Microsoft has improved the Photos app in Windows Fall Creators Update and incorporated new capabilities. Now we can create a video remix, edit our footage, add special effects, and much more. Below we will see how to use the new app, and we will take a look at all the essential features. Keep reading to see if the company succeed in creating a great alternative to the old and deprecated Windows Movie Maker.
Table of Contents
Remember Windows Movie Maker?
When it comes to video editing, most of us are familiar with Windows Movie Maker.
This program was part of Windows Live Essentials - later known as Windows Essentials, which by the way is a software suite that we never understood the reason for its existence.
The programs it offered were utterly irrelevant to each other, and there was no reason to bundle them together. Not to mention most of them were not "essential" by any means.
Anyway, Windows Movie Maker was more than a decent software for video editing for novice editors. It included effects, transitions, credit scenes, and plenty other useful features; plus it was straightforward and effortless to use, even for the most amateur users.
However, as of January 10, 2017, Windows Movie Maker was officially discontinued. Even before that though, Microsoft hadn’t updated the program since 2012.
The new Photos app
Microsoft Photos is an image viewer app, and it was first introduced in Windows 8.0.
The app evolved during the various Windows versions (8.1, 10, Anniversary and Creators Update), and it included editing capabilities, as well as design updates.
On Fall Creators Update though, the app received a significant upgrade. The new Photos app is now meant to fill the gap of a video editing app on Windows 10, and it seems very promising.
We would like to point out that you don't need to install Fall Creators Update to use the Photos app. The program will automatically update in previous Windows versions as well, or you can manually download it from the Windows Store.
Is it the same as Story Remix?
We should mention that, before the Fall Creators Update release, the Photos app was renamed to Story Remix in an Insider build.
The same was hinted in a Microsoft trailer.
However, the app is still named Photos as of the official 1709 version (OS Build 16299.19). We don't know if the company intends to extend the app's features even further and eventually change the name, so we will refer to it as Photos for the time being. Although, some people may still call it Story Remix
No matter the name and as far as we tested, the Photos app can do the same job as Windows Movie Maker, and it offers the same convenience in use. Below we will examine how to create home videos and much more.
The Photos app comes pre-installed in all versions of Windows 10, so we won’t need to install any software to use it.
As an image viewer, it has a modern design
We can open the app from the Start menu, either on the live tiles section…
...or by searching for it.
The first time we open it, it will inform us about its two new features, which are the editing capabilities of Story Remix and the searching options.
On the top side of the app, we have access to the main views on the left.
These views are pretty self-explanatory. The Collection includes all our photos, in Creations we’ll find anything we created with this app, and Folders are… well, our media folders.
On the top right there is the menu with all the necessary features we’ll need: Create, Select, and Import.
There’s also the ability to sign in with a Microsoft account, but we can still use all the available feature with a local account.
Let’s move to using the app.
The first thing we want to do is import all our media into the app.
The Photos app automatically imports any photos and videos it may locate in Windows default folders on our user’s profile and OneDrive.
However, if we have any other media we wish to import, we can click on the relevant button.
Here we have two options. We can either choose a specific folder on our computer or a device connected to a USB port, such as cameras, smartphones, and so on.
Once we locate the desired folder, we click on it and press “Add this folder to Pictures.”
It doesn’t matter if it contains photos, videos, or both; Photos will import the files to our collection.
Now that we have all our photos and videos in this library, we can view them organized by month and year. If we click on the small squares in the middle of the app, we can change the tile size to small, medium, and large.
At this point, it is time to get creative. We can start by clicking on the button “Create.” After all, Microsoft has it highlighted with a blue color, to make sure we won’t miss it no matter what.
In this menu, there are three available options.
We will start with a video remix, which is probably the best feature of this app.
Things are somewhat simple once we enter the New Video section.
All we have to do is click on the photos and videos we wish to use on our video remix. Then, we press the “Add” button on the top.
The program will automatically create a new video remix with the selected items. It will also add some stock music in the background.
If we want a different remix with the same footage, we just hit the “Remix it for me” button.
From this point, we hit the play button to have a look at the remix. If we like it, we click on “Export or share,” where we have three size options.
We can pick whichever we like, according to our needs. Of course, the bigger the video, the better the quality.
In our tests, the large option exports a FullHD video (1920x1080), the medium is for HD (1280x720), whereas the small one has a resolution of 960x540.
