PapaJohn Productions

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Bridging the Movie Maker Gap from XP to Windows 7


What Gap?

Windows 7 doesn't include Movie Maker. Users are faced with a choice of (1) installing Windows Live Movie Maker, a totally new and different version of Movie Maker, or (2) somehow setting up and continuing to use a classic version of Movie Maker.... MM2.1 from XP or MM6 from Vista. What's right for you depends on the kinds of video projects you do and what version you've been using.

There are lots of things I like about Windows 7 but the new Windows Live Movie Maker (WLMM) isn't one of them. Maybe I'll change my mind as future revisions are released. Until then I'll continue using MM2.1 from XP.

I spent years collecting or making over a thousand visual effects and transitions for MM2.1. When Vista was released, I wasn't compelled to move to its MM6 for the extra eye candy. Now, with my Vista systems having moved on to Windows 7, my bridge is from MM2.1 in XP to MM2.1 in Windows 7.


I have 5 versions of Movie Maker running on my Windows 7 computers. MM2.6 and Windows Live Movie Maker (WLMM) are installed with default settings in standard locations under the Program Files folder. MM1, MM2.1 and MM6 are simply copied from XP and Vista folders to others on the c:\ drive or a thumb drive.

If you're doing something similar but moving from MM6 in Vista, you'll need to extrapolate what I'm doing with MM2.1. I'll go over the detailed steps to setup Movie Maker and make a small sample project to check that things work OK.

The small project is 'bluescreening with Movie Maker'. There's a copy of the movie on vimeo.

The project uses a custom XML file for the bluescreening transition, and I left the the source files on networked external drives of the Windows XP computer rather than copying them to the Windows 7 system. The combined total size of the source files exceeds 25 gigabytes.

My goal is to continue using the classic versions of Movie Maker I know best, apps that satisfy my movie making needs... while continuing to explore all versions and share info with the broad community of Movie Maker users.

On this website page I'll go through the details of my setup and how to make this sample project. Start it in XP and finish in Windows 7, or do it in reverse. Your computers will need to be networked, something fairly common in today's homes.

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My Home Network

My home network is tied together with a 5 year old model WRT54G Linksys router/switch, purchased at Best Buy. The two computers discussed on this page are in the same room and connected to it with ethernet cables, while other computers in the house are connected wirelessly.

the XP Computer

It's a high end (at least at the time of purchase) 5-1/2 year old HP XP Media Center Edition computer laptop. Due to electrical issues developed over time, it's now religated to being a permanent fixture on my desk, filling in as a desktop. Even with a new battery it only runs for a split second if unplugged from its AC outlet.

There are 10 USB external thumb and hard drives connected to one of its USB ports (using a rats nest of cables and powered hubs). All in all there are over 5 terabytes of files available as source files for movie projects. For easy movie project access I maintain collections using MM1 and import the collections as needed into MM2.1 and MM2.6.

the Windows 7 Computer

This one is a desktop computer, a 32 bit HP that is also 5-1/2 years old. It started life as an XP MCE system but I've been using it for years as my main test system for new operating sytems. It spent a couple years running all the beta versions of Windows Vista 7 before ending up with the final Ultimate version.

It runs Windows 7 well except the TV tuner driver isn't currently supported, so recording TV with Media Center is out of the picture for now. And like many other Windows 7 computers, it can't install or run Photo Story 3.

On the plus side of things, it has 5 versions of Movie Maker running on it... providing endless hours of testing and learning.

Windows Live Movie Maker is something I test, but as I can run the classic versions of Movie Maker on it, unless Microsoft releases a much enhanced next version of WLMM, I don't see that I'll ever be using it as my primary movie making app. For the kind of video work I do a crippled MM2.1 is so much more capable than finely tuned WLMM.


Setup Checklist

Network

Both computers need to be in the same network so they can see each others drives and files... at least the folders that will be used to store Movie Maker project and source files. They also should be mapped such that the path to the source files is the same on both computers.

the XP computer

To use project and source files on the Windows XP computer from MM2.1 on Windws 7 you'll need to share selected drives or folders. In XP open My Computer and...

the Windows 7 computer

To use project and source files on the Windows 7 computer from MM2.1 in XP, you'll need to share the selected drives or folders. On the Windows 7 system open 'Computer' and...

Check that the XP and Windows 7 computers can see the drives and folders of the other one. Open 'My Computer' in XP and 'Computer' in Windows 7 and...

Create a folder with a name of your choice and copy the full contents of your XP's c:\Program Files\Movie Maker folder. On my system I use a folder named c:\Copy\MM2-1 to remind me it's a copied set of files, not an installed one.

Some of the copied DLLs need to be registered on the Windows 7 system or you'll lack features when you run MM2.1. I use a batch file, a little text file with a .bat file extension, that runs when you open it. The batch file tells Windows to register 6 of the DLLs. Others work without being registered. Here's what my batch file (a simple text file made in Notepad and named RegisterMM2-1.bat) says:

Sample Project - Full

Edit the folder path as needed to align with your folder names. You should register the DLLs when Movie Maker is closed. There's no need to restart the computer after they are registered. Movie Maker 2.1 should be ready to work.

The batch file will work from wherever you keep it. Mine is in the same folder as my MM2.1 files. The same batch file works on XP or Windows 7, and on 32 or 64 bit systems.

When you run the batch file you'll get popup messages from Windows telling you the command was successful (or not), a separate popup for each of the DLLs. If it's not successful it's probably because your drive letter and folder path isn't right.


Make a small test project to check the setup

Here's a simple project that uses a custom xml file to make it more interesting, a little 'bluescreening'. It uses only 3 source files:

Here are a few screen shots of the project file, first one showing the full project, then a couple zooming into the start and end points.

Sample Project - Full

Sample Project - Beginning

Sample Project - Full

The 'bluescreening' is done by adding a custom xml file, which shows up as a transition in MM2.1. Here's its contents. Put the file into the Movie Maker Shared\AddOnTFX folder (if the subfolder doesn't exist, add it manually).

An xml file is a simple text one made with Notepad. After saving it as a .txt file, rename the extension to .xml.

Sample Project - Full


3rd Party and Custom XML Effects and Transitions

Pixelan packages and custom XML effects and transitions work without having to register their DLLs. I'm still studying Adorage and other add-on packs.