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Windows Movie Maker

Saving and Publishing


You save a project file to your computer's hard drive or an external drive to be able to open it again later for more editing, or to save the movie to another quality setting. You should make this saving a routine part of your process. When you watch your finished movie you'll see a spelling mistake and you won't be able to correct it without having the saved project file... or making the project over again from scratch.

When editing is finished you publish the movie to get it to your audience... even if your audience is just yourself. In some cases, such as publishing to online hosts YouTube, vimeo or facebook, an add-on wizard to Movie Maker can be used. If it doesn't work, save the movie to your computer's hard drive and upload it to the online service using their website interface.

I publish some of my daily videos to facebook by using the wizard, and save others to my hard drive to upload to vimeo and YouTube... using their website interfaces.

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WMM saves projects to an xml text-based project file (with a .wlmp file extension). Many users think the project file includes all of the source material and it's safe to delete the material. That's not the case. The project file contains reference pointers to those files and needs them to remain in place if there's a chance you'll want to have another editing session, no matter how little.

Movie Maker isn't a file management utility and won't know where the source material is if you move it. For example, if you make a project from the video files on an SD card and remove the card from your computer when the movie is finished, Movie Maker wouldn't be able to find the files if you decide to do a bit more editing.

WMM 2012 is the first version of Movie Maker to save movies as MPEG4 files (MP4 file extension) by default, with an option to save to WMV. It also has an option to save the audio in a project to an audio file.

Save to WMV File Type

Classic versions of Movie Maker had an additional option to save a movie to a DV-AVI file. Those are standard definition MPEG2 video files and we're now into using the newer MPEG4 files for everthing from smaller phones to high-definition displays.

If you're like me, there are features of classic versions that you want to use when making clips for a WMM project. You can easily save an HD quality clip in WMM (using the WMV file type) and edit it in MM2.6, but you'll need a custom profile to save it there to return it to WMM at HD quality. This page includes downloadable HD quality profiles to use in MM2.6.

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Project Files

It's important to understand what a WMM project file is... and isn't.

It's the info about all of the files you've used in the project and the animations, effects, titling, and other customized items... all the things you might have spent hours or days doing to make the perfect movie. Movie Maker doesn't automatically save it.... you need to not only save it, but make a backup copy.

The project file doesn't contain copies of the pictures, video clips, or music that you've used in the project.... it only has info about where such files reside. If you move or delete the files thinking they are safely in the project file.... you could find yourself out of luck.

Save Project as

The first time you save a new project use the 'Save project as' option. Select the folder you'll keep it in and give it a file name. The option to 'Save project' will replace the currently open project with any changes made since you last saved it.

The saved project is an xml text-based file that you can read or revise with Notepad. Don't revise it that way until you are really sure you know what you're doing.


Some tips about saving...

In no particular order...


Save Movie

When you're ready to save your movie to your hard drive, you can use the left-most menu dropdown or the Save Movie icon at the upper right. This screen shot is from the upper right... the same list of options but it shows a few more of them without having to scroll down.

Save Movie

Linger over the choices a bit and you'll see tooltips with a good summary of the quality settings... here's what I see when I have HD1080 files in a project and linger over the first choice, the recommended settings.

Profile Settings


Custom Settings

The quality settings are in a file called a 'profile'... classic versions of Movie Maker and the early line of Windows Live Movie Maker used profiles that have a .prx file extension. Movie Maker 2012 profiles have a .wlvs file extension.

Scroll to the bottom of the list to get to the built-in utility that lets you create your own custom profiles. It's easy to select one from those already provided and tweak it... be sure to give your new profile a custom, even personal, name.

Custom profiles are or can be in different folders... wmm checks for them in:

I marked up this screen shot to show you how to change the NTSC 'Burn a DVD' setting so it makes a WMV file appropriate for a standard or widescreen PAL DVD. The aspect ratio would be set by your project file.

Create Custom Profile

I made a number of custom profiles (.prx) files for classic versions of Movie Maker. They are free to download from my website and work equally well in earlier versions of wmm. Here's a link to the page...

Custom Profiles for Windows Movie Maker

I haven't made a comparable set of .wlvs profiles. You can make those you need with the built-in profile editor.

MM6 in Vista and wmm use a video bitrate of about 3,000 Mbps when saving movies for standard DVDs. In my custom profiles and for routine saving when making source files for further project uses I use 8,000 Mbps for higher quality.

Higher bitrate means higher quality... but also more time needed to save the file and a more powerful computer to get the job done without resource problems. Tweak your custom bitrate setting up until you find your personal sweet spot, where you're happy with your computer's ability to make the movie and the quality of the results.


HD Profiles for MM2.6

Classic versions of Movie Maker were developed before online HD video was common. wmm came along later and includes HD quality profiles. I used the built-in HD1080 and HD720 profiles of wmm to make appropriate ones for MM2.6 running on Windows 7. Here's a set of profiles and test clips for HD1080 and HD720 NTSC files.

After installing MM2.6 place the downloaded custom profiles in your c:\Program Files (x86)\Movie Maker 2.6\Shared\Profiles folder.

To check the profiles with your versions of Movie Maker, here are downloadable profiles and test files.

original camcorder clip - AVCHD HD1080 .m2s file

HD1080 profile and test files

HD1080 custom profile - NTSC

HD1080 clip from wmm

HD1080 clip from MM2.6

HD720 profile and test files

HD720 custom profile - NTSC

HD720 clip from wmm

HD720 clip from MM2.6


Share Movie

Share and Publish are used interchangeably in wmm. This screen shot shows my options from the left side of the menu, the same as in the Share group of icons at the upper right.

Publish Movie

Online services change with time and so do plug-ins.... refresh one that isn't working well enough for you by deleting, editing or re-adding the plug-in... use 'Manage your services...'.

The add-ins are just wizards to help you get your videos to the services, something you can always do with the services website. I use the Facebook plug-in almost daily. There isn't an add-on yet for vimeo so for that one I use their website.

When you use an add-on publishing wizard, you select the quality and the wizard saves the movie file and uploads it to the service.... here are the steps it takes.

If you're not logged into the online service when you start to publish the movie, you'll have a chance to do it after the upload....

I haven't figured out how to change facebook accounts if you want the movie in a second account.