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Setting Project Defaults

There are several project defaults you should set before getting started. Most important, from my perspective, is the location of the files created by Movie Maker when rendering your project. Like most Microsoft programs, Movie Maker likes to bury these somewhere deep in the Documents and Settings folder, where they're nearly impossible to find and delete.

I prefer to keep all project assets in one folder on my main video drive, so I'll show you how to change the default here; you then need to make sure you select the same drive during capture. I'll also show you several other housekeeping options to consider.

To set general and advanced options

  1. From the main Movie Maker menu, choose Tools > Options. Movie Maker opens the Options dialog box open to the General tab ( Figure 3.47 ).

    Figure 3.47 General options for project defaults.

  2. Click the Browse button to change the Temporary Storage location. As you can see in Figure 3.47, I've already changed this to a folder on my F: drive that's named for the occasion. I'll capture and import all video and other assets into that folder, which makes them easy to find and either delete or reuse.
  3. If desired, select the Open Last Project on Startup check box to have Movie Maker automatically open the project you last worked on when you again run Movie Maker.
  4. If desired, select the Save AutoRecover Info Every check box and change the duration by using the arrow keys or directly entering a new duration. Editing without AutoRecover turned on is like driving without a seatbelt. Do so at your own risk.
  5. If desired, select the Download Codecs Automatically check box. New codecs are often necessary to either display a file produced elsewhere or produce certain output files. I leave this checked.
  6. If desired, click Reset Warning Dialogs to reveal any previously hidden messages. This will re-enable any of Movie Maker's warning dialog boxes that you've disabled.
  7. If desired, click Clear All Passwords and User Names. When uploading files to a Web site, you can enter user names and passwords that Movie Maker retains for your convenience. Clicking this button clears this information so other computer users can't upload videos without reentering this data.
  8. If desired, click Restore All Defaults to restore the General options to their original settings.
  9. Click the Advanced tab in the Options dialog box to access advanced options ( Figure 3.48 ).

    Figure 3.48 Advanced options for project defaults.

  10. If desired, adjust the default durations for pictures and transitions by typing a new duration or adjusting the value using the arrow keys to the right. These are default values applied to any picture or transition inserted into the project. You can adjust these values manually on the Timeline. Note that if you change the default value for either pictures or transitions in mid project, the change is applied prospectively only. New pictures or transitions added to the project will use the new values, but Movie Maker will not change the duration for pictures or transitions already inserted into the project, even if they were inserted using the previous default duration.
  11. If desired, change the Video Properties settings to the appropriate values. In general, Movie Maker can ascertain these values from video captured or imported into the project. Changing these values to the incorrect settings will distort your video. For example, if you shoot your video at an aspect ratio of 4:3 and change the aspect ratio to 16:9, Movie Maker will squeeze the video vertically to make it fit ( Figure 3.49 ).

    Figure 3.49 You'd smile too if you could eat that much cookie without worrying about your waistline. On the left is the video as it should look; on the right, you can see the squeezed appearance the comes from displaying 4:3 video at 16:9.

    I would leave these setting along unless you're sure they're wrong (for example, if you're shooting with a PAL camcorder and know it, and the format is set to NTSC) or if the video looks distorted upon output.
  12. If desired, change the Maximum file size for email attachments by typing a new value, or adjusting the value using the arrow keys to the right. Movie Maker uses this value to set encoding parameters for videos produced for distribution via email. Most Internet service providers (ISPs) have an attachment limit, usually in the range of 1 to 5 MB. If you try to send an email attachment larger than this limit, the ISP won't send it. If you know the limit set by your ISP, adjust the value to that limit. Otherwise, leave this value at 1 MB.
  13. If desired, click Restore All Defaults to restore Advanced options to their original settings.
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