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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Windows Movie Maker

Windows Movie Maker Icon
Windows Movie Maker Screenshot
Windows Movie Maker in Windows Vista
Developed by Microsoft
Latest release 6.0.6001.18000 / February 4, 2008
OS Microsoft Windows
Type Video editing software
License Proprietary software
Website Windows Vista: Features Explained: Windows Movie Maker and Movie Maker HD

Windows Movie Maker is video creating/editing software bundled with the Microsoft Windows operating system since Windows Me. 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.


Windows Movie Maker was introduced in 2000 with 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. [1][2][3] Version 1.1 was included in Windows XP a year later, and included support for creating DV AVI and WMV 8 files, but cannot be used with Windows Me. Version 2.0 was released as a free update in November 2002, and 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 support for DVD burning. A WPF version was included in some builds of Windows "Longhorn" (now Windows Vista), but was removed in the development reset. [4]

Windows Vista changes

In Windows Vista, Windows Movie Maker requires pixel shader hardware support. The most significant change is that effects and transitions are all Direct3D-based and hardware accelerated, enabling broader and more sophisticated customization. [5] The version number is now 6.0 to match the version number with the operating system, however the SDK refers to it as version 3.0. It is included in all editions with the exception of Windows Vista Starter. The version included in Windows Vista Home Premium and Ultimate editions supports high-definition video.

Windows Movie Maker in Windows Vista includes new effects and transitions, and support for the DVR-MS file format which Windows Media Center records television in. The HD version in Premium and Ultimate editions of Windows Vista adds support for capturing from HDV camcorders. The capture wizard will create DVR-MS type files from HDV tapes. However, the Windows Vista version of Windows Movie Maker no longer supports importing video from an analog video source such as a VCR or from a webcam.[6]

Some systems might not be able to run the new version of Windows Movie Maker. Therefore, Microsoft has also released an updated older version 2.6 for Windows Vista on the Microsoft Download Center. This version includes the old effects and transitions, and is basically the same as Windows Movie Maker 2.1, but without the ability to capture video. It requires Windows Vista and is only intended for use on computers where the hardware accelerated version cannot be run.

Also, the Slowdown half/ Speed up double effects no longer change the pitch of the video.


The layout consists of a storyboard view and a timeline view, collections for organizing imported video, and a preview screen. When in Storyboard view, the video project 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 into the timeline and "stretched" to any desired number of frames. 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.

Importing footage

When importing footage into the program, a user can either choose to Capture Video (from camera, scanner or other device) or Import into Collections to import existing video files into the user's collections. The accepted formats for import are .WMV/.ASF, .MPG (MPEG-1), .AVI (DV-AVI), .WMA, .WAV, and .MP3. Additionally, the Windows Vista Home Premium and Ultimate editions of Movie Maker support importing MPEG-2 Program streams and DVR-MS formats. [7] Importing of other container formats such as MP4/3GP, FLV and MOV ,MIDI, AIFF, AAC and SWF is not supported.

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 feature is also offered after importing files already on the hard drive. In the Windows Vista version, the "Make clips on completion" option has been removed — the clips are now automatically created during the capture process.

The efficiency of the importing and editing process is heavily dependent on the amount of file fragmentation of the hard disk. The most reliable results can be obtained by adding an extra hard disk dedicated for scratch space, and regularly re-formatting/defragmenting it, rather than simply deleting the files at the end of the project. Fragmented AVI files result in jerky playback on the editing screen, and make the final rendering process much longer.

Although it is possible to import digital video from cameras through the USB interface, most older cameras only support USB version 1 and the results tend to be poor — "sub VHS" — quality. Newer cameras using USB 2.0 give much better results. A FireWire interface camera will allow recording and playback of images identical in quality to the original recordings if the video is imported and subsequently saved as DV AVI files, although this consumes disk space at about 1 gigabyte every five minutes (12GB/Hr). 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.

Editing and output

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 copied using the standard Windows keyboard shortcuts or clicked and dragged to to another position. Right-clicking any clip brings up the range of editing options. An AutoMovie feature offers predefined editing styles (titles, effects and transitions) for quickly creating movies.

Like all non-linear editing systems, the original camera file on the hard drive is not modified in any way; the current project file 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 video can be simultaneously made from the original camera footage.

Windows Movie Maker can only export video in Windows Media formats or DV AVI. [8] It includes some predefined profiles, however, users can create custom profiles which utilize newer codecs using Windows Media Profile Editor (part of Windows Media Encoder 9 Series) and copy those profiles to the %Program Files%\Movie Maker\Shared\Profiles folder for them to be used in Windows Movie Maker. [9] In order for the custom profiles to show up, go to File > Publish Movie. Tasks > Publish Movie will not show any custom profiles.[10]

Earlier versions of Windows Movie Maker did not support direct burning of DVDs. The project had to be first saved as an AVI file, and a separate authoring program used to produce and burn the DVD. (Limited but adequate authoring software was often bundled free with DVD drives). The Windows XP Media Center Edition version, bundled the Sonic DVD Burning engine, licensed from Sonic Solutions to author and burn the DVD. The Windows Vista version of Windows Movie Maker passes the video project to Windows DVD Maker to burn DVD-Video discs.

Video can be exported back to the video camera if supported by the camera. Movie Maker also allows users to publish a finished video on video hosting websites.

Effects and transitions

Versions 2.x included in Windows XP includes 60 transitions, 37 effects, 34 title and 9 credits animations. The Windows Vista version includes a different set of transitions, effects and title/credits animations while dropping a few older ones. There are in all 49 effects and 63 transitions. They are applied by using a drag and drop interface from the effects or transitions folders. Titles and credits can be added as stand alone titles or overlaying them on the 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 using XML. The Windows Vista version suppors Direct3D-based effects. Microsoft also provides SDK documentation for custom effects and transitions. [11] At the Movie Maker forums, users can get assistance on creating and adding custom effects and transitions.

Reception and Criticism

Movie Maker 1.0, introduced with Windows Me, was widely criticised for being "bare bones"[12] and suffering "a woeful lack of features";[13] and saving movies only in Microsoft's ASF file format[14]. However, critical reception of versions 2.0 and 3.0 has been more positive.[13]

In June 2008, a memo purportedly by Bill Gates from January 2003 was circulated on the Internet in which he heavily criticized the downloading process for Movie Maker at the time.[15]. The memo was originally made available online as part of the plaintiffs' evidence in Comes vs. Microsoft, an antitrust class-action suit, and was submitted as evidence in that case on January 16, 2007.[1]

Earlier versions

Windows Movie Maker 1.0 in Windows Me
2001 Windows Movie Maker 1.1 in Windows XP
Windows Movie Maker 2.0 for Windows XP
Windows Movie Maker 2.1 in Windows XP SP2
Windows Movie Maker 2.5 in Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005
2006 Windows Movie Maker 6.0 for Windows Vista