Repair a corrupted windows live movie maker project file

A little over a year ago I helped fix a corrupted Windows Live Movie Maker project file. This post describes the process I went through to isolate the problem and repair the file.

This error message was encountered when trying to load the corrupt project file: Windows Live Movie Maker has Stopped Working

The root cause was found to be an Invalid ExtentRef ID in the .wlmp (XML) project file

  • Most likely the corruption was the result of a Windows Movie Maker crash

Steps I took to resolve the problem:

  1. Ensured that WMM could open other project files (In this case it did)
  2. Made a copy of an older backup of the project file that was in a known good state
  3. Made a copy of the corrupt project file and rename it to a .xml extension
  4. Opened the renamed copy of the corrupted project file in Internet Explorer
    • If there is an issue with the XML Structure, IE will tell you.
    • In this case, IE Loaded the file fine so I knew there were no XML Schema issue
  5. Using WinMerge (Open source file comparison utility), I compared the Good project .xml file against the corrupt project .xml file
    • You can find WinMerge here: http://winmerge.org
  6. In this case, There was a difference between the good and bad file. Towards the bottom of the file, noticed this section:

    <ExtentSelector extentID="4" gapBefore="0" primaryTrack="false">
    <Effects />
    <Transitions />
    <BoundProperties />
    <ExtentRefs>
    <ExtentRef id="14" />
    </ExtentRefs>
    </ExtentSelector>

    I deleted these 3 lines in the corrupted file:

    <ExtentRefs>
    <ExtentRef id="14" />
    </ExtentRefs>

    and replaced them with a single line:

    <ExtentRefs />

    so that the whole section now looks like:

    <ExtentSelector extentID="4" gapBefore="0" primaryTrack="false">
    <Effects />
    <Transitions />
    <BoundProperties />
    <ExtentRefs />
    </ExtentSelector>


  7. After saving the changes, I renamed the the .xml file to .wlmp
  8. The project file was able to be opened without crashing WMM


Notes:

  • In this case, there was no extentRef of id="14" in the "ExtentRefs" Section of the project XML File
  • WMM does not know how to handle invalid references and just crashes.
  • Removing the invalid extentRef resolved this issue for me.
  • I originally posted this information as a post to a WMM forum back in April of 2010

  • We were unable to revert to the backup copy as it was too outdated. Necessity is the mother of invention :)

Appendix: How to view all file types

A question came up around how to view all file extensions in windows. The process described above may require you to rename the project file to .xml to figure out what is wrong with the file.

Here are the steps I use to view all file extensions everywhere:

  1. Click on Start -> Documents
  2. Click on Organize -> Folder and Search options
  3. Click on the "View" Tab
  4. UN-Check the option to "Hide extensions for known file Types"
  5. Press the "Apply" button
  6. At the top under "Folder Views", click "Apply to Folders"