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How to join an image and audio with Windows Movie Maker

This is another one of those that I'm writing for my own reference, but I'm very sure a whole bunch of you out there will find this useful.

The goal: Create a video that's just a single image with an accompanying audio track, and have that video be only 1 frame per second since it's only one image to get the file size as small as possible so you can upload to YouTube faster.

Why do this? It's good for musicians that just want to post their music to YouTube and need a very quick-and-dirty way to make a video.

Step 1. Get (or create) an image that is 1280x720 in resolution

You need 1 image, and I suggest using 1280x720 since that's what 720p is and will look proper once uploaded to YouTube.

If you need a test image, get one from here.

Step 2. Get a WAV or MP3 of your music track

WAV is better if you have it, but if MP3 is all you have, that works too.

Step 3. Place your image into WMM

Drag-and-drop your image into WMM. It will look something like this:


The default running length of the image will be 7 seconds. We'll change this in a moment.

And yes, you have to place the image first. WMM will not accept any audio until it has an image or video to work with.

Step 4. Place your audio into WMM

Drag-and-drop your audio into WMM, and it will look something like this. Note the green bar below the video on the right side, that's the audio. If you don't see it, compare it to the image above and you'll find it.


Step 5. Get the running time of the audio

Click on "Music Tools" on top. "Start time" should be 0.00s, "Start point" should also be 0.00s, and "End point" is a different number.

If Start time and Start point are not 0.00, click in the field where the numbers are, type a single 0 (do NOT type an s), press Enter, and it will then be set to 0.00 like it's supposed to be.

My audio file happened to be 137.97s. Yours will be different.

It's supposed to look like this:


Remember the end point number, which in this example is 137.97. You'll need it for the next step.

Step 6. Stretch running time of the image to match audio

Click on "Video Tools", which is right next to "Music Tools." The first thing you'll notice is that your image has a running time (or "Duration" as WMM calls it) of 7 seconds.


Click in that field and manually type out the running time of the audio.

DO NOT type the s, just the number. My running time is 137.97, so that's what I type in and press Enter.

When you do that, your image's running time now matches the audio, and your editor changes to reflect that:


Instead of that little 7-second image, now the image runs the full length of the audio.

Step 7. Create a custom export setting

This, in all honesty, is a pain in the ass at first because of bad menu design.

There's the fast way and the stupid way to do this.

Fast way (keystroke method)

ALT+F (menu opens)
M (save movie)
S (open custom setting dialog box)

Stupid way

At top left, you click the blue bottom to show the menu. Then you hover over "Save movie." And then you encounter this bad menu, and you'll understand why in a moment.

At the top and bottom of this menu are thin arrow bars that you probably didn't even notice until I just told you. These can be used to scroll through other options. However, when you hover over them, the menu races like crazy.

The way to go through this menu is that after you hover over "Save movie," let go of your mouse and use your UP and DOWN arrow keys, and then you can scroll through the choices properly.

The menu choice you want here is "Create custom setting." It's the very last choice and looks like this:


Whether you used the fast way or the stupid way, you end up with this box:


Fill out the fields so it looks like this:


The custom name is "720p 1fps", 1280 width, 720 height, 100kbps bit rate, 1 frame per second, and a better-than-average (for YouTube) audio quality of 192kbps stereo.

Save that. You'll be prompted to save to a "Video Profiles" folder. Click Save there, then close the Custom Setting box.

Step 8. Export using custom setting

Now when you hover over "Save movie," your new custom setting will appear to the right of it. And thankfully, you don't have to scroll to get to it.

It will look like this:


When you export this video, it will happen really, really fast. Probably faster than anything you've ever exported from WMM before. It will render so fast that you'll think something is wrong with your computer. Trust me, there isn't.

WMM build 16 offers the ability to export in MP4 or WMV. Use MP4, because video sites "understand" that format better than WMV. Yes, the MP4 will be slightly larger, but it's still better as far as a video-sharing sites like YouTube are concerned.

Your rendered MP4 file will be in a nice small file size and ready for quick uploading to YouTube.

How small can you go?

The smallest you can go before things start looking and sounding like total crap is this:


320 width, 240 height, 100kbps bit rate, 1 fps, 96kbps 44.1kHz stereo audio (which is the lowest you can use in WMM).

The audio will sound a little "washy," and the video will be a bit on the "blocky" side, but the file will be very small at around 900k per 1 minute of video.

I don't suggest using settings this low because it is a bit on the crappy side. However, you can experiment to see what works best for you.


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