Friday, September 2, 2011

Thoughts on Windows Movie Maker Windows XP Issues

The proud. The faithful. The "I can't buy a new computer anytime soon" XP users. I understand. Really. I do. But if you obtain a new camcorder you are going to have video editing issues and problems.

End Of Life

You do known that the Windows XP Operating System has entered the end of life phase? You can't officially buy it retail.

You should have updated to Service Pack 3 which is the last official Microsoft update for the OS. You might find some documentation on the Microsoft web site but don't count on it being there forever.

As far as video editing is concerned, you have Windows Movie Maker installed on your computer. You cannot install the newer version of the program called Windows Live Movie Maker; that is only for Vista and Windows7 users.

Advantages

Windows Movie Maker is easy for a novice person to use. If you are comfortable with pointing and clicking in Microsoft Word you will do fine. The menu is clear and, in the Timeline mode, you can have even more editing choices. 

Importing video from camcorders is a breeze if the program accepts your video format.

I used the program for two years way back in the day. What I can tell you is that if you keep your edits simple you will not have any problems. Simple in this case means not a lot of cuts or effects.

If you make one too many snips it will crash. If you don't have enough RAM or hard disks space it will crash. If you are running other software programs in the background it will crash.

Maybe I should move on to the disadvantages.

Disadvantages

The software wasn't designed to view or process certain video file formats. If you have a new 2011 camcorder that records in:

  • .mp4 QuickTime, ain't gonna happen
  • .mp4 h.264 AVC
  • .mp4 h.264 AVCHD Lite and AVCHD
  • some other permutation of .mp4 that doesn't play nice with the software
There is a good chance the software will not import the video. You might see a message to that effect stating it does not know how to or is unable to import the video format.

There is no YouTube format or upload assistance.

Windows Movie Maker uses generally export to the .wmv video format. YouTube will still accept .wmv files but many of the other video web hosts no longer accept the file format. They want .mp4 video.

Did I mention that sucker will crash on you? Save every other command or task. Seriously, do not trust it. I speak from experience.

You might have to render the video as an .avi video file or find a way to convert it to an acceptable video format.

Options

It might be time to get a new computer. You can check to see if you can upgrade to Vista, if you can find it. Microsoft says that the end of retail sales for Vista was October 2010 but something tells me you can still buy it.

If you have to stay on Windows XP then these are some of your other options:

In order to use video from the camcorder you will need to convert the video into a format compatible with Windows Movie Maker. You have to be careful, there is a lot of spamware, malware and crappy products just waiting for n00bs to download it. Download directly from the vendor's web site or use Major Geeks.
  • Adapter in Beta (currently free to use but there may be a pro version)
  • HandBreak Open Source Video Converter
  • MPEG Streamclip by Squared5 The bomb diggity of free video converters but has trouble with AVCHD
  • Miro Video Converter Open Source Video Converter
If you are looking for an easy to use program I'd go with Adapter or Miro.
If you need to tweeks settings or want to customize go with Handbreak or MPEG Streamclip.

You will also need additional storage or hard drive space. And patience. Converting video can take a long time. You may not be able to do anything else while the video is being processed.

The other option I have for you is to purchase commercial video editing software that is still compatible with Windows XP. You should know that as technology moves forward support for older operating systems diminish. Check the vendor's web site to ensure that your computer meets the requirements of the video editing software.


I salute you in your struggle to use Windows Movie Maker in XP. Solidarity!

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