making movies

These are MY experiences; YMMV.

camcorder From rooting around the WWW to find answers to my many questions, I learned a few things and noted that a LOT of folks like me are having problems with movies; I hope this helps you. JVC was of no help at all; I'm not sure they are able to read English. The camcorder you see on the right here is mine; it records to a 30Gb hard drive so will record for 14 hours at "normal" quality and 37 hours on "economy" quality.

Editing movies with Windows Live Movie Maker (WLMM):

"Windows Movie Maker" normally comes with the Windows Operating system. My Windows Vista Home Premium came with Windows Movie Maker version 6, an excellent tool. Window 7 will NOT include this wonderful tool but you can download the "new improved" (still FREE) "Windows LIVE Movie Maker from

As for running WLMM with Windows XP, check out the page at

WLMM adds new transitions, effects and captioning tools. It can produce movies in widescreen format. You can also upload videos directly to YouTube. But most importantly, it can handle many popular HD video formats for INPUT. It will SAVE movies ONLY in .wmv format unfortunately.

Note that when you install WLMM that it tries to install a whole bunch of other things as well; you do not have to take them if you prefer not to. The website provides a lot of help too.

Wide-Angle (16:9 aspect ratio): you'll be happy to know that WLMM can handle the wide angle video shot by cameras such as my JVC's .mod files.

Unfortunately, you will probably find as I did that the new WLMM is not as user-friendly as was the older Windows Movie Maker 6. If you Google this term '"windows live movie maker" +backward' you'll see that a LOT of people are not impressed with it.

If you have BOTH WMM and WLMM in your machine, be sure that you pick the correct one when starting.

Windows Live Movie MakerProbably the first thing you'll notice with WLMM is that the "Storyboard" is no longer across the bottom; here is WLMM:

Windows Movie MakerCompare that with "Windows Movie Maker 6" that ships with Vista and XP.

If you are using Windows 7 and want to use the old WMM6, as I understand it what you do is use a flash USB drive and copy from your Vista or XP machine, the folder "C:/Program Files/Movie Maker" to the same place on your Windows 7 machine, that is, to "C:/Program Files/Movie Maker" and do NOT install it. Seems to me that folder will take about 100Mb.

There is help online re WLMM at Note the "Table of Contents."

Which Version of WLMM?

To find out which version you have, well, they've hidden it a little; there is no "Help" drop-down menu with an "About" telling you the version. To find which you have, click the drop-down menu to the left of the "Home" tab, and choose "Options" and you'll find it in "General."


You can discuss Movie Maker at the forum at There's another forum at

Various Editing Procedures:

Open Windows Live Movie Maker. (Start | All Programs | Windows Live | Windows Live Movie Maker)

Windows Live Movie 

You can drag/drop your movie files to WLMM from a Windows Explorer window, so you have this.

WLMM is on the left and Windows Explorer is on the right.

Here I am dragging the camcorder picture (.jpg) from the Windows Explorer window on the right, to WLMM on the left and there are already two video clips imported into WLMM, the elk and the flag.

This shows that you can import BOTH movie clips AND still pictures into WLMM.

delete a clip:

To delete a clip, just left-click it's icon in the Storyboard (on the right) and tap "Del" on your keyboard.

smaller icons:

Note that you can show more clips in the Storyboard; click "View" and then change the Thumbnail Size. Or use the slider near the bottom-right corner of the window.

duplicate thumbnails:

Windows Live Movie 
MakerIf you happen to notice that the thumnails on the right-hand side seem to be duplicated, as you see here, they are not, really. You can change the look with: "Video Tools | View" and then click the "Zoom out" twice.

Note on this picture, that all except one of the images is in "4:3" format; causing the thick, black vertical bars. Only the very last picture is in "16:9" and it has no such bars.

While we're at it, notice also that at the far right end of the first, third and 5th lines of thumbnails, there are "arrows" (matching the opposite "arrows" on the second, fourth and sixth lines) and that is only because the "duplicate thumbnails" are split between the lines due to space available. Those arrows will disappear if you zoom out to show no more duplications.

