Bruce Bartlett © 2006

Here's a chance to get up to speed with the popular video editing program Windows Movie Maker and the DVD authoring program Sonic MyDVD. Although this information is specific to those programs, other programs have fairly similar procedures.

Included free with Windows XP, this program lets you import and edit videos; add audio clips, titles and pictures; and save the edited video project as a file on your hard drive. The procedures below are a quick guide to using the program. For more details or other options not described here, use the Help files in Windows Movie Maker.

Copying video to your hard drive

First you need to get the video onto your computer so you can edit it. If the video footage you want to edit is on a digital camera's flash memory card, plug the card into a mating slot on your computer (maybe using a flash-card-USB interface). Copy the movie files (usually .avi or .mpg) to your hard drive.

If the video is on a DV camcorder, copy the video file(s) through a Firewire port to your hard drive.There will be no loss in quality.

If the video is on an analog camcorder or VCR, copy the program in realtime to your hard drive through a video capture card. The video capture card converts the video signal from analog to digital with a slight loss in quality.

The video might be supplied on DVDs as video files. Ideally these files are high resolution. Insert the DVD into your DVD drive and use Windows Explorer to copy the video file(s) to your hard drive.

Put all the video clips you plan to use in a common folder on your hard drive.

To open Windows Movie Maker, select Start > Programs > Accessories > Windows Movie Maker. Or navigate to C:\Program Files\Movie Maker\moviemk.exe.

Sample screen shot of Windows Movie Maker. A video window is at top right, a collection of video clips or segments is top center, movie tasks are top left, and the Timeline of video and audio events is at the bottom. In the Timeline are separate tracks for Video, Transitions (between video segments), Audio (the video's soundtrack, if any), Audio/Music (that you can import), and Title Overlay.

Import the video file(s) that you want to edit:

  1. Select File > New project.
  2. Under "Movie tasks" select "Import video." Browse to where the video file is located and select it. The file appears as a video clip in the Collection window.
  3. Click-drag the video clip from the Collection window into the Timeline video track at the bottom of the screen. Deselect the clip in the Collection window.
  4. Select File > Save Project As. Give the project a name. The project edits are .wmmwmv files (Windows Movie Maker - Windows Media Video files).

To insert a new video clip into an existing video:

  1. Import the new video clip, if any. Click on the existing video in the Timeline.
  2. Just under the video window at the top right side of the screen, scroll to where you want to insert the video clip. Click left-arrow or right-arrow to fine-tune the edit point.
  3. Select Clip > Split. This divides the existing video into separate parts.
  4. Click-drag the newly imported video clip to the split point in the Timeline. The newly imported clip should be in the Collections menu. If not, check other Collections using the drop-down box.
  5. Select File > Save project.

To remove part of a video:

  1. Scroll in the video window to the beginning of the material you want to remove.
  2. Select Clip > Split.
  3. Scroll in the video window to the end of the material you want to remove.
  4. Select Clip > Split.
  5. In the Timeline, right-click on the clip you want to remove. Select "Delete." The space closes up.
  6. Select File > Save project.

To add titles:

  1. In the Timeline, select (click on) the clip that you want to precede with a title.
  2. Under "Movie tasks'" under "Edit movie," select "Make titles or credits."
  3. Select "Add title before selected clip in the timeline."
  4. Type the title. You can edit the font and add animation if you wish.
  5. Select "Done, add title to movie." You can add more than one title in a row, but each one fades in and out.
  6. Select File > Save project.

Adding a title overlay
This feature superimposes a title over a few seconds of the video program.

  1. In the Timeline, select (click on) the clip to which you want to add a title overlay.
  2. Click on the Title overlay track in the Timeline.
  3. Under "Edit movie'" select "Make titles." Select "Add title on selected clip."
  4. Type text.
  5. Click-drag the title onto the selected clip.
  6. Select "Done, add title to movie."
  7. Select File > Save project.

Normally a title overlay appears at the beginning of the selected clip. If you want the title overlay
to appear somewhere in the middle of a clip, click-drag the title overlay in time to that point in the
video program.

Adding an audio clip
An audio clip is a sound recording of any length, such as:

  • a dialog track to a movie
  • a voiceover (a re-recording of part of the dialog to get better sound quality)
  • a sound effect (gun shot, siren, dog barking)
  • music (a tune that accompanies part of the video program).

You might want to use an audio editing program to add fades and set the overall audio level of each audio clip. Some examples of audio editors are Cakewalk Sonar, Cakewalk Home Studio, Digidesign Pro Tools, Adobe Audition, Nuendo, Cubase, Audacity, and so on.). Audacity is freeware at http://audacity.sourceforge.net/.

To add an audio clip to your video program,

  1. Under "Movie tasks," under "Capture video," select "Import audio or music."
  2. Click-drag the imported audio clip from the Collection window to the Audio/Music track in the Timeline.
  3. Slip-edit the clip as needed. Slide the clip left or right in time so that the sound occurs at the proper spot in the video program.

The video might have its own soundtrack that was picked up by a microphone in a camera or camcorder. In Windows Movie Maker, you can't listen just to the video's sound track or the imported audio clip because they are mixed together. If you want to hear the imported audio clip by itself, add it under a title or an imported picture.

Another option: Import the video clip and the audio clip into an audio editing program that can handle video. In the audio editing program, adjust the mix between the video's soundtrack and the audio clip. Export the video file (with edited audio) and import it into Windows Movie Maker.

