iMovie HD: Making Movies - Jim Heid`s Mac iLife 09 Site

About this PDF
The PDF that you're holding in your hands (kind of) is the entire iMovie HD 6
chapter from "The Macintosh iLife '06"—the previous edition of the world's
top-selling iLife book.
The older iMovie HD 6 has several capabilities that the new iMovie '08 lacks,
including the ability to add chapter markers for convenient DVD navigation;
cool audio and video effects; and the ability to output a completed movie
back to a camcorder.
iMovie HD:
Making Movies
Because iMovie is in a state of transition, Apple has made the previous
version available as a free download for iLife '08 owners. I figured if Apple
could give away the software, I should give away the chapter.
If you like this chapter, check out the latest edition of my book. "The
Macintosh iLife '08" has the same beautiful, inviting design, and every page
is updated for iLife '08 and the latest Mac digital lifestyle developments.
Learn more and order at a big discount, visit
Feel free to pass this PDF around! Post it on your Mac user group Web site
or on your blog. Leave copies on the bus. But please don't try to sell any part
of it, lest my lawyer seek you out and bite your arm.
Have fun!
Jim Heid
PS. If you don't have iMovie HD 6, you can download it here:
©2007 Jim Heid. All rights reserved.
The Macintosh
iLife ’06
iMovie HD at a Glance
Video can be a powerful vehicle for communicating an idea, setting a mood, selling
a product, or recalling a memory. It can
also be great way to put people to sleep.
Video editing is the process of assembling video clips, still images, and audio
into a finished package that gets your message across and keeps your audience’s eyes
open. Video editing is what iMovie HD is
all about.
Clips pane:
rename and work with
imported clips and still
images (page 228).
The monitor displays video as
you import it or
play it back.
Switch between
the clip viewer and
the timeline viewer
(page 231).
The scrubber
bar lets you move
through and crop
a clip (page 228).
Your project’s
video format
appears here
(page 224).
Adjust the
playback volume
as you work in
iMovie HD.
Themes pane: build
graphical openers, titles,
and bumpers using prebuilt themes (page 258)
You can use iMovie HD to edit interminable home movies, but you can also use
it to assemble montages of photos from
iPhoto, promotional videos, and anything
else that belongs on the small screen. iMovie
HD supports more video formats than did
earlier iMovie versions, and that means more
options for you.
Quiet on the set.
These buttons switch
between iMovie HD’s
panes, each of which
lets you work with a different kind of element.
Media pane: import
photos from your iPhoto
library and optionally
apply the Ken Burns
effect (pages 236–
240); also, import
music from your
iTunes library or add
sound effects or narration (pages 242–244).
iMovie HD at a Glance
The playhead indicates
the current playback
location. Drag it left and
right to quickly move
backward and forward
within your movie or
within a single clip.
With iMovie HD, you can import
video from a video camera. iMovie HD
stashes incoming clips on its Clips pane.
If you’re using a miniDV or HDV camera,
iMovie HD even controls your camera
during the importing process.
Then, you edit clips and sequence them
by dragging them to the timeline, optionally adding music from your iTunes music
library and creating titles, effects, and
scene transitions. When you’re finished, a
few mouse clicks send your efforts back out
to tape or to iDVD.
Video clips and
still images that you
import are stored in
the Clips pane until
you add them to
the timeline.
iMovie HD: Making Movies
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iMovie HD: Making Movies
Create bookmarks to
aid in editing and trimming clips (page 232).
You can sequence clips
by dragging them from
the Clips pane to the
timeline (page 230).
Editing pane: create
titles, add visual transitions between clips, and
create special visual
effects (pages 252–256).
Chapters pane: create
DVD or podcast chapter
markers before sending
your movie to iDVD,
iWeb, or GarageBand
(page 266).
Display a track’s audio
waveform to be able
to see changes in the
audio (page 246).
Drag the zoom
slider to zoom in
and out on the
Switch between
camera mode
(to import video)
and edit mode
(page 226).
Adjust the
audio levels of
individual clips
(page 246).
Rewind, start and
stop playback, and
play back in fullscreen mode.
iMovie HD displays remaining
free disk space
Reclaim disk
space by emptying the iMovie HD
trash (page 229).
iMovie HD: Making Movies
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iMovie HD: Making Movies
The Essentials of Movie Making
Editing video is one of the most complex
tasks you will perform in iLife. Not that
it’s technically difficult—iMovie HD,
FireWire, and the latest video formats
have made it easier than ever.
