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An Overview of Windows Movie Maker

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Christian Cawley•updated: 9/17/2008

Windows Movie Maker is a great resource for novice users who want to edit video's for the first time, or dabble in more professional video editing media. Here we provide an overview of Windows Movie Maker, a highly impressive (and free) video editing software application.

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    Editing Made Easy

    Every Windows based PC has a number of standard applications that expand the standard uses of a computer.  Windows Movie Maker is one of the more recent additions to the Windows arsenal and allows home video producers to do simple editing projects without requiring much in the way of prior experience.  With this simple software anyone can create semi-professional looking video projects simply from their family computer.

    Windows Movie Maker is designed to let you input video, whether its from a video device or digital movie file already on your computer, then construct a sequence for a complete film.  When first opening the program you will see that it is broken up into four sections.  In the upper left hand side of the dialogue you will see a window that is allocated for listing tasks that can be performed.  When you first launch the program it is titled “Movie Tasks,” which in essence lists tasks that can be assigned to the film as a whole.  This includes broad lists of actions including a series for “capturing video” and a comparative series for “edit video.”  When you select a video type or clip, a new set of options will appear in this window, specially curtailed to whatever was selected.

    In the middle window you will see all the video or audio clips that were imported into the program.  They appear as icons similar to the appearance of any in the Windows interface.  The far window is the video monitor that will show specific clips or the entire sequence you are creating.  On the bottom is the “timeline,” where you cut together the video.  There is a track available for video, audio, and text boxes.  You can alter this timeline by clicking on the “storyboard” button, which changes it into a series of large and small boxes.  The large boxes offer “drag and drop” functionality to video clips, and the small boxes allow you to drag transitionary effects.

    Importing video into Windows Movie Maker is simple, via the upper left hand window or from the File menu in the task bar. Importing video can be problematic depending on the format of the footage you are trying to import.  If it is a simple video file, like an AVI or MPEG file, then simply click on the “Import Video” which will let you select the video from file.  Windows Movie Maker has a select number of acceptable format types, so it is advisable to check format compatibility before you try and import video.  The other way is to try and capture video directly from a digital video tape or other type of external video source.  Such media migration requires additional peripheral resource, such as a camera or tape deck, which is used as an intermediate between the tape and the computer.  Select “capture from video device,” and if the computer can register the external device it will give you the option of playing the tape while Movie Maker records and saves the content.

    One of the greatest things about video editing on Windows Movie Maker, especially non-linear editing software like this one, is that you can apply video filters and effects.  In the upper left window there is a series of options available under the Edit Movie heading.  Under that you can select video effects, video transitions, and text boxes.  The video effects, ranging from simple image brightening or “old movie” filtering can be applied to each video clip to change its appearance.  Video transitions are used to tie clips together, and include 'dissolve from one clip to another' all the way to classic silent movie device manipulation such as 'irising in and out'.  The text boxes, in self explanitory terms bring text into your projects and can be used to create exceptional title sequences, credits and clean endings to films.

    Once you haev compiled your video project it is time to 'Finish Movie'.  Here you have numerous options such as saving the project to file or send it in an email.  Determine which way you would like to address the exporting of you project and aeway it goes. It is as simple as that.

    What makes Windows Movie Maker a great program is that it is designed to make simple editing tasks quick and fun.  The program has some excellent 'Movie Making Tips' and provides great advice on how to elevate your video projects.  Now that Windows Movie Maker is bundled free with the Windows Operating System architecture, video editing has ever been easier to grasp, explore and complete with professional results