There are plenty of ways to create a video using a free solution. Windows Movie Maker comes prepackaged with Windows operating systems and is more than capable of producing a decent video. In this blog post, we’ll experiment with a few of its most essential features and also go through the final production process.
What you’ll need:
- Windows Movie Maker (download here)
- A video file (here is a list of supported video formats, under “What kind of files can I import?”. If your file has not been saved in one of these formats, you may need to convert it to a supported format. There are online tools that can do this for free, such as http://video.online-convert.com/)
- An audio file (not necessary if the video file already has its own audio track. Windows Movie Maker version 2012 supports .asf, .wm, .wma, .aif, .aiff, .wav, .m4a, and .mp3)
Let’s say you want to create a professional slideshow of pictures with some background music. How would you go about doing this?
First, open up Windows Movie Maker and locate the pictures (or even video clips) that you want to use. Drag and drop them onto this interface:
Alternatively, you could just click this interface and it will bring up a dialog box that allows you to find and select your photos.
Your photos should now appear in timeline form:
Okay, great—so now we have a linear sequence of still images. This setup is a little dull, though; there are no animations or transitions to make the presentation more engaging. Let’s see if we can’t spice things up a bit.
Jumping from one image to the next without a transition isn’t the cleanest way for a video to progress. Fortunately, Windows Movie Maker comes built-in with a few transitions that you can choose from.
To access these, click the Animations tab at the top:
The group of options that appears on the left consists of the six “transitions proper” (I’ll explain why I say this later) that Windows Movie Maker offers:
You can click on any of your pictures in the timeline and then select one of these six transitions to apply it to that particular picture. You could also click the Apply to all button to use the same transition across all of your video content:
Now, the reason I say the above six choices are “transitions proper” is because there are also some other transition choices in Windows Movie Maker which are not actually shown in this Transitions menu. Specifically, you can do fade in/out from black or white. To access these choices, click the Visual Effects tab at the top:
You should see an array of visual effects to choose from. At the very end of this selection (on the right), you will see a downward facing arrow with a small horizontal line above it. Click this button to expand all of the possible visual effects options:
That should bring up this menu, where you’ll want to click Multiple effects…:
That will bring up this dialog:
In the Available effects section on the left, scroll down until you see these four options:
- Fade in from black
- Fade in from white
- Fade out to black
- Fade out to white
Apply these effects to your images as needed. If you want to apply them to multiple pictures, unfortunately there is no “Apply to all button” here. You will have to have already selected the images to which you want your effects to be applied before going to the Multiple effects… menu.
So, now we’ve got the moments between images covered. What about while the images are being displayed?
Static images can be boring, but Windows Movie Maker gives you ways to make them come to life. While in the Animations tab, direct your attention to the right-hand side, Pan and zoom. Click the same sort of arrow that you recently clicked in the Visual Effects tab:
Behold the multitude of options you have for panning and zooming!
Adjusting content duration
When you insert a still image into Windows Movie Maker, it will be displayed in the video for 7 seconds by default. If you want to increase or decrease this duration, click the Edit tab at the top (you will only see this tab if you have selected one or more photos on the timeline):
Adding text to your video
Whether you want to add a title slide, a caption, or closing credits, this is a straightforward process. Just click on one of these options in the Home tab at the top and you’ll be good to go:
So you’ve got the visual part down, but it’s a bit bland because there’s no soundtrack. Adding music to your video is as simple as dragging and dropping the file onto the desired point on the timeline where you’d like the music to begin playing:
What if you don’t have any music but would still like to add some? There are royalty-free options for this. You can find a few of them by clicking the Add music button in the Home tab:
NOTE: Only some of the tracks on Vimeo are free (under the Creative Commons license).
There is also the YouTube Audio Library, a repository of royalty-free music.
Editing your music
Compared to other video editing software, you can’t do a whole lot with audio tracks in Windows Movie Maker. You’re still able to perform some basic functions, though. To access them, click the Options tab at the top (you will only see this tab if you have clicked somewhere along an audio track on the timeline):
Adjusting volume, splitting, and fade in/out
After clicking the Options tab, click the Music volume button to the far left:
This will bring up a slider, which allows you to control the volume of the entire audio track.
If you only want to control the volume of a certain segment of the audio, you will need to split it first to isolate it from the rest of the track. To do this, you can either click the M hotkey on your keyboard while in the Options tab, or you can click the Split button in that same tab:
NOTE: Obviously, you can only create a split in the middle of an audio track. This button will be grayed out if the playhead (the black bar indicating where you are on the timeline) is at a point where there is no music, or if it is at the very end of the video.
If you want a smoother transition for the beginning or end of your audio track, you can experiment with the Fade in and Fade out buttons next to the Music volume setting:
Producing your video
Your video is done! Now, how do you finish creating it so that you can share it with the world? Click the blue menu button on the far left of the ribbon and hover over Save movie.Unless there is a specific output setting you want to use, select Recommended for this project:
Select a place to save it and then click the Save button. Your video will be done producing momentarily, and you can share it as you please.