But editing video can be time consuming and labor intensive. Bringing media
into iMovie HD, fine-tuning the length of
clips, timing shots to match a music track,
adding transitions and effects—it all takes
time. But as a creative exercise, video editing is hard to beat.
Import Assets
Bring in video from a camcorder and, optionally,
add photos and music from iTunes.
Add Eye Candy
If you’ve added
music or other
audio tracks, you’ll
want to fine-tune
audio levels for
each track.
Create transitions between
clips, and add titles and any
special effects.
Trim the Fat
Use iMovie HD’s crop markers and Crop command
to discard unwanted portions of clips.
Record your movie back to tape, send it
to iDVD, GarageBand, or iWeb; or export
it as a QuickTime movie for playback on
an iPod or other device.
Sequence Clips
Drag clips to the timeline viewer and clip viewer to
add them to your final movie. Trim clips as needed
to fine-tune their length.
A Short Glossary of Video Terms
aspect ratio The relationship
of height to width in an image.
A standard-definition TV image
has an aspect ratio of 4:3—four
units of width for each three
units of height.
clip A piece of video footage or
a still image. A finished movie
generally contains multiple clips,
sequenced on the timeline.
FireWire The high-speed
interface used to connect video
The Essentials of Movie Making
If you’re new to video editing, start
small. Create a short movie—between
30 and 90 seconds. Try your hand at a
simple music video: some video, some still
photos from iPhoto, and a music soundtrack
from iTunes. Your first effort shouldn’t be
an epic; it should be a short story, or even a
single well-wrought paragraph. That’s the
best way to learn the art and science of editing—and to appreciate its magic.
Video Editing: The Big Picture
gear, such as a miniDV camcorder, to the Mac. Also used for
other devices, including hard
drives and, of course, the iPod.
frame A single still image in a
movie clip, and the smallest unit
of a movie clip you can work
with. One second of video
contains 30 frames.
HDV Short for high-definition
DV, an up-and-coming video for-
mat that stores ultra-sharp video
on standard miniDV cassettes.
show where you are in relation
to the entire movie or video clip.
miniDV Often abbreviated DV,
a video format that stores highquality video and stereo audio
on a tiny cassette. The miniDV
format has been a major factor
in the digital-video revolution.
rendering The process of
creating frames for a transition,
title, or effect.
playhead iMovie HD’s equivalent to the blinking cursor in a
word processor. As a clip plays
back, the playhead moves to
transition A special effect
that acts as a segue between
two clips.
track An independent stream of
audio or video. iMovie HD lets
you have one video track and
two separate audio tracks.
In this chapter, look for the
information specific to HDV editing.
A Short Lesson in Video Formats
If you have a standard, miniDV camcorder
and you’re anxious to start making movies,
feel free to skip this little lesson and move
on to page 226. But if you want to use
video from a different kind of device—or
you’re curious about one of iMovie HD’s
most intriguing capabilities—read on.
Normally, iMovie HD projects are based
on the DV format. If you’re using a standard miniDV camcorder with its factory
settings, you don’t have to bother with
choosing a format since iMovie HD is
preset to speak its mother tongue.
We encountered the concept of aspect ratio when looking at
iPhoto cropping techniques (page 137). The phrase simply
describes how square or rectangular an image frame is.
Early iMovie HD
versions were
limited to one
aspect ratio: the
standard 4:3
ratio used by
most TV sets, DV
camcorders, and
digital cameras.
Four units of width...
If you’re using a different kind of device
or you’ve set your DV camera to 16:9
mode, you need to tell iMovie HD which
format to use. You do that when creating
a new project.
To access the Format pop-up menu,
click the triangle.
DV. By far the most common format
used by digital camcorders, and the format iMovie HD uses for any new project
unless you specify otherwise. Now that
the era of high-definition TV is upon us,
the DV format is often described as a
standard definition format.
format brings high-definition videography
to advanced amateurs and budgetminded professionals (and, as prices
come down, to the rest of us). HDV
always uses a 16:9 aspect ratio. For
more information on the HDV format,
see page 262.
