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Movie Maker Vista File Format Support

Movie Maker Vista File Format Support

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We've had some questions about what file formats are supported by Movie Maker on Windows Vista. Hope this helps!

Movie Maker can import a wide variety of video and audio formats.  The format refers to the container which contains the audio and video streams.  The audio and video streams are encoded using a codec which determines how the audio or video is compressed. 

The following summaries the key format containers that Movie Maker supports:

Video

  • DV-AVI (AVI)
  • Windows Media Video (WMV, ASF)
  • DVR-MS (Windows Media Center Vista Premium and Ultimate only, DVR-MS)
  • MPEG-2 (MPEG-2 Program Streams on Vista Premium and Ultimate only, MPG)
  • MPEG-1 (MPG)

Audio

  • WAV (WAV)
  • MP3 (MP3)
  • Windows Media Audio (WMA)

When a file is imported in Movie Maker, Movie Maker will open the container format and then use DirectShow to determine what codecs are required to decode the audio and video streams.  Just because the format is supported, for example AVI, doesn’t mean the required codecs are installed on the machine.  Given the wide range of codecs available this can cause confusion.  If the codec required to decode the video is not available, the file will not be properly imported.  For example, if only the audio codec is available for a video file, the video will be rendered as black.   

One of the most popular container formats is AVI.  AVI files can contain a wide range video codecs, for example, the AVI video stream maybe encoded with MPEG-4 video.  Assuming you have installed the proper video codec, Movie Maker will import this content.  Movie Maker will always attempt to import the media file and if the proper DirectShow filter is registered, the content will be imported.   

Most solid state video cameras include the required codecs that can be used by Movie Maker to import the file.  Devices use a wide range of file formats and codecs so it’s difficult to provide a detailed list of supported device and formats.  Typically, if the video file can be played in Windows Media Player, Windows Movie Maker can import the content.  If you cannot playback the file in Windows Media Player, check to make sure you have the proper codecs installed on your machine.  If the codec is not installed on your machine, download the codec directly from the manufactures web site.  It is recommended to only install the codecs that you require. Also keep in mind that DRM protected content cannot be imported into Movie Maker. 

When publishing your movie from Movie Maker, Movie Maker can publish video files to DV-AVI, Windows Media and Windows Media HD.  Movie Maker provides a set of predefine Windows Media profiles targeting the most common scenarios, but you can also create your own custom profile.  On Vista Premium and Ultimate, you can also publish your videos directly to DVD. 

Related articles:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/player/faq/codec.mspx
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/308464 (Windows XP)
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/moviemaker/expert/customprofile.mspx

- Michael Patten (Program Manager)