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Using Microsoft Movie Maker 2 to Create... Well... Movies

Taking digital photographs and digital movies is really easy. Why not make like Spielberg and create a movie with Microsoft's Movie Maker 2? Matthew David introduces you to this easy-to-use and powerful nonlinear video-editing tool. All you need is some digital video and some imagination.
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Like most people, I like to take my digital camera with me almost everywhere I go. As long as the batteries don't die (and I have taken to bringing spares for longer trips), I am a happy camper who clicks and snaps like a paparazzi pro. My digital camera also takes short videos. Because I'm obviously not a multimillion dollar production company, I need a video editing solution that is cheap and easy. Turns out, it is right on my Windows XP computer: Movie Maker 2.

Microsoft's Movie Maker 2 has a simple function in life. It wants to enable you to create movies that look great and are really fun to make.

The wizard is out from behind the curtain!

Making Movies with Movie Maker

You might have worked with some programs to help you create movies. I have often gotten lost in all their different tabs, menus, and popup tools. Movie Maker works better because you can use the wizard-style interface to help you get the job done. This interface is demonstrated when you open Movie Maker (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

Figure 1 Movie Maker 2 for Windows XP has a simple 1-2-3 step approach to building movies.

The left side of Movie Maker shows the three steps that need to be completed to be able to create a movie (shown in Figure 2). The blue areas are features you can modify and control. As you add content, the gray areas will turn blue, indicating that you can use them.

Moviemaking can be accomplished with three easy steps:

  1. Capture video
  2. Edit movie
  3. Finish movie
Figure 2

Figure 2 Only three steps to making a movie.

Essentially, these steps cover everything. You can tweak movies to your heart's content later on.

In the center of the screen is an area called Collections, which is where you can store still images, captured video, sound clips, transition effects, and movie effects (see Figure 3). The thumbnail views allow you to quickly search through and see what content you need in your video.

Figure 3

Figure 3 Collections include video, still images, transition effects, video effects, and sound.

A preview of your movie is shown on the left side of the screen (see Figure 4).

Figure 4

Figure 4 You can preview your movie at any time with the preview tool.

The really cool area of Movie Maker is along the bottom: the storyboard (see Figure 5).

Figure 5

Figure 5 The default view for the timeline.

If you have done any animation, time-controlled presentations, or video, you are familiar with storyboarding, which is the process of laying out your production. Movie Maker allows you to do this visually. You can drop images and video onto the large boxes. Transition effects can be added to the smaller boxes along the storyboard. In fact, you can create entire movies by using only the storyboard.

If you need more control, this is where the timeline comes in handy. You will see how to use it later, but for a quick "sneak peek," press the Show Timeline button. Your storyboard will expand to show how your movie is playing out through time (see Figure 6).

Figure 6

Figure 6 The timeline is the tool that allows you to exact control over your movies.

The timeline is the place where all the power and control for your movies can be found. It has a lot of settings, so it is easy to experiment with.

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