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Windows XP Home Edition: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

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Windows Movie Maker

You can use the Windows Movie Maker program to edit the boring parts out of your camcorder footage, add crossfades, and save the resulting production as a digital file that you can email to friends or save onto a disk. Movie Maker is not to be confused with such “real” video-editing programs as StudioDV or Adobe Premiere; Movie Maker is extremely limited, offering only a single kind of transition between clips, no special effects, no way to add credits and titles, no way to edit audio, relatively poor picture quality, and no way to send your masterpiece back out to the camcorder. But for just-for-fun, here’s-what-the-new-baby-looks-like projects, it may be just the ticket.

Doing the actual editing is the easy part. The hard part is getting equipped to do so, since the standard PC can’t communicate at all with the standard camcorder. To use Movie Maker, proceed in any of three ways:

  • Use analog equipment. In other words, use a standard camcorder or VCR, and play your footage into your PC from standard VHS, 8 mm, or Hi-8 tapes.

    A quick inspection of the back of your computer, however, should make clear that it has no connector for a VCR. Therefore, you also need to buy a video capture card or one of those inexpensive USB capture boxes designed to let you pour video into your PC. The quality might be grainy, though, since Movie Maker achieves its goal of creating emailable movie files by heavily compressing your video.

  • Use digital equipment. If you prefer better quality, ...

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