Recording Video into Windows Movie Maker (Part 1 of 3)

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The information covered in this article is provided by: Microsoft Press.

This article is part 1 of a series of three articles that explain how to record video into Windows Movie Maker. Part 1 explains how to connect capture devices and describes the options available in the Record dialog box. To view the remaining articles in the series, click the link to the topic you want to view:
314577 Recording Video into Windows Movie Maker (Part 2 of 3)
316420 Recording Video into Windows Movie Maker (Part 3 of 3)
This information is an excerpt from the Microsoft Windows Movie Maker Handbook book, Chapter 8: "Recording Video into Windows Movie Maker". Learn More About Microsoft Windows Movie Maker Handbook.

More information

The topics covered in this series of articles are:
  • Connecting capture devices
  • Understanding the Record dialog box
    • Quality setting options
    • Digital video controls (DV only)

  • Recording a live source
  • Recording from tape
  • Importing files
The first step in creating movies with Windows Movie Maker, as you can probably guess, is to get your own videos and existing media files into Movie Maker. You can bring material in through a variety of methods such as importing existing files, like still images, audio, and video, or recording your own existing home videos to your computer. Recording videos to your computer means using your Web camera, analog camcorder, digital video (DV) camera, or VCR, along with an installed capture card, to record live or from tape directly into Movie Maker. You can have one or more of these capture devices attached to your computer. By using a wide range of different media in conjunction with some of the editing features available in Movie Maker, you can create movies that you can share by e-mail or over the Web with family and friends.

Connecting capture devices

The first step in recording with Movie Maker is to set up and configure your capture devices. These devices can include an analog or DV camera, a VCR, a Web camera, or just a microphone.

Before you can use most capture devices, you must have the correct software and drivers installed on your computer. Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition recognizes many of today's most popular capture devices and peripherals. Many times, these pieces of hardware come with software from the manufacturer that needs to be installed before you can use the specific device. When you are installing the device, consult the accompanying documentation to make sure that the device is installed properly.

Because of the wide variety of hardware available, it is nearly impossible to list every possible configuration. However, the list below describes some of the basic capture devices and explains how to connect them to your computer. Remember, depending on the capture device and associated hardware you have on your PC, you could use none, one, or several of the listed configurations.

DV camera connected to an IEEE 1394 (FireWire) card

To get the best quality from your DV or mini-DV camera, you should have an IEEE 1394 capture card installed on your computer. When the DV camera is connected to the IEEE 1394 card, you'll get the high-quality picture you expect from your DV camera. The IEEE 1394 card is simply a piece of hardware that passes the information to your PC. Because the data is already in a digital format, it can be read and transferred directly to your computer without altering the actual bits of the video and audio. This results in the highest-quality video that is possible when using consumer video cameras. Figure 8.1 shows an example of this connection.

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 Picture of Connecting a DV camcorder to an IEEE 1394 capture card

Figure 8.1 - Connecting a DV camcorder to an IEEE 1394 capture card.

DV camera connected to an analog video capture card

Even though you have a DV camera, you might not have an IEEE 1394 card. You can still use your DV camera as long as you have another video capture card installed on your computer. However, if you transfer video this way, from a digital device to an analog capture card, you will experience some loss in quality. This is because the data that is passed to the capture card is altered before the computer can use it. Figure 8.2a shows an example of this connection.

When you connect a DV device in this way, there are two main types of input: S-video or composite video. Both result in a loss of quality compared to using an IEEE 1394 capture card. However, if you have the appropriate connectors and your hardware can transfer either S-video or composite video, you'll probably want to use S-video because it results in higher-quality picture and sound. Figure 8.2b shows an example of this connection.

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 Picture of Connecting a DV camcorder to analog composite or S-video inputs

Figure 8.2 - Connecting a DV camcorder to analog composite or S-video inputs.

Analog camcorder connected to an analog video capture card

Analog camcorders include cameras that record in formats such as 8mm, Hi-8, VHS, and S-VHS. When recording from an analog camera to an analog capture card, you will not have the picture quality you would experience with a DV camera and an IEEE 1394 capture card. However, when using analog devices, you can use the software that came with your capture card to change some aspects of your video such as hue, saturation, brightness, contrast, and sound volume levels. Figure 8.3 shows a basic analog camcorder connection.

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 Picture of Connecting an analog camcorder to an analog capture card

Figure 8.3 - Connecting an analog camcorder to an analog capture card.

Some analog camcorders have separate video and audio connections. In this configuration, the inputs could look similar to the one shown in Figure 8.4.