Yes, that is my ARGO (amphibious) All Terrain Vehicle which is indispensible for getting my Diamond Willow Sticks out of the bush.

trim the end off the video clip:

This is not as user-friendly in WLMM as it was in WMM. Play your video and hit "Pause" when you get to the part that needs to be removed off the end of the video. Then back up as far as you need by repeatedly pressing J on the keyboard (or hold down the J). So, now everything beyond (after) that point should be deleted. Under "Video Tools" choose "Edit" and click "Set end point" and then "Save Trim." Note the wording of the Tool Tip: "Trim the selected video so it ends at the current point."

trim the start off the video:

Play the video and hit "Pause" when you have passed the part which needs to be removed. Under "Video Tools" click "Edit" and then "Set start point" and again, note the Tool Tip which reads "Trim the selected video so it starts at the selected point."

check your clips and remove unwanted parts:

Windows Live Movie 
MakerPlay your first clip; simply left-click the clip icon, then the "Play" button. If you play all your clips that way, you can decide which ones you want to use in your movie and which not. This might be a good time to delete the useless clips in your movies folder too. Now play your good clips and remove the unwanted parts: play the clip with your finger on the "Pause" button; when a "poor" segment starts, hit Pause and move back to get to the very start of the "poor" segment. NOTE that to move BACK ONE FRAME, press J on your keyboard and to move AHEAD ONE FRAME, press L on they keyboard. Then click the yellow "Video Tools" tab at the top and the "Edit" menu and click "Split" like this.

Now hit "Play" again being ready to Pause it again when the "poor" segment ends. As soon as you get to the end of the "poor" segment, click "Pause" again and again click "Split." Now you can right-click on the "poor" segment and choose "Remove."

add music:

Add a musical background to your movie; you can use .wma, .mp3, .wav, .aif, .m4a and .ogg files. You can not use .mid files. Simply click "Video Tools" and then "Home" and then "Add music." Note that you can add music to the whole project or start it at a certain point in the project. No doubt you will have this problem: the video gets to the end and the music stops SUDDENLY. Or, you video is finished but the music is not......... yet. Easy fix: "Home" and "Fit to music." The "Audio mix" button will enable you to make the background music less loud (or more) than the audio of the video.

titles and credits:

Next you will want a "Title" at the start and "Credits" at the end of the movie. Simply click "Home" and then click "Title" and there you can type whatever introduction you like to your movie. Note the options available to your text. You have loads of options for making your text look professional.

You can even have the title on the first clip rather than on a new, blank clip. And you can even have your title "Fly Onto" the image in any of many different ways. This is what a "Caption" does also.

Now do the same with the "Credits" to appear at the end of your movie.

transitions between clips:

Windows Live Movie 
MakerNow you will want some kind of "Transitions" between the Title and first clip, between clips and between the final clip and the Credits.

Click the yellow "Video Tools" tab and then click the Animations tab. Note that there are LOT of transitions available. Then click on each segment in turn and choose the transition you like.

Include STILL Pictures into your video:

If you want to include a "still" picture (JPG, GIF etc.) in the movie, click the vertical line between the segments where you want the picture. Then click "Home" and then "Add videos and photos" and browse to your photo to insert it. Add a Transition to it if you like.

If you want the still picture to show for a longer or shorter period of time, "Video Tools" and then "Edit" and change the "Duration."

UNDO an action:

Windows Live Movie 
MakerIn WLMM, the "Undo" option is "hidden" at the very top, in a very small icon to the left of "(filename)- Windows Live Movie Maker." You can make this more "visible" if you click the down-arrow and choose "Show below the ribbon."

I have done that and show it here with a red X to mark the "undo" icon.

Change the order of your clips:

You can drag and drop your clips around all you want in the Storyboard area.

Split Screen:

You can have a split screen in your movie. Rehansplit is a package of 24 split video transitions. (Free) They work like the transitions that are included with Windows Movie Maker. But you should read the instructions to learn how to install and use them. Go to

Rotate a segment:

You can rotate scenes; click "Video Tools" and then "Home" and then "Rotate....." If you want a segment upside down, click "Rotate right 90 degrees" TWICE.

Reverse a movie:

This is something that WLMM cannot do, unfortunately. Sometimes, though, you NEED a movie to play BACKWARDS. It can be done thanks to "Video Time Reversal" from Xander in France. Before you can use Xander's service, you need to save your video in the .avi format. For that, I like to use Zamzar ( link below). I uploaded a video of 10.6Mb (in .wmv format) to Zamzar and within 2 minutes I received an email telling me the conversion was complete and giving me a URL to go to download it. The resulting .avi file was only 3Mb. NO charge. The file was much smaller, and, as you can imagine, the quality was much lower. Xander lives at but I could not get it to work for me. I hope lots of users of WLMM will encourage Microsoft's team to add this feature; you can do so at the forum at

Save the Project and Save the Movie:

When editing is finished, Save the project (use the dropdown menu to the left of the "Home" tab and choose "Save project") and then save the movie (in that same menu, "Save movie").

If you save the project, you will be able to come back to it and make further editions to it.

Note the various options for saving the movie.

