Editing with Windows Movie MakerIntroduction
Microsoft has granted all Windows XP users a nice basic video editing software, Windows Movie Maker (WMM). The program has been made in a very intuitive way, in order to allow anyone to edit their videos easily. The editing interface, with clips, transitions and effects is pretty self-explanatory, and thus won't be what we will put all our attention into in this tutorial. The program's help file also contains very detailed instructions about this. However, two operations take part before and after the main editing task, that is capturing from the camcorder, and exporting to a file that is suitable for the intended target. These steps have a great impact on video quality, especially with WMM as the default settings are of very low quality. The program recommends a format that will compress video on the fly while capturing in order to save disk space. This won't give sufficient quality for uploading to FL350. The video should instead stay in the original format it was recorded in during processing, and be encoded to web-compatible size as a last step. Very little is done in WMM to guide the user to what is most suitable for him or her. This tutorial will then help you choosing the different program options in order to get the best results, leaving composition to your creativity!
We will assume that you have a DV-based tape camcorder, like the majority of those currently on the market, that your computer is equipped with the required IEEE1394 / FireWire port, and that you have the required cable to link the two. See here for more info about this. Some camcorders can use the USB port to transfer video, but unlike FireWire this is no industry standard, and thus differs between manufacturers. You should refer to your camcorder's manual to see how it can be linked to standard programs if you wish to use that solution. Same goes to DVD / hard drive-based camcorders, these use different video encoding formats, and usually come with their own editing software that should be used instead.
The first thing we will do is to check if your computer has the correct version of the program installed. There are two major releases. The first one came along with the first Windows XP release, and the second one was an update included in Service Pack 2. This tutorial is based on version 2. You can check your current version in the program itself. Go to start, Programs, Accessories, Entertainment, Windows Movie Maker. In the program, choose "About Windows Movie Maker" in the "Help" menu. The version is stated on the 4th line, and it must be greater than 2.
If your version is older, you will need to update it. Microsoft unfortunately doesn't offer WMM as a separate download, and asks its customers to upgrade to Service Pack 2 to get the latest 2.1. However, there is a solution for those who still don't want to install the Service Pack. The stand-alone installer can be found on the Internet from other sources. The small difference is that it is version 2.0, as seen on the above screenshot. I's not a problem, changes between both are minor. If you need it, you can download it from here.
The next thing will be to make sure you have enough hard drive space to make your video. As we will be working with the original DV format that has low compression, you will need around 2-3Gb temporary space for a typical FL350 video if you only capture the needed parts from the tape. Keep in mind before starting editing that FL350 will only accept videos up to 6 minutes long.
Now you can turn your camcorder on, connect it to your computer, and start WMM. The first thing to do will be to set it for the correct video system. Open the "Tool" menu and choose the "Options" item. Click the "Advanced" tab.
In the middle you will see the NTSC / PAL choice, which NEEDS to match your camcorder's system. Check its documentation if you are not sure about its type. The 4/3 Ė 16/9 option will tell the program whether your camcorder was in standard or widescreen mode while filming. The most common choice here is 4/3, unless you have expressly switched your camcorder to 16/9 mode. Please note that camcorders which have a mode that adds black bars at the top and bottom of the image should use the 4/3 setting as well. Only those that have a full resolution widescreen mode (modified aspect ratio) should use the 16/9 one.
Now that this is done, the real work can begin!
As said before, WMM is meant to be pretty intuitive. It lists the tasks that have to be done in the left pane. If itís not the case, click the "Tasks" button in the toolbar. The first step is capturing video. That is transferring it from the tape to your hard drive. Thatís what we will do now.
- Click the "Capture from video device" link. If you get an error here, your camcorder might not be recognised by your system. Make sure it is turned on in play mode, that the tape is inserted and that the cable is properly connected. Windows should make the usual "connect" sound if it notices the new hardware. A window will appear, asking you for a name and location for the captured video. Remember to choose a drive that has enough free space. Click the "Next" button.
