Capturing DV with Windows Movie Maker 2.0

Windows MovieMaker 2.0 is Microsoft's video capture and editing program that's available as a free download for Windows XP. It doesn't have the same range of functions or capabilities as Adobe's Premiere Pro , but it is easy to learn and quite capable of producing nice results when handling small, quick projects. This document covers the process of capturing video from a DV source using MovieMaker 2.0. Companion documents listed in the menu to the left cover editing the captured video and exporting the finished file.

Capturing DV Video

To begin capturing video into Windows MovieMaker 2.0 in the ITRC, plug the computer's FireWire cable into the DV-capable video camera, turn on the camera, and wait for the computer to detect that a Digital Video Device has been connected.

Illustration of Digital Video Device dialog

Select Windows Movie Maker from the list beneath the caption "What do you want Windows to do?" and then click the OK button. The Movie Maker program will launch and you will be prompted to specify a name for the video clip(s) and a location where they should be stored.

Illustration of Prompt for File Name and Location

In the ITRC, always specify a file location on the D:/ drive--the D drives on the ITRC computers have ample disk space, whereas the "My Documents" location does not.

After you have specified a file name and location, you will have to select the settings which you would like to use to govern the way the video is captured.

Illustration of Video Settings options

If you know that you'll never do much beyond use the short, edited clips in PowerPoint presentations or on a web site or streaming server, you can accept the first option (Best quality for playback on my computer ). If, on the other hand, you expect that you'll want to use the captured video as part of a DVD or that you'll want to record the edited video back to tape, you'll probably want to choose the second option (Digital Device Format (DV-AVI) ), as it will give you a slightly better capture and create a video clip in a format (*.AVI) that is more compatible with other video editing software than the (*.WMV) that you'd otherwise get.

Once you've picked your desired Video Setting, a click on the next button brings you to the Capture Method screen.

Illustration of Capture Method Screen

The Capture Method screen allows you to stipulate whether you'd like to capture the entire tape (in which case the tape will be rewound and captured in its entirety) or whether you'd like to capture parts of the tape manually (and thus allowing you to avoid capturing things which you would have to edit out later). If you lean towards the first option, you're probably using the wrong program: Movie Maker sometimes makes mistakes in capturing video clips longer than 10 or 15 minutes. The only option you should select here is Capture parts of the tape manually . It's a good idea, too, before clicking the next button, to ensure that there is no checkmark in the field marked Show preview during capture .

Clicking the next button introduces the Capture Video window.

Illustration of Capture Window

The Capture Video window features, aside from the prominent Start Capture and Stop Capure buttons, a few options that bear mentioning. The field marked Create clips when wizard finishes has the effect, after capturing a segment of video, of segmenting the captured video into subsections whenever the video's time-stamp is perceived to have changed. If you select this option, the program will automatically segment your video into separate clips, one for each time that the original video features a scene change or break. The Mute speakers option lets you capture the video without hearing the sound--a useful option if you're reading a book while you digitize, but not strictly necessary.

The Capture Video window also features a Preview window with a set of VCR-like controls beneath it. This preview window allows you to cue your video from the computer. If you click the play button (the lone triangle to the left), your camera will play; if you click the pause button, your camera will pause. In this way you can cue your tape to the exact place you'd like to start capturing without removing your hand from the mouse.

Once you've adjusted those final capture options and cued your video to the point you'd like to begin the video capture, click the Start Capture button. Once you've captured a clip, click the Stop Capture button. If you wish, you can then cue the tape to a new location, and click the Start Capture button again to capture an additional segment from the tape, or, if you have finished capturing video you can click the Finish button.

When you click the finish button, Windows Movie Maker saves your file to the location you specified. This process can take some time as the captured video is written to its final location. You'll see the Save Process dialog window while the program is working.

Illustration of Save Progress

Once the file has been saved, it will appear (segmented into clips, if you asked Movie Maker to do that for you) in the main MovieMaker window.

Illustration of Movie Maker screen with Video Loaded

Congratulations! You've captured a video clip, and it's ready for editing.