Time Lapse Movies: (also known as "Stop-motion")

clouds MovieBasically, you need to set your camera up so it will not jiggle around. Then take lots of still pictures of the object as that object is moving. Don't make your pictures too large. Then import them all into WLMM (drag and drop them into WLMM) and then right-click on the first thumbnail and choose "Select all." Then, under "Video Tools" and "Edit" set the "Duration" of each picture at some number less than one, for example, .25 and save the movie. Maybe your video camera is able to record still pictures "continuously" as mine can, using "continuous shooting." You can't do this with movie clips, e.g. MOV files. If you are not sure if you camera can do this, check the manual for "Burst Mode" or "Continuous Shooting." If, when playing your video in WLMM, they don't play smoothly, but stop/start and show blank frames, maybe you left your images too large; play it a few times and it will probably improve. Best to set your camera to take pictures which are physically smaller. If you have already taken all the pictures, and they are too big, you can process them in a "batch" quite easily and make them smaller; use the FREE program Irfanview; all MY notes about that freeware live at .

I did all this here; I took 81 pictures, large ones, and reduced them with Irfanview to only 400 pixels wide. I dropped all 81 into WLMM as you can see here and reduced the "Duration" to 0.05 second giving me a 4-second movie. You can see it HERE .

No doubt you can be much more imaginative than I was.

Dual Monitors:

Windows Live Movie 
MakerWindows supports using two monitors and so does WLMM.

Simply drag the edges of WLMM around to fit your two monitors as I have done here.

This could be very handy if you have a LOT of clips to work with.

Here, in this example, I have only a few.

Problems opening a movie file:

If you have a problem opening a movie file in WLMM or WMM, you might get a message telling you that you do not have the proper codecs installed. You can download codecs from and from

This site offers numerous tools:

The free VLC media player might be handy; get it from It may be able to convert a file for you. This one is a cross-platform open-source multimedia framework, player and server.

Sharing your movies:

There are various ways to share your video:

1. YouSendIt.

(1Gb max file size; can send to several by separating email addies with commas) To send to multiple recipients send the file to YOUR email address, then use your regular email software to forward copies of the file download notification to additional recipients. BUT once THREE people go get it, the file expires

2. Mail Big File.

This one can handle files of up to 1 gigabyte. You can encrypt the files, if you like. The files are accessible for seven days or three downloads, whichever comes first. The site does not mention if or when the files are actually deleted.

3. SendThisFile. Send files up to 50MB; if to several email addies, separate the addies with commas.

Upload it to YouTube:

First, go to and sign up if you don't have an account here.

YouTube is the most popular video-sharing site. Provided your video is less than 10 minutes, you can post it on YouTube. You'll need to compress it, though. YouTube has a 100 megabyte limit.

Also, your video must be in the correct format. YouTube accepts WMV, AVI, MOV and MPG formats.

I made an MWV movie of 29.6Mb which had a variable bit-rate, size 720x480 and 16:9 aspect ratio, 30 frames per second. Then I published it again, with a setting of 14Mb. It was 11.7Mb in size and was quite acceptable in terms of quality. It was still in WMV format, which is OK for YouTube.

If you have put a video on YouTube and want to "embed" that video INTO your own website, here is how to do that:
Go to the video that you want, and look for the 'Embed' box. You need to copy the html from that box and it is tricky to do: RIGHT-click on the text in the "Embed" box and choose "Select all" and then Ctrl/C (or Edit | Copy) and then you can paste (Ctrl/V) that html where you want it. Copying the HTML code into your website will create an embedded player; the video will play within your site when the user clicks on the 'Play' button. You can resize the player by editing the object width="425" and height="350" fields at both the beginning and end of the embedded player code. Make sure that the sizes you choose have the same ratio as the default numbers, so that the video doesn't get stretched; just multiply the width by 0.8235 to get the height. Here I have embedded one of mine:

That is my Put-Put Boat. You can find very complete, detailed instructions for making yours, at my page:

I have some other movies on YouTube; all are on


Once you have (some) movies on YouTube, you might want to get a free account at VidCaster as well to give your movies more exposure. Visit them at

Grab a picture/frame out of a movie, in WLMM:

You can do that; I prefer to drag the edges of the frame first to make the picture as large as possible; grab the vertical edge of the blue; not the edge of the picture, and grab the bottom of the window to enlarge. Then play the movie, hit "Pause" when you see the frame you want. Then "PrtSc" on your KEYBOARD and the paste (Ctrl V) that into your photo-editing program, e.g. Irfanview.