DV Widescreen. Most DV camcorders
can shoot in widescreen mode, often by
simply cropping the top and bottom of
the video frame. (To shoot in this mode,
use your camcorder’s menus to activate
16:9 mode.) You don’t get the picture
quality of high-definition TV, but you do
get that cinematically wide image.
MPEG-4. Many digital cameras shoot
their movie clips in this format, as do a
growing number of compact video cameras that connect via USB. For tips on
importing and working with MPEG-4
clips, see page 263.
HDV 1080i and HDV 720p. High definition (HD, for short) TV is gradually gaining momentum, and the new breed of
HDV camcorders is helping. The HDV
Going wide. iMovie HD adds the ability to work with and
create widescreen video in the 16:9 aspect ratio—the format
common in high-definition TV sets.
iSight. Apple’s inexpensive iSight camera, which is built into some current Mac
models, is designed for video chatting
using iChat AV, but makes a great lowbudget TV camera, too. For advice on
shooting with an iSight, see page 263.
Sixteen units of width...
Times change. New types of video
devices have appeared, and iMovie has
evolved to keep pace: iMovie HD provides
native support for several video formats.
iMovie HD is multilingual, and as a result,
you have the flexibility to edit video from a
wider variety of video devices, ranging from
Apple’s inexpensive iSight to many digital
camera models to the new breed of highdefinition HDV cameras from companies
such as Sony and JVC.
The widescreen format provides a more cinematic experience.
iMovie HD’s basic operation is identical regardless of which video format you
use. There are some subtleties to some
formats, and I’ll share them as we go.
But first, let’s look at the video languages
iMovie HD understands.
Pronunciation guide. Making video small talk at the local coffee shop? The expressions 4:3 and 16:9 are usually pronounced “four by three” and “sixteen by nine.” Technically,
“four to three” and “sixteen to nine” are more accurate, since
these expressions are ratios. After all, when was the last time
you heard a bookie describe “2 by 1” odds on a horse?
...for every nine units of height.
Many of the differences among video formats aren’t visible at
first glance, but one of the differences definitely is: the aspect
ratio of the video frame.
A Short Lesson in Video Formats
In early iMovie versions, projects were
based on one video format: DV. You could
import other formats into iMovie, but
iMovie would convert that footage into DV
format. DV was iMovie’s native tongue, and
using other formats meant a translation step
that took time, used up disk space, and
often compromised video quality.
Choosing a Video Format
...for every three units of height.
Just as music and photos can be stored
in a variety of digital formats, video also
comes in several flavors. And, as with
music and photos, each video format takes
its own approach to organizing the bits and
bytes that make up your media.
How Square Are Your Movies?
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iMovie HD: Making Movies
Mixing Video Formats in a Single Project
Sometimes, you may want to—
or have to—mix video formats
within a single project. Maybe
you have a digital camera movie
clip that you want to add to a
project that’s in DV format. Or
perhaps you have some 16:9 DV
footage that you want to include
in a 4:3 DV project. Or maybe
you’re making a montage of
MPEG-4 digital camera movies,
but you’re using the DV format
so you can output the final montage to a miniDV camcorder.
also call it waiting—it can take
a long time. And use a lot of
disk space.
You can do all of these things
and more. If you import a movie
clip in which the video format
differs from your project’s format, iMovie HD converts the clip
into whatever format your project
uses. This conversion process is
called transcoding, but you can
Say you import an MPEG-4
digital camera movie clip into a
DV project. The movie clip might
have a small frame size and use
only 20MB of disk space, but in
order to make it compatible with
your DV-based project, iMovie
HD will change its frame size
and other characteristics to conform to the DV standard. The
DV version of that movie might
take up 120MB.
For these reasons, it’s best to
stick with one video format
within a single project. But when
you don’t have a choice, iMovie
HD is ready—provided you have
the time and the disk space.
Importing DV and HDV Video
The first step in an iMovie HD editing
project usually involves importing video
that you’ve shot. If you’re using a miniDV
or HDV camera, you can connect the camera to your Mac’s FireWire jack and use
iMovie HD’s camera mode to bring in
your video. (If you’re using a different kind
of camera, your import procedure will be a
bit different; see page 262).
Step 1. Connect your DV or HDV
camera to your Mac’s FireWire jack.
