This page is about my experiences with Windows Live Movie Maker, and tricks I have learned. It's mainly focused at using WLMM to edit my GoPro Hero HD helmet cam footage.

Windows Live Movie Maker vs Windows Movie Maker

Windows Live Movie Maker can be downloaded here;

I won't go into the requirements much, but you need Vista or Windows 7 to run it. So all you XP people will have to persist with the old fashion Windows Movie Maker, not that's there's anything wrong with that. In fact some people prefer the old Windows Movie Maker as it has more features than the new Live version (see wikipedia and you'll see what I mean). I find them both pretty similar except for 1 big difference. The standard install of Windows Movie Maker on my work laptop running XP does not understand the x.264 codec used by my GoPro. The standard install of Windows Live Movie Maker on my laptop running Windows 7 understands the x.264 codec just fine.

I understand WLMM installed on Vista also may not understand the x.264 codec, depending on which additional codecs you machine may or maynot have. The GoPro hero website says "If using Windows Media Player or Movie Maker, make sure you download the latest HD-capable version and also download a H.264 decoder to update media or movie maker. CoreCodec CoreAVC is one company that offers a codec pack for h.264.". I looked into that, but at $12.95 for the CoreAVC codec pack I decided I'd rather just use the laptop that already worked. 

I had a bit of a look around the web and people suggested;

I tried installing just the x.264 codec part of the second link above, but it didn't help. The XP machine still wouldn't load the x.264 video into Windows Movie Maker.

Exporting from WLMM - Using Profiles

I'd been doing a lot of playing with Windows Live Movie Maker (WLMM) when I decided I wanted some more export profiles, as the standard 720p widescreen and 1080p widescreen settings aren't very useful for the gopro's 960p 4:3 video setting.

After a lot of searching the web I found I needed a utility called "windows media profile editor". This comes with "Windows Media Encoder 9". It can be found here;

Don't search microsoft for windows media encoder 9, because it will point you to "windows expression encoder 3" which is supposed to replace media encoder 9. But expression encoder 3 doesn't come with the media profile editor utility.

So once you have installed Windows Media Encoder 9, go to Start>All Programs>Windows Media>Utilities> and open Windows Media Profile Editor. Left click will open it and the files you save will be hidden as "compatability files". Alternatively right click and "run as administrator" and then you can save files with no issues. This compatability file thing is something weird I am not used to, must be a Windows 7 thing. I will mention it again in the saving the profile part.

First you need to import a profile to modify. The Windows Live Movie Maker profiles are found here;

C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Live\Photo Gallery\Video Profiles\

I tried importing and modifying both the 720p widescreen and 1080p widescreen defaults.

Now change the settings to whatever you want. To make a 960p one I just changed the video size to 1280x960. With the GoPro I also changed the audio down to 128kbps 48kHz as that is all it records at.

I tried experimenting with the bit rate. I tried a VBR (variable bit rate) with the quality at 97%. This created a massive file, with a bit rate of 40Mbps. So I imported the 1080p widescreen profile and noticed it was a CBR (constant bit rate) of about 8Mbps. So I used that CBR 8Mbps setting for my 960p video. It gave a more reasonable file size. I noticed the GoPro seemed to record at about 12Mbps in the 960p mode. There is some interesting tests of different quality settings in VBR mode here;

Here is a tip you won't find on the web, I initially got it wrong and it gave me the sh*ts. The description field is more than a description field. When you import the standard 720p/1080p profiles there is some weird coded info in that field. The first part describes the aspect ratio. I ignored it at first, thinking it was just a text field (as the help says it is). But it seems Windows Live Movie Maker, Media Player and Youtube all look at that field somehow (or it carries through that far anyway). So I made my 1280x960p profile which is clearly 4:3, and left the 16x9 aspect ratio description. When I went down to the "save movie" part of Windows Live Movie Maker it said 1280x960 and the description said widescreen. I ignored the widescreen part. It made a video, that when played appeared to have black bars either side. But when I checked the file info it said it was 1280x960. Then when I uploaded to youtube it added more black bars onto the side of the other black bars, and gave this distorted squashed up image. Unfortunately I had uploaded nearly 2GB of video, all squashed (took hours).

So make sure you change the description field!!! I changed the aspect ratio from 16x9 to 4x3 and then my 1280x960 video's worked fine. The other funny codes in the description field also do something, but I haven't figured out what.

So when you have your profile ready select export and give it a name. Here is where that compatability file thing comes in. If you run profile editor as administrator then it saves your profile correctly and you will see it in WLMM straight away. If you open profile editor with a left click, then it saves the file in some weird alternate universe folder that profile editor can see, but nothing else can. To be able to see it you need to go to the folder in windows explorer and click on the "compatability files" button to see the files sitting in the alternate universe. Cut the file from there, click back in windows explorer (to the normal universe) and click paste. The other programs should be able to see the profile file then. Make sense?

So anyway, then you should have a 1280x960p profile for use with the GoPro Hero HD. I also made a 960x720p profile (at 6Mbps) for exporting the GoPro 960p videos to a 4:3 720p for upload to youtube. I have put them here for people that don't want to make their own;

Some more discussion on creating the custom profiles, and plenty of sample profiles, can be found here;

If you want to see some examples of what my exported videos look like, just search for user BajaWes on youtube.