Grab a picture or clip out of a "store bought DVD:

I tried that and brought a .vob file into WLMM but it was garbled. My son tells me "I've done it before. First you have to rip the dvd to a .avi file. Use Handbrake for that (free). Then you just open the .avi in whatever editor you want, select/copy/paste etc. You can get Handbrake at

Aspect Ratio problem (16:9) and .mod files when using the older WMM:

My JVC camcorder makes movies in MOD format; unfortunately.

I set the camcorder to record in 16:9 format, not in 4:3. This is because I use my camcorder as a "dashboard cam" to record my trips. Long ago something happened on the highway in front of me which, if I had it recorded, would have been VERY valuable. But that's another story.

Windows Movie Maker does not recognize the 16:9 in MOD format it seems. WLMM does.

I'd start with a new folder in the 'puter, called "movies." Next, here is what I do with my JVC camcorder:

Plug the camcorder into the puter USB port, with the viewfinder OPEN, turn it on and on the camcorder choose "Connect to Device."

Get the program from;topic=280.0;id=216 called sdcopy. That program does not need to be installed; just save it in a new folder (e.g. D:/SDcopy199beta) and unzip it. That results in two files: MPEG2Lib.dll and sdcopy.exe. Just run the sdcopy file.

edit moviesIn the "Source directory" box, browse to the folder where you saved the movie clips, e.g. D:\movies.

In the "Target directory" box, enter where you want the clips to be saved after sdcopy has set the 16:9 flag. I use the same folder.

Under "rename" set it to search for MOD and rename to MPG.

Put a check-mark in "set Wide Screen Flag(16:9)."

Click the "All files Found" and the "Start" button becomes active.

Click "Start" and wait until it is finished.

Each clip will be saved as a new file with the first 8 numbers of the file name being the date the movie was shot, then an underscore followed by the time of day, e.g. 31072009_093548 for a clip shot 31 July, 2009, at 9:35:48 AM.

All done with sdcopy; you can close it.

When you use sdcopy, it makes a new file, SDcopy to remember this session's preferences for next time. This new file is in the same folder as the program itself.

European VHS tapes:

NTSC to PALAs you probably know, in N. America, we use the "NTSC" system for recording video tapes. In many other countries, such as India, they use the "PAL" system. This means our tapes won't play in their VCRs and theirs won't play in ours. The solution is a converter to convert between the formats. I got the Aiwa tape converter for the job. I am offering it for sale here at $165.

It is in GREAT shape.

convert from PAL to NTSC

convert from NTSC to PAL

A tip regarding STILL pictures:

If you do not already have a "widescreen" TV set, then I would guess that before too long, you will have such a toy. I am learning a lot about how to use mine. NOW, I wish I had known long ago that this was coming. If I had, I would have shot my "still" pictures in WIDE format, i.e. in the 16:9 aspect ratio. When I put my photos onto a USB flash drive and stick that into my TV, the images show VERY well, BUT the left and right sides of the screen are not used, so are black. NOW, I have set my Canon S5 digital camera to shoot in wide format so the pictures show on the FULL TV screen. Here you can see the difference; the first picture is in the format I used to shoot: 3264x2448 (4:3 aspect ratio) and the second is in the wide (16:9) format which is 3264x1832.

making movies making movies

Having said all that, I confess there is more than one way to skin the cat; Don Pratt said:

Ken, I got a widescreen monitor in 2006. Since then, I only used wide images on all my web pages. Digital camera widescreen modes, in effect, crop the shot in the camera. I prefer to shoot in the regular 4:3; then crop off the top or bottom space in post processing - myself.

A PaintShop "preset crop" makes it widescreen before the final resize. Then adjust up or down depending on the best look or composure.

A last chance to compose a better image. Keeping that in mind when taking pictures, allows more flexibility in framing. So, I absolutely never use the camera in wide shot mode.

All those Different File Formats:

In this section, I provide some very short little video clips in different file formats, so that you can download them to test them with various converters and players. To download the following clips, right-click on the word "HERE" below and choose "Save Link as." (or left-click to play only) I've made these clips as small as possible.

