How To Edit Video with Windows Movie Maker (in 7 easy steps!)

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O.K. –  so you just shot some footage with your digital video camera.

Now what?

Well, if you’re one of those kids who can’t afford a slick Mac, and you’re stuck with an ol’ PC (like me), you can still edit and produce decent videos with Windows Movie Maker. It’s a standard video editing program that comes with most Microsoft media software packages. Nothing fancy, just basic tools and enough features to allow you to create some nice-looking clips.  It’s a good program to practice on – once you know how to use one video editing program, you pretty much know ’em all – IMHO, they all pretty much work the same way.

Now then, the only way to learn to edit video….(and sorry for sounding like a sneaker ad here)…. is to just do it.  Here’s how you can get started, in seven easy steps.

1.) First things first: Connect your camera to your PC and transfer your video footage to the computer.  Import the video files into Windows Movie Maker.

2. ) Once you have some video footage to work with, click and drag the  clips to the storyboard at the bottom of the screen. (If you have a lot of footage, it’s a good idea to write an outline ahead of time, so you know where the scenes should fall on the timeline. Oh yeah…and once you start editing, don’t forget to save your Windows Movie Maker project!)

3.) Trim and arrange your clips as necessary. To shorten a video clip, use the “split” button on the bottom right hand side of the screen. Delete the bits and pieces you don’t need.

4.) Add some audio. Mosey on over to the Movie Tasks Pane, look under Capture video, and click on Import audio or music. Drag your song of choice to the video clip where you want the soundtrack to kick in. (If you need to raise or lower the volume, right-click the music on your timeline, and then click on….can you guess?….Volume. Then adjust accordingly.)

5.) Or maybe you want to add a voice-over. To do that, you can record a sound track separately, or connect a microphone to your PC, click on the  Tools menu, and then click Narrate Timeline, and do it right there. You can record your voice to go with individual clips or do the whole movie all at once – it’s your call. But whatever you do – make sure you write a script beforehand. Seriously. Believe me, it’s worth it. If you wing it, and try to narrate your vid on the fly, it’s not going to sound good. (Believe me, I’ve tried. Don’t repeat my mistake. You will not save any time.)

6.) Add titles and credits.  To add written words to your video, just click on the clip where you want to add some text. In the Movie Tasks pane, under Edit Movie, click Make titles or credits. From there, you can choose how many lines the title will have and how it will move. You can also change the size and color of the text.

7.) Preview your movie. If you like what you see, then it’s time to produce your video. Use the Save Movie Wizard to save your project as a .wmv or .avi video file. Once your video file is ready, you can upload it to the web  for all to see. If you don’t have a place to show it off, you can always post it on a free video hosting service such as YouTube or Vimeo.

So that’s my 7-Step tutorial on Windows Movie Maker.

The main sources of information for this article came from the Windows Movie Maker product guide and tutorials on the Microsoft website, and from my own personal experience. FYI, I’ve been editing video for over five years now, and during that time I’ve used many different programs – Final Cut, Cyberlink PowerDirector, Avid, and (of course!) good ol’ Windows Movie Maker. But I must confess, Windows Movie Maker is not my first choice, and I don’t use it that often. So if I missed anything here, please let me know.  I’m especially interested in hearing from any regular users out there – if you have any tips/tricks/hacks to share, please comment below.

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Emily Sweeney is a staff reporter at The Boston Globe. You can follow her on Twitter (@emilysweeney) and find her on LinkedIn among other places.


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