Make a movie in four simple steps

With Windows Movie Maker in Windows Vista, you can quickly go from just watching movies to making your own great-looking home movies and sharing them with your family and friends.

Picture of a filmstrip
Make your own movies in Windows Movie Maker

Step 1: Get video, digital photos, and music into Windows Movie Maker

You need to import the video, digital photos, and music that you want to use in your movie.

There are two ways to get this digital media into Windows Movie Maker:

  • Import video directly from your digital video (DV) camera. This is what you’d do if you taped your family vacation and wanted to get the footage onto your computer and edit out the boring parts.

  • Import existing video files, digital photos, or music that’s already on your computer. You might want to use existing digital media files in your movie. If you only want to include your digital photos in your movie, this is the way you’d do it.

For more information about importing media into Windows Movie Maker, see Import video from a videotape and Import video files, pictures, and audio.

Picture of video, a digital photo, and music in Windows Movie Maker
Video, a digital photo, and music that’s been imported into Windows Movie Maker

Step 2: Start editing

After you’ve got your files in Windows Movie Maker, you can start editing.

Add items to the storyboard/timeline. Drag the videos, pictures, and music you want to use from the contents area to the storyboard/timeline. Everything that appears on the storyboard/timeline will be in your final movie.

Trim and arrange items on the storyboard/timeline. Next, trim the video clips on the storyboard/timeline to hide any video that you don’t want to show in your final movie. You can also move clips from one spot to another, split clips, or combine clips. For more information about splitting or combining clips, see Work with clips.

Step 3: Add titles, transitions, and effects

Now, it’s time to take your movie to the next level by adding special, personalizing touches, such as titles, transitions, and effects.

Titles and credits. You might want to add a title at the beginning of your movie that tells people a little bit about your movie, such as when, where, and what happened. And you can add credits at the end of your movie to tell the world who created and starred in it (just like you see in movie theaters and on DVDs). For more information about adding titles and credits to your movie, see Add movie titles and credits.

Transitions. To make your movie look nice when one video or picture ends and another begins to play, add transitions between pictures, videos, and titles on the storyboard. There are more than sixty different transitions in Windows Movie Maker to choose from, so play around and use the transitions that look nice to you.

Effects. Finally, you might want to add some special effects to videos and pictures on the storyboard that’ll give your movie the appearance you want. For example, add one of the Film Age effects make it look like an old-time movie. For more information about using transitions and effects in Windows Movie Maker, see Add transitions and effects to pictures and video.

Picture that shows transitions, effects, titles, and credits on the storyboard
Here’s a picture that shows different transitions, effects, titles, and credits that are added to the storyboard

Narration. You can take it a step further by adding a narration to tell your story in your own words. This works well if you’re making a movie that just has digital photos. To learn how to add an audio narration in Windows Movie Maker, see Add narration to your movie.

Remember, you can preview your project at any time by clicking the Play button Picture of the Play button in Windows Movie Maker under the preview monitor in Windows Movie Maker.

Step 4: Publish your movie and share it with other people

When you’re happy with your project, you’re ready to publish it as a movie. When you publish a movie, everything you added to the storyboard/timeline is combined and a new video file is created (this is your final movie file). You can then use a media player, such as Windows Media Player, to watch your movie on your computer.

Picture of a movie playing in Windows Media Player
A movie playing in Windows Media Player

Share with other people. If you want to share your movie with other people or archive it, you can publish it to a CD, to a DVD to watch on TV (if your computer is running Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate), or send it as an e‑mail attachment. For more information about publishing a movie, see Publish a movie. If you want the whole world to see your creation, save the movie to your hard disk, go to any online video sharing website, such as YouTube, and then upload it. You could become a star overnight!