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Edit Movies with Movie Maker

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Now that you've shot your video, you can get started with the all-important task of learning how to edit your video into a movie. Editing video is a lot like editing a slideshow—but with a few new twists. This chapter covers the basics of video editing using Movie Maker and other video editing tools.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Now that you've shot your video, you can get started with the all-important task of learning how to edit your video into a movie.

Editing video is a lot like editing a slideshow—but with a few new twists. This chapter covers the following:

  • A tour of Movie Maker—You'll discover the basic functions and learn about the interface (without having to know how to use the program yet).

  • A hands-on Movie Maker exercise—With detailed step-by-step instructions, you'll learn how to edit a few clips (and music and photos, if you have them) together for a beginning exercise. (You can use these same instructions in your ongoing video editing, simply expanding the number of video clips and other material.)

  • Top 10 tips for editing your video—Editing involves more than knowing how your editing software works. In this chapter you'll learn about the creative aspects of editing and the importance of audio and music.

  • How to use effects and titles and where to find music and sound effects—In this chapter you'll learn how to use video effects, learn how to use titles to structure and liven up your movie, and learn where to go for free or low-cost music and sound effects downloads that can add more life and energy to your movies.

  • Editing inspiration—A sidebar on DVDs about TV and film editors introduces entertaining programs that take you inside the editing process.

In addition to what you learn here, in Chapter 10, "Resources for Learning," you'll learn more about upgrading your editing skills (with a list of popular Movie Maker websites) and other, more full-featured editing software available on the market. Many of the editing programs are available for free trial and include DVD-burning software (which is not part of Movie Maker). You can go to Chapter 10 now to get Web addresses for free trial downloads if you're interested in trying out more complete tools. If you use a tool other than Movie Maker, you'll still find the top 10 editing tips list and sidebar resources in this chapter very useful.

Are you ready for a tour of Movie Maker? Let's get an overview of the program, and then we'll jump into how to edit your first video clips.

Getting Acquainted with Movie Maker: The Grand Tour

This overview tour of Movie Maker is only a tour. It is designed to help you get the big picture of what’s available in Movie Maker. You’ll find that Movie Maker is actually pretty easy to use. If you have put together a slideshow using your computer, you’ll see that the process of using Movie Maker isn’t that much different—except that you have the added elements of motion and audio.

After the tour, we’ll get back to basics and focus on only the easy, simple, essential steps of making your first movie. So relax and enjoy the tour!

The Movie Tasks pane is the engine room of Movie Maker, and it’s where you’ll do most tasks, so you should focus on learning how it works, and then you’ll be ahead of the game.

As with most software programs, there are multiple ways to access features in Movie Maker. You can use the Movie Tasks pane for most of your work; it’s the easiest way to get around in Movie Maker. That’s the approach we’ll take to navigating in Movie Maker. Before we dive in to the tour, here’s a list of the basic steps of using Movie Maker, which this chapter covers in detail:

  1. Finding and opening Movie Maker

  2. Connecting your camcorder to your computer

  3. Importing your video (and photos, if you are using any)

  4. Editing your video

  5. Inserting transitions

  6. Adding music (optional)

  7. Saving your movie (covered in Chapter 4, "Saving and Sharing Digital Movies")

Finding Movie Maker

If you have Windows XP, you’ll find Movie Maker already loaded on your computer. If you don’t already have Movie Maker, or you can download a free copy of Movie Maker from Microsoft.com’s Movie Maker website (http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/updates/moviemaker2.mspx). Then you need to follow the Setup Wizard steps to install the software.

Opening Movie Maker

After you have installed Movie Maker, you open the program by selecting Start, All Programs, Windows Movie Maker (see Figure 3.1).

Figure 3.1

Figure 3.1 Opening Movie Maker.

Exploring Movie Maker

Now we’ll go through each of the areas of Movie Maker so you can see what each of them does.

We’ll look at the menu and the toolbar, and then we’ll explore the rest of the Movie Maker interface, which includes the Movie Tasks pane, the Collections pane, and the Storyboard and Timeline views.

The Menu

Let’s explore the menu commands at the top of the screen, starting with the File menu options. You can highlight each one to see what’s underneath it:

  • File—The File menu is the where you can access projects and capture and import video clips.

  • Edit—The Edit menu is where you can perform basic editing functions.

  • View—The View menu controls the different views of Movie Maker functions.

  • Tools—The Tools menu is where you access titles, credits, effects, transitions, and audio levels.

  • Clip—You use the Clip menu to trim your clips and perform other functions.

  • Play—The Play menu moves your clips forward and backward—frame-by-frame, as a clip, or as a storyboard.

  • Help—The Help menu shows you where to get help for all of Movie Maker’s features and provides links to online resources at the Microsoft website.

