Dave Taylor

How to Create a Video Greeting Card on your Windows PC

I like to keep my friends updated on what’s happening in my busy and chaotic life. With the holidays coming up, I was going to just produce another one-page newsletter — complete with pictures, of course — but instead decided that a video would be quite a bit more fun!

What’s great is that my Windows 7 laptop has almost everything I need, notably including a built-in webcam and a microphone. What’s missing is video recording software, but Microsoft has me covered with “Windows Live Movie Maker”, a free download included with Windows Live Essentials.

Just go to Microsoft.com and download and install the program.

windows-live-essentials

Now that you’ve got that installed on your Windows 7 computer, let me show you how easy it is to start capturing video…

 

windows live movie maker starts up

To actually record a video, you simply click on the “Webcam Video” button along the top. Next thing you know, you’re looking at yourself!

windows-movie-maker-capture

Before you actually record your own video stream, I have 4 tips for you:

1. Make sure that you have an interesting background of some sort.

2. Ensure your face is well lit and that the lights in front of you are brighter than the lights behind you, to ensure you’re not just a silhouette.

3. Speak loudly, especially if there’s background noise!

4. Stack your PC on top of some books or otherwise ensure that the camera is at eye level for you so you’re not looking down.

Now to start recording, I’ll click on the red “record” button on the top left, look up at the camera itself and start talking.

Here’s what I’m planning on saying:

“Hello! I just wanted to share a quick holiday greeting that all is well here in Colorado, the kids are doing great and we’re looking forward to the first snowfall. Hope you’re doing well too, and remember to always take the time to count your blessings. See ya!”

Done? Click on the black “stop” button.

That’s all there is to it! I told you it was going to be quick and easy!

Now I’m going to share it on YouTube, but you can choose any video sharing site so your friends and family can see it.

Ready to share it? Click on “YouTube…” on the “Share” menu and Movie Maker will ask you what resolution you want to use:

windows-movie-resolution

The thing to keep in mind with different resolutions is that larger images are definitely nicer to look at and look better, but are much bigger files and can take a long time to download. They’re certainly all way too big to email someone.

I suggest you pick 640×480 as a good size that will ensure you look good, but not be too crazy large.

Now, enter your Windows Live account credentials then ensure you’ve set it up with YouTube credentials too (and if you don’t have that, just go to youtube.com and sign up for a new account, it’s free and easy). Just a minute or two later you’ll be ready to share the video — or its URL — with your friends and family.

THAT’S ALL YOU NEED TO DO

It’s fun and easy to just talk to your computer and know that your friends and family will be able to view it, but if you’re really motived, Windows Live Movie Maker has quite a lot of power and if you want to experiment, you can add titles, transitions, maybe splice in a few photos or even a background musical track, then upload that improved production to YouTube instead.

Sure, you can leave well enough alone, but I promise, if you start to work with video editing, you’ll find the editing software is easy to use and you’ll be able to create a memorable video your friends and family will love using your own creativity and the tools on your computer.

Now go and try it yourself!
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Dave Taylor writes the popular Ask Dave Taylor tech support blog and has been fiddling with computers and gadgets for more years than he’s willing to admit. You have questions? He’s happy to hear from you on his site or you can join his fan club at facebook.com/askdavetaylor.

Editor Note: Intel sponsored this video series.

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