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After buying a new camcorder, I was suddenly thrust into the fascinating world of video making & editing. These days, it is very easy to make professional-looking videos in as little as 15 minutes. After trying out a few programs, I finally settled on Windows Movie Maker and it is an absolute cinch to use.

If you are running Windows on your computer, Windows Movie Maker should also be installed by default. Just check your Start Menu to find it.

So let’s get started trying to become the next Quentin Tarantino…

First of all, you need a USB cable to connect your camcorder to your computer. Most modern camcorders come readily equipped with USB cables but if you don’t have one, you’ll have to buy one. You have to be able to transfer your film footage to your desktop. So first, connect your camcorder to the desktop with the USB cable.

Then run Movie Maker (MM).

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To get started on making your video, the first step is to “capture” the video from your camera. So after making sure that your camcorder USB cable is in, go to “Capture from video device” in the left hand bar.

This will pop up a box asking you what you want to call your new video file and where in your computer you would like to store the video footage. Make your selections and then press “Next”.

This is the box that appears next.  You have to decide if you want playback quality for your computer or if you plan to watch the footage on a DVD on television. This box also shows you how much space on your computer the movie file will take up as well as the file type (which is stuck on .wmv) and the file speed.

After making your decision and clicking next, the next box will ask you if you want to capture the whole tape or just portions of it. If you have used up a whole cassette on the same movie then you can just let MM capture the whole lot. But if you only want to capture part of the tape (perhaps if you have several movies on the same tape and you only want to work on one), choose the second option.

When you have made your decision, the capture box will come up. I took this screenshot from Google Images as I couldn’t get the video picture to show in my capture box screenshot. So please don’t think I am a toilet fetishist or something!

Everything here is pretty much self-explanatory. Keep the “Create clips when wizard finishes” option ticked. You can mute speakers if you want to (I don’t). You can also set a time limit on how much video it captures (but I don’t see the point as you can stop it yourself when you have what you need).

Before pressing “start capture”, use the controls under the picture to rewind / fast forward to the point you want to start capturing. Then press “Start capture”. You’ll then start to see “video captured” and “size of audio file” start to increase. Make sure you have enough space on your computer to store it all! When you have all the footage captured, press “Stop capture” and then the “Finish” button.

The footage will then be broken up into “clips”.   This makes it a lot easier to edit the film and also get a general overview of the whole project.

To get started on editing it, highlight all the clips you want in your movie and then drag it to the bottom into the timeline. Everything will then be moved down and you’re ready to begin editing.

That’s all for part one. In part two How To Make Professional Looking Videos with Windows Movie Maker How To Make Professional Looking Videos with Windows Movie Maker Read More , I will show you how to edit your footage and also add in some special effects such as adding AVI and WMV movie files as well as music and credits.

**UPDATE** It has been brought to my attention that the Portable Movie Maker which was initially featured in this article has a file which is being flagged by AVG as a virus. It is not a virus in my version of the program (which is how I didn’t find out about it before the publication of this article) but a subsequent check of a new download of the app does indeed reveal the file is being flagged by AVG.

To be on the safe side, all links and mentions of the portable app have been removed from this article. If you have already downloaded it, I suggest you delete it to be safe and use the full installed PC version of Movie Maker instead. Or at the very least scan your copy with a virus checker.

Normally we thoroughly virus check everything before publication. However, since I downloaded this app several months ago and AVG initially passed it as safe, this one got past me. I apologise.

  1. Chris
    July 9, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    adobe premiere or nothing

  2. Jeff
    July 8, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    Mark, thank you for this tutorial. One thing I would like to know is how to transfer a MM movie into flash format, so that I can embed it in my site with minimum space. I want to create a few videos for my site using the fantastic effects available to MM, but want to upload the video in flv format. Can that be done? If so, how?

    • Mark O'Neill
      July 9, 2009 at 4:17 am

      Jeff - just make your movie in MM and export the finished movie to your computer in wmv format. Then use cocoonsoftware.com to convert it to flash video format (flv).

    • Jeff
      July 14, 2009 at 2:40 am

      Thanks Mark! I'll try that!

  3. Hunter McMillian
    July 8, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    I use VideoSpin from Pinnacle. It's free except for if you want extra codecs for like MP4 files but you get 14 or 15 free days to try that out when you download it. It's been really good for a free program. It's for Windows.

  4. Hiqutipie
    July 8, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Easy for you to say & I'm an experienced user and every time I have started to use the movie maker I get frustrated and trash everything...Memory gets slow or adding music gets screwed up...Its definitely something you have to get used to and thats going to take some time & mucho patience...It is hardly easy...

    You want easy movie making...Go to Google's Picasa...grab your pics & hit the movie maker & you will have some fun doing it...

    One True Media is easy & good as well for novices...

    Experienced users use a number of different makers and have tried most of them all...

    WMV is as good a quality as the best of them...You just need the right tools like Super to convert it and play...

  5. Doc
    July 8, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Portable or not, I'll never use it because it doesn't output to DIVX. WMV is a horribly lossy codec and a less portable format (my palm-sized MP4 player and my DIVX DVD player do not play it!)

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