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Windows 7 - Editing with XP's Movie Maker 2.1... but in Windows 7

written by: PapaJohn•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 5/18/2011

Movie Maker was introduced in late 2000 as a very basic video editing app, just good enough to nudge me from the analog world to digital, where I've been ever since. Now I see it being dropped from Windows 7. It'll be missed by the communities of Windows XP and Vista users. Where to now?

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    Can We Add Movie Maker 2.1 to Windows 7?

    Certainly the optional download of the new Windows Live Movie Maker will work in Windows 7, and promises to be better in the long run for many users. It was developed from scratch after years of lessons learned under its belt. But it's a slimmed down version with fewer features and there will be many who want to continue with the tried and true features of MM2.1 in XP and MM6 in Vista. Is that possible? We'll see.

    Windows 7 teased me. I could copy the Movie Maker folders from XP and Vista, register their DLLs, and run versions MM1, MM2.1, MM2.6 and MM6. Each opened OK but lacked some or most features until their DLLs were registered. That shifted them into higher gears where they worked with enough features to get my hopes up, high enough to write this article and demo its use with an example.

    MM2.1 from XP seems to offer the most promise. It's a much more self-contained app than MM6 in Vista. I can use it in Windows 7 to capture DV from my mini-DV camcorder, and create and edit projects using more than the basic sets of custom effects, transitions and title overlays.

    After making a project, I can use MM2.1 to save the movie to a wmv or DV-AVI file on the hard drive, or transfer it to my mini-DV camcorder. The files on the hard drive are easy to upload to online hosts such as YouTube, Facebook and Vimeo.

    Here's a link to the first project I made completely with MM2.1 running on Windows 7, a 2 minute video of my grandson's last basketball game of the season.

    Basketball Game

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    Which MM2.1 Features Work?

    Most features work well. Here's a rundown.

    Video clips work fine. You can:

    • Capture from a mini-DV camcorder with a firewire connection (after a driver is installed... I did it by installing the optional Windows Live suite, which automatically installs the driver when you plug the camcorder in and turn it to the VCR mode).
    • Preview and split clips in collections.
    • Drag the ones you want to the storyboard or timeline view of the project.
    • Split clips on the timeline, and add effects and transitions. The basic and some added ones work but most third party ones don't.
    • Preview the project... it sometimes pauses by itself, often as the position reaches a transition.
    • Save the movie to either wmv or DV-AVI format and see all the video clips in it.
    • Save the movie to a DV camcorder connected by firewire (this works without having first installed the driver for the camcorder).

    Still pictures (BMP, JPG, PNG) had major issues at first... I don't know the reason, but they were resolved by downloading and installing MM2.6. Here's what happened before I installed MM2.6:

    • They imported into collections and previewed fine.
    • Frame snapshots from video clips in the collection saved as JPG files OK.
    • You could drag them to the project timeline/storyboard where you think they're fine as the thumbnails show as usual... but
    • They appeared only as blackness in project previews or saved movies.

    In my sample video I was going to use a frame snapshot at the very end, of the ball as it reached the rim of the basket... a freeze-frame with text over it. But when I saw the still picture wouldn't work I split the video clip and applied the slow-down-half effect a couple times and finished it with that instead.

    Audio/Music clips sort of work, with quirks but no critical issues:

    • They import and preview well from the collections.
    • On the timeline they work but sometimes pause by themselves during a project preview. This may be related to the occasional pauses when the timeline position reaches a transition.
    • The audio is included in saved movies without problems.

    Title Overlays work fine:

    • The text features and title animations of MM2.1 work as they do in XP.
    • Custom xml files and overlay images also work well, including moving overlays.
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    I have no conclusion. At this point, running a copy of XP's Movie Maker 2.1 in Windows 7 beta is mainly an exercise to explore user options in the first Windows operating system since Windows Me that doesn't include a version of Movie Maker. But it sure looks promising.

    Vista has MM6 and an optional download of MM2.6, I didn't set out to explore how well MM2.1 runs on Vista, but checked it along the way and found it works about the same as on Windows 7. I'm too cautious about the possibility of causing issues in Vista by adding MM2.1 into the mix. For example, MM2.1, MM2.6 and MM6 all use the same collection database file and you could too easily find yourself in the middle of unwanted complexities. In Windows 7 the MM2.1 and Window Live Movie Maker processes are far enough apart to not conflict. If you add MM2.6 to resolve the image issues with MM2.1, you'll possibly run into issues as they use the same collection database. Be careful

    There's the needed permissions to do such a thing as copying part of an earlier version of Windows into Windows 7. I've suggested to Microsoft they offer an optional downloadable MM2.1 package for the community of Movie Maker users, as they did MM2.6 for Vista users.

    I hope Windows Live Movie Maker is sufficient for your video making needs. Copying MM2.1 from XP requires you to get over some techie hurdles and shouldn't be done by those without sufficient computer skills.

    I have a number of computers and Windows XP with Movie Maker 2.1 is still my primary work place when it comes to Movie Maker projects. If I only had a single computer and was a Windows 7 system, I wouldn't hesitate using MM2.1 on it.

Windows Movie Maker in Windows 7

Starting with a clean slate, an operating system with no version of Windows Movie Maker included, I have 5 versions installed and running. This series explores how Movie Maker works in this operating system.
  1. Windows Movie Maker in Windows 7
  2. 5 Versions of Windows Movie Maker Running On Windows 7
  3. Windows 7 - Record-Capture-Import Camcorder Video
  4. Windows 7 - Editing with XP's Movie Maker 2.1... but in Windows 7