Video has taken the web by storm, spreading everywhere from YouTube to personal blogs. There are many reasons why video has become so popular?inexpensive video cameras, readily available broadband, free video hosting sites, as well as free and easy-to-use video editing software. Video editing is the most technically challenging aspect of video production and publication, but here?s a simple how-to for a popular free video-editing application: Windows Movie Maker(1).

To get started, you should have a computer with Windows XP or a newer version of Windows, some video footage, and Movie Maker. You may already have Movie Maker on your computer; to find out, just go to your start button, select ?Programs?, and navigate to ?Accessories?, then ?Entertainment?. If you already have it, then Movie Maker will be listed here. If it isn?t, then you can download it for free from

Movie Maker only supports specific video formats, so check the Movie Maker help section(2) to determine if your video?s format is supported. If your video is in an unsupported format there are free utilities you can download that will convert your footage to a supported format.

Once you have Movie Maker and a properly formatted video file, start the application and import your footage. The easiest way to import is to use the Toolbar: click the ?Tasks? button on the Toolbar to open the ?Movie Tasks? pane. From that pane, select ?Import Video?(3)?this will cause a window to pop up. Browse through your video file(s), highlight the one you want then select ?Import?(4). Your footage should then appear in Movie Maker?s Collection window.

Now you?re ready to start editing. To edit your footage, you need to move it into the editing pane. The editing pane(5) can be found in the lower portion of the application window, so all you have to do is simply click and drag the footage there in the order you would like it to be played in your finished video. Clips can be rearranged at any time, so don?t be afraid to experiment.

Once your footage is in the editing pane, you can start to make your changes, including splitting clips of film. While you can split clips from either the player or the editing pane, I?ll outline how it works in the player. If you click on a clip you will see it appear in a video player on the upper right of the application. There you?ll also find a button that shows a dotted line between two film frames; this is the split button. To split a clip, you can either play the clip or drag the playback indicator to where you want to split it and then click the split button. Now you will see two clips in the editing pane(6).

You can use the editing pane to make even more changes. In this pane, there are two views to choose from, Timeline and Storyboard. In general, the Storyboard view is best for arranging your clips and adding transitions. Transitions are effects that smooth the change from one clip to another. And now you that you have two clips, you?ll want to put a transition between them. On the Movie Tasks pane on the left side of the application window, click the arrow next to the ?Edit Movie? section, then select ?View video transitions?. This will bring up a list of transitions. Drag the transition you want to the small rectangle between clips in the Storyboard(7). If you want to change a transition?s length, you can modify if with the ?Options? section under ?Tools? on the Toolbar.

You?ll need the Timeline view to remove footage from the beginning or end of a clip (called ?trimming a clip?). If you would like a specific section of a clip, use the trimming function. On the timeline, click one side of a clip and drag the playback indicator to the desired trim point, then release(8). The clip is now trimmed down to that time . If the section you want is in the middle of a clip, split the clip near the end of the section you would like, then trim.

Splitting, transitions and trimming are tools every video editor employs. Before attempting a big project, try playing around with these features so you can get the hang of how to use them. For more information, use the help function in Movie Maker; it?s located on the Toolbar.

Now that your video footage has been edited, it?s time to finish your video. Go to the left pane and click the arrow next to ?Finish Movie? then select ?Save to my computer?(9). Movie Maker will then walk you through the saving process, but if you want to find out more about saving your video, go to the Movie Maker help section.

To learn more about Movie Maker, go to Or, as they say, Google it.

This article was adapted from Produce Your Own Movies and is republished here under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.