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Windows Movie Maker

Maintaining Audio/Video Sync


The audio of a movie is usually as important as the visual. Some projects require a close or exact syncing between the two.... like a music video which shows closeups of a band or singer, or presenting something with someone talking and showing what he or she is talking about.

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Classic versions of Movie Maker provide two audio tracks with wave patterns, one of the sounds embedded in the video and the other of the overlying audio track... looking at the wave patterns is an easy and highly visual way of maintaining sync.

WMM dropped the views of the wave patterns in the new versions.... for a while until MM2012 put them back. You can continue to use the wave patterns with some versions of Movie Maker or other software such as audacity... or you can dust off your math skills and do it differently in WMM, maybe even better.

This is a 'How To' chapter... about an advanced subject that you might get into after you have the basics down and you're totally comfortable with editing with WMM.

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Example Projects

First one that doesn't use the wave patterns, and then one using the patterns of Movie Maker 2012. Use the approach that works for you.

Without Using Wave Patterns

Here's a music video that, in addition to recording and sharing memories for the musicians, demos a couple things about Windows Movie Maker (WMM) projects... it uses the non-wave patterns approach to mainting audio/visual sync.

I'll use this project to show you the steps taken, focusing on maintaining the audio/visual sync.


the Steps

First some tips...


Step 1 - rip a copy of the audio track to use in place of the sounds in the video file

As you'll be cutting up the original video to put other pictures or video clips between the good parts, make a copy of the audio to use in place of the sounds embedded in the video file.

Put the copy of the audio in the project and check that its duration aligns with the duration of the original video file. See that my copy is .01 seconds less than the starting video. As a frame of NTSC video is about .03 seconds, the .01 difference is close enough.

Rip Audio to New File

Now, or anytime during the editing that you're confident enough, go to the Project tab... select Audio mix and adjust the mix so the sounds are coming from the audio file and not the video.


Step 2 - cut your original video so the scenes you want to keep are separate from those you want to replace with others.

Don't remove yet any of the scenes you want to discard... as you'll want to check when you're finished all the cutting that the overall duration of the project still aligns with the audio track, which you won't be cutting.

You'll also want to leave all the clips in place and remove them one at a time, only when you're ready to insert the replacement item.


Step 3 - replace the clips you don't want with those you do, taking care to either match the durations of the removed and new items or adjusting them with transitions.

Here's an interim step I take, replacing the scenes I don't want with text clips that note the duration of the removed segment.... as I remove a scene that is 12.33 seconds in duration I'll add a text clip (use the Title feature) with the duration of the clip on it, so I know what to look for in a replacement clip, and what to maintain for the overall project sync.

Text Duration Setting

Use the video clip trim feature to get the duration of the new clips at least close to those being removed.... remove one of 13.09 seconds and replace it with a different one of 13.09 seconds if you want a simple cut to the other scene.

If you are adding transitions, add time for the overlaps. For example, add 3 seconds to each new clip if you want to use 3 second transitions at each end of the new clips. To add 3 seconds to a still picture double-click it and increase the duration by 3 seconds... to add 3 seconds to a video clip double-click it and adjust the start and/or end points to add 3 seconds to the playing time.

Video Clip Trim Tool

The trim feature is good enough to get the duration close but not good enough to keep the audio and project end points aligned. For the fine tuning it's much easier to use the transition duration setting... you can type it in and use numbers as fine as .01 seconds.

Video Clip Trim Tool


If you've been careful and checked your sync after each step, you'll find the audio plays as you want it. Practice on a simple project before you find yourself hopelessly lost in a large important project.


Example Project

Using Wave Patterns of Movie Maker 2012

(later - come back another day)