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 Picture of Using separate video and audio connections

Figure 8.4 - Using separate video and audio connections.

Web camera connected to either USB or analog video capture card

The correct way to connect your Web camera to your computer depends on the type of camera you own. Some cameras attach to a USB port, while others may connect to your video capture card. These two pieces of hardware might be shipped together, or may have to be purchased separately. While some cameras can connect to any video capture card, some other Web cameras are proprietary, which means that you must have the appropriate capture card specified by the camera manufacturer for the Web camera to work. Consult the accompanying documentation to determine which applies to your specific Web camera.

Furthermore, some Web cameras have a built-in microphone, while others do not. If your Web camera does not have a built-in microphone, you will need a separate microphone to capture sound. Plug it into the jack (often labeled Mic) on your computer or sound card. If you do not have a microphone and your Web camera does not have one built in, you will not be able to record sound without another capture device, such as a camcorder.

Figure 8.5 shows an example of possible Web camera connections. Note that your connection will depend on the type of Web camera you are using.

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 Picture of Connecting a Web camera

Figure 8.5 - Connecting a Web camera.

VCR connected to an analog video capture card

With the growing popularity of video capture cards and TV tuner cards, some people are beginning to use their computers as TVs. For example, if you have cable television, you could attach a coaxial cable from the cable outlet on your wall or the cable decoder box to your VCR. To complete the configuration, you could attach the video out and the appropriate audio connections to your computer. The video out would go to the video in jack on your video capture card (possibly labeled composite), and the audio jack would go to the line in jack of the sound card.

If you have home movies that are on standard VHS tapes, this is one way to get those movies into Movie Maker.

NOTE: If both your VCR and video capture card provide S-video connections, you can connect them with a single S-video cable to transmit both video and sound. See the documentation provided with your VCR and capture card for more information about S-video connections. S-video provides higher-quality pictures and sound than composite video connections.

Figure 8.6 shows an example of connecting a VCR to a computer video capture card.

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 Picture of Connecting a VCR to a video capture card

Figure 8.6 - Connecting a VCR to a video capture card.

Understanding the Record dialog box

After you have connected your capture devices to your computer, you are now ready to record your home movies or other footage into Movie Maker. This is the main feature of Movie Maker, and recording is made easy through one main starting point, the Record dialog box. So whether you are transferring home movies from a tape to your computer or using your Web camera to record a short message to send to a friend, it's all done in one main dialog box.

Figure 8.7 shows the Record dialog box when a DV camera is not attached or detected by your computer, or when the DV camera is in Camera (recording) mode.

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 Picture of the Record dialog box

Figure 8.7 - The Record dialog box.

NOTE: You may not have the same devices listed as shown in Figure 8.7. As mentioned earlier, Movie Maker supports a wide variety of capture devices.

The Record dialog box provides an additional set of controls and another option if you have a DV camera attached to your computer and you switch it to the VCR or VTR mode, which is the playback mode you use to record from a tape into Movie Maker. The additional set of controls and the extra option are circled in Figure 8.8.

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 Picture of the Record dialog box when a DV device is attached to the computer in VCR (playback) mode

Figure 8.8 - The Record dialog box when a DV device is attached to the computer in VCR (playback) mode.

Before recording your tapes or other material into Movie Maker, it's important to have a solid understanding of the features provided by the Record dialog box. The following sections describe the different parts of this dialog box in detail.

Record

When recording, you can choose to record video only, audio only, or both video and audio. A majority of the time, you will probably want to record both the audio and video portions of your movies you are transferring to Movie Maker. After all, a major part of home movies includes the pictures of family and friends with dialog that shows their personality and truly captures the moment.

However, there may be times when you only want to capture the video portion of your movies because you want to personally narrate the scenes or add some other soundtrack. Let's face it, at times the dialog captured in movies does not add to the movie, or the quality of the sound in the movie is not exactly what was expected. In this case, you could record only the video of a home movie, add the resulting clips to your current project, and then record a narration describing the depicted scenes, people, or images.

Video and Audio device

Choosing the correct video and audio devices is essential to recording your source material into Movie Maker. To record successfully, you must choose the correct device and the correct line inputs. If either of these settings is incorrect, your video and audio will not be recorded successfully.

Table 8.1 shows common configurations when choosing the video and audio device settings. In the Record dialog box, click Change Device to see the devices available for use and to view or change your current recording settings.

NOTE: Remember, the connections on your machine may be different due to the variety of available hardware.

