Tips for Using Windows Movie Maker Video Transitions

Video transitions are even more limited than video effects in Windows Move Maker, but just as essential to the project. One of the most important Windows Movie Maker tips you can follow is how to use video transitions properly so they enhance your project.

In Windows Movie Maker you are essentially limited to the two most main ones, and the most accessible are the fade in and fade out. There are still a number of different transitionary effects you can look to, but most of them are animations that will not be used in a conventional film project.

These two are the only standard video transitions represented by Windows Movie Maker because it is only a bare bones application, catering to customers who do not have a background in video editing. Still, hese are the most common and will get most of the things you want done as long as you know how to work with them correctly.

Give Me a Fade

The first thing that you have to note is when to use a fade and when to avoid one. When you are applying a fade in and fade out to a clip in Windows Movie Maker, it has to be only done in between full sequences. Never fade out or fade in to a clip in the middle of a sequence, as all transitionary effects should be avoided during this.

The fade out and fade in transition should only be applied when there is a change in both time and space in between scenes. Normally, you could use a different type of transition, such as a cross fade, in between scenes that only have a minor change. Unfortunately, you only have the fade in and fade out in Windows Movie Maker so you have save this for dramatic scene changes. What this transition communicates to the audience is that this is a completely new situation, and they have to reset from the last scene.


When you are considering applying different transition effects, you have to consider how you want them to appear. Most films, even those with a much more experimental visual style and narrative, tend to use standard transitions. Animated transitions tend to look relatively cheap and are mostly used in home video, local programming and sports movies.

The reason is that they are too obvious and take away from the main film. This is especially true of the limited stock in the Windows Movie Maker arsenal. If you want to use some of these, you have to make sure that they fit into the visual cues and energy of the film itself. For example, if you have a number of visual items that link back to the slapstick comedy often seen in silent films, you can freely use many of traditional silent film transitions. Remember, that all decisions in your editing process have to have been inspired by a creative command. Never just add a transition effect to fill blank space.

Subtle vs. Obvious

If you are going to use animated transition effects in a narrative Windows Movie Maker project, you have to keep it relatively subtle. Try using things like the wipe or bars instead of the heart.   By and large any video transition besides a fade in and fade or a crossfade is going to be too dramatic to use in a real narrative film project.  They draw attention to themselves and are somewhat “low rent” in terms of visuals, often looking amateurish.  A fade in and fade out is intended to indicate a change in both time and location between the two scenes, and a crossfade is just a change in time or location (though usually location, yet it is still in the logical stream of time).  You will also need to match this with the amount of Windows Movie Maker video effects you are using, which can overwhelm the imagery and even the computer’s processing speed if it is older and without a large amount of available space.

If you are working on a normal home video, you may want to go in the completely opposite direction, where you add transition effects for almost no reason, which can be fun for certain situations.


When using lots of effects, either video or transition, you may want to use the Timeline view. Storyboard is only good if you are using them only sparingly.  It will be hard to get a visual sense of both the proximity and length of each Windows Movie Maker video transition without it, and this is something ported over from larger and more professional non-linear video editing programs like Final Cut Pro and Avid Media Composer.  Video transitions can be the glue that holds the project together as a whole and you will want to begin seeing your project as one solid piece.  You will also want to note that you will only use the video transitions between scenes and not within them, as this would be incredibly distracting and communicate mixed messages to the audience.

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