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How to Import Video Into Windows Movie Maker

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 5/10/2009

In the beginning, import your video into Windows Movie Maker. Determine whether you use tape or a digital media, and how you want to transfer your footage.

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    In The Beginning...

    For a novice video editor, simply getting your videos into your editing software can be an insurmountable challenge. Even when using a simple editing program like Windows Movie Maker, it can be difficult to get your footage into the software so you can begin cutting together. When trying to do this, you first need to decide what format it is on and how you want to transfer it onto your computer.

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    Capturing From Tapes

    What format you are recording on in your camera is the first thing you have to identify. If you are recording on digital video tapes, the best way to capture the footage onto your computer is to use an external digital video tape deck. These run from under a hundred dollars to over a thousand, so the quality of deck you purchase should reflect how extensive your video projects will be and how much you will use it. They connect to your computer via Firewire. Windows Movie Maker can capture the footage while the tape plays in the deck. When in Windows Movie Maker you go to the upper left hand window, 'Movie Tasks' menu. Under the 'Capture Video' section you go to the first option, 'Capture From a Video Device.' When the tape deck is plugged in and turned on, the program will recognize this and give you an option to play and capture the tape in the deck. Once it is done it will save the movie file in your project folder as a recognizable movie type, and it will be in your project within the program. If you do not have a tape deck you can do the same thing directly from the video camera by connecting the camera to the computer with a Firewire or USB cord. You go through the exact same process for this method as you would with the DV deck. This is not the best way because it is hard on the camera and will wear it out quicker than most uses.

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    Importing Digital Files

    If you have recorded on a digital storage unit, such as a Flash drive or portable hard drive attached to your camera, you need to remove that device from your camera and attach it to your computer. The best way is to transfer all of the recorded movie files from those portable storage devices onto your computer before importing, but you can import into Movie Maker directly from these devices. You again go to the 'Movie Tasks' menu and select 'Import Video' from under the 'Capture Video' heading. It will then give you access to all storage devices, including your computer’s hard drive, which are attached to the computer. You simply select the file you want, click OK, and it will be imported into your project. This works the same way if you are downloading and saving stock footage from the Internet. If you want to import photos or music there are similar options in the 'Capture Video' section specifically for those media formats.

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    So Simple

    Capturing video is just the beginning of your editing experience, so it is best not to get confused by it. Windows Movie Maker makes this process pretty easy. Just keep in mind how you were saving your footage and then address that accordingly.