Table 8.1 - Video and audio device settings.

Task                      Video device   Audio device           Line input  
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Record both audio and     Video capture  Default audio device   Line In
video from analog tape.   card  
 
Record both audio and     DV camera or   DV camera or VCR (You  (Already
video from DV tape (DV    VCR            will need to increase  selected
IEEE 1394 capture card).                 the volume of your     or non-
                                         camera or VCR to hear  applicable)
                                         the audio of your  
                                         movie. You will not  
                                         hear the audio on    
                                         your computer.)

Record both audio and     Video capture  Default audio device   Line In
video from DV tape        card
(analog video 
capture card). 
   
Record live video and     Web camera     Web camera microphone  (Already
accompanying audio from                  (This must be chosen   selected
a Web camera without a                   as the audio device.)  or non-
built-in microphone.                                            applicable)

Record live video and     Web camera     Default audio device   Microphone
accompanying audio                                              or Mic (if
from a Web camera                                               you have a
without a built-in                                              microphone
microphone                                                      attached to 
                                                                your 
                                                                computer) 
Table 8.1 - Video and audio device settings.

NOTE: Even if you do not have any capture devices, you can still use Movie Maker. However, you will not be able to record directly into Movie Maker; you can only import existing media files to use in your movies.

For current video capture devices, two basic driver standards exist: Microsoft Video for Windows (VFW) drivers and Windows Driver Model (WDM) drivers. The only difference you're likely to see is the dialog box and the choices provided when you are configuring the device. You will know which standard your device follows by the dialog box that appears after you click Change Device in the Record dialog box. A device that uses WDM drivers will have the dialog box with the extra video Line input option if the device has multiple line inputs, whereas a device that uses VFW drivers (or a WDM device that has only one line input) will not provide this option. Figure 8.9 shows the dialog box that is displayed if a capture device uses WDM drivers and has multiple line inputs.

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 Picture of the Change Device dialog box for a device that uses WDM drivers and has multiple line inputs

Figure 8.9 - The Change Device dialog box for a device that uses WDM drivers and has multiple line inputs.

The next two scenarios describe configuring a VFW capture device and a capture device that uses WDM drivers. The specific capture device connected can be a Web camera or analog camcorder.

To configure your analog video device (VFW drivers)
  1. In the Record dialog box, click Change Device. The Change Device dialog box, shown in Figure 8.10, appears.

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     Picture of the Change Device dialog box for a capture device that uses VFW drivers

    Figure 8.10 - The Change Device dialog box for a capture device that uses VFW drivers.
  2. In the Change Device dialog box, select the device you want to use, and then click Configure.
  3. In the resulting Properties dialog box, click Video Source. The resulting dialog box depends on the manufacturer of your capture device and the accompanying software.

    Typically, you can control recording settings such as:
    • Video connection to use.
    • Image size.
    • Standard to use, usually NTSC or PAL. NTSC is the broadcasting standard used in North America, while PAL is the European standard.
    • Image format.
    • Brightness, contrast, hue, and saturation of your video.
  4. Click OK or Close.
  5. After you have made these changes and others for the appropriate Audio device and Line input to use, click OK in the Change Device dialog box to return to the main Record dialog box and continue to specify your recording settings.
To configure your analog video device (WDM drivers)
  1. In the Record dialog box, click Change Device. For devices with multiple line inputs that use WDM drivers, the Change Device dialog box appears, shown in Figure 8.11.

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     Picture of the Change Device dialog box for a capture device that has multiple line inputs and that uses WDM drivers

    Figure 8.11 - The Change Device dialog box for a capture device that has multiple line inputs and that uses WDM drivers.
  2. In the Change Device dialog box, select the Video device you want to use and then select the Line to use for the video. The setting you should select depends on how your camera is connected to your capture card
  3. In the Change Device dialog box, click Configure.
  4. In the resulting Properties dialog box, click Video Source. The resulting dialog box depends on the manufacturer of your capture device and the accompanying software. Therefore, you may see a name that is slightly different than Video Source.

    Typically, you can control recording settings such as:
    • Standard to use, usually NTSC or PAL. NTSC is the broadcasting standard used in North America, while PAL is the European standard.
    • Your camera controls (for example, pan, tilt, and so forth).
    • Settings such as brightness, contrast, hue, and saturation of your video.
  5. Click OK or Close.
  6. After you have made these changes and others for the Audio device and Line input to use, click OK in the Change Device dialog box to return to the main Record dialog box and continue to specify your recording settings.
Record time limit The Record time limit option lets you set a maximum recording time. The value in this option is in the form of hh:mm:ss (hours:minutes:seconds). When a time limit is set, Movie Maker stops recording automatically when the time limit expires. This option is probably most helpful if you are recording long tapes, which may be one or two hours long. This lets you perform other tasks on your computer (or around the house) while your home movie is recording into Movie Maker. After the time expires, you will be prompted to name and save the resulting movie file.

