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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,