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How To Use Windows Movie Maker

written by: Lucinda Watrous•edited by: Christian Cawley•updated: 9/16/2008

If you want to make a movie using clips of your own recordings and you do not have access to expensive software, there is a simple solution. All you have to do is use Windows Movie Maker. Read on to find out how to use Windows Movie Maker and you could make yourself the next big star!

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    Windows Movie Maker is a basic movie editing program installed on your system with Windows XP. It can be used to create video presentations of nearly any kind, and offers features that are easy to use. Even if you have never attempted to make your own movie before, you'll be able to create movies that look like you've been working at it for years!

    Windows Movie Maker's interface will make your job easier. On the left hand side, you'll see the tasks you can perform, divided into subcategories: Capture Video, Edit Movie, and Finish Movie. There's also a section at the bottom called Movie Making Tips that will guide you through the process along with this article. You'll see an area marked Collections, that will house the library of video, audio, and photos you have transferred into the program for use in your movie. On the right hand side of the screen, you'll see an area to preview your video as you work; and, the bottom portion of the screen is how you will put your movie together.

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    Things You'll Need

    • Video Clips (downloaded from your camera or the internet)
    • Sound Clips (optional)
    • Video Camera and USB cable (if you're transferring footage from your camera)
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    Step One

    Open Windows Movie Maker by going to: Start > All Programs > Windows Movie Maker. If for any reason you are not seeing this option, it means that you have uninstalled this Windows component. You can add it back to your system by inserting your Windows OS disc into the drive, and choosing the "Install Windows Components" option. Select Windows Movie Maker from this list, and allow it to install.

    If you are going to be using video footage from your video camera, you'll need to connect your camera to your computer and turn the power on. If your camera is not USB, please see: Connecting your Video Camera to your Computer, for more information on how to connect your camera to your computer to transfer video.

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    Step Two

    Gather your audio and video files. The Capture Video section of the movie tasks menu will allow you to capture and/or import video, and import your audio and photos.

    To Capture Video from your Camera: Connect your camera to your computer either through USB, or as directed by the article above. Click this option on the left, and follow the on screen instructions.

    To Import Video Clips from your Computer: Choose this option and navigate to the location of your video clips on your computer.

    To Import Audio from your Computer: Choose this option and navigate to the location of the audio files on your computer.

    To Import Photos from your Computer: Choose this option and navigate to the location of the photos on your computer.

    You should import all your files for your movie into the same collection, so that you can keep track of them together.

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    Step Three

    Organize your clips of videos, music, and photos by using the menu on the bottom of the screen.

    You have the following options for viewing your progress while creating your movie:

    Timeline View: This will show your movie clip, the audio, and the text that will play on the timeline- in seconds. Each element will have its own row so that you may overlap them. The audio row will allow you to make changes to the sounds such as fading and volume control.

    Storyboard View: This will show you the first scene of the movie clip (in each box) and leave sections for your transitions and effects in between.

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    Step Four

    Edit your movie. This section of movie tasks will allow you to add transitions and effects to your movie, such as text. You can also add your title and credit screens with this menu.

    Take a look at the transitions and effects, and insert them into your movie where you want to. To preview the transitions and/or effects, click on them. To use them, drag them into position on the storyboard/timeline.

    If you want to add titles and credits, all you have to do is choose that menu option, and then choose the option to select where you want the titles and/or credits. Options here include: at the beginning or end of the movie, before or after the selected clip, or on the selected clip.

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    Step Five

    Preview your results in the player. When you are satisfied with what you have, you can finish your movie by saving it to the computer, burning it to a CD, sending it in an email, post on the Internet, or send it to a DV camera.

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    Tips, Warnings, and Other Information

    • Use one collection per movie, so that you can keep all of your files organized.
    • Experiment with several different transitions and effects.
    • Use the Movie Making Tips section to help you along if you have trouble.
    • Have fun!