How to edit and share digital video

Release your inner moviemaker with our step-by-step guide to editing video, adding special effects and sharing with and uploading for friends and family.

By Heather Camlot

Lately, I’ve been pulling out my digital camera to take videos of my kids. Pictures are great, but some situations just warrant movie magic. When I’m done, I upload them to my computer, along with any pictures, and that’s where they stay.

It’s not that I don’t want to share them. It’s just they aren’t that good. Lag time before the action begins, running time too long – if you’ve ever taken amateur video, you know what I mean. But there are simple ways to improve your home movies, and the software is most likely already on your computer.

How to edit digital video

Step 1: For PCs, go to All Programs > Windows Movie Maker. For Apple users, iMovie is included in your software. Although the following steps are for PC, they should be similar for Mac.

Step 2: File > Import Media Items > click on your clip(s).

Step 3: Drag and drop the clips into the storyboard at the bottom of the screen. If you don’t like the order, simply click on the clip and drag it elsewhere. Watch each clip in the preview screen and take note of your preferred start and stop times. To trim a clip, go to Timeline view (Click Storyboard > Timeline), click on the clip, move your cursor to either end and when the cursor turns into a red double arrow, slide to shorten the clip. If you make a mistake, hit CTRL Z to undo and try again. Repeat with the opposite end as well as for each clip, if needed. You can also split a clip into several parts: play the clip in the preview monitor, hit pause at the spot you want to split, then click on the Split button in the preview pane.

Step 5: Save your project (File > Save Project As > select a folder and name the file). This format will allow you to re-edit at a later time if you’d like.

How to add effects

Step 1: The edit section in the left-hand task pane gives you access to movie effects and transitions as well as titles and credits. Click on any of the options for a greater selection: In effects, for example, you’ll be able to drag and drop in fades, pans, zooms and more; in transitions, you can drag and drop diamond patterns, diagonals, circles, etc. between your clips to soften the cuts; with titles and credits, you can add just that – a title at the beginning of the movie, titles before or on selected clips, and credits at the end of the movie. Note: effects are addictive! Less is more.

Step 2: Add narration or music to the movie. In the timeline, set the playback indicator (the green line) to where you’d like the narration to begin. Go to Tools > Narrate Timeline > Start Narration. Add your narration (just talk to your computer as you would when using the webcam), then hit stop when you’re done. To add music, go to Import Media Items > select your song > Import. Then drag the file to where you’d like the song to begin. You can trim the song just as you would a clip.

Step 3: When you’re satisfied with your masterwork and ready to share, save the file to your computer as backup.  You can do so via the task pane or File > Publish Movie > This Computer and follow the instructions.

How to share digital video

You may have noticed that when you saved to your computer you also had the options of saving to DVD, recordable CD, email, and digital video camera. It’s all pretty straightforward.

  • If you click the DVD option, Movie Maker will ask you to insert a DVD into the drive, name your movie and name your DVD.
  • If you click the CD option, Movie Maker will ask you to insert a CD into the drive, name your movie and name your CD.
  • If you click the email option, Movie Maker will open your email program and attach the movie to your message.
  • If you click on the DV camera option, Movie Maker will ask you to connect and turn on your camera and name your movie.

How to upload to YouTube

Some versions of Movie Maker will have the option of saving to the Web. If yours does not, don’t worry. Uploading to YouTube is simple.

Step 1: Create an account or sign in if you already have one.

Step 2: Next to the search box, you’ll see Browse and upload. Click Upload.

Step 3: Below the title Video File Upload is a box titled Upload video. Click it. Select your video.

Step 4: When the file has finished uploading, you can rename it and add a description, tags and category. But most importantly, if this video is NOT for the general public, set the privacy to Unlisted –only those who know the link will be able to view it.

Step 5: Copy the URL and email it to friends and family. (If you don’t want the movie seen by anyone else, ask those you emailed to NOT share the link).

While waiting for the kudos, practice your acceptance speech.

First published November 26, 2010, on



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