Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Windows Movie Maker 2

Since I've been spending time playing with the new computer, I've gotten fairly adept at Windows Movie Maker. Overall it is a pretty good program and is relatively easy to use. But there are some things I just don't get:

1) Why is it not possible to import a directory structure directly into collections?
This seems like a fundamental thing everyone has to do when they start working on a slideshow. I have my photos nicely organized into various folders under 'My Pictures'. Why can't I just drag My Pictures into the app and have it create a 'Collection' for each subdirectory of pictures? Instead, I have to manually duplicate the folder structure and then drag each group of pictures to the appropriate collection. Which is obviously a one-time deal, but a huge waste of time.
Along the same lines, why isn't there an option to monitor my pictures folder for new pictures and automatically import them into the collections. Otherwise I am reduced to spending 5 minutes digging out the 3 new pictures of Pippen I added, dragging them into my 'Pippen' Collection, finding the 5 new house pictures I took, dragging them into the House collection, etc. Windows Media Player can monitor folders, why can't Movie Maker? Hell, I can do it with the Win32::ChangeNotify perl module.

2) When I choose 'Add a title to this frame', why does that overlay suddenly become a static item in the timeline, and not move with the frame I added it to?
If I want a picture of the San Francisco Bay with the subtitle 'San Francisco Honeymoon' on it, that is easy to do. But then as soon as I add another picture sometime earlier in the move, my title stays at the same time mark and is now on some completely different picture. The option is 'add a title to this frame', not 'add a title at minute 5 and 5 seconds'. The end result is that you have to basically do the whole move and then go back and add titles. This is fine would be fine if I was doing the movie in one shot, but if I create a rough draft, and then go back and change a few things, I have to spend all kinds of time shuffling titles around. The same thing applies if I increase/decrease the amount of time the frame is on screen, then I have to change the duration of the overlay.

3) Why can't I cut wave files in the program?
I wanted to trim out a section of one wave file, and I had to do it in the software that came with my sound card. Otherwise the only recourse seemed to be trying to slide the little timeline ends to exactly the right point, and play the song over and over until I got it just right. In Creative Wave Studio, I was given a wave form, selected the portion I wanted, played it once to make sure it was what I wanted, clicked crop, and save, and was done. Total time 10 minutes, I spent twice that long in Movie Maker trying to figure out if there was a way to do it 'inline'.

4) Why is there no option to purchase a DVD burning plugin?
The whole point of this exercise is to create a DVD to give as a present. I can produce a nice WMV of the video, or a DV-AVI, or even write it back to a camcorder. Why can't I burn a DVD, or at least put together a menu and write out a MPeg 2 for burning with Nero. I understand the MPG2 licensing issues, but couldn't it at least be a $20 extra cost plugin or something (sort of like the MP3 encoder for WMP)? I would be more then happy to pay that, rather then having to buy a whole separate program just to author a menu (since I can use TMPGENC to convert from DV-AVI to MPG2). It all seems overly complicated. Besides the fact that none of the reasonably priced DVD authoring suites seems to have a particularly good menu building system.

Overall I've been happy with Windows Movie Maker, it is just good enough to make up for the various annoyances and inefficiencies it forces on me. But it could be so much better!

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