Many times Movie Maker just can't cut it. You know that. I've made
suggestions in the past, but perhaps you don't want to invest more
money to get something better. Two applications anyone seriously into
making videos should have, both free, one you may know about, the
other you may not have heard of and surprise, it's also from
Microsoft, but tucked away in some dark corner of their expansive
Neither of these are intended to replace Movie Maker, rather they can
be used to complement Movie Maker and get you over some of the rough
spots that Movie Maker stumbles on or just doesn't support.
The first 'must have' application you may have heard about is called
It was originally written many years ago by a young guy named Avery
Lee who just happened to be somewhat bored, and in a weekend knocked
together what is still one of the best video editors out there. The
only downside is it is somewhat geeky in that is assumes you know what
you want to do, so it is seriously lacking in hand holding and lacks
the typical bells and whistles that many Windows applications offer.
Still is can be very powerful, so don't let that throw you. Once you
use it a few times it becomes very simple to understand.
One if it's strengths is it isn't put off by damaged files and often
will fly right past file corruption without blinking an eye and simply
fix what's wrong. Don't we all wish Movie Maker was that smart.
This is one of those very clever applications that doesn't need to be
installed. You simply download it, create a folder to put it in, make
a shortcut to it, and bing, bang zoom, it is ready to go.
To get you over the initial hump to get it to work all you need to do
is click on File, open a video file on your system, then wait until it
is loaded. You'll be presented with two placeholders, a before and
after preview window.
The real power of VirtualDub is it's filters. Many come included, many
more are for the taking on numerous web sites that you can add to your
collection. Because this is a geeky application, it may take a bit of
time to figure out and often it just sits there assuming you known
what you want to do next. Applying filters for example. Here's how:
Click the Video tab, then Filters and you're presented with a empty
new window. Now click on ADD and you'll see about two dozen filters
presented. Click on the ones you want to try. Many open their own
preview window so you can see the effect of the filter in real time.
In VirtualDub, filters can be chained which simply means the effect of
one filter gets added to the effect of other filters which can also be
influenced by their order as you add or delete them, so moving filters
up or down within the "add" window can impact on the effect, sometimes
greatly. OK, that should wet your appetite. VirtualDub can do much
more. The two big benefits it can "fix" your source video, correctly
many common problems, plus "repair" broken files. It can't work
miracles, but often leaves Movie Maker in the dust.
Next comes Windows Media Encoder.
It too is on the somewhat geeky side and also assumes you know what
you want to accomplish, so little hand holding. It is more powerful
than Movie Maker and will operate on files Movie Maker stumbles on.
This tool can be a good choice to encode files Movie Maker won't open
converting them to WMV format which Movie Maker can open. It like
VistrualDub has a rich range of features beyond the scope of this
To use it at a very basic level do the following.
After downloading and installing when Windows Media Encoder starts it
should bring up a new session window. While it can do a lot more,
generally you will want to select 'convert a file' then press OK.
Under 'source file' navigate to the location on your system where your
SOURCE file is located. Under 'output File' provide a location where
you want the converted file to be copied to. This folder should exist
on your system BEFORE you start up the encoder.
You should see two placeholders, called input and output. This is
where you will see your source file playing and the new converted file
being created assuming you set options appropriately.
Under choices pick 'File Archive' then Next. Now select your encoding
option. Some will take much longer and are multiple pass. Click Next
to add comments about the project then click Next again and the
Encoder after some pause which can be a couple minutes for larger
files should start up and begin to encode your file to the new format
while giving details of it's progress in the monitor window depending
on how you set up options.