We explain how to turn your raw video footage into a presentable production using Windows Live Essentials Movie Maker, a free download for Windows 7.

Video is everywhere these days. More and more websites are including video content, while video-hosting site YouTube is the third most popular web destination after Google and Facebook. The cost of shooting video has dropped considerably too, with some circa-£100 pocket camcorders offering direct uploads to websites.

But quantity doesn’t always translate to quality, and a fair proportion of what ends up online is unedited, raw footage, uploaded directly from the camcorder. Although many pocket models include rudimentary editing software, this is rarely used beyond trimming the start and end points of a video, if at all.

It doesn’t take long to turn raw footage into a memorable, well-paced video, however. Nor do you need to spend a fortune on doing so: tools to create better video clips are freely available.

Windows users can download Microsoft’s free Live Movie Maker software, which contains everything you need to take your raw footage and turn it into something far more interesting to watch.

Over the following pages, we’ll provide advice to help you turn your holiday videos, family events or corporate footage into something your friends, relatives or colleagues will actually want to watch.

We edit our video on a Windows 7 computer. While Windows Live Movie Maker has been available for a while now, preinstalled on both XP Service Pack 2 and Vista, it isn’t included in Windows 7. If you don’t already have the software installed on your PC, you can download Live Movie Maker here. The latest version is a major update, both in terms of the interface and features.

Step 1. Download and install Live Movie Maker. Launch the program and import a video, either by dragging-and-dropping files into the workspace or clicking on the ‘Drag videos and photos...’ link visible in the main screen. You can import photos in exactly the same way.

Windows Live Essentials Movie Maker 1

Step 2. If the footage is still on your camcorder, attach it to the PC via USB or insert its memory card into your reader. Using the drop-down menu next to ‘Home’, select ‘Import from device’. This calls up a wizard for importing video and photos, which supports tape-based camcorders as well as hard disk- and Flash memory-based models.

Windows Live Essentials Movie Maker 2