Why I Think Windows MovieMaker is Crap

...and have the scars to prove it.

OK. This started out as a rant, but since I brought it upon myself and decided to make the best of it, some background is in order:

I recently started putting together a short video commemorating our latest project, using the hundreds (probably thousands) of photos we've been taking over the last year or so. Pre-selection yielded about 200-odd photos (around half of which made it into the 4-minute long video in one form or another) and a half-dozen MP3 files for the soundtrack, all of which I threw into Windows MovieMaker because it was the only video editing software I had handy - and with the files being on our office LAN, I couldn't do all of the sorting and editing on my Mac at home (hindsight tells me I should have dumped all of the media on a DVD and brought it home, but it's too late now).

Everything was pretty much under control while the movie had 1 minute or so, but I'm going on 4:33 (yeah, it's a cosmic coincidence) and MovieMaker crashes with just about any change I make to the sequence. More irritating than that, it now crashes every time I click on the timeline after saving.

Given that this piece of junk is targeted at the home market, comparisons with iMovie are unavoidable, and even though I am not that familiar with any of them (the last time I edited digital video I had a 4-monitor Mac, a kick-ass capture card and Adobe Premiere to take the brunt), the veredict is simple: MovieMaker sucks.

It does have an extensive array of video effects and transitions (apparently more than iMovie, but I'm not firing up my Mac to do an extensive comparison while on a deadline) and a fairly comprehensive set of video output formats and options (definetly better than iMovie, which adheres to the brain-dead "surely you must have a Firewire camera, sire!" school of thought), but audio editing is very limited (trim, fades and volume are there, but are very unwieldly) and having it crash at random intervals just because I drag something on the timeline is, quite frankly, unexcusable.

It also has no real concept of groups, block editing or "real" timecodes. It's impossible to adjust the length of a block numerically, and the "easy drag" features tend to lock on to the wrong places (oh, and crashing).

To get a feel for the user experience of the thing, consider this: I am currently spending more time waiting until the project loads (and it tries to find all the necessary files) than actually editing the movie.

This is Apple's competition, folks. No threat at all, except to your own sanity. Next time, I'm getting Final Cut Express and doing this the right way.

Update: Ed thinks I'm comparing MovieMaker to Final Cut Express - I'm not. I was comparing it to iMovie all the way. The only reason I mention Final Cut Express is that I need something beefier than iMovie to handle audio the way I wanted for this project.