Vista Movie Maker Black Screen Bug

This appears to be a somewhat common problem among the users of Vista/Windows Movie Maker, and I did not find any help, so here is our solution.

  • Issue: the movie previews work fine when you watch it within the Windows Movie Maker. However, when you publish it, the video is just black screen, but you can still hear the audio. Changing publishing settings does not help, and the video files themselves are ok, no codec problems etc. there.
  • Solution: the affected clips in our case had “mute” setting applied to them (in order to have a separate soundtrack; click under Timeline to expand > Video > Audio [rightclick] Mute). When mute was removed, also video was published fine. This must be a bug, and a weird one. Well, setting the sound level for each clip to zero worked fine for us as a workaround, but MS should fix the software, of course.

Our system uses Vista Home Premium, the Movie Maker was version 6.0.6000.16386. Video clips (mpg) were produced by Sony DCR-SR52 camera.

Links to similar sounding error reports:

Author: frans

Professor of Information Studies and Interactive Media, esp. Digital Culture and Game Studies in the Tampere University, Finland. Occasional photographer and gardener.

52 thoughts on “Vista Movie Maker Black Screen Bug”

  1. Hi! I get the opposite problem. My machine recognises the camera’s hard drive and displays the icons encouragingly, however, clicking on the clip to play it launches Media Player but with no trace of sound. I’m running Vista Home Premium with all the latest updates. (I have not been confident enough yet to install the Picture Motion Browser software which came with the camera.) Any comments woudl be welcome.

    1. This might be resolved in the same way. make sure the audio was not muted when you published it.

  2. I don’t have anything under timeline that says expand, more specific instructions please?

  3. Thankyou for this tip! I have just been trawling the net at 4am for ages looking for a solution to this problem. It has been mysteriously ‘overlooked’ by the official MS troubleshooter.

  4. Devon: our version has a small “plus” sign that you need to click in order to expand the timeline, then you can access the audio track settings of imported video clips.

  5. I’m sorry I’m posting again but my video has an audio track with it. But I clicked mute anyway to see if atleast the video will work even though it is muted and it was still the same after I published it. Still had the black screen at the same place as before. I have Windows vista and a Inspiron 530 Dell computer just so you all know.

  6. umm…okay…im not usin a camcorder, but im importing clips from my Sims 2 Game. they are in an .avi file. then, when i publish my movie, with music, and several clips, all together, then, when i play it on media player, i can only see a black screen and only hear the music…please help? and…there is no audio for my clips. (video->expand->audio) there isnt a mute choice either.

  7. Danny, your problem also sounds a bit different from the one that I describe above. I’d keep on looking for other tips (it might be that you are using a different version of WMM).

  8. I’ve been trying to get my sims2 video on here. I’ve tried everything but it seems that there is a black screen. the video isn’t popping up and it’s just the sound. I’ve even tried you solution to where you push the plus button and unmuting the “mute” button. but it seems that nothing seems to work. (like i touched nothing from the beginning. I have no idea what is wrong with it. i think it’s a bug too, although i don’t know where. i’ve reset everything, I’ve un mute everything, and everything seems to be working fine until i publish it. i don’t know why.

    (on the published part)

    i just see some pictures that i took, the subtitles and the voices. i wish there was a way that i can find the solution. can you please help me????

  9. OK, I’ve got this kind of problem, except the preview, as well as the final outcome, has a black screen. This happened after I used a system restore I think… This also happened on my old computer, which was running on XP, though my new computer is Vista Home Premium.

    Yeah.. help? =\


  10. Oh, but on my other computer, the ability to view the preview and finished video came back after a while. It’s only a problem with AVI files…

  11. i have a problem with WMMaker. after working with it, suddenly the preview images go black. to recover it i have to delete the effects and add them again one by one. is there any other way???

  12. This solution worked for me. Turning down the volume on every clip of a large project is NOT FUN. This should really be fixed officially. Thanks!

