Make a Slide Show with Windows Movie Maker

My daughter returned home from a Spanish class trip to Costa Rica with over 250 photos on our neighbor’s new digital camera – Olympus Stylus 790SW 7.1MP Waterproof Digital Camera with Dual Image Stabilized 3x Optical Zoom. We downloaded them to her computer and backed them up to a recordable CD and returned the camera. Now, we wanted to create a slide show with musical accompaniment that we could record on a DVD to play on our TV’s DVD player. Both of our computers are equipped with PowerPoint, but we decided to try a different approach – using Windows Movie Maker.

The actual process of making a slide show in Windows Movie Maker for Windows XP and Vista is nearly identical. However, as I discovered through this process, it’s easier in Vista. On my daughter’s PC running Windows Vista, we could edit the photos in Windows Photo Gallery, create the side show in Movie Maker, and then burn it to a DVD to play in a TV DVD player. On my PC running XP, I had to use a separate program to edit the photos (I used Paint Shop Pro), and Movie Maker did not provide me with an option to record the slide show to a TV DVD; I could only save it to a CD or DVD for playback on a PC.

First Things First

Even before you start thinking about creating your slide show, edit your photos:

  • Rotate any photos 90 degrees clockwise or counterclockwise so they’re right-side-up.
  • Correct any photos that are too dark, too light, have red-eye problems, or just don’t look right for whatever reason. (You can’t do too much to correct out-of-focus photos.) Most photo editing programs, including Windows Photo Gallery (included with Vista) feature tools for rotating images and an Auto Fix command for correcting problems.

In Windows Photo Gallery, you can click a photo and use the Rotate buttons to rotate it. To edit the photo, double-click it.

Tip: If you have Vista, you can start creating your Movie Maker slide show in Windows Photo Gallery. Click Start, All Programs, Windows Photo Gallery. After editing your photos, click File, Select All, and then click Make a Movie. Windows closes the Photo Gallery and runs Windows Movie Maker, which you can then use to make your slide show movie.

Make the Slide Show

To make the slide show, we took the following steps. (If you already selected the photos in Windows Photo Gallery and clicked Make a Movie, you can skip steps 1-3.)

  1. Click Start, point to All Programs, and click Windows Movie Maker. (In Windows XP, you may need to select Start, All Programs, Accessories, Windows Movie Maker.)
  2. Under Import or Capture Video, click the option for importing Pictures.
  3. Change to the folder that contains the photos you want to include in your slide show, select all the photos you want to include in your slide show, and click Import. Windows Movie Maker imports the selected photos.
  4. Take one of the following steps to add photos to your slide show:
    • To control the order of the photos, drag each photo to the desired location in the storyboard (the pane at the bottom of Movie Maker).
    • Select all of the photos you want to include in your slide show, and then drag one of the selected photos into the Storyboard (the pane at the bottom of Movie Maker) and release the mouse button.

Add Music

Adding music that plays in the background can really enhance your slide show, but first, you need to have some audio tracks:

  • Use Windows Media Player to rip tracks from one or more CDs.
  • Use audio tracks or clips you downloaded from the Internet. (Windows Movie Maker supports the following audio file formats: aif, .aifc, .aiff .asf, .au, .mp2, .mp3, .mpa, .snd, .wav, and .wma.)

Once you have some audio clips stored in one or more folders on your computer’s hard drive, you can import them into Movie Maker and add them to your slide show:

  1. Under Import or Capture Video, click the option for importing Audio or Music.
  2. Change to the folder that contains the audio tracks or clips you want to include in your slide show, select all the clips you want to include in your slide show, and click Import. Windows Movie Maker imports the selected clips.
  3. Above the Storyboard (the pane at the bottom of Movie Maker), click Storyboard and then click Timeline or click Show Timeline to change to timeline view. (You have to be in timeline view to add music.)
  4. Take one of the following steps to add audio tracks to your slide show:
    • To control the order of the audio clips, drag each clip to the desired location in the Audio section of the timeline. (Make sure the line that defines the beginning of the audio clip butts up against the beginning of the timeline or the end of the previous clip, or you’ll have dead air in your slide show.)
    • Select all of the audio clips you want to include in your slide show, and then drag one of the selected clips into the audio section of the timeline and release the mouse button.

Tip: You probably want to have the music run a little past the end of the slide show to be sure that music will play the entire time.

Tip: Instead of music, you may want to include your own narration of what’s shown in each slide. (You need to have a microphone installed on your computer in order to record narration.) To record narration, open the Tools menu, click Narrate Timeline, and use the onscreen controls (and your microphone).

Add a Title and Credits

To give your slide show a professional touch, add a title slide and credits. I won’t bore you with detailed step-by-step instructions. Use the options on the Tools menu and follow the onscreen instructions to add a title slide and credits.

Tip: You can also add transition effects between slides by using the Tools, Transitions or Video Transitions command, but I like the default slide transitions. If you do use transitions, use the same transition between all slides, so the different transitions won’t distract from your show.

Preview Your Slide Show

Before burning (recording) your slide show to a CD or DVD, preview it to make sure it contains all the photos and music you want it to include in the order in which you want them to play.

To preview your slide show, click the first slide in your show (probably the Title slide if you added a title to your slide show), and then click the Play button.

Save Your Project

To save your project so you can edit it later, click File, Save Project or press Ctrl+S and then save the file as you would save any file on your computer. This simply saves your project. It doesn’t allow you to play the slide show on another computer or on a TV DVD player. To do that, you need to “publish” your movie, as discussed in the next section.

Publish Your Slide Show

When your slide show is just as you want it, you can publish it to share with others. In Windows XP, you can save the movie (slide show) to your computer, to a CD, send it via e-mail, save it to a format that can play on the Web, or save it to a DV (Digital Video) recorder. In Windows Vista, you have all of those options, plus you can record to a DVD disc to play on other computers equipped with DVD players or on a TV DVD player.

Note: To publish your slide show to a DVD, your computer must be equipped with a recordable DVD player and you must use recordable DVDs.

To publish your movie (slide show), click Start, Publish Movie (Windows Vista) or Start, Save Movie File (Windows XP), and follow the onscreen cues to save/publish the file in the desired format.

Meet the Author

Joe Kraynak
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Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Computer Basics.

1 comment… add one
  • avatar Jean Nov 30, 2010, 1:55 pm

    I have used Movie maker before and had no problems. With my latest project all the photos I have edited lose the edits when imported into movie maker – any idea of what problem could be.

    Grateful for any help as I have edited nearly 2000 photos.

    Many thanks

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