I recently made my first AMV, and I was stuck with WMM in Vista, but I have some experience that may benefit others using WMM in general. Some/all of this may have already been posted here already, but I wasn't able to find it.
Exporting in the format you want! (kinda...)
We all know WMM output sucks, but you can bend it to your will using the Microsoft utility found here:
http://www.microsoft.com/expression/pro ... rview.aspx
Looks like they changed it in the last couple weeks, but if you look to the lower right of the page you will see links to "Download Windows Media Encoder x86 Edition" and "Download Windows Media Encoder x64 Edition"
I've only used the x64 edition, but I would assume they both work about the same.
What it does and how to use it
The Windows Media Encoder will allow you to create output profiles for WMM. You can still only output to wmv (more on that later), but this lets you select the resolution, framerate, bitrate, and other details. It even lets you output uncompressed video and audio from WMM if you desire.
1. After installing the correct one for your system (x86 unless you know you're on x64), you go in and select "Custom Session" on the window that pops up. Click OK.
2. Click on the "Compression" tab, and you should see a button called "Edit" by the "Destination" drop down box. Click on that button.
3. Now you're at the screen where you can do what you want.
* Change the settings to your liking. I recommend setting resolution to whatever resolution all your clips are (we all know WMM prefers them all to be exactly the same)
* For lossless output, change the drop down boxes under "Codec" to "None (PCM)" for Audio and "Full frames (uncompressed)" for video.
4. Click on the other tab in this window (it will have a bitrate, 282 Kbps default). You can set your framerate here.
* I recommend setting this to 29.97. Now I don't know everything about WMM, but it seems to me it works with this frame rate internally anyway. Using source from FF9 (15 fps naturally), it let me time clips to about 1/30th of a second. I would personally recommend converting your frame rate to 29.97 with AviSynth before working with it in WMM. It just works better that way. (I welcome any advice/information regarding the internal framerate of WMM, I could be wrong).
5. Once you have the settings you want, go back to the "General" tab in this window. Be sure and name your profile here (this is the name that shows up in WMM). After that, click on "Export". Call the file whatever you like, I don't think it matters.
6. Once you have made the profile, put it in the right spot in your WMM directory. This is different for different versions.
* In Windows Vista (and I think also XP), it goes in the C:\Program Files\Movie Maker\Shared\Profiles directory. You may have to make the "Profiles" directory.
* In windows 7 64 bit, it goes in the C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Live\Photo Gallery\Video Profiles. Just take away the " (x86)" at the end for non-64 bit systems.
Congratulations! You can now output lossless from WMM.
As for converting your wmv to something more suitable, I'm not an expert, but Google "free wmv to avi converter". The first link as of this writing is the one I use, and it works great. Just make sure you keep the same frame rate, as it defaults to 23.97 every time you open it.
Version experience from WMM
I've never used WMM in XP, but I hear it's very unstable but more capable than later releases. I used the one in windows Vista 64 bit, and somehow it never crashed on me even a single time. Maybe I just got incredibly lucky, but w/e. Whereas the one provided in Vista will let you make a decent video if you try, the version in Windows 7 is a complete joke. There is NO timeline. Also, forget about using specific parts of the clips you made, as it seems to only let you edit clips start time (or maybe the interface is just so terrible that I haven't found it yet). The Windows Live movie maker you get for windows 7 is a waste of time. It *may* let you open your old project files and at least let you render a video from them, but then again it may decide to call your file corrupt even though it still works in an older version. I was unfortunate enough to switch operating systems in the middle of my first project, and I still have to have a Vista install to go back and edit it.
Thanks for reading. I hope I've helped others by posting this info, but forgive me if this is all well-known already.