SAVE - Moviemaker Tutorial



Overview

This tutorial is designed to teach you how to use Windows Movie Maker. It is *not* a step-by-step guide to create a video, simply because it isn't difficult with the general advice I'm providing. I did only learn how to use it recently and though the program is very easy to use there were a few parts in which I struggled. As well, I also picked up a few time-saving tips and pointers that I reckon are worth sharing.

So here we go then.

Planning

Firstly, you need a solid idea for what you want to do. What sort of video do you have in mind? A music video? A trailer for a production of some sort? A dubbing of a movie with new voices? Personally, I enjoy creating music videoes since they are fun and interesting to do as they can show people familiar or new footage to a cool track of music. Your goal doesn't exactly matter relating to this tutorial since it should work for whatever you wish to do, but you should at least decide on your main idea and theme. You also need to consider the style, music and footage available in particular.

Style - This is what the movie will play like: fast, slow, informative, action-packed, etc. I don't plan all of this in advance, actually, as I usually determine what's what during production but it's naturally worthwhile to have a CLEAR idea of what you're doing from the start. If it were a fast-paced rock music video being produced then chances are the video will do its best to match the beat.

Music - There's also a large probability that you will have accompanying music to match the video as the main audio, otherwise you will just have a bunch of clips strung together. I choose the music as part of the style, though you may not be so educated in the wealth of music available on the net or from the music industry and in retail shops. Look through your MP3 or CD collection, or failing that ask some friends for ideas to find what you're looking for - describe the style and footage and they may be able to suggest something appropriate for you.

Footage - This is a big and varying factor. Firstly, for actually acquiring the footage for Movie Maker I think it all needs to be playable in MM (i.e. Microsoft's Media Player - not necessarily DivX or a similar video program). Most videoes are available in the directories of the games or on the CD's, or need to be extracted and possibly converted (For Blizzard games like WarCraft3 and Diablo 2, try the program WinMPQ), unless you are creating it all yourself through a camera or recorder. If you have no idea how to get the video then try asking around on some forums, ideally a popular one for the game or product in question. Failing that then you can just record it out with a video capturing program, though I doubt this will be efficient as having it freely available.
Secondly, you will probably need more footage than is necessary (i.e. it should be longer than the audio) so you can trim it down to fit the audio, as the opposite of fitting the music around the video is surely difficult and potentially a waste of time (Unless you're creating the music yourself). If you have all of the Lord of the Rings movies ripped then you have around nine, or so, whole hours to edit from, while some computer games I know have within ten minutes of footage available. You don't want to be limited or left frustrated so work out what you have and see if it's enough!

Links

Windows Movie Maker
DVD Rippers:
Video converters:

Production

Onto Windows Movie Maker itself. I actually realised it was already installed on my computer in the Start Menu so check there first. If it's not, head over to the link above at www.microsoft.com (A necessary evil, I'm afraid) and search for it. Install and load it up.



Impressive, eh? Do bear in mind that the screenshot has several collections and a movie already made, whereas yours will presumably not. Confused over what those are? Don't worry, it's easy. I'll now go over the various areas and explain what they are.

Collections: Exactly what you would expect - these are folders containing files (Footage, audio, images, etc) which have been imported into WMM (That is you have TOLD the program where they are on your computer - they're NOT stored as additional files within WMM). From here you can sort them into folders and subfolders - in mine I currently have two main folders for Diablo 2 and WarCraft 3 (And the third, 'Wickerman', is for a single project on its own). Be careful about importing huge movies - it can take ages to process depending on your PC's speed which is determined by how modern your CPU and RAM are.

To the right of the folders are the files within them, which are typically audio and video. I'm not sure how to explain it, but when you import a large movie then it will be seperated into the scenes of the movie instead of one huge one. If you have a lot of large movies then they are best viewed by their details and not thumbnails.

And to the right of those folders is a preview window - it's practically Windows Movie Player made available to play the video files, both imported and your clips.

At the bottom is the timeline. See the Help file (Help > Help file) and find the section 'About the Timeline' to find out more. Despite its small size, this is where everything is sorted and ordered for the movie. The sections are:
  • Video - Movie footage and clips.
  • Transitions - Visual effects.
  • Audio - The sound from the videoes.
  • Audio/music - For sounds you have imported.
  • Title overlay - Titles and credits.
The simple description of production is as follows - you drag on the aspects of your movie (primarily the footage and audio) to the timeline from the collection area, then you can preview it with the Media Player to the side and edit it as needed. You then finish by saving it as a movie file.

Notes

  • The main form of editing is by changing the length of the dragged in items. You do this by moving the cursor over the edge of them (It helps to zoom in - see the next tip for how to do so), then move the cursor to their left or right and then click and drag them along the timeline. However, this only extends to their total length - e.g. if a clip is 9 seconds long, you can't make it any longer, but can drag it from the right to display only the first second.
  • You can zoom in with the magnifying glass icons - this lets you change the timings more precisely and makes it easier to select the edges to drag, which is much more effective than editing from the furthest out view.
  • If you have a movie clip of which you want the first four seconds and last five, but not the seconds *between* those segments then you have to put it on the timeline twice (You can just copy and paste or drag it on again from the collection area) and then measure them separately - the first to four seconds from the right and the last to five from the left. At least, I don't think there's a way to edit inside the clips but this works just as well.
  • Click on the times at the top of the timeline to move to them in the preview player. e.g. clicking at the middle of 00:00:40 takes you to the 40th second of the movie. Or you can just click on the movie clip to move to the start of it (If the timer is already in it, though, you may need to select another clip and then the desired clip again).
  • If the video has audio then right click the respective aspects on the audio timeline and select 'mute' to silence it. I do this for music videoes since I don't want the original audio of the movies mixed in. You can also modify other parts by right clicking certain aspects - e.g. there's a Volume setting for the audio sections which is very useful if you're mixing two movies that have different ones.
  • Be on the look out for stutters and badly edited clips - suchg as bits that aren't trimmed properly and show a millisecond of another segment that's not wanted - as they do tend to get noticed so zoom in and remove them as necessary. Be warned, though, as sometimes I have found that these are in MM and NOT the final product, the exported movie itself, so test as necessary.
  • Go to Tools > Titles and Credits to go through a wizard to add some to a part of your movie. They're very basic but functional.

Publishing

After you have previewed your movie and are happy with it then it's time to mix it all together and create the actual movie file. Go to File > Save Movie. MM will take you through the steps - the filename and location and then settings (i.e. the size, where it will suggest a certain size or you can set it to aim to a specific size in kilo or megabyte). After those are done it will compress it, the time of which depends on your system's speed and the size of the movie. Once it has finished be sure to play the result in Media Player, or such software, to make sure the quality is what you want and that everything works as you intended on the timeline.

The next thing to do is go to the Properties and fill in the information so people know who made it. I always include my email and the SA's url too.



Finally, you can release it on the net. SAVE takes applications - see the FAQ if you're interested. Otherwise, you'll have to upload it to your site (If you don't have one ... go and buy or lend some webspace from somewhere - how else can you publish your movie?) and post the link wherever you want to - forums and friends on IM programs so you can receive feedback.

Conclusion

Do be open to criticism if it is your first movie, as comments will only help you improve your style and editing. :) Also bo bear in mind that you do not own the footage or audio if you (Unless you actually created it yourself) and it's at least good courtesy to include the copyright info from whoever did.

So there you go. The possibilities with WMM and other programs are enormous - music videoes, trailers for productions (like mods and games you are associated with), fan dubs and all sorts can potentially be created.

Happy editing! :)

- M

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