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Tips for Using Still Images in Windows Movie Maker

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Misty Faucheux•updated: 5/29/2009

Here are a few things to remember when working with still images in your Windows Movie Maker editing project.

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    Photo Fiction

    Photos are just part of the collage of different items that you can employ when video editing. Editing is not just the companion to video production, but instead an art in and of itself that ties together different pieces of media in the effort of creating a completely new piece.

    Still pictures can be a part of this just the same and often are in different narrative functions and documentaries especially. Windows Movie Maker is different than other video editing programs in that it is more geared toward novices and remains somewhat limited in its abilities. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when working with still pictures in Windows Movie Maker.

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    Maybe Not

    Pictures are a little more difficult in Windows Movie Maker so you may want to steer clear of them when you can. The reason for this is that pictures need to be used in a creative way as to not stifle the energy of the sequence. This means that they have to be shortened, cropped, or otherwise altered so that they can fit the beat of what is occurring.

    Oftentimes, they will be used as part of a documentary B-roll string or to give a historic feel to a narrative film. This type of sequence would need very detailed editing that you may not be able to get from Windows Movie Maker anyway.

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    Position and Effect

    If you insist on using them in Windows Movie Maker, you have to avoid certain things. Do not stack video effects on them because you cannot control their intensity, and it may damage the information of the image. You cannot put regular photo motion on them, except to use the Ease In or Ease Out video effects.

    If you do this, you may want to stretch out the photo clip so that it goes slower. Remember that a photo is not supposed to look the same as the video and is supposed to take you out of the normal rhythm of the video. So give the still image to chance to appear out of place. Do not use the Storyboard view when using photos because this will create a problem. Make sure that you allow the control of overlaying video and audio tracks and keep it in the Timeline display.

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    Use

    Make sure to stagger the still images when using them. Do not allow there to be blank audio points when you have the photos unless you want it to be an uncomfortable moment where people have to stare at the images.

    Make sure to keep the images on the screen long enough to see what is happening, but not so long that they become tiresome. The standard is four seconds, but decide according to the content of the images and how you want the audience to see them.

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    Freeze Frame

    If you are going to take a still frame out of video in your sequence and then use it, you need to be sure you have the correct image. Go through the clip several times to make sure that you are at the right point before taking the image. Also, be careful on how you are going to use this image later. If you are using the video clip, and then intend on using the still frame from the same clip, make sure it is only to emphasize a certain part of that clip as you may want to do with shaky footage.