Before you learn how to make an animated movie in Windows Movie Maker, you might want to make sure that Windows Movie Maker is the right choice for your project. If you're envisioning an ambitious 37-part series of hour-long animated movies based on journals from your childhood (which sounds awesome, by the way), you might be better off spending the time to learn how to use dedicated animation software like Adobe Flash. However, if you have an idea that you want to create and share with the world right away, you can make an animated movie in Windows Movie Maker, and put off the trial of learning complex new software for another time—if ever.
- Story Board Making a story board might sound like an intimidating proposition, but it's not; you don't need a professional-quality story board with beautiful drawings. In fact, if you can communicate your ideas for the key moments in the film in the form of quick sketches on the back of a few index cards, that might be all the planning you need—especially if the movie you have in mind is going to be very short. When dealing with a large team, the story board stage becomes very important because it allows the writers to tell the artists what they need, but if you're doing it all yourself, a story board is just a plan of action.
- Decide how you will create the art You can't create 2D artwork in Windows Movie Maker, so whether you want to use an illustration program to create your frames, or kick it old school with paint and acetate cels, all that artwork is going to have to come from somewhere. If you want to show your dedication to the art of animation (and preferably have no plans for the rest of the year) you can order paper and acetate cels, hand draw all of your frames, and then get them into the computer via a scanner. However, the easiest thing to do is to use a program that will let you duplicate elements of your art so you don't have to draw them all over again; Adobe Photoshop will be the best choice for most people, but in theory you could use something as simple as the Paint program that came with your computer—it's not recommended, but if you're dying to make an animation on no budget to speak of, it's possible.
- Place the Audio The first thing you'll want to do when you start your new project in Windows Movie Maker is to import the audio you'll be using—assuming your movie will include a soundtrack of some kind. Regardless of the quality of the animation you produce, if your visuals are consistently synched to the audio, that will go a long way towards making your movie look finished.
- Have a Bird's Eye View It may be tempting to start working on the beginning of the movie, but it's kind of demoralizing to spend hours drawing frames, only to realize that you've finished maybe half a second of animation. Work on the project holistically; you can even use your story board sketches as placeholders for the finished art.
- Decide how much animation you need Continue adding frames at key points instead of getting bogged down with in-betweens—or the repetitive frames of animation that are used to simulate motion. When you have the full structure of your movie represented in frames, then you can decide how much effort to put into making the animation fluid. Even if you decide to quit at this point and don't bother with any in-betweening, you'll still have a respectable rough draft of your movie (in fact, professional animators have used the rough-draft format for pilot episodes). In general, more frames are better—an eye blinking at twelve frames per second will look smoother than one at four frames per second, but do what you can.
- Jazz it up While Windows Movie Maker may not be meant for animation, it does come with some cool special effects; be sure to take advantage of them.
- Add credits, and put it on the internet for bragging rights You know you want to.
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