Rhetoric and Gaming: A Crash Course in Windows Moviemaker

Today we are going to jump into video editing. Many of you will already have experience with video editing, and today will feel like a review. Please feel free to make suggestions or help!

We’ll be working from an earlier tutorial I created, some of which needs to be updated.

My list of objectives for today:

Here’s a post offering some resources for audio editing.

And here’s the copy of my tutorial:

Session Description: Learn how to take and edit video for your courses using Windows Movie Maker

Today’s workshop aims to demonstrate how easy it is to incorporate video projects into contemporary curriculum. We’ll be working on PC’s with Window’s MovieMaker software (a program included for free on virtually any Windows machine). Today breaks down into 5 basic parts:

  • First, I’ll briefly go over Windows MovieMaker and its major features (5 minutes)
  • Second, I’ll set you to task creating a short video from still pictures (20 minutes)
  • Third, We’ll lay some audio tracks for your video (10 minutes)
  • Fourth, I’ll share one of the more developed assignments I use with video and a few other resources (5 minutes)
  • Fifth, We’ll export and share your productions (10 minutes)

A Ten Minute Introduction to MovieMaker

Whether teaching rhetoric, composition, or technology, I’m a proponent of postpedagogy–the theory that “teaching” is often an obstacle to learning. Rather than trying to teach you how to use a technology, I’m looking to open a space, set conditions, to help you learn a technology. This requires time for experimentation, play, failure, and success. Since we’ve only got 45 minutes today, we don’t have too much time to waste.

Let me note up front that we’re making videos today using still pictures because we don’t have time to work with video (though one could easily work with video in a longer time frame). However, the process of making a movie with video or still pictures in roughly the same.

Also, let me stress the importance of properly saving files when working with multimedia technologies. Here’s the gist:

  • No spaces in file names
  • No capital letters in file names
  • Save your files in the same place; this includes all files you download from the web for this project. The first thing you should do upon starting a multimedia project is to create a folder on your desktop specifically for the proejct–save all files to this folder. This is especially important with MovieMaker, since when you “import” a file into MovieMaker, you aren’t actually importing the file, but rather making a path to the file (I’ll address this further below when I discuss saving your project).

Task: “When You Are Old”

Ideally, I would have liked for you to select your own poem to work in teams of two. Unfortunately, 45 minutes doesn’t give much time for searching for materials, so I’ve selected a poem for us to work with and compiled some materials into a .zip folder. Laura has distributed this folder to our email list. Check your email and locate the .zip folder. Right click on the folder and chose to save it to your desktop. Next, we’ll unzip the folder.

Our task today will be to create an audio/visual presentation of Yeats’ short poem “When You Are Old.” The final product will have two sound tracks–the narration track (recorded with a microphone) and a music track (using copyleft music available through the Free Music Archive (FMA) or another online, open source repository).

Getting Started

First, fire up MovieMaker (Start > Windows Live Movie Maker). Across the top ofthe screen you should see a tool bar with Home, Animations, Visual Effects, Project, View. We’ll walk through these tools one at a time.

Now we need to add some images to include in our movie. Find the “Add videos and photos” button under the Home tab, select the images from our “yeats_poem_project” folder, and click ok. Note: make sure your images are properly large (at least 300px x 300px–basic rule on images and the web, it is easier to make images smaller, but not larger). Here we can use a Creative Commons Image search. Note, too, that I prefer to ask students to take their own photos when I do this as a class project; that allows us to talk about angles, lighting, etc–see my resources near the bottom of this page. Finally, note that if I wanted to import video or pictures from a digital camera, I could select “import from device” from the main file menu (the blue notebook looking thing).

Once I have my images, I can re-arrange their order by clicking on them and dragging them in the timeline.

Adding a Title Screen

Now, let’s use a simple project template–these add features to your movie such as a title screen, end credits, or transitions. I’m going to select the first option, to get an easy title screen (I could select one w/ transitions, but we’re going to include those manually when we use the “animations” tab.

