • From the main menu, select File > Save Movie File, or click on “Save to My Computer” under the Finish Movie section of the Task window; (note: the other four options beneath Save to My Computer just pre-select certain settings for rendering and automate certain tasks); • Provide a filename and a location for your movie file; click next; • The next screen is very important; here you define the settings for rendering the movie; the settings depend upon what you plan to do with the movie (have it played from the web, play it from your computer, burn it to disc, export it back to a digital video camera, etc); what you select here determines how long it will take to render your film (from a few seconds to many hours), how big your file size will be (potentially gigabytes in size), and the image and sound quality of the end product. At the bottom of the window you can see details about the settings and about the file size. Digital video files can be huge, many gigabytes. At maximum quality, one hour of video can take up 13 gigabytes of space. You have to play a balancing game between file size and the medium you plan to use to deliver your movie. Your students will not download a 100mb movie you have made. The chart below is frequently cited on the web and lists estimated download times for file sizes based on connection speed. You should note, however, that this chart is overly optimistic and assumes maximum download speed at each connection speed. Network traffic and a variety of other issues will usually significantly increase the time required.

Estimated Download Times
Connection speed 14400 bps 14.4 Kbps 28800 bps 28.8 Kbps 56000 bps 56 Kbps 128 Kbps (ISDN) 1.5 Mbps (T1)

File size
100K 57 sec. 28 sec. 15 sec. 6 sec. 500K 1 MB 1.5 MB 2 MB 5 MB 4 min. 9 min. 14 min. 18 min. 47 min. 44 sec. 29 sec. 13 sec. 58 sec. 24 sec. 2 min. 4 min. 7 min. 22 sec. 44 sec. 7 sec. 9 min. 23 min. 29 sec. 42 sec.

1 min. 2 min. 3 min. 4 min. 12 min. 13 sec. 27 sec. 39 sec. 53 sec. 11 sec. 32 sec. 1 min. 4 sec. 5 sec. 1 min. 2 min. 36 sec. 8 sec. 8 sec. 5 min. 20 sec.

<1 sec. 3 sec.

11 sec. 27 sec.

Although there are any number of video file types (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MOV, etc.), Windows Movie Maker will actually only save movies in one of two files types, AVI or WMV, and it will only save AVI in one setting (the highest quality). WMV stands for Windows Media Video; hence Windows Movie Maker’s fondness for WMV. WMV files are good for the web (depending upon the settings used) and can be used for streaming video with the right server. The bad news is that if you want to create a DVD to play on your television you will have to use another piece of software to convert your WMV file to a format that can be used to create a DVD (i.e. MPEG-2).

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