Simple Videos with Windows Movie Maker

There are some pretty sophisticated video editors you can purchase or download as open-source free applications. But for learning content I find that I can quickly produce good quality videos when I need to upload something just-in-time for my students. We can actually do this live with embedded tools in Canvas which is the learning management system we use at Avila University; however, I find I like to do a little bit of editing along the way. A free and simple tool that gets the job done very well is Windows Movie Maker. Here I will show you how easy it is.

Windows Live Movie Maker is free and if you don’t already have it on your PC or laptop6-3-2013 1-19-47 PM Webcam Video you can download it from here. You can capture video from your webcam directly in Movie Maker by click webcam capture.

This will display your live video in the preview window. Then you just click the record button and speak into the camera. Stopping the recording will display the video as a film strip in the right portion of the screen where you do some simple editing.

6-3-2013 1-22-00 PM Video Preview


I usually do the video capture in one take and without a script. When I stumble along the way, I stop talking, pause and breath, and start where I left off while the webcam remains on. I know with Movie Maker I can edit these mistakes out before publishing the final video file. Pausing and taking a breath helps settle my nerves but more importantly it provides quiet space in the video that I can find and use when I cut that portion of the video. You can even message yourself to do that, e.g. “okay, let’s cut the last sentence and start again.” It is a useful tip and helps greatly in the editing process.

6-3-2013 1-29-19 PM SplitingLook for the segment you need to cut by playing the video and tracking the indicator that travels on the filmstrip. Use the split icon in the menu bar to divide the film strip into two segments. Then find the end of the cut area and use the split icon to make an additional segment. Now right-click the center segment you no longer want and click remove.



Now your students will know that you cut something from the original video capture because of the shift in the visual. I let it go if it is barely perceptible but if it is too dramatic then I use a transition to improve the viewing experience. There are two methods I use.

6-3-2013 1-37-16 PM Inserting Graphics

The first is to insert a graphic between the film segments. Sometimes I will make a PowerPoint slide, and Save As the file to png or jpeg format to create an image file. Then I click Add Videos and Photos in Movie Maker to insert the image between the film segments. The second method is to use one of the built in animation transition in Movie Maker. You just put the caret at the beginning of a film strip segment and select one of the transitions. It helps smooth the presentation.

6-3-2013 1-43-31 PM PublishingYou can save your work in a project file which is handy if you need to put the work aside and return at a later time. The project file, however, is not the actual video. The last step in the process is to publish the video either to a cloud service like YouTube or to your computer as a stand alone video file.

You can do a lot more with your video production like creating slides for title, location, and credits as well as add captions to the video but getting a time-sensitive video out to your students doesn’t need to be a Hollywood production. As long as the message is clear and there are not serious distractions you will find that a short and simple video will work just fine.

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