The app will take a few seconds to process our video.
After that, the file is ready, and we can view it in the Photos app or Windows Explorer.
Furthermore, we can share it to our social media or other apps.
The whole process took us less than a minute, and the photo transitions in the video remix were excellent. However, we might want to tweak a few settings before we export.
Besides the video remix, we can choose to start a new video project from scratch.
The only difference to the process we already described is that after we choose the desired footage, the program loads the editor instead of the automated remix.
As expected, the editing tools, as well as the export options, are all the same. We will describe each one of them later on.
Lastly, in the Create panel, we have the Album option.
If we want to create a new album, we just select the footage and click on “Add.”
From there, we can name our album, add more photos, share it, etc.
Once again, it couldn’t be more elegant and straightforward. Good job, Microsoft.
In case we didn’t like the automatic remix, we can always choose to edit the video before we export it.
Alternatively, we can access the video editor directly from the video project.
Here we see the simple - yet efficient - video editor of the Photos app.
As you can see, the main menu features five ways to customize our video remix. Before we start editing though, we can add more photos and videos from the top left box.
Then, we just drag and drop the media on the place we want them on the timeline.
To trim any parts of the video remix, we just drag the starting and ending handles to the desired positions.
The available filters will make our video remix look consistent and with a different tone.
Among them, we will find known filters such as Sepia and Inky (grayscale), as well as others.
We can also add any text we like to the video, just by typing it in the text box.
Below that, there are some default options to change the text’s style. By the way, the Electric choice is rather awful.
Further below, we can change the text’s layout.
We found the text options pretty limited, especially considering the font and size. We believe there should be custom fonts available, but the worst part is that we can’t choose on which part of the video the text will come up. It will be either in the whole video or no text at all.
If you want a watermark style text, this feature is useful. For slogans that come and go in the video, you’ll have to use a different app.
This part includes a special effect that tries to mimic the camera’s movement.
It is a beautiful addition to the video, but nothing special.
When we finish, we can press Done on the top right corner. Of course, we can always come back and tweak our edits.
Back to the primary editing window, there is one last option that has a separate tweaking panel: the 3D effects.
Yes, we can add some 3D effects in our video remix.
On the right side, we’ll find all the available effects. We can add as many as we want to a single video remix.
Moreover, we can tweak each 3D effect separately with the pencil button. Each effect has different settings.
This feature is impressive, considering the simplicity of usage. One of the best tweaks is that we can anchor the effects to objects in the video, so they automatically follow the motion.
Once again, we apply the changes with the Done button on the top right.
The sound options are on the top menu instead of down with the others.
If we don't want to use the recommended music, we can choose from an extensive list on the respective tab.
However, we didn’t find any option to hear the song before we pick it. Apparently, Microsoft thinks that the name is more than enough. Of course, we can always click Done, play the video, go back in Music and change the song, but the developers would save us some trouble with a simple “Listen” button.
On the other hand, we can select one of our local music files, as long as we own their rights.
The last thing we need to do is export our video as we described above. Or remove all settings and start over, that’s up to you.
A bonus part of the app is the drawing capabilities. This feature was present for pictures in the previous version of the app, but we couldn’t find it in the editing section.
With a little bit of search, we located it in the video preview window.
Not that we would miss it though; we are terrible at drawing, but you might find it useful.
The coolest thing when drawing in a video is that the sketch is “alive.” The program records the moves we did to draw it and repeats them in the playback.
There’s also the ability to anchor our creation on any part of the video. After we finish, we press the save button to let our ink dry. It seems that the developers have a good taste of humor.
Although searching is nothing special on an image and video viewer, we had to mention it for this one
Microsoft finally included searching capabilities on the Photos app, which were missing from the previous version.
Now we can search media by title names, or with any keyword, we might think.
Did you create a video remix?
We must admit that Microsoft did an excellent job of revamping the Photos app. The program looks minimal and comfortable, and at the same time, it is incredibly functional.
The video editing capabilities are basic, but it is more than enough for our home remixes or even for YouTube.
All in all, we enjoyed the simplicity of the app, and we recommend it for amateur video editing.
How about you? Are you going to give it a try? Did you find our guide useful? Is there something else you want to mention or do you have any questions to ask, regarding the app?
Feel free to leave a comment below.
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