Welcome to iHCPL: The Next Generation. This site was created as the next step in Harris County Public Library's iHCPL Learning 2.0 Program; a discovery learning program designed to encourage staff to explore new technologies. The original iHCPL program was adapted from The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County's Learning 2.0 Program.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

#46 Movie Maker Basics: You Oughta be in Pictures - or Making Them!

As discovered in the last post, Movie Maker is video editing software available on Windows based computers. In this post, we'll see a demonstration of the basics of using Movie Maker and get helpful tips. For most web videos, a great deal of high end technical equipment isn't necessary; just use your digital camera and your computer. The basic thing to remember is to keep your videos brief. No more than three minutes is best!

Fasten your seat belts, this is going to be a long one! For best results, read the notes and watch the demonstrations to help you with this exercise.

First Tip: Organize your files
Once you've moved your files from your camera to your computer, place them in project folders. For example: all of the Reel Reviews created for Summer Reading Programs were placed in a folder under My Documents titled "Reel Reviews." Organization up front is the best time saver while editing your video.

Starting Windows Movie Maker

  1. On the left hand side of the Movie Maker window you'll find most of your options for importing your media and working with that media. Under number 1 on that side is the importing of the media. Under number 2 are the effects, transitions and titles.
  2. On the top menu bar, the two most important buttons are Tasks (to return the side menu to the list of options for getting and working with the media) and Collections, where you can organize your clips for access.
Demonstration - Part 1 (opens in new window)

Story Boarding/Story Timelines

Place your media on the Story Board or Story Timeline area at the bottom of the screen by clicking and dragging. These files can all be interchanged, cut, edited and adjusted for volume at any time, so don't feel you have to get the order correct the first time.

  1. Cutting - Play the clip to the portion you want to cut and pause. Under the "Preview Screen" on the right hand side is a button that splits the scene in two at the place you paused. Once that is done, you can delete the portion of the scene you don't want by right clicking on it and selecting "Delete."
  2. Shortening/Lengthening Clips - You don't have to cut a clip to shorten it, you can select the edge of the clip you want to shorten, then click and drag it to the length you want. This is most useful on the transitions and audio/music tracks, but can be used for still images as well if you want them to be longer or shorter.

Demonstration - Part 2 (opens in new window)

Special Effects

Once you are happy with the order of the clips, it is time to get to the editing and special effects fun. Make sure you have the Tasks listed on the left hand side. If not, select "Tasks" from the top menu bar.

  1. Selecting "View Video Effects" will show you the variety of effects you can add to your visual media clips. To add one of these effects, just click and drag the style to place on top of the media clip you want.
  2. Selecting "View Video Transitions" will show you the selection of transitions in the upper center window that you can place between each of your visual media clips. You can also lengthen or shorten the transitions, as mentioned in the previous section.

Tip #2: Select Transitions to Fit Your Video

Popular transitions include "Fade In" and "Fade Out" and all of the various sweeps. However, if you have an upbeat video, consider some of the more unique transitions, such as "The Flip" and "The Curl."

  1. "Make Titles or Credits" has a list of options where you can add animated text to your video, such as a title at the beginning, credits at the end, or text on top of visual media clips. In each of these you can select from a variety of animation styles as well as a variety of fonts and font effects. Title overlays show up on the bottom track of the Story Timeline, so you can place them exactly when you want them to start and time how long they should last.

Tip #3: Beware of Bright Colors

Some colors on top of others may look very cool, but try to make them contrast as much as possible in order for those who are visually challenged to be able to see the text. White lettering on black background works very well, unless the video genre calls for something else.

Demonstration - Part 3 (opens in new window)

It's Time for Music!

Many factors influence music in video, one of the most important is copyright. Be sure to have permission or look for those artists who create music under Creative Commons licenses. Jamendo is a good website to use for avoiding copyright problems, although some searching is involved.

  1. Click and drag the music clip you imported on to the audio/music track that is visible in the Story Timeline at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Edit this track the same way you edit visual media. Shorten the track by selecting it, the drag or cut using the cut button underneath the preview screen. Be sure only the audio track is selected, or you will cut the visual clip.
  3. Right click on the audio track to select fade in or out or adjust the volume. Cutting and adjusting volume is very helpful if you come to portions of your video that have vocal portions. Cut the sound track at those places and lower the volume just for that segment.

Tip #4: Keep your overall feel in mind.

If the video topic is serious or subdued, don't use a lot of quick cuts or bouncy transitions.

Demonstration - Part 4 (opens in new window)

Saving the Movie File

Once you're happy with your video and have previewed it through its entirety in the preview screen on the right, it is time to save the movie file.

  1. From the Menu Bar, select File>Save Movie File (shortcut Ctrl+P).
  2. Save to your computer -- highly suggested no matter what you do with it afterwards.
  3. Name your movie and select where you want it saved.
  4. The default settings are usually best, but if you have limited computer space, you can sacrifice some quality by making the file smaller.
  5. The computer will process the information and (if you have "Play Movie when Finished" selected) play your movie in Windows Media Player as soon as you click "Finished."

Congratulations, you're almost a filmmaker!

Exercise: Practice with Movie Maker and create a 30 second video from scratch and write about your experience in your blog.


Grace said...

Another good source for music is CNET - http://music.download.com/

Anonymous said...

Great place for free downloads, but that does not include copyright for use elsewhere. It is not creative commons licensing. To quote "A user such as you may use the material on our site only for non-commercial personal or educational purposes only. You may not redistribute any of the material that is found on our site without the express written permission from the artists themselves." HCPL is not educational purpose.