Windows Live Movie Maker Review
WLMM takes full advantage of Windows 7’s excellent import wizard. You can import videos/pictures automatically from your digital camcorder/ camera. Windows automatically groups them in terms of the time the footage was captured – the time between each group can be adjusted by the user. Each group can be tagged and named.
Once imported, the files can be added directly by selecting all the media you want in the timeline. Entire folders cannot be selected, however, so if you have content in different folders (or groups, as per Windows’ import wizard), you will need to browse into each folder separately and select all the files.
The files – both video and pictures – are added directly as storyboards in the working area in the order you add them.
Vitally, WLMM offers AVCHD compatibility, which is the codec recorded in most camcorders these days. 1080p AVCHD files from a Canon HF10 were added with no problems, and an entire page of thumbnails showed up in less than 10 seconds. In addition, HDV compatibility is retained as well. However, I did notice a Haali media splitter icon popping up at every preview – which means you may need to install an external codec supporting AVCHD.
We have got our files in the working area just fine – all smooth progress so far. Except, WLMM imports all footage in a 4:3 aspect ratio, where as all HD footage is shot at 16:9 (1920×1080). Thus, the 16:9 previews are letterboxed into a 4:3 frame. In the View tab, there is an option to switch to a 16:9. However, this did not work at all for me. I tried with AVCHD, HDV and even Uncompressed files – every time all I was greeted with was a crash. Most probably, this is a system-only issue, and even if it were widespread, I am sure this will be fixed in the future. For now, I will have to stick with working within a 4:3 aspect ratio with my 16:9 content letterboxed. This will have further implications in the final Output, as we will see later.
Another problem is adding single files that are more than 10 minutes in length. It can take up to 2 minutes for such large files to be added to the storyboard view – but it does get added.
In addition, WLMM supports a wide range of music and picture formats. More exotic formats such as FLAC and RAW image are not supported.
Finally, because of the way AVCHD footage is recorded, all footage, regardless of frame rate modes are recorded on to a 60i, 29.97 frames per second container. So, if you recorded in 24P mode, it is not really 24 progressive frames in one second – more like 18 progressive and 12 interlaced, to make up for the 30 frames. While WLMM does deinterlace, it only supports one frame rate for its workflow, i.e. 29.97 fps, unlike commercial editors which will take the blend the 12 interlaced to 6 frames to give 24 frames per second, as shot. Hence, the 24P footage you shot will result in a 30 fps final output in WLMM. This is not an issue if you shoot at 60i or 30p, as do most.
While WLMM offers good compatibility with modern camcorders, there are some major issues that need to be ironed out.