Step 2. Be sure the
camera is turned on and
in its VCR mode (called
VTR on some cameras).
Tip: To store imported video on an external
hard drive, simply create your project on the
external drive. If you’ve already started the
project and it’s on your internal drive, quit
iMovie HD, copy the project to the external
drive, then open that copy.
iMovie HD displays the
time code that your
camera recorded on the
tape. This can help you
keep track of where you
are on a tape as you fastforward or rewind.
When iMovie HD is in
camera mode, the playback buttons control
your camera.
Click the camera icon
and choose your camera
from the popup list to put
iMovie HD in camera mode.
The first step in editing a movie may be
importing video, but another step should
come first: making sure you have enough
free disk space. Digital video eats disk
space like I eat Oreos: for miniDV video,
you’ll need about 200MB of free space for
each minute of video. For HDV video,
you’ll need a few times that amount.
Planning to use titles, transitions, and
effects? They take up space, too. Bottom
line: think about buying an external hard
drive and using it for your video endeavors.
Step 3. To start and stop
importing, click Import or
press the spacebar while
the tape is playing back.
iMovie HD displays each
clip you import on the
Clips pane.
Tip: You can also have
iMovie HD add imported
clips directly to the timeline; in the Import portion
of the Preferences dialog
box, click the Movie
Timeline button.
HD Differences
Importing from an HDV
camera? With slower
Macs, you’ll experience an odd
delay as the video comes in: the
tape may finish playing, but you’ll
still see video being displayed in
iMovie HD’s monitor area. The video’s motion may also appear jerky.
This occurs because your Mac
must transcode (convert) the HD
video into a format that allows for
fast editing. On the fastest, dualprocessor G5 Power Macs and
Intel-based Macs, this process
occurs more or less in real time;
not so on slower Macs.
One ramification: it’s a bit harder to
tell when to stop importing, since
your Mac may be displaying footage that the camera actually played
back seconds or minutes earlier.
Importing DV and HDV Video
With camera mode, you can control
your camera using the transport buttons in
iMovie HD’s window. There’s no need to
grope for the tiny buttons on your camera
when you need to rewind, fast-forward,
stop, or play. Click the on-screen transport
buttons, and iMovie HD sends the appropriate signals to your camera through the
FireWire cable. Video professionals call
this device control.
Importing from a
FireWire Camera
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iMovie HD: Making Movies
To selectively import HDV footage
to a slower Mac, view the footage
on your camera’s LCD screen
during the import, and use your
camera’s buttons to stop and
start playback.
Using iMovie HD’s Scene-Detection Feature
To make your imported video
easy to work with, use iMovie
HD’s scene-detection feature,
which causes iMovie HD to
begin a new clip each time it
detects a scene break. (Your
camcorder generates a scene
break automatically each time
you press its Record button.)
To turn on scene detection,
choose Preferences from the
iMovie HD menu, then click the
Import button in the Preferences
dialog box. Next, click the check
box labeled Start a new clip at
each scene break.
Working with Clips
After you import video and other assets,
the real work (and fun) of building your
movie begins.
All building projects require advance
preparation, and video editing is no exception. You might begin by renaming your
clips to give them descriptive names. You
don’t have to rename clips, but doing so can
make them easier to sort out and manage.
As you perform these tasks, you’ll often
work with iMovie HD’s playhead, moving
it to the start of a clip, or dragging it back
and forth—a process called scrubbing—to
find the portion you want to retain.
Naming and cropping—these are the
chores that prepare clips for their screen
debut. And that debut occurs when you
drag the clips to the timeline.
Trashing Footage
iMovie HD automatically names imported clips, giving them
names, such as Clip 01 and Clip 02, that aren’t exactly
descriptive. Give your clips descriptive titles, such as Bird
Close-up or Beach Long Shot, to help you identify them.
To rename a clip in the Clips pane, simply click its name and
type a new name. Or, double-click on a clip and type a new
name in the Clip Info dialog box. You can also rename clips in
the clip viewer (described on page 231).
Chances are your Clips pane will contain
clips that you don’t end up using. To
reclaim disk space, discard those clips:
select them and press the Delete key, or
drag the clips to the Trash in the lowerright corner of the iMovie HD window.
Cropping Clips
Any clip you import may have extraneous junk at its beginning
and end. By cropping the clip to remove this excess, you can
prepare the clip for its screen debut.