To add a photo or other graphic:

  1. Under "Movie Tasks," under "Capture Video," select "Import Picture." Browse to the picture's location and select "Import."
  2. Click-drag the picture from the Collection window into the Timeline where you want it to appear. It will display for about 5 seconds when played. You can place the picture more than once in succession to increase the display time.
  3. You can import an audio clip and place it under the picture.

Note: If you add or delete clips in the video track, that can mess up the timing of some audio clips and title overlays. You'll need to slide those audio clips and title overlays in time to where they should appear in the video program.

Exporting the movie
Go to Preview mode and view all your edits. Once your project is edited the way you want it, you
can export it to a video file. Here's how:

  1. Under "Finish movie," select "Save to my computer." Enter the filename and its location. Select "Next."
  2. If you want to view the video on your computer screen, select "Best quality for playback on my computer."
    If you want to view the video on a TV screen, Select "Other settings." Then select "high quality video (large)." This will make a .wmv file with minimal compression, 640 x 480 dpi, which is DVD resolution.
  3. Select Next.

Your edited video program will export to a file on your computer, with the filename extension .wmv. Because Windows Movie Maker does not burn DVDs, you'll probably want to import this file into a DVD authoring program. An example is MyDVD, covered next.

MyDVD 6.2. (www.mydvd.com)

This program lets you create DVD menus and burn DVDs of an edited video program. It is bundled free with some DVD burners. The procedures below are a quick guide to using MyDVD. For more details or other options not described here, use the MyDVD Help files.

First, let's explain the difference between a Title page and a Menu page. When you put a commercial DVD in a DVD player, you first see the Title page (Title screen). It's usually a picture with the title of the movie. Typically some background music is playing. Also on the title page are at least two buttons: one to play the movie, and one to select scenes. If you select the scenes button, you'll go to a Menu page (Menu screen), which has Menu buttons that select various scenes or chapters in the program.

With this background information, let's begin.

  1. Start MyDVD. Select New project > DVD video.
  2. Select "Add files." Select the video file that you want to burn onto a DVD. You might have exported this file from your video editing program.
  3. Select File > Save As. Give the project a name.

Near the bottom-center of the screen is a button that looks like or .
If you see you are in Edit mode. If you see you are in Preview mode.

Preview mode acts like a DVD player; you can preview the program and select scenes or chapters to view. Edit mode is for editing the project. You can't edit the program in Preview mode, and you can't play the program in edit mode, so be sure that you know which mode you are in!

Click on to go to Preview mode, or click on to go to Edit mode.

Screen shot of a Menu page in Sonic MyDVD. Near the bottom center of the screen, the "remote
control" buttons are greyed out. That means they currently are not accessible because the
program is in Edit mode, not Preview mode. The font and size of the text under each Menu button
can be edited. You can choose a background picture for the page.

Edit the style of the Title page and Menu page (This must be done before you set up Chapters
and Menu buttons)

  1. In Edit mode, select "Edit Style."
  2. Scroll down the styles on the left and select one. Select "Change text" – titles. Set the font and font size of the title.
  3. Select "Change text" – buttons. Set the font and font size for the text that goes under the Menu buttons. It should be small enough to fit under the buttons, but large enough to read.
  4. Select "Play all."
  5. If you wish, you can choose a custom video or still background for the Title page and Menu page. Browse to the location of the video or picture and select it.
  6. Select "Apply to all menus."

Set up Chapters
You can divide a long video program into Chapters (Scenes), and create an onscreen menu with buttons that select each chapter. When you burn a DVD of this program and play it in your DVD player, the player's remote control can select each chapter in the Menu screen, just as it does with a commercial DVD.

  1. Make sure you are in Edit mode. Click on the Menu button in the center of the main Title page.
  2. Select "Edit Chapters."
  3. While watching the video window, click-drag the triangle slider at the bottom of the screen to where you want the first chapter to start.
    Click on Ctrl-right-arrow or ctrl-left-arrow, and right-arrow or left-arrow, to fine-tune the chapter start point. Click "Add chapter." A circle appears above the chapter. Repeat Step 3 for all the chapter points.
  4. Select OK. Select File > Save.

Set up Menu buttons

  1. In Edit mode, you can double-click on the text under the Menu button on the Title page to edit it.
  2. In Edit mode, starting from the Title page, double-click the Menu button in the center of the screen to go to the Chapter menu.
  3. Double-click on text to edit it.
  4. If necessary, select "Edit Style" to edit the style of the Menu buttons. Note: Chapter menu buttons cannot display imported pictures or imported video inside the Menu buttons.
  5. If necessary, select View > Arrange Buttons Manually. Drag the Menu buttons where desired.
  6. Select File > Save.
  7. Go to Preview mode to check the operation and timing of the Menu buttons. Click on the controls at the bottom of the screen to select each Chapter, as if the controls were part of a TV remote control.

Burn a DVD

  1. Insert a blank DVD. Currently, DVD-R discs will play on more DVD players than DVD+R discs.
  2. In MyDVD at the bottom left, select HQ=DVD quality. Click on the Burn button at the bottom right.
  3. Burn a DVD at 4X speed to prevent errors.
  4. MyDVD will transcode (convert) the video and audio to Mpeg2 compressed format. This might take about ½ hour for a 40-minute video.
  5. The DVD will burn for ¼ the duration of the program (about 10 minutes for a 40 minute video). There's your finished DVD!

Recording engineer Bruce Bartlett is the author of Practical Recording Techniques 4th Ed.
published by Focal Press.

Entire contents may not be reproduced in any form without permission.