  13. devon, i found the solution to your missing plus button. i had the same problem. first, click on Clip at the very top bar. then, move your cursor over audio and a submenu should come out with Menu checked. that’s what you uncheck. hope i helped. later

  14. I have a problem with the black screen bug. I have Windows Vista Basic, and when I publish a movie it used to play for around 8 minutes. Then it would play for 7 minutes, then five and a half minutes. Its like some cycle, because at first when I make about 6 videos, they play the approprate length, and then afterwards when I make another video the black screen pops up, no video, just audio and subtitles, once the video has played after about 6 minutes. It has once gotten to the point where it only plays for like two or three minutes, then comes the black screen. Also, I’m making the videos with the game The Sims 2. I’m wondering if that has anything to do with it.

  15. Very curious: Kaleb, I have never heard of similar bug myself. But Kioko15 above seems to have a bit similar problem with The Sims 2 videos?

  16. Well I’ve muted the clips were the video is dropping out, but to no avail. I’ve heard about splitting the video into two parts, and rejoining them on another project inserting your music as a final edit? Sounds like a bit of a ball ache, but not as much as muting every single clip. Movie Maker despite being nice to use, is so damn buggy!!

  17. well…I was using clips from a fansub, and the sounds come good (from the clips) but there is no images. The compression type for the original videos was DIVX but I don’t know if that has anything to do with the fact that I only get sound and not pictures.

  18. After publishing my movie it plays fine for 4 1/2 minutes then it just goes black and silent. The whole thing is only 6 1/2 minutes. Then when I start making it all over again, it doesn’t even show the clips or sound playing. Just some of the thumbnails show. I tried all the things the help section said and it’s the same or worse. I’ve spent hours on it. Frustrating to say the least. Any new soulutions yet?

  19. Thanks very much for this tip, it solved the problem that had threatened to derail the flourishing of our project outside windows movie maker. This website is much appreciated x


  21. So, it doesnt help. its not even “muted” or what the hell you guys are talking about. i used hypercam 2 to record on my screen. then i added music ofcourse and cutted the video so it was perfect. BUt when i publish it. only audio is good, not the video. the video is all black. AND PLEASE POST A NEW !!!!!!DETAILED!!!!!! INSTRUCTION ON HOW TO REMOVE THE “MUTE”. PICTURES+PICTURES+VIDEO+VIDEO PLEASE!

    Had exactly the same problem video played ok when in movie maker preview window, but when published you would get a black screen with any of the video clips. Caption and titles displayed OK though.

    The solution above didn’t work for me ;-(

    I disabled all the codecs except the AVI Decompressor and it worked perfectly.

    To do this go to Tools–>options–> Compatibility

    And uncheck all but the AVI decompressor

    Note this worked for publishing to computer but you may need to enable some other codecs to publish to other media e.g DVD etc.



  23. Ok, so I have done EVERYTHING to try to fix this bug.

    1. I unmuted
    2. I disabled all codecs except AVI Decompressor.
    3. I downloaded other recommended codecs
    4. I tried cutting out the scenes that turned black
    5. I restarted WMM and my computer
    And everything else that Google said to do. I even tried calling Microsoft AND Gateway, but they wanted to charge me $59.99 just to talk to me on the phone WTF.


    Can someone please either respond to this or email me and let me know something that REALLY works because I’ve been working on this video for over 20 hours and its REALLY important.

    1. Hi!

      The problem is that the movie maker publisher cant handle to many clips, if it exceeds about 30 clips they turn black.

      I searched hours to get this info.. The only solution i have found so far is to make your clips to a movie and then but the movie togheter again… This reduce the quality though….. Damn movie maker!

  24. THANKS a lot !! ive been looking for answers for ages and this has helped loads thanks again

    Will 🙂

  25. what do you mean mute the videos??? i right clicked my audio and muted it, bu tnone of my video clips have mute. So I published it and its worse. No audio and the screen is still black? how do I fix it?

