Jun 29 2010

Review: Windows Live Movie Maker–Wave 4 Beta – Awesome.

image_thumb5 Review: Windows Live Movie Maker–Wave 4 Beta – Awesome.The Windows Live team recently released the beta version of the Windows Live Essentials. I’m trying to go through and mine out/examine as much as I can on the best parts of the application and show the improvements in the latest version.

And as much as some people will hate to hear this, this release of Windows Live Movie Maker [WLMM] is outstanding.

They’ve improved a few things and changed things around with the GUI interface. My opinion of the ribbon interface is beyond distain, but with this application, it’s bearable. And my over all experience with the beta is really optimistic.

I plan on using it a lot more now.



The Main Form

The main form is setup easy enough to where most anyone can work with this. I think Windows Live MM focuses on trying to simplify with the movie production process.

image_thumb6 Review: Windows Live Movie Maker–Wave 4 Beta – Awesome.

Moving through the tabs, you get different options, thus the ribbon interface; sometimes it’s good and sometimes, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it works for the Windows Live Movie Maker. I think it’s going to suit its audience just fine.



I was impressed with the performance of Windows Live Movie Maker. I was expecting it to be sluggish and take a long time to do basic stuff- I was incorrect. I was severely incorrect. From every thing that I did the responsiveness of the application was very refreshing. Effects were applied fast, demos and options for transitions had very little lag.

If you’ve been using the old version, you know about the lag, but this version, it’s different- you’re going to like it.




Starting with the HOME tab, it’s basic stuff; where are you getting your information and where is it going to go. I’m fairly critical on application functionality, but where I criticized the Windows Live team for neglecting Windows Live Writer, I think this is where they spent their time.


image_thumb7 Review: Windows Live Movie Maker–Wave 4 Beta – Awesome.

Windows Live Movie Maker was crippled with a fairly large handicap; it didn’t used to import MP4 and MOV files. Before the video had to be converted and then you could use it in Windows Live Movie Maker… Well, that’s changed. Windows Live Movie Maker can import just about any video you want.

And this is great news, because most cameras record to MP4 and/or MOV files. The video files can be imported and worked on directly the camera dock or after you moved them to a local drive; lots of flexibility.



If you looking to add the transitions to your videos, this the place to be. Again, they did this outstanding. Windows Live Movie Maker allows you to preview the effects just by placing your mouse over the effect; no need to apply and undo, or a bunch of hoop jumping- it just works.

image_thumb8 Review: Windows Live Movie Maker–Wave 4 Beta – Awesome.


Visual Effects

Windows Live Movie Maker has some basic built-in effects to apply to video and images. It’s more entertaining than anything right now. Probably would be great for putting together a party video and music compilation.

image_thumb9 Review: Windows Live Movie Maker–Wave 4 Beta – Awesome.



Audio mix allows you to level out the audio or make one louder than the other; very basic stuff. Windows Live Movie Maker does have a fade in and fade out for the music- it’s very helpful.

image_thumb10 Review: Windows Live Movie Maker–Wave 4 Beta – Awesome.

I liked the option for changing the project from 4:3 to 16:9 – there’s no brain work in evolved with it. You can switch back and forth between the two formats with no headaches.



This section is directly focused on the view of the project as you’re working on it.

image_thumb11 Review: Windows Live Movie Maker–Wave 4 Beta – Awesome.

image_thumb12 Review: Windows Live Movie Maker–Wave 4 Beta – Awesome.

Make the video or images bigger or smaller, based on your taste. Again, I think Windows Live Movie Maker has tried to make this process as painless as possible.

Some other packages don’t have this option, and you’re stuck with this fixed size screen and a small preview window; unable to fully see/understand the changes your making. This is for the benefit of the users comfort.



On The Fly Options

There’s some tabs that only become available once you’ve got something selected or if you’re wanting to modify something; those are the EDIT » OPTIONS » FORMAT tabs.

Edit images, audio, video…

image_thumb13 Review: Windows Live Movie Maker–Wave 4 Beta – Awesome.

image_thumb14 Review: Windows Live Movie Maker–Wave 4 Beta – Awesome.

image_thumb15 Review: Windows Live Movie Maker–Wave 4 Beta – Awesome.

An issue I’ve with the beta; there’s not enough ability to have multiple text boxes in the text Windows. You can create the initial text box just fine, adding another one is a bit tricky, especially if the image/clip is short.

image55_thumb Review: Windows Live Movie Maker–Wave 4 Beta – Awesome.

From the example above, you can have text clips that span two video feeds.

Text clips have to be shortened before you can add another one. I think this is a small issue, but the application should be able to adjust for this automatically.


image_thumb16 Review: Windows Live Movie Maker–Wave 4 Beta – Awesome.


Inserting Captions

Another nicety of Windows Live Movie Maker, they’ve added a credits section/menu. It makes it really easy to remember to do such things and make your presentations much nicer. With all the new tools, I think we’re going to see some really nice videos on the web soon- by regular people.

image_thumb17 Review: Windows Live Movie Maker–Wave 4 Beta – Awesome.


