Hack 90 Tips for Making Videos with Windows Movie Maker

Hack 90 Tips for Making Videos with Windows Movie Maker

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Ways you can make better home movies and other videos with XP's built-in video maker .

XP is Microsoft's most media-aware operating system, and it comes with built-in software for making and editing videos and home movies: Windows Movie Maker. (To run it, choose Start All Programs Accessories Windows Movie Maker.) But making videos properly with it can be tricky, so check out these tips on how to make better home movies and videos.

10.6.1 Capture the Video Properly

Windows Movie Maker lets you edit movies and add special effects and titles, but it all starts with capturing the video properly. So, first make sure that you bring the video into your PC in the best way.

If you have an analog video camera or videotape, you need some way of turning those analog signals into digital data. You can do this via a video capture board or by using a device you can attach to your FireWire or USB port. If you're going the route of a video capture board, make sure the board has XP-certified drivers; otherwise , you may run into trouble. To find out whether a board has XP-certified drivers, search the Windows Compatibility List at www.microsoft.com/windows/catalog.

If you have a USB port, you can import analog video with USB Instant Video or USB InstantDVD, both available from http://www.adstech.com. They're hardware/software combinations; to get the video into your PC, connect the analog video device to the USB Instant Video or USB InstantDVD device, and then connect a USB cable from the device to the USB port on your PC. (A similar product, called the Dazzle Digital Video Creator 150, will do the same thing. For details, go to http://www. dazzle .com.)

Check your system documentation to see what type of USB port you have. If you have a USB 1.1 port, you won't be able to import high-quality video, and you'd be better off installing a video capture card. USB 2.0 will work fine, though.

If you have a FireWire-enabled PC, you're also in luck, because its high-speed capacity is also suitable for importing video. You'll have to buy extra hardware, called Hollywood DV-Bridge. Plug your RCA cable or S-Video cable into Hollywood DV-Bridge, and then plug a FireWire cable from Hollywood DV-Bridge into your FireWire port, and you'll be able to send video to your PC. For more information, go to http://www.dazzle.com/products/hw_bridge.html.

Once you've set up the hardware and your camera, recording the video is easy. Open Windows Movie Maker, choose File Record, start the camera or video, and click Record.

10.6.2 Capturing Video with a Digital Video Camera

If you have a digital video camera or WebCam, you shouldn't need any extra hardware in order to capture video from it, as long as you have a FireWire port on your PC. These devices generally include built-in FireWire ports (the cameras might call the port an IEEE 1394 or an i.Link port). If you don't have a FireWire port on your PC, you can install a FireWire port card. These generally cost well under $100. Make sure that the card is OHCI (Open Host Controller Interface)-compliant.

When you plug your digital camera into a FireWire port and turn it on, Windows will ask you what you want to do with the camera. Tell it that you want to Record in Movie Maker, and it will launch Movie Maker to the Record dialog box, with a video showing in the preview window.

10.6.3 Best Settings for Recording Video

Before you start recording, you'll see a preview of your movie in the Record dialog box, shown in Figure 10-7. This is your chance to change your video settings, and choosing the proper setting is perhaps the most important step in creating your video.

Figure 10-7. Options for recording video in Windows Movie Maker
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Look at the Setting drop-down box in Figure 10-7. This box lets you choose the quality of the video you're creating, which is the most important setting. These setting will be dependent on the input source; digital video cameras, for example, let you record at a higher quality than analog video cameras, so they will give you a wider range of options. Movie Maker comes with a number of preset profiles, including three basic ones: High, Medium, and Low quality. When you make a choice of your profile, Movie Maker tells you how many hours and minutes of recording time you have, based on your disk space and the disk requirements of the profile. For example, you might have 193 hours of recording time based on the High setting, but 1,630 hours based on the Low setting.

Those three profiles aren't your only choices, though. You can choose from a much wider variety of profiles (as a general rule, I suggest doing that), based on what you plan to do with the eventual video. Do you plan to post the video on the Web? Just play it back at home? Run it on a personal digital assistant? These other profiles are designed for specific purposes like those.

To select the profile, choose Other in the Setting drop-down list. Underneath it, a new drop-down list appears, shown in Figure 10-8, with a range of profiles from which you can choose. They're prebuilt for specific usesfor example, recording video to post on the Web, for color PDA devices, and for broadband NTSC (National Television Standards Committee), which is standard TV.

Figure 10-8. Choosing from additional preset profiles
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Whenever you choose a profile, you'll see underneath it the frame size of the video, the frames per second, and if you choose a profile from Other, you'll also see the video bit rate. Here's what the settings mean:

Video display size

The size of the video, in pixelsfor example, 740 by 480, or 320 by 240.

Frames per second

The number of frames captured per second. For smooth video, you need 30 frames per second, which is the "High quality" setting. The medium and low quality settings record at 15 frames per second.

