MovieMaker Timeline Preview

The topic of video and especially photos on the timeline looking “blurry” in the preview window is a topic that is becoming increasingly popular on the newsgroups. Digital Cameras have a much higher resolution than video so you can be understandably concerned when these high resolution pictures are put on the timeline and then suddenly look nowhere near as nice as the original. So why do they look as bad as they do?


When we preview the timeline we do it at a resolution of 320 x 240 with 15 frames per second (or 12.5 frames per second it you’re using PAL). We do this for various performance reasons, and we can play back the timeline complete with effects or transitions without forcing the user to wait during a rendering stage.


You can use the View menu, select Preview Monitor Size and set the preview size to 640 x 480. This will make the preview window larger but the timeline is still internally rendered at 320 x 240 so it will be scaled up which can cause that “blurry” look. If you select View…Full Screen the 320 x 240 frame will now be stretched to fill the entire screen so you’ll especially notice those high resolution images from your camera won’t look anywhere near as nice as the original.


The good news is that of course this is just for the preview. When you select Save Movie to publish your movie, your images and video will be rendered to the target size of your video (720 x 480 for NTSC and 720 x 576 for PAL). Of course this is still lower than the resolution of your digital camera but is the standard resolution used for video. If you do have a high definition television and want to experiment with higher resolution video from MovieMaker, PapaJohn has created some custom profiles – check out his web site at and look at the Introduction under the WMV-HD section.