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Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Getting Started with Windows Live Movie Maker

The first video editing suite I ever used was Windows Movie Maker on my Vista laptop. I stumbled upon the application rather than a burning desire to become the next _____________ (insert the name of your favourite Director here) but I had my fun! I created a couple of videos starring my friends and was pleased with the results.

I then started Adobe Premiere Pro in college where I learnt how to edit and mask. We also covered some principles of storytelling. I did not have Premiere Pro at home so when my sister needed help editing a vlog, I started digging on my computer for what I could find in the vain of free editing software; and Windows Live Movie Maker (the upgrade from Windows Movie Maker) made itself known.

My first impression was that it was very basic compared to the Adobe equivalent. Although this is to be expected, Windows Live Movie Maker offers a good deal for a free suite.

After making one vlog, here are some pros and cons I've encountered:


  • Easy to use once you are familiar
  • It's FREE!
  • Live Movie Maker makes it easy to share and upload your videos to video sharing websites


  • If you're used to a more sophisticated editing suite, Live Movie Maker's restrictions may frustrate you
  • The music/audio does not stick when editing video
  • It destructs video when editing, meaning that if you wish to re-edit a part you have already gotten rid of, you'll have to replace the video and make the edit again
  • Inability to layer (although if you're trying to have text on a background, this is possible with the Caption tool)
Using the caption tool for titling

So you have a project in mind. Here are a few steps to help you get started.

Let's get Started!

1. File Setup. To begin, set up a folder on your desktop and put everything you require in that folder. DO NOT change the names of folders or Movie Maker will not understand which file you are referring to as the path has been broken.

    Double click on the missing files and you may be able to recover them

2. Add your video. Live Movie Maker makes it clear how to do this.

3. Simple Editing. Chances are you want to tighten up your video by editing the start and end points. Move the playhead to the point you wish your video to start. Click the Edit tab and select Set start point. Movie Maker will start the video from this point.

Do the same for the end point with the Set end point button.

    Note: Edit your video and stills PERFECTLY before adding any audio. Editing video after audio has been added will affect your audio edits (the audio edits do not stick). 

 Extra Tips

  •  Splitting music is extremely helpful when needing a track at different volumes. 
Splitting a music track on the Music Tools tab

  • Pay attention to what tab you're on! The interface of each is very similar!
  • Note that the Edit tab always refers to Video Tools, the Options tab always refers to Music Tools and the Format tab always refers to Text Tools. 
         In other words 
         You cannot click Edit to adjust music settings. The Edit tab is always referring to video!

  • The default aspect ratio is (update 12/02/14) 1920 x 1080. This means if you're making additional still images for your video that the image size must be 1920px by 1080px.  
  • If in doubt, Click the Home tab. 
  • Playing with the effects and animations are simple and easy. Simply hover over them to preview and click to apply.  
  • Animations are what Adobe Premiere Pro refers to as Transitions.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully this post has made Windows Live Movie Maker a little more accessible to the beginner. Overall, I feel that Windows Live Movie Maker is a very capable editing software especially for a free product. One thing I feel Windows Live Movie Maker could improve on is the interface design of the tabs. The way they are formatted are hardly intuitive.

If you're careful and creative enough, it is possible to make a very professional looking production. A tip for this is to avoid the Auto Movie Themes found on the home tab which will edit all your video in one style. To get the best results you must put time and effort into your editing. Using either Paint or Photoshop to create accompanying still images is also a good idea rather than relying on the Title tool for backgrounds.

Take a look at what I achieved with Windows Live Movie Maker here

What have you made with Windows Live Movie Maker? Let me know in the comments. 

If you enjoyed this post, please follow me on Twitter @WhoIsMelanieS

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