Windows Movie Maker tips, tutorials, forums and more...

Visit the Windows Movie Maker forums

Community Forums

Getting Started
Learn Movie Maker 2
Capture Video
Improve Video Capture
Saving Projects

Editing Video
Video Editing
Video Trimming
Video Effects
Using Transitions

Adding Sounds
Adding Music
Adding Narration
Multiple Audio Tracks
Controlling Volume

Taking Pictures
Making Slideshows
Advanced Titles
Photo Story 3

Exporting Movies
Saving Movies
CD-Rom Backup
Create a DVD

More Articles
All Articles
Movie Maker 2 Review
Movie Maker Tutorials
What are Codecs?
Streaming Video
Create a Movie CD
Using Photo Story 2

MM2 Newsletter Archive

Download Windows Media Player 11

Digital Media BooksView Books about Digital Media

PapaJohn's Newsletter #167

Movie Maker in Vista's Home Basic Version

Vista's Home Basic doesn't include High-Def or MPEG-2 support in Movie Maker, nor does it have the new DVD Maker... that doesn't say anything about what it does have and how well it works.

In this issue, I'll give my newer Toshiba laptop with Vista Home Basic a general checkup by importing and previewing lots of test files .

The app files in the Movie Maker folder of the Home Basic system are identical to those on my Vista Ultimate system. But not having high-def and DVD Maker features, it lacks the executable and DLLs for DVD Maker, along with eight .ax codec files and a few font files.

I started by feeding it 70 audio files of many different file types. It accepted about 40 of them, gave nicely worded messages for most of the ones it couldn't accept, and crashed totally with one of the file types.

Unchecking all 10 of the line items in the Compatibility list didn't result in Movie Maker accepting the crashing file type, but it replaced the non-elegant crashing with a message saying it couldn't handle the file. Now to get on with seeing if the imported files preview and work in projects.

I don't know what I'll learn from the exercises.... but with only ten line items to uncheck in the compatibility list, it should be easy to figure out which one is involved in the crashing.

After the audio files, I'll do the same with still pix and video clips. But first....

... a couple notes...


I tried the new Windows Live Photo Gallery Beta software. It worked well, but using it coincided with new regular error messages from Outlook Express saying "Outlook Express could not be started. It may not be installed correctly. Make sure that your disk is not full or that you are not out of memory. Contact Microsoft support for further assistance. (0x8004005, 183)". Confusing in that outside of the error messages, Outlook Express is working fine. I'm writing this newsletter with it. 

Besides the Photo Gallery, I had installed a number of Windows Live features. Not only was I getting the error messages, but the performance of my system had slowed down noticeably. Yesterday I started to resolve things by uninstalling the Windows Live Photo Gallery, followed by Windows Live Writer, Windows Live Toolbar, Windows Live Sign-in Assistant, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Installer, Windows Live Favorites, and Windows Live Toolbar...

The system returned to it's perky normal but the Outlook Express errors continue, popping up every few minutes as I use the app to read or write emails.

I'm using my Vista Home Basic laptop more and more... and it's working well. I'll be pretty busy over the next 2 weeks writing 4 software reviews about: morphing, icon editing, picture management, and desktop publishing. The icon editing one makes Vista icons so the laptop will get some more of a workout.

.... back to the main topic...

Importing Files...

Let's go through the audio files first, followed by other file types.

Audio Files

The file types that imported, with notes about those that didn't preview in the collections, were:

  • AC3
  • AIF
  • AU
  • MP2
  • MP3
  • MPG
  • Compatibility ListOGG - Movie Maker crashed on importing until I unchecked the ffdshow audio decoder in the compatibility list... you may remember my installing the ffdshow codec a few weeks ago for newsletter #164. Once unchecked the OGG files imported and previewed fine. I left the ffdshow video decoder checked.
  • PCA - imported but didn't preview in the collection, and doesn't open in WMP.
  • WAV
  • WMA - 6 of my 7 samples worked fine, but one 128 kbps file made by FX Audio plays OK in WMP but doesn't preview in Movie Maker. And later we'll see that it has the strange behavior of going to the video track of a movie project.