Video bit rate

The bit rate of the recorded videothe higher the bit rate, the greater the quality.

Audio bit rate and properties

These settings aren't shown in the Windows Movie settings, but they vary according to which profile you choose. Audio properties are measured in kilohertz (kHz)the higher the number, the greater the quality. Audio bit rate measures the bit rateagain, the higher the bit rate, the greater the quality.

To help you make the best choice among profiles, Table 10-1 shows the settings for every one of the Movie Maker profiles.

Table 10-1. Settings for Movie Maker profiles

Profile name

Video display size

Video bit rate

Audio properties

Audio bit rate

Video for web servers (28.8 Kbps)

160x120 pixels

20 kilobits per second (Kbps)

8 kilohertz (kHz)

8 Kbps

Video for web servers (56 Kbps)

176x144 pixels

30 Kbps

11 kHz

10 Kbps

Video for single-channel ISDN (64 Kbps)

240x176 pixels

50 Kbps

11 kHz

10 Kbps

Video for email and dual-channel ISDN (128 Kbps)

320x240 pixels

100 Kbps

16 kHz

16 Kbps

Video for broadband NTSC (256 Kbps)

320x240 pixels

225 Kbps

32 kHz

32 Kbps

Video for broadband NTSC (384 Kbps)

320x240 pixels

350 Kbps

32 kHz

32 Kbps

Video for broadband NTSC (768 Kbps)

320x240 pixels

700 Kbps

44 kHz

64 Kbps

Video for broadband NTSC (1500 Kbps total)

640x480 pixels

1,368 Kbps

44 kHz

128 Kbps

Video for broadband NTSC (2 Mbps total)

640x480 pixels

1,868 Kbps

44 kHz

128 Kbps

Video for broadband film content (768 Kbps)

640x480 pixels

568 Kbps

44 kHz

128 Kbps

Video for broadband film content (1500 Kbps total)

640x480 pixels

1,368 Kbps

44 kHz

128 Kbps

Video for color PDA devices (150 Kbps)

208x160 pixels

111 Kbps

22 kHz

32 Kbps

Video for color PDA devices (225 Kbps)

208x160 pixels

186 Kbps

22 kHz

32 Kbps

DV-AVI (25 Mbps)

720x480 pixels (NTSC)

720x525 pixels (PAL)

1,411 Kbps

48 kHz

16 Kbps

10.6.4 Tips for Making Your Own DVDs

If you use Movie Maker to make or copy your own videos and burn them to DVDs, consider these tips:

  • The USB 1.0 standard is not fast enough to connect a camera or other video input to your PC. Its throughput of 11 Mbps isn't fast enough for capturing high-quality video, which is 30 frames per second with 24-bit color at a resolution of 640 by 480, and requires speeds of at least 210 Mbps. USB 2.0, which has a speed of 480 Mbps, and FireWire, which has a speed of 400 Mbps, will work, however.

  • Make sure you have a substantial amount of free hard disk space if you're going to burn your videos to DVDs. The video will be cached onto your hard disk before it's burned to DVDs, so you'll typically need several free gigabytes.

  • Defragment your hard drive [Hack #74] before creating and burning DVDs for best performance. If you have a second hard drive, use that for DVD creation rather than your primary hard drive. Regardless of the speed of your CPU, turn off any background applications that are running when you import video and create your DVD.

  • If you're burning high-quality video to a DVD, figure that you'll be able to fit about an hour 's worth on a single DVD. At a lower quality (lower bit rate), you can fit up to about two hours on a DVD. Keep in mind, though, that if you write at the lower bit rate, the DVD might not be able to be played on a set-top DVD player, though it will work on your PC's DVD player.

  • There's no single accepted standard for DVD burning, so not all DVD disks that you burn will work on all set-top DVD players. Generally, most set-top DVD players will play DVD-R discs, but they may not all play DVD-RW or DVD+RW disks. Manufacturer information can't always be trusted, but check the web sites for the latest details.

  • After you've created your video and you're ready to burn it to a DVD, set aside plenty of time. It can take up to two hours to burn a one-hour DVD, depending on your CPU and drive speed.

10.6.5 See Also

  • If you want features beyond those offered by Windows Movie Maker, try Ulead DVD Movie Factory. In addition to basic video-editing tools, it lets you use transitions and add special effects and menus , and it includes backgrounds, preset layouts, and music you can add to your videos. In addition, it will burn to DVD, VCD, and SVCD and can save files in a variety of video formats. It's shareware and available to try for free, but you're expected to pay $44.95 if you keep using it. It's available from Internet download sites, as well as from http://www.ulead.com.



Windows XP Hacks
Windows XP Hacks, Second Edition
ISBN: 0596009186
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 166

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