At a Glance
- Easy to use, even for beginners; Storyboard layout is simple and intuitive
- Offers limited effects; Little to no advanced features
Create slick movies from your photos or videos–and share them–with this free app.
I’ve always been a bit intimidated by video editing software. It
overwhelms me, offering too many options and not enough
explanations to guide a moviemaking novice like me. That’s why I
thought Microsoft’s Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 might be my
perfect app, as it’s designed for casual users like me. And while
Movie Maker is easy enough to use, and produces generally pleasing
results, it’s also a bit limited–even by my standards.
Movie Maker 2011 is part of Microsoft’s Windows Live
Essentials pack; you can choose to install all of the bundled
software, or you can opt to pick and choose apps. It’s designed to
help you turn photos and videos into slideshows and movies,
complete with soundtracks, captions, and transitions.
Getting started is easy: you select the photos and/or videos
you’d like to include in your finished product, and Movie Maker
automatically arranges them into a storyboard-style layout. The app
supports a variety of file formats for importing, including WMV,
AVCHD, QuickTime, AVI, MPEG-4, MPEG-2, and MOV video files, and
JPEG, TIFF, GIF, BMP, ICO, PNG, and WDP photo files.
With the files imported, the storyboard makes it easy to
visualize your finished movie, and to rearrange its contents as
you’re working. You can select one of four AutoMovie themes, which
will create your movie for you, adding a title and transitions. If
you’re feeling more ambitious, you can customize your movie a bit
more, by trimming and splitting videos; panning and zooming; adding
varied transitions; adjusting brightness; and adding visual
effects, like black and white or sepia tones. You also can add
captions and credits, and a soundtrack, if you’d like. But that’s
about it. If you’re looking for more advanced effects, you’re out
of luck–Movie Maker 2011 really is designed for producing basic
(though polished) movies, and fast.
Once you’ve completed your movie, Movie Maker presents you with
several options for sharing it. You can upload it directly to
YouTube, Facebook, Windows Live SkyDrive, Flickr, or Windows Live
Groups. You also have the option to format it for viewing on a
mobile device, though the only devices listed in the menu or
Windows Phones or Zune portable media players. Movie Maker also
lets you share your movie via e-mail, burn it right to a DVD, or
save it on your desktop. Note that all of these options save your
movie as a Windows Media Audio/Video file, though–no alternative
video formats supported here.
If you’re looking for a drop-dead simple way to create
good-looking slideshows and movies, Windows Live Movie Maker 2011
can handle the task. Just be aware that this free software offers
only the basics, so you may outgrow it quickly, and may find
yourself stepping up to an app such as Adobe’s $100 Premiere
Note: This link takes you to the vendor’s site,
where you can download the latest version of the software.