If you have selected the Auto generate file check box in the Options dialog box, under the View menu, Movie Maker automatically names and saves the resulting file. The clip (or clips if Create clips is selected) is then imported into a new collection. The actual imported video file is stored in the location specified in the Record file area in the Options dialog box. The files are saved as Tape1.wmv, Tape2.wmv, and so forth. If you chose to record Audio only, the resulting files are saved as Tape1.wma, Tape2.wma, and so forth.

The recording time limit depends on the amount of hard disk space you have available on your computer. If you set the limit for an amount of time that exceeds your available hard disk space, the time limit is automatically set according to the maximum amount of hard disk space that is available and the quality setting level that is selected. For example, if you set the Record time limit option for two hours and have specified the Medium quality setting level, but you only have one hour worth of disk space, the Record time limit box is automatically set at 1:00:00. If the content you want to record into Movie Maker requires more disk space, you have to either free up some hard disk space, choose a lower quality setting, or select another drive.

When you are recording, you need to have at least 300 MB of free disk space on your system drive, which is the drive on which the Windows Millennium Edition operating system is installed. For example, if Windows Millennium Edition is installed on drive C, this is your system drive. If the drive set in the Temporary Storage box of the Options dialog box is the same as the system drive, you will only be able to record content that can be stored on that drive above 300 MB. For example, if you have 301 MB of free hard disk space on your system drive, and Temporary Storage is set to this same drive, you would only have 1 MB available for recording. Table 8.2 shows the drive requirements:

Table 8.2 - The free disk space necessary for various drives on your computer.

Drive              Free disk space on the Drive (MB)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

System drive       300 
Swap file          25 (always on your system drive) 
Collection         50 (always on your system drive) 
Non-system         0
Create clips

If you are recording a long tape that contains an hour or two of footage, navigating through the entire file to find the specific portion you want to use can be time-consuming. Selecting the Create clips option enables shot detection in Movie Maker, where a new clip is created each time an entirely different frame is detected. Clip creation and its use are described later in this chapter.

NOTE: You can permanently turn off the Create clips option by clearing the Automatically create clips check box in the Options dialog box. If you select this option, the Create clips check box in the Record dialog box will be cleared, and your recorded content appears as one clip in Movie Maker.

Disable preview while capturing (DV only)

Digital devices, such as a DV camera or a digital VCR, consume a lot of system resources on your computer. This in turn affects the performance of your computer and the quality of your recorded videos. One way to reduce the load placed on your computer system is to select the Disable preview while capturing check box. When you select this option, you will not see a preview of your movie in the monitor pane of the Record dialog box when you are copying a tape from your DV camera to your computer. Many DV cameras have an LCD panel where you could watch your movie as it records into Movie Maker.

This option only appears when a DV device has been detected and the device is set to playback mode. If you do not have any DV devices, this option does not appear when you are recording in Movie Maker.

Take photo button

Sometimes there is a part of a movie that just seems to say it all. In Movie Maker, you can capture that single frame by using the Take photo button. When you take a photo, the resulting image is saved to your computer as a JPEG image file, and the resulting clip is imported into the currently selected collection automatically. You can then add this image to your current project.

Just as when you save a video file, the resulting JPEG still image file is saved in your My Videos folder, though you can easily change the location where the photo is saved on your computer.

NOTE: The length of time a photo, and any other still image imported into Movie Maker, appears when inserted into a project depends on the time set in the Default imported photo duration (seconds) box in the Options dialog box. To set the default duration, type the duration for which you want your photos to appear in a project before using the Take photo button or importing other still images into Movie Maker. Record The final part of recording is to click the Record button to start recording your movie. After you click this button, the word Recording blinks to indicate that you are recording, and the time elapsed for that current recording appears next to it. After recording has begun, the button becomes a Stop button that you click when you want to stop recording.

Quality setting options

The quality of your final movie depends on the quality of the captuered source material. Because of this, choosing an appropriate value for the Setting options is important. A good rule to follow is to record your videos or movies by using the Medium quality or High quality settings. Remember, if you want to reduce the file size, you can always save the resulting movie at a lower quality setting after you have recorded it into Movie Maker.

