Movie settings: frequently asked questions

Here are answers to some common questions about movie settings.

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What are movie settings and what do they do?

In Windows Movie Maker, the movie settings you choose determine the quality and file size of the published movie file. You can choose movie settings when you publish a movie to your computer or to a CD.

What video file formats can I choose to publish my movie in Windows Movie Maker?

You can choose to publish your movie as an Audio-Video Interleaved (AVI) file or a Windows Media Video (WMV) file. You can also choose different settings for each file type, depending on what format you plan to use to watch your movie. The quality for each setting generally falls into one of three categories: high-quality, good-quality, and medium-quality. The following table describes the different settings.

File type
Resolution
Bit rate
Recommended use

DV-AVI (NTSC)

720 x 480

25 Mbps

This setting produces the highest quality output in most situations. It is a good choice if you plan to play your movie using an application that does not support Windows Media Video (WMV) files. Because the quality is so high, files saved using this setting are larger than files saved at most other settings.

Windows Media Portable Device

640 x 480

1 Mbps

Choose this setting if you plan to play your movie using a portable device that uses Windows Media Player. Windows Media Player will automatically convert your movie to a format that will work on your portable media device.

Windows Media DVD Quality

640 x 480

3 Mbps

This setting produces good-quality standard definition movies. You might choose to use this setting if your original content is from a digital video (DV) camera and if you want your saved file to be small.

Windows Media DVD Widescreen Quality

720 x 480

3 Mbps

This setting produces good-quality widescreen (16:9) standard definition output. This is a good choice if your source content is from a digital video (DV) camera if you want the file size of your movie to be small.

Windows Media HD 720p

1280 x 720

5.9 Mbps

This setting produces high-quality high definition (HD) movies in Windows Media Video 9 (WMV9) that can be played on computers and DVD players that support WMV HD. Consider choosing this setting if your source content is 720p or if your final output display is 720p. This movie setting is only available if your computer is running Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate.

Windows Media HD for Xbox 360

1280 x 720

6.8 Mbps

This setting produces high-quality HD movies at 720p, and is a good choice if you intend to view your movie using an Xbox 360. This movie setting is only available if your computer is running Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate.

Windows Media HD 1080

1440 x 1080

7.8 Mbps

This setting produces high-quality 1080p HD movies. It's an ideal setting if you plan to show your movie on a computer or DVD player that supports WMV HD. This is also a good choice if your source material is 1080p. When you use this setting, your movie is de-interlaced during encoding, as WMV9 does not support interlaced content. This movie setting is only available if your computer is running Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate.

Windows Media Low Bandwidth

320 x 240

117 Kbps

This setting produces good-quality standard definition output. This is a good choice if you want the file size to be as small as possible.

Windows Media VHS Quality

640 x 480

1 Mbps

This setting produces medium-quality standard definition output. This choice is ideal if your original content is from an analog device, such as a VHS tape, and you want the file size to be small.

What do the different movie settings mean?

The following list provides a short description of the different setting details.

  • File type. This is the type of video file that will be published. Possible file types include Windows Media Video (WMV) files or Audio-Video Interleaved (AVI) files.

  • Bit rate. The bit rate is the total bit rate of the published video file. Typically, a higher bit rate will result in higher-quality video with smoother motion. However, as the bit rate increases, so does the video file size.

    For some movie settings, the value for the bit rate will be variable bit rate. In this case, the bit rate of the published movie file varies automatically according to the motion in your video. For example, scenes in your movie with a lot of motion will have a higher bit rate than scenes in your movie that do not contain as much motion. Choosing a movie setting that has a variable bit rate can be useful because it usually results in a smaller file size compared to a similar movie setting that has a constant bit rate (with a number as a bit rate value) while still resulting in a high-quality video file.

  • Display size. This setting indicates the video display size (in pixels) of your movie. The first number is the width of the video, while the second number is the height of the video. For example, a video that has a display size of 720 x 480 is 720 pixels wide and 480 pixels high.

  • Aspect ratio. The aspect ratio is the ratio of the width of the video to the height of the video. The two aspect ratios are 4:3, often called standard, or 16:9, which is often referred to as widescreen. When choosing a movie setting, choose to publish the movie at an aspect ratio that will match the aspect ratio of the computer monitor or TV on which you or others will watch your movie.

  • Frames per second. This setting is the number of frames that are displayed per second in the published movie file. Typically, a higher number of frames per second will make the motion of objects or persons in your movie appear smoother.

  • Video mode. Windows Movie Maker can produce high-definition content in two video modes if it is running on Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate: 720p and 1080p. The number represents the number of lines of vertical resolution, and the p stands for progressive, or non-interlaced. Many plasma and LCD televisions use 720p or 1080p modes.

Can I create and use my own movie settings to publish a movie in Windows Movie Maker?

Yes, you can create your own movie settings and then publish your movie using the movie setting you create. To create a custom profile, you must first install Windows Media Profile Editor. Windows Media Profile Editor is automatically installed when you install Windows Media Encoder 9 Series. You can download and install Windows Media Encoder 9 Series from the Windows Media Encoder website.

For more information about creating custom settings, see Create custom movie settings for Windows Movie Maker.