Windows Live Movie Maker – Time-Lapse Tutorial


Last year, Microsoft came out with an updated version of its free movie making software now called Windows Live Movie Maker.  With the introduction of Windows 7, all new PCs should include Windows Live Movie Maker.  If you’re using an older version of Windows, the new Movie Maker should still work (download link).

The good news for time lapse enthusiasts is that this new version simplifies the process and no longer requires the workaround that I described in a previous post.

Getting Started

Begin by importing all of the photos in your time lapse series into Movie Maker.  I prefer to number them sequentially, but I believe Movie Maker is less picky than VirtualDub in this regard.

Change the Duration

Select all of the photos you’ve just imported and click on the “Edit” tab at the top of the screen.  The only available selection is “Duration,” which is set to 5.0 seconds by default.  For the video I’ve used in this tutorial, I’ve set the interval to 16 fps or 0.06 seconds when rounded down.  Here are some other times for easy reference:

16 fps = 0.06

20 fps = 0.05

24 fps = 0.04

30 fps = 0.03

Saving the Video

Go back to the “Home” tab and scroll through the “Sharing” window until you find the proper settings.  I photographed this carnival ride in a 16:9 aspect ratio with over 1920×1080 pixels, so I’m able to select the “High-Definition (1080p)” option.

After you’ve saved the video, you can open it in Movie Maker and edit it the same way as any other video.

Here’s the final result of the video I made during this tutorial.  The people in the foreground toward the end are picking up the pieces of someone’s mobile phone after it flew off the ride.


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15 thoughts on “Windows Live Movie Maker – Time-Lapse Tutorial

  1. Very interesting tutorial.
    I was thinking of doing this type of time lapse of a babies face as it grows up. The only trouble is getting the face in the same place in the frame every time, I could get it quite close but not exact. Is there a way to automaticaly crop and centre each pic so they are similar?

    1. If you have an iPhone, you can try the app “Everyday.” I’ve used Photoshop to overlay and resize multiple images into a video but it’s a real pain. I don’t know of a stand-alone program for computers that will do this.

      The good news is I’m sure someone will come out with a program eventually, so you can begin taking photos now and assemble them in a couple of years.

  2. What a beautiful time-lapse photography. I haven’t made as lovely as this. My only time-lapse was the clouds scene, where the clouds move up the sky faster as that of a night turns into day and vice versa.

    This is a great tutorial too. I will try this because it’s a bit different from what I’ve been doing.I use the older version of Movie Maker. This tutorial is much easier because it has the edit option for time duration. In the old version I use the “effects ” option to speed up each picture so it will run like a video.

    Thanks a lot for this.

    1. Thanks for sharing your video. It shows you can make a time-lapse with any camera. My favorite way to make one without an intervalometer is to shoot at night and simply lock down the shutter. I’ve even done this with a wood clamp.

      My most recent video was shot with a remote release but I never set a timer. I just let the shots go because the low light meant they already had exposures of a few seconds.

  3. Thank you, this was just what I needed. I just got a hero2 and took a series of a storm coming in and had no clue how to stitch them together. Concise and clean, excellent blog, keep up the good work!

  4. @David Nolan. I think what you might be looking for is morphing software, which is often used for that type of application. I am new to time-lapse work, but have used morphing software in the past – old, DOS versions where you set up two images and had to mark common spots (nose, mouth etc) on each. This would then have to be repeated with the next pair and then stitch them all together.

    Modern morphing software has intelligent face detection that greatly simplifies the process. Googling “morphing software” brings up several packages that can be tried free.

    1. The quality of the video versus the original photos depends on size, compression, and color management. The final video will probably be smaller than the photos. Different compressions algorithms (codecs) will vary in quality and file size. And while printed colors have a wider range, videos should use the same color palette as the digital photos. For the best quality, try saving the files for HDTV or Blu-Ray standards.

  5. Great tutorial, it was really useful for me. This is probably the easiest piece of time lapse software for Windows. One thing to note, Movie Maker did not load for me, a problem with Windows 7 x64 bit, I had to update my graphics card drivers to the latest version.

  6. I have done the Windows Movie Maker recently, after made two video featured the oldest survived 35mm nitrate films of unknown origins. I photographed all 1,594 frames from 100ft roll by my Epson film scanner, and fully cropped around the unwanted sprocket holes from it. Two of the 35mm old film projects was uploaded to YouTube with excellent result. As the pre-1930 films was projected at 20 FPS therefore I adjusted the duration time of each frame at 0.05 per frame. That’s normal BUT I just wanted the sound version 35mm films of 24 FPS to be 0.42 per frame, not 0.04 ! Is there any further new update version of WMM with three digits at end of the duration icon that shows ‘0.000’ ?

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