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Windows Movie Maker is video editing software that is included in recent versions of Microsoft Windows. It contains features such as effects, transitions, titles/credits, audio track, timeline narration, and Auto Movie. New effects and transitions can be made and existing ones can be modified using XML code.
The layout consists of a storyboard/timeline (click the Show Timeline or Show Storyboard icon to toggle), collections (for organizing imported video), and a preview screen. When in Storyboard view your "project" (the video you are making) appears as a film strip showing each scene in clips. The storyboard/timeline consists of one 'Video' (with accompanying 'Audio' bar), one 'Music/Audio' bar, and one 'Titles/Credits' bar. In each bar, clips can be added for editing (e.g., a .wav music file will belong on the 'Music/Audio' bar). Still images can also be imported and drag and dropped onto the 'Video' bar of the timeline.
The Video and Music/Audio bars can be "cut" to any number of short segments, which will play together seamlessly, but the individual segments are isolated editing-wise, so that for example, the music volume can be lowered for just a few seconds while someone is speaking.
Like all non-linear editing systems, the original camera file on the hard drive is not modified in any way; the "current" project is really just a list of instructions for re-recording a final output video file from the original file. Thus, several different versions of the same program can be simultaneously made from the original camera footage.
When importing footage into the program you can either choose to Capture Video (from camera, scanner or other device) or Import into Collections to import existing video files into your collections. The accepted video, image, and audio formats are .wmv, .jpeg, .gif, .png, .wma, .wav, and .mp3. Movie Maker will also accept short MPEG-2 files but this may be unreliable. .mpg files produced by some video capture cards and camcorders will only import the audio or video, but not both. Such files will need to be transcoded to AVI by a utility, or you can use another program that was bundled with your DVD drive or computer.
When importing from a DV tape, if the "Make Clips on Completion" option is selected, Windows Movie Maker automatically flags the commencement of each scene, so that the tape appears on the editing screen as a collection of short clips, rather than one long recording. That is, at each point where the "Record" button was pressed, a new "clip" is generated. However, the actual recording on the Hard Drive is still one continuous file. (This facility is also offered after importing files already on the Hard Drive).
After capture, any clip can be dragged and dropped anywhere on the timeline. Once on the timeline, clips can be duplicated or split, and any of the split sections deleted or moved to another position. (Right-clicking any clip brings up the range of editing options).
Although it is possible to import digital video from cameras through the USB interface, most older cameras only support USB 1 and the results tend to be rather poor - "sub VHS" - quality. (More recent model cameras using USB 2 give much better results). For any serious editing application, an IEEE 1394 interface card (also known as i.Link or FireWire) should be considered essential equipment. These are very cheap and if not already fitted, installation in most PCs is very simple. (Unlike USB, IEEE 1394 normally does not require any drivers, the camera essentially becoming part of the computer hardware). IEEE 1394 will allow recording and playback of images identical in quality to the original recordings if the video is imported (and subsequently saved) as AVI files, although this consumes disk space at about 1 Gigabyte every five minutes (12GB/Hr). Recent versions of Windows Movie Maker do not allow capture of MPEG-2 files from DVD or Hard Disk cameras.
The earliest versions of Windows Movie Maker also only allowed the burning of Video CDs; that is, they did not support DVD burning directly. However there is plenty of software available which will convert the resultant edited files to the standard consumer DVD format as a separate step. In many cases, limited but perfectly usable software is bundled with DVD burners (eg Power Producer Gold). Alternatively, most DV cameras allow the final AVI file to be recorded back onto the camera tape for high quality playback. Some standalone DVD recorders will also directly accept DV inputs from video cameras and computers.
The latest version of Windows Movie Maker provides integration with Windows DVD Maker to facilitate the recording of movies onto DVD.
There are over 130 effects, transitions, titles, and credits available in the program. They are applied by using a drag and drop interface from the effects or transitions folders. For titles and credits you have the option of adding them as stand alone titles or overlaying them on your clip by adding them onto the selected clip. Titles range from static (non-animated) titles to fly in, fading, news banner, or spinning newspaper animations. Due to the flexible interface programming custom effects and other content is possible for version 2.0 and higher by implementing xml coding into the program's files.
Although the range of dissolve/fade effects are fairly limited, quite impressive effects can be had by importing still images from a photo editing program. For example, you can fade from an original version of a still to one where the brightness has been selectively manipulated to highlight one particular person in the scene.
Windows Movie Maker was introduced in Windows Me, but suffered from poor reviews due to its modest feature set in comparison with the year-old iMovie product on the Apple Macintosh. Version 1.1 was included in Windows XP a year later, and included support for creating AVI and WMV 8 files, as well DV video support. Version 2.0 was released as a free update in November 2002, which added a number of new features. Version 2.1, a minor update, is included in Windows XP Service Pack 2. Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 introduced a new version of Windows Movie Maker, 2.5, with more transitions and DVD authoring. A WPF version was included in later builds of Windows "Longhorn", but was removed due to instability.
In Windows Vista, Windows Movie Maker has been upgraded to version 6 to match the version number of the operating system. It is included in all editions with the exception of Windows Vista Starter. Its major new features include support for HD encoding (only in the Home Premium and Ultimate editions), about 20 new effects, a few new transitions, and support for the DVR-MS file format which Windows Media Center records television in. Windows Movie Maker 6 also integrates with the Windows DVD Maker application included in Windows Vista.