Audio file types that didn't import, and for the most part didn't play in WMP, were:

  • AA3
  • AIFC
  • AIFF
  • DIG
  • FLAC
  • G721
  • IFF
  • IVC
  • MAT
  • MIDI
  • MOV
  • RAW
  • RM
  • SDS
  • SMP
  • SND
  • TXT
  • VOC
  • VOX
  • W64
  • XAC

Still Pictures

Aspect ratios of thumbnails and previews look good.

The biggest file I tried was a JPG of 26,788 pixels wide by 3,916 pixels high. MM6 handled it well, reducing it's size appropriately to fit the proportions of the preview window.

The smallest files were one pixel by one pixel, which is still 1 pixel in total. There were no issues with the black one... but the white one appears in the thumbnail and preview monitor as a gradient rather than an all white image, but all-white in the preview monitor when on the timeline. They both are square in shape in the thumbnail and preview monitor.... pixels on computers are square.

File types that imported:

  • BMP
  • EMF
  • GIF
  • JPG
  • NEF - RAW pictures from my D40x Nikon 10 megapixel camera
  • PNG
  • TGA - imported but didn't preview... got just a Targa icon in the preview monitor
  • TIF

File types that didn't import:

  • ECW
  • FSH
  • ICO
  • JPM
  • LDF
  • LFW
  • PBM
  • PCX
  • PDF
  • PGM
  • PPM
  • RAW

Animated GIF

Animated GIFs imported into collections. These are special files in that Movie Maker by design handles as still pictures in the collections and video clips on the timeline. 

But unlike normal video clips on the timeline you can grab the right trim handle and change the clips duration... but when doing so, it plays at the same speed, just increasing the number of cycles it goes through.

My spinning globe sample was going way too fast and the overall clip duration had nothing to do with the speed. Adding the Slow Down, Half effect a few times was needed to have it rotate at a visually appealing speed.

Movie Maker in Vista maintains the aspect ratio of animated GIF files... the spinning globe is round, not egg-shaped as in MM2.1 on XP.


PDF slideshows play on the laptop but don't import into Movie Maker.

Video Files

File types that imported and previewed fine were:

  • ASF - made by MuVee
  • AVI - DV-AVI types I and II files made by XP's MM1, MM2, MM2.1
  • AVI - DV-AVI files made by Vista MM6
  • AVI - DV-AVI files made by VirtualDub using the Panasonic DV codec
  • AVI - Motion JPEG made by Canon HDD camcorder TX1 in HD 720 size
  • AVI - MPEG4 made by MovieXOne
  • AVI - MPEG4 made by Stoick's VideoConverter
  • AVI - uncompressed made by VirtualDub
  • AVI - Divx encoded made by VirtualDub
  • AVI - Xvid encoded made by VirtualDub and VDubMod
  • MMG - made by TMPGEnc
  • MPG - MPEG1
  • WMV - Photo Story 3 files, standard and widescreen
  • WMV - VC1 encoded files made by the Expression Encoder
  • WMV - created by Zwein-Stein

Imported OK but had a preview issue or other quirk:

  • AVI - DV-AVI files made by VirtualDubMod using the Panasonic DV codec... didn't preview.
  • MPG - MPEG2 files from a SR42 HDD camcorder... you hear them but don't see them in the preview monitor.
  • MPG - MPEG2 files from Pinnacle Studio and TMPGEnc... you hear them but don't see them in the preview monitor.
  • MPG - MPEG2 files from a Sony DVD camcorder... don't hear or see them.
  • VOB - MPEG2 from a DVD... hear it somewhat but don't see it.
  • WMV - made by Vista's MM6... they play fine, but the file names can throw you for a loop... all sizes including HD 720 and 1080... the file name doesn't import as the clip name... I'm reading WMV - captured by Vista - widescreen-720x480 in my file manager, but the name of the imported clip is OneFilePerScene 11/18/2006 9:58 PM. I imported the same clip 4 times before I caught on to what was happening.
  • WMV - MPEG4v2 - play fine... imported to 4 automatically created sub-clips with names of The Shawshank Redemption- Hope Jun 26(1) 001 thru 004 - the Combine feature puts them together OK but the clip can't be imported without coming in as separate clips.
  • WMV files made with custom profiles of odd pixel dimensions... my tall and thin, and short and wide clips are stretched to fill the preview window.

