All of us will make a video at least once in our lives. Whilst a lot of guides cover the basics on how to compile a quality video, very few touch on a little nuance that can elevate our work to the next level – the watermark.
Watermarking your videos not only helps in regards to copyright, it gets our brands out there, and makes it look more professional (Swanky, even!). And the best thing is that it’s really not too difficult to do – even if you have a really basic set up (like Windows Movie Maker).
Step One: Download and install Microsoft Expression Encoder 4
You may want to download the Microsoft Expression Encoder 4 here. The Encoder is an official Microsoft product that is free, and easy to use. In addition to allowing us to add watermarks, it can also re-encode videos, and be used for live broadcasting. Although it is no longer being continued, the free version is still available, and compatible with Windows operating systems. Yes, even 10 – which is a feat considering that OS barely seems compatible with itself half the time.
Microsoft Expression Encoder 4 accepts a variety of common file formats, including: .avi, .mpg, .mpeg, .wmv, .asf, .dvr-ms, .m2v, .ts, .vob, .mod, .xesc, .wtv, .wma, .mp3, .wav, .aif, .aiff, and .bwf. If your video is in an incompatible format, there are plenty of online conversion tools that may help you.
To install the program, simply follow the prompts the installer file provides. Easy.
Step Two: Setting Up
When you run the program the first time, you’ll be presented with a screen like that below. As we’re beginning a new Transcoding Project and that is already selected for us, click ‘Ok’.
The next window that pops up – the main program – might look a little daunting with all its features, but don’t worry: We can leave most of it to professional video editors (Fun fact: This title may encompass you in the future if you do enough video work). Import the video you wish to watermark by clicking ‘File’ at the top left of the program window, then ‘Import…’ and, locating the video on your system.
Once your video is in (it may take a minute for the program to analyse it depending on its size), you’ll see your video displayed in the centre of the screen. Now we can truly begin.
Step Three: Importing your Logo
Navigate over to the right-side of the screen, and you’ll see a tab labelled ‘Enhance’ (circled in the image below).
Click it, and select ‘Add Overlay’ under the ‘Visual Overlay’ option that appears below. You will be prompted to select an image – find your logo. Import it. Done.
Step Four: Finalising your look
Well, almost done. After your image appears on the video, you can reposition it by clicking and dragging it to the spot you prefer. You can also do some basic resizing. When you’re happy with where it is, you can adjust the logo’s transparency by using the Opacity slider in the Visual Overlay section, if you wish.
The green bar that appeared above the blue video-run time bar represents how long the image will appear on the video.
By default, it will go the full length of the video, but you can adjust this if you want: To do so, hover over the green bar, and arrows will appear at each end. Click and drag on the arrows to shorten or lengthen the image display length. You can also reposition where the image will appear in the video by moving the green bar. Good for creating a logo for the intro of the video, or a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it jump scare (Not that I’d know anything about that, of course).
You can use the play/pause button to see how the movie to preview your creation before finalising it.
Step Five: Exporting your project
When you’re happy with how the video looks, go to the bottom of the program window, and press the ‘Encode’ button (circled in the image below). The program will then integrate your picture into the video, and export it as a .wmv file (this file type is widely supported, and you can convert it afterwards if a specific file type is desired).
By default, the video will save to
C:\Users\(YourComputerName)\Documents\Expression\Expression Encoder\Output. You can change the output directory via an option under the ‘Output’ tab, on the same row of tabs the ‘Enhance’ tab was.
Your video will be in a folder of its own, along with a ‘Settings.dat’ file. You can ignore this file – this is just a by-product, and not even the Encoder needs it.
But your finished video is now ready to be moved, and used, however you want! Awesome!
Can I use the Encoder to make animations?
Absolutely. But the encoder can only insert one image at a time – so if you plan on using multiple images, it may take you a while.
Can I use the Encoder to put videos in my video?
Yes, you can. The method is the exact same as for inserting an image, but you choose a video file instead. You can even adjust the volume of the inserted video using options under the ‘Image Overlay’ section.
If I can’t use the Encoder, do you have some other tools you’d recommend?
Adobe AfterEffects immediately comes to mind, and has a free trial (but a trial period probably won’t last long enough for you to do too many projects). There are also some online video editing services available that allow you to watermark your videos, but those I’ve come across put their services behind a subscription fee or add their own branding to your video as well.
Thank you for your time, and happy editing!