Set your movie making to auto

After a less than impressive first version, Movie Maker 2 has definitely caught up with Apple’s popular iMovie entry-level video editing program. Movie Maker 2 now has more transitions, an improved interface and support for analog as well as DV camcorders.

Movie Maker 2 also has a couple of useful features that are not on iMovie, and one of the most useful tools is AutoMovie.

The AutoMovie feature lets you make a movie from your captured footage with the click of a button. After importing your movie clips, sounds and pictures, select the footage you want to include in your movie. When you’ve selected a collection with which to make a finished movie, select Make an AutoMovie from the Edit section of the Movie Tasks pane.

The display will change, letting you choose an AutoMovie editing style. If you select Highlights Movie, simple fade transitions will be added between changes in a scene, but you can make another choice from four alternatives. The Music Video choice, for example, attempts to time transitions to changes in music beat, while the Old Movie choice adds a sepia-grainy feel to your video footage.

Play around with the different styles, as you can always go back and try another theme later. However, remember that ‘less is more’ with video editing, so don’t go over the top unless you want to create a comedy video.

If you are happy with a basic movie sequence, select Done, edit movie to prompt Movie Maker 2 to create a simple yet surprisingly effective movie. You can also give it your own personal touch by adding a title and background music if you feel inclined.

Personal touches

The title screen allows you to enter a simple sequence of text that will play over the intro and fade into the first scene. Audio controls include the ability to add a song from your personal collection to play in the background over the video’s audio track, or you can completely replace the original audio with your music. The audio volume is selected by moving a slider left and right to determine the appropriate mix.

The AutoMovie determines a break in a scene and decides whether to add a transition or a simple cut from one scene to another. After the AutoMovie is finished, you have the original video you captured to the hard drive and a separate finished video for viewing or sharing. If you are not happy with the AutoMovie video, you can always go back to your original footage and have a go yourself (see here for a screenshot).

Fine-tuning

When AutoMovie completes the task, your movie is laid out in the Storyboard/Timeline. Check the movie in the Preview window to decide if you are satisfied with the final production. Often you only need to take out an occasional scene that makes no sense, or trim a clip that appears too long.

Adding your own transitions to the finished movie may be one way to provide a personal touch to your movie, and the great thing about the AutoMovie project is that all of the footage remains editable — AutoMovie creates a standard WMM 2 project that is no different than any other edited footage.

To add a transition, select View video transitions in the Edit Movie section of the Movie Tasks pane. This will cause a section of the screen to reveal a series of transitions to add between scenes. Double-clicking a transition will show you how the effect will look on screen, allowing you to check out several transition types before deciding on an effect that will work.

Adding the transition to your storyboard couldn’t be easier. Once you find a transition you like, drag the transition down to the box between two clips for an immediate preview of how it will look.

AutoMovie is a useful tool because it lets you go back over your old projects for further editing and enhancement once you have gained more experience.

Microsoft Movie Maker 2 is available as a free download at around 12MB from www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/moviemaker.

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Denis Gallagher

PC World
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