Video clips that didn't import:

  • DVR-MS from a Sony HDV camcorder, with mixed HD and DV clips
  • DVR-MS from a CanonMV10 high def camcorder
  • FLV - Flash
  • GVI - Google Video
  • M2V files from a mini-DVD camcorder, after being extracted from the MPEG file
  • M4P
  • M4V
  • MOV - Quick Time
  • MP4
  • RM - Real Media
  • SWF - Flash

Continue to use Photo Story for the best panned/zoomed clips...

To see if MM6 handles high quality still images any better than XP, when you do a pan/zoom, I ran through this exercise.

The starting JPG is 26,788 pixels wide by 3,916 pixels high, a stitched together panorama of my office... made from 10 megapixel pictures. In MM6 I applied one of the Pixelan Pan/Zoom effects to pan the full picture from left to right, which cropped the top and bottom black borders as it went.

I rendered the clip to a 3000 kbps WMV file, the Windows Media DVD Quality (3.0 Mbps) choice, a pretty high quality one. See how soft the video is compared to the same part of the original picture.

Quality Comparison

story to MM6

The limit of a picture size used in a Photo Story 3 project is 7,200 pixels in either dimension. Give  MM6 an 'atta-boy' for being able to handle it.

Using Photo Story and Movie Maker together has always been one of my favorite subjects, so I explored this a bit more.

I cropped a 7200 pixel wide segment off the picture so it would go into PS3, used the motion settings to zoom into the same area, rendered it to a 640x480 pixel sized WMV with a generic profile for computer playback, imported the story into MM6, rendered it there using the same 3.0 Mbps profile used above, and viewed it in WMP.

You can see the result, much closer to the original than the panning and zooming by MM6. This again illustrates the value of using Photo Story to make panning/zooming clips for movie projects.

Movie Project...

As the final check, I put the imported video, pix and audio clips on the timeline... almost 35 minutes in total duration and placed randomly. I used the AutoMovie feature of Movie Maker with it's Music Video style to get the project started.

After checking over my clips, AutoMovie gave me an interesting error message, one I hadn't seen before. Have a read!

Auto Movie Error

So my content is too poor, and I didn't even copy it from YouTube!!!

I starting looking closer at the variety of clips in the project and stripping them out to see if I could find the ones that AutoMovie didn't like. I wasn't successful, but did see one very interesting one.

WMA file in Video Track
The 128 kbps WMA file made by FX Audio, the one I mentioned above about it playing in WMP but not previewing in the collection. 

It was the first time I'd ever seen an audio file go to the video track of the project, not the Audio/Music track. That's a clip to study some more someday.

No luck with that clip removed. I then deleted the files little by little until there was just one video clip and music file left... and got the message over and over. The bottom line was it didn't like the content I had used.

I tried with a long clip from a mini-DV import session and AutoMovie worked well, confirming the issue was my content and not Movie Maker or AutoMovie. If it would just tell me the clip(s) it doesn't like, it would have saved lots of work and wondering!!!

Conclusion and Closing... and What's Next?

The exercises for this newsletter didn't uncover any issues. It's another week of helping me warm up the day I'll only be using Vista.

As I mentioned in the notes section, I'll be busy writing software reviews over the next two weeks. I don't expect them to effect my newsletter schedule.


I look forward to comments and discussion about this and other newsletters on the forums at:

Windows Movie

Have a great week...


Movie Maker, Photo Story 3, DVD Maker, Expression Media -
Photo Story 2 -

Products and Services

I'm involved in anything and everything that supports the users of Movie Maker and Photo Story, and adding more regularly. Some are free and others reasonably priced.

