This year has not been a great year for multimedia software. Google ended support for YouTube’s free online video editor, and Microsoft did the same with the popular Windows Live Movie Maker. Although there are plenty of other options for both sets of users, people did get kind of attached to these video editors and not everyone is ready to pay for an alternative, (or switch to a Mac). While Google has yet to make any real attempt to replace the YouTube Editor, Microsoft has just added video editing features to the latest version of the Windows 10 Photos app. So, is this the Windows Movie Maker replacement you have been waiting for? It depends.
To access the built-in video editing tools in Windows 10, you need to make sure you have the Fall Creators Update that was released in October 2017. It’s a free update for Windows 10 users, so if you don’t think you have it yet, head over to your Settings and hit the Update & Security button to make sure you are up to date. Once you have that taken care of, all you have to do is launch the Photos app.
On the main menu, at the top of the screen, you should see a Create button. Clicking that lets you choose to create a Video Remix or a Video Project. The Video Remix generates an automated montage of whatever photos and videos you select. It adds music, filters, and animations based on what Windows thinks will be a good showcase for your media. If you don’t like the video that it generates, you can hit the Remix button to force a different arrangement with new music, effects and titles. Think of this like Magisto or the Quik app for iPad. In short, a remix makes all the decisions for you.
Editing Video in Windows 10
If you choose to create a Video Project, you have more granular controls over the final video that you produce. For instance, you can drag and drop photos or videos to rearrange the order in which they appear. You can also choose the duration for each slide to ensure that it is on screen for as long as you need it to be.
There are filters that can be applied to individual photos or videos, and text can be overlaid in a variety of positions and in a variety of styles. A “Ken Burns” style zoom and pan is added to photos by default, but the direction it travels in can be changed, or turned off altogether as required. Video clips can be trimmed at the beginning or end of a clip in order to choose the scene(s) that you want to appear in your final product, but what impressed me most was the music option.
There are several genres of music to choose from and all the tracks that you select will be custom built to fit the length of your video. If you add more clips, or change the duration of a slide, Windows will add (or subtract) some musical fill effects to make the music longer (or shorter) so that it ends exactly when your video ends. This is really clever! There is no need to fade in and out, or to edit the music track to fit the length of your video. Windows takes care of all that for you.
Speaking of clever, there are a number of 3D effects that you can add to your video clips. Balloons, butterflies, fireworks, confetti and more can be added with just a click to deliver an instant wow factor. Each effect can be resized and positioned exactly where you want it on the screen. The 3D effects appear as a video overlay and can help add drama (or humor) to your final product. At first glance they may appear a little gimmicky, but with some imagination, they could really enhance your storytelling if you shoot for the edit.
Sharing and Exporting
If you don’t get time to finish your current project, you can relax safe in the knowledge that the Photos app saves your progress as you are working. Simply close the Photos app and when you reopen it, you can click the Creations tab to find your saved video projects and finish editing those remaining frames.
Once you are done, click the Export or Share button and choose the size you want. You can view the finished video in the Photos app, open a File Explorer window to see your saved file location, or share it via email and social media. You can see a sample of a finished video below:
So, is this the Windows Movie Maker replacement you have been waiting for? For many people, the answer will be yes. It’s modern, touch friendly, easy to learn, and produces some great results with minimal effort. It works offline and it saves as you go. I think a lot of parents and teachers will love it and the fact that it’s now built-in to Windows is really convenient. For those reasons alone, I can see many schools taking advantage of this over some rival offerings.
However, for other people, it may be too basic. After all, in terms of features, the Windows 10 Photos app is still a little lacking. For instance, you can’t split video clips, you can’t add a voiceover narration, you can’t adjust the speed of a clip, music doesn’t automatically duck under the audio in a video, there are no video transitions, and there is no chroma key support for green screen. The fact that these options don’t yet exist speaks volumes to the audience that Microsoft is hoping to reach here, at least on launch.
If you are already using Camtasia, Premiere Elements, (or even iMovie), then this is likely not the product for you. Yet, I think Microsoft is okay with that. The editor will doubtless get more features in future updates, but the focus of this software, at least from my vantage point, is simplicity. It fills a whole that needed to be filled and there is still a lot of potential here, so I would encourage you to take a look.