Wave 3: Windows Live Movie Maker Beta

Making its first appearance in the Windows Live suite, Movie Maker Beta is a solid new application lacking in basic features to make it actually useful.

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I’m a huge fan Windows Movie Maker in Vista because it offers a simple application with just the features needed to make/edit videos from clips, images and audio. Windows Live Movie Maker Beta does not include many of what I consider to be essential features. What it is however is the promise of something better, a new application that can offer all of the great features of the past with additional service integration and plug-in architecture for the future.

Lets look at what features it currently does have, what features from Vista’s “Windows Movie Maker” it is missing and what the future could hold.

Features

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The first striking feature is the ribbon UI. First launched for Office 2007 the ribbon promotes ease of finding features. Hot on the heals of images showing that Windows Paint will get a ribbon in Windows 7, it becomes clear we will be seeing more of this in the future. The application is purposeful and straight forward. You add videos and/or photos and their thumbnails are generated and shown in the order they will be played, simply drag and drop to change this order. Add a single sound track to be played in the background.

The Visual Effects tab and functionality feels very much like the framework has been created but the actual effects and transitions either haven’t been ported or that there was not enough time to get them in, or perhaps they are waiting to hear what effects and transitions we want to be included? Currently there is a single transition, cross fade, and two effects, black & white and Sepia tone.

Output options are either a non-configurable WMV file or uploaded to MSN Soapbox.

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The application worked flawlessly for me, although I had to remove my soundtrack as Soapbox determined I was breaching copyright using the sample music from Vista.

So What’s Missing?

I’m setting Vista’s Windows Movie Maker as the benchmark, lets point out some of the feature from it missing in the Windows Live Beta. Below is an image from Vista:

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  1. No timeline. You can order the objects, but no visual timeline
  2. No editing clips. Cropping a video clip and splitting it into multiple parts is essential.
  3. No text overlays.
  4. Limited effects.
  5. Limited transitions.
  6. No Narrate timeline.
  7. Audio mixing is not implemented.
  8. Limited output formats, configurations.
  9. Limited to the Soapbox service only.

This is only a Beta, what is the future?

Clearly we are not seeing a finished product here, we have the chance to preview what could be an amazing application and provide feedback.

Amazing? This application seems to lack even basic functionality of video editing software from 10 years ago, what is so amazing?

The application is bundled in the same suite as Windows Live Writer, an application that lets developers plug-in many pieces of functionality at many stages of the process pipeline. It is already clear from the menu that plug-ins can be developed for publishing to web based services. But will we also see a plug in model for effects, transitions, post processing, and additional features? These could range from a watermark filter to complex vision research techniques to remove people from video, or provide stabilisation using object recognition. Could this be the start of an amazing application platform for consumer video editing?

Whatever is in store for us Windows Live Movie Maker is the future, just not something particular useful today in Beta form.

If you’re interested in my test video you can find Buddy on Soapbox, a special thanks to Buddy for being such a great model :)

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Buddy in WL Movie Maker

Feel free to ask any questions or post any features I may have missed or you would like to see in a final release.

Read more LiveSide reviews on the new Windows Live betas:

Wave 3: Windows Live Mail – Calendar, Calendar, Calendar (and more)

Wave 3: Windows Live Writer – A First Look

Wave 3- Windows Live Messenger 9 Beta – What’s New- A Comparison With 8.5

Wave 3: Windows Live Photo Gallery – New Features