Digital Storytelling Part IV- Windows Movie Maker

Windows Movie Maker is a program that already comes pre-installed on your Windows XP or Windows Vista computer.

Creating a movie in this program involves three basic steps:

Get started by clicking Start > Programs and then locating the MovieMaker icon

Double-click to launch the program.

You will want to use Windows Movie Maker if you have video clips on your camcorder, digital camera or from another source and want to edit or combine clips into one movie and prepare them to be published or distributed on the web. Movie Maker should also be your choice of program, if you want to combine video and digital images into one project.

Creating a movie in Movie Maker is divided into 3 Steps for you:

  1. Capture Video
  2. Edit Movie
  3. Finish Movie

Click on the drop down menu in the Task Pane to get started

Be sure that your digital video camera is connected to your computer and turned on before choosing “Capture from video device”, if you want to directly import from a video device.

If you already have downloaded video clips to your computer choose “Import video”.

Choose the other links respectively if you want to import pictures, audio or music that is already located on your computer.

Browse for the folder your files are located in and click on the file to select it. If you want to select more than one file hold down the CRTL button as you click to add more files. If you wish to select all files in a folder, click on one file, then click CTRL and the letter A key.

Movie Maker allows you to import the following file extensions:

  • Video Files: .asf, .avi, .wmv
  • Movie Files: .mpeg, .mpg, .mlv, .mp2, .mpa, .mpe
  • Audio Files: .wav, .snd., .au, .aif, .aifc, .aiff, .wma, .mp3
  • Windows Media Files: .asf, .wm, .wma, .wmv
  • Still Image Files: .bmp, .jpg, .jpeg, .jfif, .gif, .dib

If your media is not in one of the above file extension, you will need to convert your file with another program or conversion site, such as

It is a good time to start saving your Movie Maker project file after importing all your media (movie, images and audio). The project file allows you to go back later to add, delete or edit anything in your movie.

The project file is NOT the final movie file you need in order to upload or share your movie with others or online. You will save your movie after you are done editing your project file.

Arrange your media clips by dragging and dropping them on the Storyboard or in the timeline in the order you wish them to appear in your movie.

You can directly record your narration into Movie Maker, by connecting a microphone to your computer and clicking on the microphone icon. This will switch you to the timeline view automatically. In order to switch between Storyboard and Timeline view manually just click on the icon “Show Storyboard” or “Show Timeline” respectively.

Once you are in Timeline view, click on the microphone icon

Make sure that “Microphone” is selected as your Audio Input Source, and then choose if you want to limit narration to the available free space on the audio track and start by clicking on the “Start Narration” button.

You can also add a track taken from a CD as your background music.

Insert the CD into your CD drive. Open Windows Movie Player or iTunes to convert (rip) the selected track to an .mp3 file. Once the files is saved as an MP3 file on your computer, simply import as a music file and drag and drop into your timeline onto the audio track.

Once you have all media imported and added to your timeline you can start editing your movie. By clicking on the drop down menu in the Task Pane, you will be able to add effects and transitions make title and credit slides or choose to make and AutoMovie.

Click on any effect and then drag and drop it onto a thumbnail of an image or video clip.

To delete an effect on selected clip simply right click on the filled in star and choose “Delete Effect”.

Get started by choosing from several different video effects to add to any of your images or clips that are in your timeline. Experiment and see how each one of the following effects will enhance and support the message your movie.

After you have applied video effects on all or selected clips, move on to applying transitions between each clip to make your movie flow instead of choppy between new images or video clips. Movie Maker has a nice selection of transitions to choose from.

Add transitions between all your slides, then move on to adding a Titles or Credits. Choose one of the following:

The title slide at the beginning of the movie is a nice way of introducing what this movie will be about and as the word “title” indicates can also contain the ‘TITLE” of the movie.

Change the text font and the background color to customize the look.

Choose from many title animations. The animation you see in the screen shot above is “Moving Title- Layered”

When you have completed changing the font, size, animation and background color, click on “Done, add title to movie”.

By clicking on the option of “Add title before (or after) the selected clip on Storyboard” you can add a similar slide than the title slide to indicate a new chapter, a new twist, another location, etc. in your movie. Compare a function of these slides to the ones used in old silent film movies.

If you want to add a text overlay to a particular slide, choose the option “Add title on selected clip on storyboard”

That will allow you to add explanations, introductions, subtitles or other information directly onto the clip. You can achieve some fun and interesting additions to your movie with these functions.

You should end your movie, by inserting credits. This is where you can add references, thank you’s, copyrights information, sources used, or contact information.

A popular animation is “Credits: Scroll, Up Stacked” to imitate credits at the end of a theatre movie.

To sum up what you have done so far:

  1. Imported and added all media (images, audio, video)
  2. Arranged them in the order you want them to appear in your movie
  3. Added background music, recorded or imported narration.
  4. Added transitions, effects, titles, overlays and credits.

The final step in editing your movie is to adjust the time frame each clip is displayed. You have arranged the clips already in order you want them played, but you might want to adjust how long each clip is being displayed. You will need to be in the Timeline display in order to adjust the settings.

There is a default time setting for each clip and transition that you add, in order to change this setting, go to Tools > Options > and change the assigned time for picture and transition duration.

So far you have saved the movie project files (in regular intervals) while you were working. You should make a last final save of the project, in case you ever wanted to come back and edit it.

Now your movie is ready to be saved as a movie file that you will be able to share, upload to your website or blog, e-mail, burn onto a CD or keep as a portfolio item file on your computer. Click on the drop down menu in the Task Pane.

I suggest saving your movie file ALWAYS to the computer. Once it is saved there, you can then either burn it to a CD or upload it to the web. Like this you will always have a back up copy.

Click “Next” to choose the settings to best match the outcome you want to achieve. If you want present the movie on a projector you want to save it in high quality (large). If you are planning on uploading to the web, you can save it as high quality (small).

This is a Movie Maker Project file

  • The MovieMaker Project File is saved as a .mswmm file
  • The project file allows you to go back and edit the project by adding or deleting images, videos, audio, title slides, length, transitions etc.
  • You should not move the project file around, since it is very tricky to keep the path between projects and media files intact. Transferring the Movie Maker project file between computers, usually results in the media not being transferred correctly.

This is a movie file

  • Final movie file is saved as a .wmv file
  • Cannot be edited anymore with MovieMaker
  • Larger file size than the project file
  • Ready to upload to a video sharing site, such as YouTube, TeacherTube or Flickr
  • Ready to share on any computer that has Windows Media Player