Movie Maker

Fall 2003 CSANews Issue 48  |  Posted date : Apr 25, 2007.Back to list

Television has come a long way in the last 30 years. You now have more stations than you do fingers, a clearer picture, better sound and, to give credit to the men behind the scenes, better video editing. Back then, editors used to piece film together to transition from one scene to the next. Today, through the evolution of the personal computer and all the companies that want to sell leading-edge software, a relative novice videographer like "moi," and possibly "toi," can develop some pretty slick movies.

If you've got some time and the three essentials - a digital video camera with a FireWire connection, a desktop or laptop computer equipped with a FireWire connection, and video editing software - you too can take a run at Steven Spielberg, because they can use another billionaire movie producer in Hollywood.

To edit video, make sure that your computer is a late model PC with 512 MB or 1 GB of RAM and a big hard disk for rendering and writing files. I won't tell you what computer or camera to purchase, but I can lead you to an excellent video editing software which will do all you need and, unlike your camera and computer, IT'S FREE. One more time, IT'S FREE. Movie Maker 2 only works on Windows XP. For an earlier version of the windows operating system, download Movie Maker 1.

Microsoft's Movie Maker 2 is an excellent vehicle for movie creation. You can download it at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads. Select the download from the Featured Downloads box on the right.

So you've shot some footage and taken some stills, which you can also do with your video camera. Now the "artiste" in you is ready to create.

Movie Maker offers some simple steps to movie-making (hence the product name), starting with retrieving your movie or pictures from the camera or importing files which you have already saved onto your computer. All videos or pictures coming from a camera, video or still, must use the function Capture from video device. Importing video, pictures or sound tracks from files on your computer requires you to select one of the Import functions.

Once you have collected all the components you wish to build into your video, it's time to put on your beret and begin the creative process. To start, the Timeline at the bottom of the screen asks you to "drag media to the Timeline" to begin making a movie." Select the clip or clips you want, and drag and/or append them into the video segment of the Timeline. At this point, you can play the video to preview what was shot. For each clip you have added to the Timeline, you can drag the Start and End Trim Handles (the little triangles at the beginning and end of a video) to establish when the clip will begin to play or when the clip will stop playing. When trimming, you hide unwanted parts rather than discard them.

Now that you've decided on the content of the movie, it's time to play with transitions, which control how one video clip or picture plays into the next. Professionally broadcast productions use these and I always thought that it took a considerable effort. Well, with Movie Maker, all you have to do is select the "Show video transitions" task in the Movie Tasks pane and you're presented with dozens of options. It's as simple as selecting the transition and dragging it to the Transitions section of the Timeline between two clips. That's it. It's that easy. You can play with these ad nauseum to test each transition until you're happy with your, yes that is your, production.

Have you ever seen a movie with no titles or credits? Doesn't happen. Well now it doesn't have to happen with your productions either. Select the Make titles or credits task and you will be able to add a movie title to the beginning, add a title before, on, or after a selected clip and yes, add credits to the end. Do this and you'll think that the beret worked.

So all that's left now is to add some musical and voice accompaniment. Select a piece of music that you have on your computer using the Import audio or music task and drag it onto the Audio/Music segment of the Timeline. For voiceover, position the playback indicator at the point in the video at which you wish to narrate, in your own words and voice, what you see in the movie. Select the Narrate Timeline in the Tools menu or click on the small microphone above and to the left of the Timeline. Record your words. Preview your movie and save it to disk. Congratulations, you have now created a professional family video.

I'm a pretty good photographer and now, with my handy digicams and Movie Maker 2, I can shoot and edit some pretty spectacular video. With a little time
and patience, you will too.