The different Setting options you can choose from in Movie Maker affect the following aspects of the video and sound you record:
  • The display size of your movie when your end user watches it in Windows Media Player.
  • The number of video frames per second.
  • The video bit rate, which is the speed at which the video in your movie streams.
  • The quality of the audio in your movie.
  • The audio bit rate, which is the speed at which the audio in your movie streams.
For example, if you record your movie using the Medium quality or High quality settings, the video displays as 320 pixels by 240 pixels in both profiles; however, the High quality setting captures 30 frames per second (fps), whereas the Medium quality setting only captures 15 fps. In general, the smoothness of motion in your video increases with the number of frames per second. Also, the audio quality will be greater with the High quality setting because the audio bits stream at a higher rate than they do with the Medium quality setting. Remember, the video and sound quality of the final movie you create in Movie Maker directly depends on the quality of the original recording.

You might ask, "If the High quality setting is better, why shouldn't I use it all the time?" Basically, the answer is disk space. A movie saved with the High quality setting consumes approximately twice as much disk space on your computer as the same content recorded at the Medium quality setting. When trying to determine which Setting option to use, consider the content or the possible content (if you are recording live from a camcorder or Web camera) of your recording.

For example, if you record a car race, you would probably want to use the High quality option rather than Medium quality. If you use the Medium quality or Low quality options, the movement of the cars might appear uneven and jerky because there is not enough information, or bits, in the video to accommodate the rapid movement of the cars. The sounds of the cars racing by will be clearer, too, if you select High quality.

Conversely, if you have a video that does not contain a lot of movement, such as a recording of people sitting and talking at a birthday party, you could probably safely use the Medium quality setting rather than High quality.

If you choose Audio only when recording your movies, only the audio portion of your movie is recorded. The profiles to save the resulting audio file change. The profiles you choose from only contain audio information; they do not contain video information because no video is saved. The settings Low quality, Medium quality, and High quality still exist; only the profile descriptions and the content saved are different. For example, if you select Audio only and choose the Medium quality setting, the profile description is "Audio for CD-quality (96 Kbps stereo)" and only audio is recorded. However, if you choose to record Audio and video, or Video only, the description for the Medium quality setting is "Video for e-mail and dual-channel ISDN (128 Kbps)" and either the audio and video, or only the video, is recorded.

For all profiles, whether you choose Video and audio, Audio only, or Video only, you'll notice that the information below the setting also changes, such as the profile name, settings, and the amount of material you can record at that setting. The amount of time remaining is based on the amount of hard disk space you have available. Movie Maker determines this disk space according to the drive specified in the Record file area of the Options dialog box when the Auto generate file check box is selected. If the Auto generate file option is not selected, Movie Maker examines the amount of disk space on the drive specified in the Temporary storage box in the Options dialog box. This is important to know if you have more than one hard drive or if your hard disk is partitioned because you can choose which drive to save your recorded movies on.

As a general rule to follow, it is always better to choose a higher quality setting when recording. If you choose to record at a low quality setting, then save your movie at a higher quality setting, the quality of your saved movie will not increase. If you wanted to increase the quality of your saved movie, you would have to re-record the content at a higher quality setting, recreate your project, and then save your movie again at the higher quality setting.

The quality settings used during recording are the same ones used when you are saving and sending your movie. However, when saving a movie that you are going to send by e-mail or over the Web, other considerations, such as Internet connection speed and bandwidth, need to be made.

Digital video controls (DV only)

The digital video camera controls let you control your DV camera through Movie Maker. They only appear when the camera is in playback mode (often labeled VCR or VTR on your camera) and connected to an IEEE 1394 capture card. Using the controls in Movie Maker lets you start and stop playback and recording from your computer. By controlling recording entirely in Movie Maker, you do not have to toggle back and forth between the controls on the DV camera and the ones in Movie Maker.

References

The information in this article is an excerpt from the Microsoft Windows Movie Maker Handbook book, published by Microsoft Press.

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Picture of the Microsoft Windows Movie Maker Handbook


Learn More About Microsoft Windows Movie Maker Handbook

For more information about this publication and other Microsoft Press titles, see http://mspress.microsoft.com.

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Article ID: 314575 - Last Review: June 19, 2014 - Revision: 2.0
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Retired KB Content Disclaimer
This article was written about products for which Microsoft no longer offers support. Therefore, this article is offered "as is" and will no longer be updated.

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