Radio and Podcasting

theDVShowTheDVShow is the only weekly Podcast having more useful information about desktop video editing and production than anywhere else on the Web. Digital video editing, nonlinear editing, streaming media, software releases, tutorials, business tips, technical help, download of the day and news on the latest products to make everything easier. It's where professional and consumer desktop video users go to stay on the cutting edge. 

Call the phone mail machine to get your technical question answered on the air... call (206)-203-3516

The radio broadcast is from Boston, and the website has downloadable podcast files. The June 19th 2005 podcast was the first 'bi-weekly' show with a segment about Movie Maker 2. The frequency of radio Q&A sessions about Movie Maker has fallen off as submitted questions are minimal.  Maybe Vista will perk it up a bit.

Do Amazing ThingsBooks

Movie Maker 2 - Do Amazing Things (with its online companion on ), published by Microsoft Press...

Movie Maker 2 - Zero to Hero - with support on the publisher's forum -  Friends of Ed

Learning VirtualDub - published by Packt Publishing in April 2005, is the first book about VirtualDub software. I wrote the introductory chapter about downloading and setting up the software: VirtualDub, VDubMod and AVISynth.

Virtual Dub

A large percentage of book sales are of electronic copies. The Packt Publishing Website page  for the book provides a full table of contents and chapter summaries... and a link to a full free online copy of Chapter 3, Capture Preprocessing.



A six page article Making Movies with Vista was in the Spring 2007 Special Edition (page 78). It covered the movie making process from camcorder tape to viewing it on a standard video DVD.

The 2006 Summer Special edition included a 7 page tutorial Create a Ken Burns-Style Slideshow with Photo Story 3.

The November 2005 edition had a well done reworked 6 page reprint of the article about Movie Maker, starting on page 42 after the Happy 20th Birthday article for Windows.

The Winter 2005 quarterly special had a 7 page tutorial Make a Killer Home Movie with Maker 2. The special edition of the video made for it is  on my website as a file download.

Microsoft Home (online magazine)

I and others you'll recognize were interviewed for an article about Movie Maker for a  Microsoft Home magazine article... here's the link.


Movie Maker and Photo Story - - the site's goals are: doing amazing things, providing a detailed tutorial for PhotoStory 3, and helping you solve Movie Maker problems.

It's been expanded to include the version 6 of Movie Maker in Vista, along with the new Photo Gallery and DVD Maker apps.

PhotoStory 2 - - a detailed tutorial about using the earlier version. It's been a long time since I've updated anything on it, but it still gets pretty good viewer traffic.

Online Support - Forums and Newsgroups

I'm a regular or moderator on many online forums and newsgroups, the key ones being:

Forums are open to all for viewing, but require registration of those who want to post. Moderators actively participate to ensure the forum discussions move forward and stay on track.

Movie Maker and Photo Story forums at Windows Movie Makers

SimplyDV - for camcorder hardware and Apple, Windows, and any other video editing software. Include pictures in your posts to help explain them.

Newsgroups are wide open for all to view and post... moderation is collective by the participants.

Windows Vista newsgroup -

Windows XP Movie Maker newsgroup - microsoft.public.windowsxp.moviemaker

Photo Story 2 newsgroup -

Photo Story 3 newsgroup -

Weekly Newsletters

Movie Maker/Photo Story newsletter. The subscription is $20 for 52 issues, and a link to subscribe is on the main page of or the Products and Services page.

Topics for upcoming newsletters (always subject to change):

#168 - Sept 22 (open)

#169 - Sept 29 (open)

#170 - Oct 6 (open)

Newsletters issued more than 6 weeks ago are posted by Rob Morris to an Archive Site on his Windows Movie Makers' website. Links from my website pages to specific newsletters make it easier for viewers to see the content of both while browsing a topic.

Drop an email to suggest a newsletter subject...


