Windows Live Movie Maker (WLMM) is a great product. But with the latest version, Microsoft removed many profiles that were included with the “old” Windows Movie Maker product. In this article I will show you how to modify the existing output “profiles,” turning WLMM into an even more flexible and powerful video production tool. Using this knowledge, you will be able to create your own profiles for uses not included in the core WLMM product.
TIP: If you would like to use a CableCard with Windows Media Center, you either need Windows 7 or a special version of Windows Vista. You will also need a CableCard tuner, such as the ATI Digital Wonder CableCard tuner.
Before you begin, there are some requirements:
- Windows Vista, Windows 7, or higher (future-proofing this blog post, I hope)
- Windows Live Movie Maker – why would you be doing this if you didn’t have it, anyway? <grin>
- Patience – to test your profiles
A Bit of Background
My search for how to do this started after I had encoded my Superbowl DVD and BluRay videos from my CableCard capture in Windows Media Center. While the trimmed video looked pretty good, I wanted a higher bitrate for higher video quality, and wanted to keep the 5.1 surround sound Media Center records, instead of the 2-channel stereo WLMM uses. Since I was creating a BluRay version of my Superbowl disc this year, I couldn’t live without the surround sound and highest bitrate available on BluRay, now could I! :)
Unfortunately, WLMM doesn’t have a built-in function to let users tune its built-in profiles. Thankfully, Microsoft’s WLMM team chose to use the same profile format as other applications that use Windows Media Encoding, and the idea for this article was born.
Step 1: Download Necessary Software
In order to create your profiles, you will need the Profile Editor, available in the free Windows Media Encoder utility. You can download the installers by following the appropriate link below:
Step 2: Install Windows Media Encoder 9
After you have downloaded the appropriate installer, simply double-click it and follow the instructions to install. It shouldn’t take very long.
Figure: The Windows Media Encoder 9 setup wizard. Yours may look slightly different if you downloaded the 32-bit version.
Figure: After a few minutes, the software should be successfully installed.
Figure: FYI, you can find the Windows Media Encoder tools under Windows Media in the Start menu.
CAUTION: According to Microsoft, you should not install both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the tools on the same machine.
Step 3: Back Up the Existing 1080p Profile
In this example, we will make a backup of the built-in 1080p output profile, and then modify its video quality setting to 100% instead of 95%.
1. Navigate to the WLMM video profiles folder:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Live\Photo Gallery\Video Profiles
NOTE: Your drive letter may be different.
2. Make a copy of the PublishToFile1080p file by selecting the file, then pressing Control-C, and then Control-V.
Figure: The copied file.
3. Rename the copy from PublishToFile1080p – Copy to PublishToFile1080p – Backup. If you are showing file extensions, do not remove the .prx file extension!
CAUTION: Always back up the profiles you are modifying!
Figure: The renamed file.
Step 4: Modify the New Profile
Double-click the original PublishToFile1080p file and the Windows Media Encoder Profile Editor will load, as shown in the figure below:
There are a lot of settings here, and I will leave it up to you to experiment and learn more.
TIP: The Windows Media Encoder Profile Editor comes with a help system so you can learn more about how it works.
Now, we want to change the audio and video quality. Next to Audio, change the Audio Mode dropdown to Quality VBR and the Codec to Windows Media Audio 10 Professional. Then, next to Video, change the Video Mode dropdown to Quality VBR. This video setting automatically determines the best bit rate to use based on a percentage scale.
Figure: Changing the Audio and Video modes.
Now, change to the Quality-based tab on the top and change the video quality from 95 to 100% and the audio format to VBR Quality, 98, 96 KHz, 5.1 channel 24bit VBR, as shown below.
Figure: Changing the quality settings.
Save and close the profile by typing clicking Save and Close.
Step 5: Test
Launch WLMM and you should not receive any errors. Find a video to encode, and save it using the High Definition 1080p profile.
Figure: Encoding the video. Note that this may take a while, since encoding video takes a long time anyway, and you just increased the quality settings!
TIP: You can also use Windows Media Encoder to test your profiles before you use them in WLMM, although this someone defeats the point.
TIP: Remember the rule of Garbage In, Garbage Out (GIGO). If your source media is low quality, a higher quality encode of a low quality source will likely not yield better results. In fact, it’ll probably make it worse.
That’s it! You’ve successfully modified your WLMM output profile settings!
It would be nice if we could create our own profiles and have them be included. I haven’t tinkered with this yet, but I plan on playing around with accomplishing such a feat.
I encourage you to experiment – just make a backup before you do. Please post your results in Comments.
‘Til next time, enjoy!