I put together a 15 minute compilation video in Windows Movie Maker. Now, WMM is okay… it’s free with XP and does the job of a basic movie editor quite well. Well, as long as you’re happy with it only spitting out WMV. Which I’m not overjoyed about.
WMM’s big problem is it doesn’t like MPEGs. Oh sure, it’ll work with them, but it doesn’t like them. I can’t find any other explanation for how slow it gets when dealing with them. Once you have a few MPEGs in your project, you’ll find it takes an agonisingly long time to re-open the project. Seriously, by the time I got finished I had 15 minute long project with a couple of dozen MPEG-1 clips, and it literally took two hours of “checking project files” before I could do anything.
I thought it was some kind of hideous mistake the first time it happened, and cancelled and rebooted the machine. But it wasn’t. I ended up doing some research (on another PC, since that one was busy burning up CPU and disk cycles) and the word on the forums is that it just doesn’t like MPEGs. Throw a bunch of AVI or WMV videos at it, and it’s fine.
Well, I say fine, but in fact WMM regularly freezes up. My kids describe it as “going out to lunch” and it’s a source of constant frustration.
As it happens I’ve just bought Pinnacle Studio Plus version 10 ($189 via Harris Technology, and widely available elsewhere), something of an upgrade from both WMM and the Pinnacle Studio Quickstart 9 I got with the TV tuner card I just bought. Australian purchases of Studio Plus (and a couple of other Pinnacle products) will get a bonus USB TV tuner if they buy before the end of the year. (Yes, this is a bummer for me. Maybe I’ll put one of them on eBay.) So hopefully the next video project won’t be subject to WMM’s vagaries.
Other lessons: Google Video suggests 640 x 480 is the ideal resolution for uploads. But this resulted in a file close to 100Mb long, which not only took ages to upload, but was also sluggish on playback. Eventually I downsized it to 320×240, and it’s much faster in both cases, though quite pixellated. The default Google player (embedded in a web page) is actually 400×300, though I’m not sure this is actually supported in an AVI or WMV file, since Tmpgenc refused to resize to that, saying that 300 isn’t divisible by 16.
More on Studio Plus when I actually get around to installing and using it.