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Creating a DVD From Video Clips

Jennifer from Covina writes:

I am trying to create a DVD from video clips I recorded with my digital camera. I have Windows Vista. When I attempt to drag the clips from pictures folder to windows movie maker, I get a message that says I do not have the correct codec installed on my computer. I don’t know what to do. Please help!

Hi, Jennifer.  Thanks for the great question!

First off, please allow me to explain what a “codec” is.  A codec is what allows your video player to play or “decode” a video.  Each type of video has its own codec, and if the codec isn’t installed in the video player, it won’t play the video. Up until Windows 7, Microsoft, like Apple, was a little notorious about not allowing its programs to work with any non-Microsoft codecs.  I remember my struggles with trying to record some .avi clips onto DVD with Windows DVD Maker and having to convert them first. 

Now I have to wonder if you’re trying to join the clips together into longer clips or movies, or are you just trying to burn the clips, each as their own title?  The reason that I ask is because if you’re not trying to join the clips together, then you can skip Windows Movie Maker and go straight to Windows DVD Maker.  This is a very user-friendly program that allows you to drag and drop clips, pictures and music on to the disc, as well as add your own menu image, music and animations for your menus.  You can actually make some very professional-looking DVD’s with this program.

If not – if you are wanting to join the clips – then let’s return to your codec issue.  The first thing that I would recommend is to make sure that you have the latest version of Movie Maker.  It goes by the rather clumsy name of “Windows Live Photo Gallery and Movie Maker 2011″ and can be downloaded here for Vista and 7:  http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=29223 [1]  This may solve your codec problem all by itself, because it has codecs for many video types: .avi, .flv (flash video) and cell phone movies among others, that previous versions didn’t have. 

If that doesn’t work, you might try searching Google for the correct codec.  In this search string example, I’m searching for a codec for .flac videos for Windows Movie Maker 2011.  You would, of course, enter your own video format and Movie Maker version.  For my example, you’d enter the search string “flac codec for movie maker 2011″ without the quotes.  The fourth entry that I got was “Vista codec package 6.4.3″, which should solve the problem. 

The last thing that you could try would be to get a video converter of some sort to convert the video from whatever format it’s in to a format that Movie Maker understands.  My personal favorite is Video Downloadhelper for Firefox.  If you take this route, I would recommend shelling out twenty or thirty bucks for the full version of the program.  The reason is that the free version of Downloadhelper among others will “tag” your video with the converter’s logo. 

I hope that this helps!

~Randal Schaffer