.MOD: from my JVC camcorder; 6.32Mb, 5 seconds; right-click HERE to download
.AVI: from a Canon S5 IS; 4.4Mb, 2 seconds; right-click HERE to download
.MOV: from a Kodak Easyshare camera; 2.41Mb; right-click HERE to download
.MPG: from a Sony Mavica FD97 camera; 5 seconds; 120Kb; 160x112; right-click HERE to download

Convert File Format:

If you need to convert a movie which is on the WWW, go to This one is VERY good; you upload the movie and it emails you giving you a link for getting it back in the format you want it in:

You might find this one useful too:

Windows Media Encoder for Windows XP might be useful but not if you use Windows Vista. Get it from

Here is yet one more converter (free):

And the another one: Sourceforge also has this site:

If you want to convert Flash (.flv) files or convert to the .flv format, download the free "Riva FLV Encoder" from

One more converter you can download:

This might be a different one:

If you need to convert video into an iPod-compatible format get the free program from . (similar programs are Videora and Xvid4PSP)

Yet one more free movie tool comes from

My son uses this one "all the time:"

Movie clips from "Still" cameras:

Depending on what format your camera saves movie clips in, you might be able to import them into Windows Live Movie Maker without any problem. My Canon S5 IS uses the .AVI format which imports perfectly into WLMM. My Kodak EasyShare Z1275 camera records in .MOV format which also imports nicely into WLMM.

Saving Movie clips from the WWW:

If you want to save a movie from, say, YouTube, get RealPlayer (free) from and install that. Now when you view a video and put your cursor onto the video, it will show with a download button on top. Then you can save that video. If that video happens to be in a format such as .flv which will not import into WLMM, you can convert the movie (free) online to .avi at

For another tool to help download movies from the internet, try the free "xVideoServiceThief." Note the info about it: "xVideoServiceThief (a.k.a xVST) is a tool for downloading your favourite video clips from a lot of video websites (currently supports 73 websites and increasing!). xVideoServiceThief also provides you the ability to convert each video in most popular formats: AVI, MPEG1, MPEG2, WMV, MP4, 3GP, MP3 file formats." You can get it from

Putting a movie on your website:

You can get the html coding at

Digitizing your Old Movies; VHS etc

This was a long-time problem for me. We tried "Roxio Easy VHStoDVD package" and also Pinnacle's Dazzle but the results were less than satisfactory. Eventually, we found two answers to two problems:

1. To convert old film 8mm and Super 8mm film, we hired a company to do the job and the results were excellent.
2. To convert old VHS tapes, we bought a Toshiba DVR620KC and the results were excellent.

Using my own Camcorder:

VHS to DVD I found a lot of conflicting info on the WWW re digitizing (VHS) movies and wondered if maybe I could do it without any cost at all, and in a very simple method.

So, I set up my camcorder and recorded right off the LCD TV set. That worked much better than expected.

I plugged my old VHS VCR into the LCD TV and played the video tape. Then hit the "Record" button on the camcorder to record it off the TV screen.

It took a bit of messing around and I learned that I had to set the SHUTTER SPEED on the camcorder at 1/100 sec or 1/60 sec. (1/30 sec was OK too) and I found that using 1/250 sec caused wide, grey, horizontal bars to move up or down on the recorded picture.

I did plug the camcorder into the AC power outlet. At this time, this is the way I'll convert all my video tapes to digital format.

Time to throw out all those VHS and BETA tapes and save ONLY the "home videos" on DVDs or in the computer. AND get rid of all the VCR machines.

Everything else can be found on YouTube now.

A really LOW-COST video camera:

very cheap camcorder
In June of 2011, I saw a very low-cost camcorder on sale and I rushed out and grabbed one. It was so cheap I was sure it had to be junk. I was wrong; it does a very decent job. Here it is. It does not take still-pictures; movies only, and the movies are recorded as .asf files. My TV does not play .asf files but I downloaded one of the above-mentioned free converters and converted it to .mpg which worked very well.

I made a case to carry this on the front of my shirt so that when I am in the bush, hunting for STICKS, and have a "Close Encounter" with a bear who wants to eat me, I can leave my heirs a video record of my final moments.

This camcorder runs on 3 "AAA" batteries (not included).

I found this camcorder at XSCargo.

Publish to a DVD:

When you have completed all your editing, you can burn your movie to a DVD. You should use DVD authoring software. That way the DVD can be played on a standard DVD player. Check out DVD Flick. It's free. DVD Flick aims to be a simple but at the same time powerful DVD Authoring tool. It can take a number of video files stored on your computer and turn them into a DVD that will play back on your DVD player, Media Center or Home Cinema Set. You can add additional custom audio tracks, subtitles as well as a menu for easier navigation. Get it at

In Vista, click File | Publish Movie. Select DVD, and click Next. You'll automatically be taken to Vista's DVD authoring software, Windows DVD Maker. Use it to design and burn your DVD.

Other Movie-Making Tools:

Windows Live Movie Maker is not the "only kid on the block." There are excellent (so I'm told) alternatives and that might become an issue once Windows 8 becomes established. Apparently, WLMM won't run with Win8. I have not tried any of these, but they may well be good (free) alternatives:
Lightworks from
vReveal from
and Youtube has a movie editor too:

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