  26. ok i have the same vista home premium movie maker as you. I see the little + square. so i clicked it and still. black screen with audio.

  27. I dont think thats my problem, After im done publishing the video and i watch it on windows media player it plays and then after this one clip in the video it goes black i have no idea what to do

  28. Hey everyone,
    So I have this problem. I use Hypercam2 to record clips from my computer. I go into Windows Movie Maker and edit them. When I publish it, some of the video plays then the rest disappears. Before I added more clips the video was fine. I thought the clips I added were the problem. I took them off and yet the video goes black. I tried doing what Alex said to do but the WHOLE video went black. All you hear is audio and see some effects.
    I’ve been having this problem lately with my WMM.
    Please help me. I’m desperate.


    1. Ive posted this before.. but posting again now… 🙂

      The problem is that the movie maker publisher cant handle to many clips, if it exceeds about 30 clips they turn black.

      I searched hours to get this info.. The only solution i have found so far is to make your clips to a movie and then but the movie togheter again… This reduce the quality though….. Damn movie maker!

  29. None of these solutions work for me! I tried them all, but I still only get a muted audio file. I only have one codec, and thats the AVI one, so how….? Is it just un fixable for me?

  30. OK how would u record a longer video if windows movie player cant hold 30 clips. i have over 30 clips because i cant make long videos to record….

  31. Windows Movie Maker is a crap program because you can look everywhere for the supposed help and topics on help forums sit unanswered for YEARS.

    microsoft SUCKS!

  32. Okay, so.. I expanded it like you said, but I don’t see any mute thing when I right click it…

  33. quote: “FRANS”
    “Solution: the affected clips in our case had “mute” setting applied to them (in order to have a separate soundtrack; click under Timeline to expand > Video > Audio [rightclick] Mute). When mute was removed, also video was published fine. This must be a bug, and a weird one. Well, setting the sound level for each clip to zero worked fine for us as a workaround, but MS should fix the software, of course.”
    After doing that (unmuting and lowering the volume) be sure to
    *EXPORT as an AVI*
    (For some reason wmv still had problems upon exporting.)

    Thank you VERY much for this. After a whole night of trying to get this working, the video is finally published, courtesy of your advice.


  34. I, too, tried this method but I don’t get any ‘mute’ option to uncheck either, unless I’m muting my own audio first – which then just leaves me with a muted video and one that’s still in black 😦

    WMM worked perfectly fine until a few weeks ago for me, so what on earth has happened to it? 😦

    I’m going to try VideoSpin which I’ve seen recommended online.

  35. So I am getting similar problems as some of you. When i publish my video to a dvd or to my computer it gets to about 10 mins in and then goes black screen and plays music, and displays subtitles but wont display the videos.

    I would like to try to strategy of making my clips into mini-videos and then joining them up after but…..

    1. is there a way i can just copy what i have currently done and paste it into wmm and publish….OR…do i have to do everything all over again only doing 30 clips at a time

    2. once i do all this shit, how do i join all the mini-videos together?

    Wmm sucks hard, i cannot believe all the problems and bugs that i have encountered and others have.

  36. What a low quality product. And they wonder why people are starting to buy more Macs.

  37. I’m having this same problem. My video will go blank after a certain clip then come back on and then disappear for another three clips then the screen goes black. Then re-appear when the credits are rolling. But the music that I’ve added for the video is still playing and I can hear it. It’s the black clips that are irritating. And this is happening AFTER I publish my movie to my computer. I have made video’s before and have never encountered this problem. I have tried editing, making scences shorter and even starting over from scratch. And nothing is changing this problem. I’m sure it has nothing to do with how many clips a person is using because I’ve made a video before with more than 30 clips and it has never had a problem publishing and playing. I’m going to try some of the tactics here and see what happens. If nothing I will report back here and keep on searching I guess.

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