How do I make a movie in Microsoft Windows?
I want to make a movie from my home videos and digital pictures. What is a good program to let me do this in Microsoft Windows, and how complicated is it? I'm running Windows XP, by the way, not Windows Vista.
There are lots of good movie making programs on the market for Windows users. Which one is good for you is going to be dependent on your level of technical ability as well as how complicated or fancy you want your videos. I've used many different software programs out there and I think the best choice for most people falls between two different programs: either Windows Movie Maker or Sony Vegas.
Windows Movie Maker is a great basic program for taking your home pictures and movies and putting them to a soundtrack or putting titles over them. It is pretty limited in the types of effects and media overlap. The most redeeming quality of it is its price. It comes free as part of Windows XP and Windows Vista. The big downside to Windows Movie Maker is its lack of options.
Want to have a picture on top of video with a caption? Or a picture in each corner? Too bad. You can't.
You can however make a nice basic compilation of your vacation pictures or your company party.
However, if you are looking for a program that will give you a lot more options and allow you to create a professional looking video and is still relatively straightforward to use, I prefer Sony Vegas. It actually comes in two flavors. The ~$100 Vegas Movie Studio is only slightly more powerful than Windows Movie Maker, but it does have some nice features. Its biggest limitation is the number of tracks (things you can have going on) you can have at one time. Its big brother Sony Vegas Pro is more expensive ~$550, but I've never felt limited by it no matter how complicated my project got.
You can have lots of stuff going on at once. I have twelve video tracks in the above preview picture.
Everything is drag and drop and the help files are generally pretty good. (Tip: If you want to split a file in Sony Vegas, just put your timeline marker where you want the split and hit "s". For some reason, this isn't in the help files). You can also create all your final videos in High Definition resolutions, so you can show them on the big screen at family gatherings. There will be a learning curve, especially if you haven't used any video editing software before, but you can pretty much create whatever you want.
My recommendation, if you are brand new to this arena, would be to start with Windows Movie Maker. You will get a great introduction to video editing and timelines and you won't be out any money if you find that sort of work doesn't interest you. If you find that there are things you would like to do that you just can't because of the limitations of the program, it might be time to step up and buy a more powerful package. Having used several different packages out there, I've found Sony Vegas to be one of the more intuitive and powerful packages available.
Have fun being the director of your own home movies!
This article was written by Adam Kraft, a technology professional in Denver, CO who runs My Wedding In Colorado.com and Five Years from Today.com.
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