Now I’m going to double-click the text underneath the title screen in my timeline. I’ll change the text to read “Yeat’s “‘When You Are Old’.” I’m also going to add a text effect to the title, in this case a fade (the second blue box in the top menu). Finally, I am going to adjust the duration of the title screen by double-clicking off the text and onto the title box in the timeline.

I’m going to edit the “Directed By” screen to a simpler “by” screen, and delete the other credits screen.

Preparing to Record & Recording Our Reading

Now we are going to “trim” our images, adjusting their time in preparation for recording our narration. Since everyone reads at a different speed, this will require a few practice runs. Just as with the title screen, when you click on an image/clip, you can adjust its length in tool area.

Now we need to record an audio track of our reading. Unfortunately, Windows Live MovieMaker no longer contains a native recording feature, so we’ll need to open a new program. Go to Start and search for Sound Recorder. Once you have a microphone plugged in, open the program.

Rearrange your Windows so that you can see both the movie plane and the Sound Recorder.

Once you are happy with your recording, we’ll want to insert it into MovieMaker. Click on the “Home” tab and choose add music. Once you have inserted the music, double-click on the green audio stream to adjust the music volume (it is set to max by default, try adjusting it to 80%).

Adding Transitions and Applying a Visual Effect

Once the first audio track is set, we’re going to add some quick transitions between our images. Click on the “animations” tab. Note that visual rhetorical principles stress repetition and symmetry, so we should select one type of slide transition and use it consistently.

Note to myself, my final slide times: 5.0, 9.0, 6.5, 8.0, 10.0, 7.0, 5.5, 7.0.

Once we’ve set all our transitions, I want to add a visual effect to my slides. In this case, I am simply going to transform them all to black and white.

The first thing you should do is lay your narration track.

Adding Background Music

Finally, I want to get a bit fancy and supply a background audio track. Now we’ll want to lay a second audio track. Unfortunately, MovieMaker stopped supporting multiple audio tracks, so we have to use a workaround for multiple audio tracks.

To utilize the workaround, we first have to save a finished version of our movie. Then we will open a new project in MovieMaker, import the finished movie, and then put in a new audio track. First, make sure we have saved the entire project file in case something goes wrong. Hit Blue File Button > Save Project.

Next, we want to save our movie. The difference between a Project and a movie is that the project can be opened and edited in Moviemaker, the finished movie can be opened and viewed in another program, like Windows Media Player, or uploaded to YouTube. Under the Blue File Button, choose Save Movie > For computer (this will produce a high quality save file, likely too large for email or upload). Notice that unlike the project file, which saves as a wlmp, this saves as a .wmv (Windows Media Video file). Save the file in our project folder. The project will take a few seconds to compress. Note that with video projects, this step can take between 2 and 20 minutes.

Now return to MovieMaker, and choose “New Project” from the Blue File Button.

Click “Add Videos and Photos” from the Home tab. Select our recently finished .wmv file.

Now, as the tutorial instructed, we’ll have a video file with our narration audio track and the ability to add another audio track “under” it.

I’m going to add Jessica Pavone’s “Dedicated to Elizabeth Cotten (with Matt Bauder),” a track I found via the Free Music Archive. I’m also going to adjust the audio level of this track to about 45%.

Publishing Our Videos

Finally, we need to publish our videos. Note that publishing a video is not the same thing as saving our project. The project is the collection of paths to other files that we can edit in MovieMaker. We can only edit this file if it is located in the same place as all the other files contained in it. This is why it is so important to create a folder for all files used in the project, else you will get the red X’s of death.

When we publish a video, we have to think about where we want it to go. Video file sizes can very quickly grow out of hand; but lower file sizes can lead to degradation via compression. When I have students work on extended video projects, I often have them burn the projects to CD. Small projects can be compressed into a .zip for email by right-clicking the file and choosing “send to” > “compressed folder.” Note that compressed files have to be un-zipped before they can be viewed.

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