How to make a quick family video with Windows Movie Maker

When Max leaped across from Sydney to join us for three weeks in January, we took lots of pictures. As mums do.

I promised myself I’d get them organised, and create a nice montage. As mums do.

Now we’re halfway through February, and the planned montage didn’t happen because other things got in the way. As they do.

Max enjoying the view.

I decided I was being too much of a perfectionist. I just needed to do it. So this morning I opened the new Windows Movie Maker, and plugged in a series of pictures we took as we hiked the Flatirons.

The pictures included views, close ups of snow, crappy ones of trees, some that were out of focus and even one of Max’s jacket that he’d thrown aside as he climbed the final part of the Flatiron, knowing I was coming up behind. (Even teenagers on hikes think mum will pick up after them.) All of them combined were a memory for us.

For the first time ever I clicked on the Auto Movie feature.

Auto Movie allows you to choose some music to go in the background, from the selection already on your computer.

It then crunches it all, does the transitions for you and so on. You can then watch the result, go in and make a few changes if you would like to, and publish directly to YouTube or DVD, or just save it on your computer.

From the moment I opened Movie Maker to the time I was watching the finished product was within about 40 minutes – much faster than if I’d painstakingly put the whole thing together myself. As I had always done before.

As mums, success is about recognising when you can give a little in order to get things done, rather than be a perfectionist at everything (and let’s face it, rarely are we completely happy with what we produce even after days of working on it). That said, I think Movie Maker did a darned fine job. I like to think I could do better than a automated system, but you know what, just quietly? I think this is probably proof I’m no James Cameron.

Windows Movie Maker has always been a favourite of mine. It’s intuitive, easy (ie obvious) to use for non-techy people, and produces very respectable results that you can easily adjust if you’re unhappy or just want to tweak things.

Windows Movie Maker opens the realm of possibility for my 9 and 12 year olds to make movies without paying for lots of equipment or training. In a world where we want to encourage people to have a voice and create content, ease of use and access for people of all ages and technical abilities is the most important factor. Movie Maker gives that to you. Others don’t.

I hope you enjoy watching the little montage. And I’d love to see your own efforts!

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