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How to learn to use Movie Maker 2
Last updated 5-15-03

Moviemaker 2 is a great video editor for the Windows XP user. It is capable of importing video off a digital camcorder so that you can edit your own movie on your computer. The program comes bundled with a large selection of movie effects, transitions, and titling options. Even with these great effects, however, the program's greatest strength is its ease of use … Microsoft has done an excellent job of creating a program that video novices can pick up quickly.

It’s fortunate that the program is so easy to learn, as traditionally, editing video on a home computer has been rather complicated. Even with a straightforward program like Movie Maker, the process can still be daunting for the complete novice, as there are many different video formats that you can capture and save into. And, unfortunately, advanced tasks such as creating video for DVD or CD are not documented very well within the program.

So, to truly learn Movie Maker and the little nuances of video editing, there are several routes the new videographer can take, and the one you choose will depend upon your learning style, budget, and the amount of free time you have.

  • Install the program and “figure it out”:
    With any other program, I would say this is a bad choice. However, Movie Maker is so straightforward that you can probably figure the program out entirely through experimentation. This is especially true if you have any past experience with computer video ... you’ll find Movie Maker to be a pleasant program to work with and easy to understand.

    However, if you are a complete video novice, you may run into some early roadblocks with this method. For example, the first step to creating a video is to capture video from your camcorder onto your hard drive. Many people run into problems during this step, though the program makes it easy. Movie Maker lets you capture in several different video formats, and if you don’t have any background in digital video, you won’t know which one to choose. So you might need some instruction …

  • Reading articles and the help file:
    Microsoft has set up a pretty decent MovieMaker help site, and the built-in help file is well made. There also exist several sites (like this one) with helpful articles on MovieMaker and digital video in general. If you are an “audio learner,” reading articles and help files like these may be the best way for you to learn.

    I recommend locating several different sources for this information… as every website has its own agenda (including us ... we’d love to sell you our Movie Maker video course!). Even Microsoft has their own bias, and tries to convince you to use their own "Windows Media Video" compression on all your movie files. However, as you'll find out by reading through the articles on this site, WMV is not always the best format to use.

  • Online video training:
    If you learn visually, the fastest way to learn a new program like Movie Maker is by actually watching the program being used. This "watch and learn" approach is especially useful for video editing software because there are a lot of techniques (like trimming, cutting, and scrubbing video clips) that are difficult to describe in text.

    You’ll have a hard time finding an instructor or class on Moviemaker as the program is not yet very common. If you can’t find a class or tutor, you can try watching an online video course on Movie Maker 2 ... such as the one offered at this site! I know, this is a shameless plug for MightyCoach, but screen capture video is really a great way to learn Movie Maker quickly, as you can actually watch and listen as an instructor uses the program before your eyes.

    To be fair, though, classes and online video training are not for everyone. If you have a lot of computer experience (and a little background in digital video) than this type of "real-time tutoring" may go too slowly for you.

Whatever method you choose, Movie Maker 2 is a great program and very easy to pick up. It’s possibly the simplest and most user-friendly video editor available today.

Next: Capturing video in MovieMaker
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You can find more useful home-video "tips and tricks" like this one at www.mightycoach.com - they even have an online-video course that teaches you to edit video on your home computer!

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