- Now you get to the important part, choosing the capture format. In case you only see one choice here, click the "Show more choices" link. That will let you choose the correct option, which is DV-AVI. Depending on your system, it will either show up as a separate option, or you will have to select it in the drop-down list. Both are the same.
- The next page asks you how you want to capture your images. As you will be likely to use a few relatively short rushes to make your video, we recommend you to choose the second option ("Capture parts of the tape manually") and only take what you need for that particular video. If you want to make several different videos, itís better to start all the process again for each one of them rather than to capture all the footage at a time. Itís more convenient to work with smaller files in WMM. The preview option at the bottom is optional. If enabled, you will be able to see the video in the next capturing screen, but as stated it could potentially cause problems on some systems. If disabled, you will have to watch your camcorderís screen to see what is being transferred.
- The next screen is the capture interface. It shows the video preview if the corresponding option was enabled in the previous dialog, along with "DV camera controls" which have the same effect as your camcorderís hardware buttons. What you will be doing here is seek through your tape to a place where you want to start capturing, click the "Start Capture" button, let the tape run to the end of the rush, click "Stop Capture", and repeat these operations until you have recorded all the parts you need for your video. The "Create clips when wizard finishes" option will create a separate item in the program for each time the record button was pressed on the camcorder when filming, so that you wonít need to find the cuts and split the video yourself. Once you have all you need, you can click the Next button. WMM will now import your video and return to the main screen. You might want to save your project at this point using "File" - "Save".
The basics of video editing with WMM are very simple. Rushes are stored in "Collections" which contain one or more "clips" that are displayed on the main screen. Basically a collection is one video file on the hard drive, and clips are separate scenes in that file, if the "Create clips" option was used when capturing. The default "storyboard" view is intended for you to drag clips onto the big rectangles, in the order you want them to play. In the "Collections" left pane (can be accessed using the toolbar button of same name) are the different files, along with 2 special elements, "Video effects" and "Video Transitions". Transitions, like the widely-used "Fade", are to be dragged onto the smaller rectangles between clips. Effects, if dragged onto clips in the storyboard will go into the "star" icon over the thumbnail, turning it to blue.
Individual clips can be cut using the "Split" button under the preview once they are in the storyboard. In this view, all transitions will have the default length that is set in the program options. The effects have no parameters, but more than one can be applied to the same element.
There is a view that will allow finer editing. Itís reached by clicking on the "Show Timeline" button. This shows the view that is used in more advanced programs. Clips can be placed one after another and swapped like in storyboard view, but in addition to this you get the time information. Clips can be trimmed by clicking on them and adjusting the ends. To add a transition, drag a clip so that it overlaps the previous one. The transition type can be changed by dragging a new one onto the block that appeared under the video track.
If you wish, you can finally add titles using the "Tools" - "Titles and Credits" menu, or the corresponding task in the Task List left pane.
Once the video is ready comes the last step, exporting the result to an output file. WMM offers a whole lot of different compression options at this point. However, all of them are pre-defined profiles that donít allow customisation, and none of them offers the settings that will give the best results on FL350. We will thus export the video in DV-AVI format again in order to have minimal loss, and do the final encoding in another program. Hereís the way to go:
- Click "File" Ė "Save Movie File". Choose "My Computer" and click "Next".
- Click "Next". The program will now build the output file, which will take a few minutes. Once this is finished, you can review and enjoy your video!
Note that as long as you save and keep the project file and the source video clips you can close the program, and reopen the project to modify it later. Changes to the project will of course require you to repeat the Export operation. As the video files are rather big, you might want to delete them once the result suits you.
This is the last step before you can upload your video to FL350. It will reduce the size of the file to less than 60Mb. This step is covered in a separate tutorial that can be found here.
Thank you for taking the time to read this tutorial and to submit your work to us!
About the author of this tutorial
Andre Bernet is one of Flightlevel350.com's finest videographers. He has a lot of experience with video work and kindly wrote this tutorial for us. You can see Mr. Bernet's videos here.