Its very interesting how far we have come since Windows Millennium Edition (Windows ME) which bundled the first version of Microsoft’s video editing solution for consumers. Since then, Microsoft has improved the software releasing version 2.0 with XP and jump to version 6.0 with Windows Vista. With the next version of Microsoft Windows, 7 and Windows Live Essentials, Microsoft is also unbundling Movie Maker from the OS and making it available through its free suite of software plus services.
Windows Live Movie Maker BETA is included as an optional component in Windows Live Essentials at this time, this suggest that its still an incomplete product, but you have the option of trying it out for now. I installed it on Windows Vista (Windows 7 BETA is also supported), the suite still retained my bundled version of Movie Maker with good reason.
Windows Live Movie Maker (above), Windows Movie Maker 6.0 (below)
When you compare the two screenshots above, you could conclude they are almost completely different products. For a beginner, Live Movie Maker is very self explanatory right from the start, ‘Drag videos and photos here’, while Movie Maker 6.0 for a first time user might require a little familiarizing at first before jumping in and making movies. Live Movie Maker features the new Scenic Ribbon UI, but the toolset is drastically limited compared to its predecessor in Vista. The interface seems like it’s designed for an on the go user who is uploading videos to MSN Soap box and does not really fancy details too much. The Ribbon features the tabs Home, Visual Effects and Edit. Working in Live Movie Maker, it feels quite basic, features like Timeline are not even in there, I’m hoping that the label beta is the reason for this. You add photos and videos from the Home menu or simply drag and drop from a folder, they are automatically populated within the bin area. Content by default is played in the view it’s laid out, but you can drag and drop to rearrange how you want scenes to play within the video.
Drag and dropping video files into Live Movie Maker
Arranging your clips is a simple drag and drop process also.
Surprise! Its simple too, for example, trimming a video which is normally done from the Time line only requires a simple click and drag process of seeking until you reach the desired part of the video clip you find suitable. You can then Save the clip and return to the Bin area. Working with Music is a bit simple too, although you don’t get as much flexibility as you probably would want for a large project, you can add a song, control the volume level as your movie plays and set the duration of the track to your movie – I had issues setting the duration since it was quite confusing, the ‘Fit’ button remained grayed out and I am limited only to one track for the entire movie.
Editing a video clip
Live Movie Maker remains light on visual effects, even PowerPoint 2007 would do a better job (then again, PowerPoint 2007 cost $300). It’s obvious there is more to expect and hopefully in the near future we will see an update, the only options right now are Sepia Tone, black and white with different filters (Movie Maker 6 includes over 229 effects) and a few transitions: cross fade, slide and roll (63 in Movie Maker 6).
Applying effects through the ribbon interface.
Publishing and Output
Live Movie Maker supports direct publishing to MSN Soap Box, but no YouTube yet. Microsoft, I realize Google is a competitor, but if you can support GMAIL access in Windows Live Mail, YouTube should be an out of box option, put competition aside for sake of offering your consumers choice and real value. Yes, there is an option to a plug in, but come on, which is more popular, YouTube or MSN Soapbox? If you want to burn to DVD you can do so from the Output button under the Home menu, you can also save to mobile devices such as an MP3 player. Its crude though, Movie Maker 6 is more complete in the respect that you carried through the entire process. Movie Maker 6 also supports more options such as sending to email as an attachment and record to CD.
The Good the bad and the ugly right now is the fact that its limited in what it can do, limited effects and transitions, no support for narration, no text over lays, you can’t edit footage, but most importantly of all, no Time line, but it’s got potential if the premise is to make video editing faster and simpler. I hope by the time Windows 7 hits RC1; we will see an updated Windows Live Suite with comparable options to Windows Movie Maker or even better, for now I will stick with Windows Movie Maker for interesting movie projects.