Add-On Transitions and Effects

Transition Maker 2  (TM2) is a utility for the ultimate in making your own personal and custom transitions for Movie Maker 2. It's a joint product from Patrick Leabo, the programmer, and myself.

I've beta tested some of the Pixelan packages , including the new packages for Vista, and think very highly of their people and products.

ProDAD's Adorage packages for Movie Maker 2 are additional sources of very professionally developed transitions and effects. Here are links

TransiitonsEffectsPackage for Movie Maker - Volume 1 

PapaJohn's Transitions - Volume 2

PapaJohn's Video Effects - Volume 3


I use lots of professional background music for movies and stories created by Randon Myles, and act as his agent selling tunes. 

There are 62 tunes available from 4 of his many albums... at 99 cents per tune (MP3 or WMA format). Here's a Sample - 45 seconds from 'Groove 2'. The 4 albums are: In the Fields of the on-Feretin , Music for Film Volume III, the Emerald Way, and the Fourth Door.

I don't have a full set of online samples yet, but if you hear something you like in one of my videos, there's a good chance it was done by Randon. Send an email if you are interested.

Personal Database

With more info to manage, consider additional tools that help.

My personal database has been an ongoing project over many years, and is now available to others. A tutorial about using it is on the Managing > Personal Database page of my site, and more info is in the database package itself.

It's free for the asking to regular newsletter subscribers... send an email request and I'll return it with the zipped file, which is less than 1 MB.

To others it's $10. To order, use the button on the top of the Managing > Personal Database page.

On my list of things to do is a video tutorial about how to use it.

Online Galleries Neptune Gallery

neptune Mediashare is the preferred file download service for Movie Maker users... there's a  'PapaJohn Expert Zone' where I keep many of my samples and personal videos. 

Check it at N eptune and the Distributing > Neptune page of the website, where there's a developing tutorial about how to use the service.

Mydeo... and mydeo is the preferred video streaming service. Many of the video samples for newsletter are on it.

Normal sized photo stories stream as well as or better than movies.


In conjunction with the Portage, Michigan library , I offer free training sessions about Movie Maker and Photo Story, an intro. session and a workshop.

Classes will resume at the end of summer, when schools re-open. We'll be re-inventing the topics offered, as the subject of Movie Maker doesn't draw very many... maybe topics such as making and uploading videos to YouTube, and vacation videos to Trip Advisor... using Movie Maker as the tool rather than the primary subject.

Other fee-based services

If you can't save a movie because your project has become too complex, e-mail a copy and I'll divide it into manageable sub-projects, and provide detailed instructions about how to render the parts and assemble them into your final movie. $49.95 (no cost if it's not the right solution or doesn't work) - for details, see the sidebar on the Problem Solving > Can't Save a Movie page of

Movie Maker 2/Photo Story training and support services start at $75 per hour - send an email - and I'll help you determine your needs, and work with you to plan and implement them.

Wedding combo website/video packages - check the Living Projects section of the website for samples of what you can expect for the online portion of a package.

© 2007 - PapaJohn; Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

About John 'PapaJohn' Buechler from
John 'PapaJohn' Buechler John "PapaJohn" Buechler, of Kalamazoo, Mich., goes by PapaJohn online. An avid user of Movie Maker since its first release, and a regular supporter of the community of Movie Maker users, John received a 2003 MVP award from Microsoft for that support. In March 2003, he started a comprehensive website about Movie Maker 2 at He maintains the website, writes books and articles, teaches, and provides support services - all for the community of Movie Maker 2 users. An engineer by formal education, John is a computer database and multimedia expert by business and personal experience. He co-authored the first book about Movie Maker 2 and is actively working on a second one. You can find his advice in the Windows XP Movie Maker newsgroup and in the Windows Movie Makers Forums.

This newsletter is republished with permission of John "PapaJohn" Buechler.
Please note that this is an archive of newsletters and some information may become outdated. PapaJohn, and the webmaster of this site, provides this information "AS IS" with no warranties.

Visit - PapaJohn's Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 2 Newsletter Index



Download more Movie Maker Effects!

Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.