Your video is now complete. From a bare tape of footage only your closest friends and family would agree to watch, you have put together a properly formatted piece of video. The final stage is distribution. The third â€˜Publish to' section (or â€˜Finish Movie' under Windows XP) offers a variety of choices. All of them follow simple wizards.
If your camcorder has FireWire input, recording the finished project back to tape offers a high-quality option, ideal for archiving finished work. All you need to do is cue up a blank tape and click through the wizard. WMM will then process any portions of video requiring rendering, put your camcorder into record mode automatically and play the video out.
However, there are many more computer-friendly options. You can output to a number of different file types, so long as they are a DV AVI or WMW! The wizard will guide you through fine-tuning the settings, such as choosing a codec for file output or setting the bandwidth available to a Web audience.
WMM will even output to optical disc. However, the version included with Windows XP only offers CD output, and it doesn't actually burn VideoCDs. In typical Microsoft style, it uses a proprietary format called HighMAT instead, which is essentially WMV format on CD. You can buy set-top players which support HighMAT, but it's far from universal. Fortunately, all Windows PCs with Windows Media Player 9 or above should be able to play back a HighMAT CD.
With Windows Vista, the option to burn a regular Video DVD has become available. Choosing â€˜Publish to DVD' loads your project into Windows DVD Maker - an application in itself we will cover in a future tutorial.
The Windows XP version of WMM also allows you to send your movies straight to a web-based video sharing service, but this feature has been removed from Windows Vista. Instead, you will need to consult your chosen provider for the optimal submission format, and output a file from WMM which most closely conforms to these recommendations.
And there you have it. You have now taken your first steps in editing video. Best of all, the tools to try your hand are free, sitting ready and waiting for you on your PC's hard disk. In future weeks we will look at more advanced video editing techniques.