Saturday, June 18, 2011

Window Live Movie Maker and Photo Gallery

When my kids were new babies, I spent a lot of time stringing video clips together into movies and organizing pictures into slideshows.  I loved the finished products, but not the amount of effort that always was involved with these endeavors.  Life is too busy these days to spare hours for making a movie or slideshow, no matter how cute my kids are in all the video clips and photos. Or so I thought, until last week when I had a chat with some nice people at Microsoft about Windows Live Movie Maker and Windows Live Photo Gallery.

Here's a bit about Windows Live Movie Maker:
With Windows Live Movie Maker, you can quickly turn your photos and videos into polished movies. Add special effects, transitions, sound, and captions to help tell your story. And sharing with friends and family is easy—whether on the web, a computer, TV, mobile device, or a DVD.
And a bit about Windows Live Photo Gallery:
Import photos from your camera, organize them into albums, and edit them so they look their best. Use powerful photo tools to create stunning panoramas, movies, slide shows, and more. When you're ready to share, publish your photos and videos to your favorite websites like Facebook and Flickr directly from Photo Gallery.
I've had both of these programs on my computer for a while (did I mention yet that they're free?), but hadn't tried them out.  I'm kicking myself for not giving them a shot earlier- they appeal to me on several levels.  First off, both programs are very easy to use. You don't have to know a lot of complicated steps, almost everything is a matter of drag-and-drop or pushing a couple of buttons.  Second, these programs both help organize the multitudes of movies and photos on my computer and make sharing them a breeze.

I've been playing around with Windows Movie Maker for a week or so now, and then yesterday I had a brainstorm- I could quickly make some little movies for my husband and for the kids' grandfathers for Father's Day! The process was super easy- I just gathered photos and videos of the kids with Daddy/Poppy/Grandpa, told Movie Maker which ones I wanted to add, added some captions, edited the title page and saved the project.  My entire time spent on making all three movies was less than 15 minutes (it does take a little while for the project to be saved, but the computer does that part of the work).  The biggest part of the 15 minutes that I put into the videos was actually spent on finding my external drive where I store the videos, and trying to get my kids to say "Happy Father's Day" on camera :) 

The finished movies look nice- with special effects for photo transitions and captions and even a credits page at the end.  One feature of Windows Movie Maker that I especially like is that you can take a snapshot from anywhere in your videos, and save it as a picture. I love this for capturing the perfect moment off of a video- makes for a nice graphic for the title page.  All the movies that I made look like I spent a long time working on them and not at all like something I quickly did right before Father's Day.  Bonus points for me!

A snapshot that I took, using Windows Live Movie Maker, from a video of our recent trip to the beach
I'm also really liking Windows Live Photo Gallery. It has nice options, like the ability to tag people in photos in your albums and quickly add captions and geotags.  You can also share your photos easily. Two special features that I think are going to be especially handy are 1) the function that will stitch a series of photos together for you into one panoramic image (how cool is that!) and 2) the function that allows you to fuse the best part of two or more photos into one nice composite picture.

I don't have time to write here about all the other great things that both of these programs can do- if you're looking for a really easy way to manage and edit your photos and videos, definitely take a look at Windows Live Movie Maker and Windows Live Photo Gallery. You can find tips and more information about both of these programs on the webpages that I linked above. 

Disclosure: I received no product and no compensation for this post- just passing on some information that I received!