It is surprisingly easy to create professional-looking videos using a computer, a web camera and a microphone. Interestingly, there is no longer any need to buy any expensive software. One can record and edit videos using Windows Movie Maker, which is bundled free with Windows XP and later versions. Windows Movie Maker is so easy to use that anyone with basic computer knowledge can quickly learn to use it to make their own videos.

Once, the video-script has been written and the shooting area of the video has been set up, one can go ahead and record the video.

Preliminary Steps Before Recording The Video Clip

  1. Connect the web camera and microphone to the computer and turn them on.
  2. Open Windows Movie Maker.
  3. Click on the “Capture from Video Device” option, which will open the “Video Capture Wizard”. (“Capture from video device” means to record audio, video, or still images as digital data in a computer file.)
  4. After selecting the web camera and microphone, click on the “Configure” button, which opens the “Configure Video Capture Device” dialog box.

Configuring Settings for the Video Clip

  1. Click on “Video Settings” in the “Configure Video Capture Device” box, which will display the “Properties” dialog box.
  2. Change “Output Size” to “640 x 480” (pixels).
  3. Set “Frame Rate” to “30.00” (frames per second), which is the highest setting.
  4. Click on “Apply” and “OK”, which will close the “Properties” dialog box.
  5. Then close the “Configure Video Capture Device” dialog box.
  6. Click on the “Next” button in the “Video Capture Wizard” window and select a file name and location for the video clip. (For example, enter “Video1” as the file name and save it to “My Videos”.)
  7. In the next window, select the settings of the video, which will determine the quality and size of the video file.
  8. Among these options, the most important is to select “Video for LAN (1.0 Mbps)” in “Other Settings”, if the the video is to be uploaded to YouTube.
  9. Once this is done, the details of the video settings will be summarized as follows:

“File type: Windows Media Video (WMV)”

“Bit rate: 1.0 Mbps”

(A higher bit rate results in higher-quality video with smoother motion. However, when the bit rate increases, so does the video file size.)

“Display size: 640 x 480 pixels”

(The first number indicates the width of the video and the second number the height.)

“Frames per second: 30”

(A higher number or frames per second makes the motion of objects or persons in the video appear smoother.)

“Video file size: Each minute of video with this setting will consume 7 MB”

(Estimated amount of disk space consumed by each minute of your video.)

Recording the Video Clip

  1. Click on the “Next” button to open the “Capture Video” window and to start recording the video.
  2. Click on the “Start Capture” button to start the recording of the video
  3. Click on the “Stop Capture” button once the video is completed recorded.

The “Capture Video” window has “Start Capture” and “Stop Capture” buttons.

To the right of these buttons, there is a “Preview” monitor, where one can watch the video while it is being recorded.

At the bottom of this window, there are three additional options.

1. “Create clip when wizard finishes”.

This option specifies whether the captured video is divided into clips when it is saved and imported into Windows Movie Maker. Creating clips separates captured video into manageable sizes. (If you don’t select this option, the video appears as one large clip when you finish capturing it.)

2. “Mute speakers”

Do not select this option because it mutes the speakers connected to the audio card on the computer.

3. “Capture time limit”

If this box is selected, capturing stops automatically at the specified time limit. Time is displayed in the form of hours:minutes (h:mm). So, if one wants to set a maximum time limit of five minutes, one has to type 0:05 in the box.

During recording of the video, details of the length of the video,the size of the video file and the estimated disk space available on the computer hard disk are displayed.

Steps After Recording the Video Clip

  1. Click on the “Finish” button. This opens a new window and the video file is imported into a collection area in Movie Maker.
  2. Windows Movie Maker also saves the video file in the location specified earlier (“Video1.wmv” in “My Videos”).
  3. Open this file and confirm that the video is playing properly.

Once the video has been recorded, it can be edited in Window Movie Maker. Also, one can add titles, captions and special effects, and background music or songs during the editing process.

The final step is to upload the video to YouTube and other video-hosting sites and to start shooting the next video!

Other Options for Recording the Video Clip

In computers with Windows Vista (instead of Windows XP), the “Capture from video device” option is missing in the Windows Movie Maker program.

In this case, you can choose among three options to record the video:

  • The software in the web camera.
  • A free software program called AMCap.
  • Avidemux, a free open-source program that works with Windows as well as on Linux and Macintosh computers.

After recording the video using any of these three options, you can import it into Window Movie Maker and edit it and also add titles and captions.

16 May 2012

Rohi Shetty is a medical doctor, Vipassana meditator, writer, editor, translator and blogger. His short stories and articles have been published online and in print.

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