Audio Fade

I mentioned the audio earlier. Windows Live Movie Maker has the basic fade in and fade out for music; you can decide how the music should fade. It’s very basic, very required and easy to use. I found this very easy to understand and apply.

image_thumb18 Review: Windows Live Movie Maker–Wave 4 Beta – Awesome.


The Timeline/Storyboard

Windows Live Movie Maker doesn’t have the traditional time line anymore; it’s more of a drag-and-drop type interface. It’s odd to work with for about 5 minutes, but you start to understand quickly.

You pretty much drag-and-drop everything where you want it, from there you choose the actions to take upon those elements.

image_thumb19 Review: Windows Live Movie Maker–Wave 4 Beta – Awesome.

Sending It OUT/Exporting It

I don’t recall specifically from the previous version, but I don’t think these options were in the last version. I love how Windows Live Movie Maker makes it easy to get this stuff out to the Internet.

And noticeably Microsoft has added YouTube and Facebook to the output listing. I think this was a generous offering by Microsoft on this one, but I don’t honestly know how you can really ignore these providers at this point and still be considered social.

image_thumb20 Review: Windows Live Movie Maker–Wave 4 Beta – Awesome.

If your output isn’t listed, may be the gallery…

Windows Live Movie Maker Gallery


You can also create a custom output, but the custom refers to the size of the video, audio bit rates, frames per second and blah blah blah; it’s not for the file format of your choice… What I’m stating is that you can’t export to MPEG, MP4 or to MOV.

And this was just one other issue I found slightly off. And I’ve never understood it… If you can import those formats, you should be able to export those formats.

But WMV should be compatible with just about anything your trying to work on… and if it’s not and you’ve used Windows Live Movie Maker before- you know about media conversion.



I don’t know who these guys are, and I don’t know if they’re on the same team as Windows Live Writer, but this release is light years of effort beyond those guys. The effort and changes are most apparent in this release; you don’t have to speculate as to the changes they’ve made to make this release better than the last. I think this is going to be a very nice standard package for everyone to use. And for anyone that knows me, they know I had a hard time writing nice stuff about Microsoft.

But they did it… This is really good stuff!


The auto (all applications are installed) and manual (choose which applications to install) installers are available in English (auto/manual), French (auto/manual), Spanish (auto/manual), Dutch (auto/manual), Portuguese Brazil (auto/manual), Japanese (auto/manual), and Chinese Simplified (auto/manual).


Until next time,

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  • Brian

    Great Review…I love video editing but have tried demos of more powerful programs but it seems like the simplest problems work best. Did you get a chance to try the DVD Maker? To me, that's where the last release lacked because you couldn't really set chapter marks on your own.

    • I didn't have a chance to attempt that. I know what you mean about the chapters- I'd speculate I over looked it… I'll attempt to get back and test it out..

      Thanks for commenting…

  • One huge hole in this review, which is critical and important (and I think, embarrassing to MSFT):

    WLMM does not let you encode to h264! This decision alone, should make WLMM go into oblivion. in 2010, there is no place for a format such as WMV. MSFT already announced IE9 will support html5 with the h264 implementation.

    h264 is the standard, and best codec out there. In addition, if I take my videos with a flip camera, it is in h264, why convert it to wmv? moving from one codec to another will reduce quality for no reason.

    MSFT: don't do the apple thing, be open. be inclusive. support h264. do the right thing for your product and your customer, not your "global windows strategy" (which hurts you really…)

    • Thanks for your comments… and you've a good point.

      I didn't specifically test h264. I was testing with my video camera that records to several levels of quality and I was working with DVD level quality; I didn't test to ensure it was the h264 codec- the files were MOV and h264 files can be MOV files.

      I concur with you on the WMV files, but Windows Live Movie Maker has ability for plug-ins and export methods. And while this version isn't perfect, it's free, it's easy and it seems to be able to get the job done.

      …Apologies, I normally don't say nice stuff about Microsoft.

      Again, Thanks for your comments…

  • Brian

    I did try DVD Maker and it looks like it did not get an update and still doesn't allow for good DVD authoring like Premiere Elements and the like do.. 🙁

  • Seb

    Though I like the improvements, its not a big improvement against the previous version as the old bugs still exist. It still has trouble finding clips of videos which it thinks have been moved, so i'm still having to right and left click on videos to force it to look again.

    I also like to see h264 encoder included, mainly so that HD videos are a smaller size when uploading.

    Like to see multiple audio tracks, as I would like to add music with speech and effects.

    More effects and transitions. and multiple video tracks might be ambitious, but would then eliminate many of the competition..

    • At the very least, they’ve tried to make it more usable – it’s not a professional package, but I believe that’s the point to make it usable… I’d speculate a professional product – they expect you to pay for it.