The Toolbar

Below the menus is the toolbar, shown in Figure 3.2, which provides shortcuts for many of the menus we’ve just explored. If you’ve used Word, for instance, many of the shortcuts in the toolbar will seem familiar—Save, Undo, Redo, and so on. The buttons Tasks and Collections let you shift easily between those two views.

Figure 3.2

Figure 3.2 The Movie Maker toolbar.

The Movie Tasks Pane

On the left of your screen is a section titled Movie Tasks. This is the Movie Tasks pane, which is so easy to use that you don’t really need to use the menu or the toolbar often.

As shown in Figure 3.3, the Movie Tasks pane is divided into three main categories—Capture Video, Edit Movie, and Finish Movie—plus an onscreen help section called Movie Making Tips.

To see what’s available within each of the three main categories, you can click the arrows beside the titles. For example, you can see all the listings under Capture Video in Figure 3.3. To see the similar listing of tasks available under Edit Movie, you click the downward-pointing arrow to the right of Edit Movie.

Figure 3.3

Figure 3.3 The Movie Tasks pane.

The Collections Pane

The center of the Movie Maker screen is the Collections pane, where you can see the video clips you’ve selected from your collections (see Figure 3.4). Movie Maker stores your clips in collections, and over time, you will see more and more filenames under this option when you click it. The Collections pane also shows video effects and transitions.

Figure 3.4

Figure 3.4 The Collections pane.

You can access the same information you see at the left in the Collections pane more efficiently by using the drop-down toolbar menu items to display collections. This shows all the same information but leaves the Movie Tasks pane visible as well, so you can navigate more easily to more of the features you use often.

You can also access video effects and transitions from the Movie Tasks pane, under Edit Movie. Again, using the menu to view your collections is simpler and easier than opening the Collections pane.

You can click Video Effects to see the effects that come with Movie Maker (see Figure 3.6). Effects are useful but not essential, and many editors don’t use any effects other than fade in at the beginning of a video or fade out at the end of a video. Effects are fun to play with when you have time to explore them, but you should use them sparingly in your movies.

Figure 3.6

Figure 3.6 Movie Maker video effects.

You can click Video Transitions to see the transitions that come with Movie Maker (see Figure 3.7). Although there are lots of transitions, 99% of the time, you only need to use one transition: the dissolve. (You’ll learn more about dissolves later in this chapter.) Again, you can play around with transitions and explore them when you have time.

Figure 3.7

Figure 3.7 Movie Maker video transitions.

The Video Monitor

On the right side of the screen is the video monitor, where you can preview video clips and edits before saving them.

The Storyboard View

At the bottom of the Movie Maker screen is a horizontal row that looks like a filmstrip (see Figure 3.8). This is called the Storyboard view, and it’s the editor’s workhorse. You’ll be using this area to edit your video. It shows the clips you put into your movie, in the order in which you arrange them.

Figure 3.8

Figure 3.8 The Storyboard view.

The Timeline View

If you want to see a Timeline view of your video, you can click the button labeled Show Timeline. Movie Maker then replaces the Storyboard view with the Timeline view (see Figure 3.11).

Figure 3.11

Figure 3.11 The Timeline view.

The Storyboard View Versus the Timeline View

The Storyboard and Timeline views give you different views of your video.

Whereas the Storyboard view shows you a frame from the beginning of each of your clips (plus video transitions), the Timeline view shows you more about other elements, including the video frames, audio, music, and titles.

Let’s look at a sample movie project from both the Storyboard and Timeline views. The simplified view in the Storyboard view, as shown in Figure 3.12, emphasizes the visual building blocks of the movie. The more complex Timeline view, as shown in Figure 3.13, shows you all the elements. Both have their virtues and uses.

Figure 3.12

Figure 3.12 Like a filmstrip, the Storyboard view displays the visual elements of a movie.

Figure 3.13

Figure 3.13 Compared to the Storyboard view, the Timeline view provides more of an overall project overview, displaying more information about the audio elements and compressing the visual display.

Movie Maker Projects

A video is called a project in Movie Maker. Projects are the code that knits together all the various pieces of a video, including video, audio, music, pictures, transitions, effects, and more. Project filenames end with .MSWMM.

Projects are not the actual video, audio, photo, or other files. If you move your video, audio, or photo files from one location to another, you have to edit your project to let Movie Maker know the new location of your files. Your Movie Maker project is, in a way, an index of how all the elements of your video relate to each other. Another way to think of this is that the Movie Maker file is the connective tissue that ties all your movie elements together. This is why Movie Maker needs you to keep all your files in the original locations you gave them; if you move files, Movie Maker tells you it can’t find them (until you provide the new location information).

In this overview tour, you’ve seen the various components of Movie Maker and how much you can do with its simple, easy-to-use interface. Movie Maker puts all you need to edit video at your fingertips.

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