      Thanks for your comments…
      Until next time,

  • Seb

    Forget to add, better UK support. When creating a DVD, its encoding 25fps to 30fps, then back to 25fps, which creates quite an uneven DVD video.

    • Hey sorry about that- I don't know about the UK issues… But I would love to come to the UK one day. 😉
      Thanks for your comments…

      Until next time,

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  • Daniel

    There is a bug with the new 15 Beta build with the MPEG2 TS streams where the audio video syncing goes off if you try to edit the video whereas it's perfectly fine in the 14 build.

  • grapemanca

    As a long time Movie Maker user, I'm still really disappointed with WLMM Wave 4 beta. Most long-time MM users are.

    WLMM still doesn't include many features repeatedly requested by MM enthusiasts. Still missing are extra audio or video tracks (one extra each would be fine for this type of program), no photo capture of a specific video frame; no narration track; no automatic crossfades by dragging video elements onto each other; and no right click for fade in/fade out (which I love). And, worst of all, no timeline. You now have all these extra "clicks" to access the editing features. And it's still virtually impossible to align photos and videos to specific and variable points of a song. Having to manually type in duration is a joke, and is a good example of why the storyboard in WLMM still makes the program more of a slideshow maker than a video editor.

    I know it's free, but compared to what we had before (especially in WMM6), WLMM is an amazing step backwards. I know there are improved features in WLMM beta, but they should have been added to an upgraded WMM6, not a slideshow maker.

    • lehenryjr

      I concur with you on several things, and you're right; Microsoft isn't listening to the users as much as they should. And the ribbon GUI is just not working- I don't care how much they push it… I believe the GUI ribbon is trash. And from Microsoft standpoint I believe they're just trying to offer something free to compete with MAC. And I also think that Microsoft is thinking that if you need something nicer; go buy it. In my opinion….

      I was more disappointed in Windows Live Writer than anything… But at least Windows Live Movie Maker had a few new things that were useful; as opposed to Windows Live Writer which was 18+ months and all we got was a stupid ribbon GUI. SO Freakin sad….

      Thanks for your comments.
      Until next time,

  • You're going to have to get over the Ribbon interface and the reason is simple, touch screen devices. When you use a touch screen Tablet PC the Ribbon all makes sense and is actually VERY nice.

    The biggest issue I have with WLMM W4 is the lack of the timeline, I really don't understand why that's gone.

  • Jared

    Great Review! When will the full version of Windows Movie Maker be released? Will it be called Wave 5? I also noticed when saving movies on the recommended settings, the file sizes are larger than the Wave 3 version. After saving the movie, I compared the quality difference between Wave 3 and Wave 4, and I found Wave 4 is true to colour, but double the file size. Is that normal?

    Thanks you for the help!

  • Kirby L. Wallace

    For the life of me, I cannot find a good reason why anyone at Microsoft thought that getting rid of the timeline was a good idea. The timeline is the very central core of any video project. Removing the timeline is like removing someone's spine.

    How are you to properly align an event in the video, with a transition in the soundtrack without a timeline?

    Hands close together…. silence…. wait for it lads….. CLAP!


    • lehenryjr

      There's still a few things that Windows Live Movie Maker is doing good, but lack of support for MOV files, the cumbersome process of punting users because of codec issues, the inability to loop music for a video… I believe they need to work with more users who really do videos.I appreciate it…

    • lehenryjr

      There's still a few things that Windows Live Movie Maker is doing good, but lack of support for MOV files, the cumbersome process of punting users because of codec issues, the inability to loop music for a video… I believe they need to work with more users who really do videos.I appreciate it…

  • Hidden

    I do miss all the feature of Movie Maker 6 on XP. I am using the current Live version and, well, I have just been looking for a better, free alternative for months. I just want to make a simple four minute clip. The program’s ribbon is garbage. All ribbons are. It lags. Takes hours for it to load a video, MP3, or sometimes an image. Never plays sound or the videos unless I convert it to a video to play on computer, and things are out of sync because since the time line feature is gone, i can not align properly. I send suggestions constantly to them but of course, goes into their spam folder. I wish they would actually provide valid feed back on if a suggestion can or can not be used, and why. I think it could have been great. If I even had a cent to spare, I would buy an editor than has what we all need.

    I have tried to get someone at Microsoft to speak to me in their message boards, but they have no say in anything. I tried to send suggestions, but they never read them.

    It seems to be a RAM hogger and has not just missing features but missing the ability to know what it wants to do. Sometimes it will add in a video or music file. Sometimes not (and we are talking the same file). Even the error message, when you click it, takes you to an invalid page.

    There is no live update feature without needing to go to Windows Update. This is one of those programs that should have some nightly/weekly build.

    All the developers need to do is listen to the users, not their paying bosses.

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  • Qvenchi

    My windows live movie maker is not working properly. When i try to edit video for first few minutes its working properly after that it is not responding.i don't know the reason why ? I am using windows7 OS. I got MM software with lenovo thinkpad edge.Can anybody help me in finding the solution. ThankYou very much in advance.

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