Tip: If you’re planning to add a transition before or after a clip,
make the clip a bit longer than you otherwise would.
Step 1. Select the clip you want to crop. You can also
crop a clip that you’ve already added to the timeline.
Step 2. Click just
below the monitor,
then drag the triangular crop markers
left and right to
mark the footage
you want to keep.
To review your
selection, drag the
playhead left and
Step 3. To perform the crop,
choose Crop from the Edit
menu (or press 1-K).
When you crop a clip, iMovie HD doesn’t
actually discard any footage. That’s great
in that it lets you reclaim cropped footage
as described at right.
But what if you want to free up disk
space by deleting footage you know you
won’t be using? Unlike with previous versions, you’re out of luck in iMovie HD 6.
Even if you split a clip, throw away one
half, and empty the trash, that deleted
footage still exists. The upside is that you
won’t accidentally delete footage you
might want later; the downside is that
you’re using more hard disk space.
For details on managing iMovie HD’s
Trash, see page 233.
Reclaiming the Past
You’re working on your movie and realize
that a shot you cropped really needs to be
longer after all. To restore the cropped
footage, select the clip, then choose Revert
Clip to Original from the Advanced menu.
The Keys to Precision
To fine-tune a crop marker’s position,
select the crop marker and press the keyboard’s left and right arrow keys to move
the marker in one-frame increments. To
move in 10-frame increments, press Shift
along with the arrow key. These keyboard
controls work throughout iMovie HD.
Controlling What Plays
You already know that clicking the play
button or pressing the spacebar begins
playback. You may have noticed that
what iMovie HD plays back depends on
what is selected.
You can choose to play just one item—
a clip, a title, a transition, and so on—
by selecting that item, then clicking on the
play button or pressing the spacebar. This
can be a handy way to check out a title or
transition you’ve just added. To play back a
portion of your project, select those items
by Shift-clicking, then start playback.
To play an entire project, press your keyboard’s Home key, then press the space bar.
Working with Clips
Next, you might crop a clip to remove
footage you don’t want. iMovie HD defines
cropping differently than imaging programs,
such as iPhoto. When you crop a clip in
iMovie HD, you change its length, not its
dimensions—you remove seconds or minutes, not pixels. After cropping a clip, you
might add it to the movie by dragging it to
the timeline at the bottom of the screen.
Rename Your Clips
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iMovie HD: Making Movies
Trimming Clips (and the Pros and Cons of Jump Cuts)
As you adjust the crop markers, the
bottom of the iMovie HD window
(not shown here) tells you how long
the cropped clip will be.
Trimming is the opposite of
cropping. When you crop, you
use the crop markers to indicate
which portion of a clip you want
to keep. When you trim, you use
the crop markers to indicate
what you want to delete. Drag
the crop markers left and right
to mark the footage that you
want to toss to the cutting room
floor. Then, press your keyboard’s Delete key or choose
Clear from the Edit menu.
It’s best to use trimming to
remove footage from the very
beginning or very end of a clip.
If you delete footage from the
middle of a video clip, you’ll end
up with an awkward, visually jarring jump in the action. This kind
of sloppy splice is called a jump
cut, and it’s often a sign of
shoddy movie-making.
Then again, one director’s flaw
might be another’s effect. Jump
cuts are common special effects
in music videos and other “arty”
To avoid a jump cut, put a cutaway or reaction shot at the
point where the jump cut would
be (see page 234). If you don’t
have a cutaway or reaction shot,
put a three- to five-frame crossdissolve transition at the jump
cut point. This is called a soft
cut, and it’s common in documentaries and newscasts.
By the way, don’t confuse this
form of trimming with the direct
trimming feature described on
page 230. Direct trimming
involves changing the start or
end point of a clip by dragging
its edges in the timeline.
Timeline Techniques:
Adding Clips to a Movie
A clip in the Clips pane is like a baseball player on the bench. To put the clip
on the playing field, you must add it to the timeline.
Timeline Versus Clip: Which Viewer to Use?
Other Ways to Add Clips
Usually, you work with one clip at a time,
dragging it to the timeline after you’ve cropped
it as described on the previous pages. But
there’s more than one way to work with clips.
Select the clip, then
drag it to the timeline.
The Clip Viewer: Basic Sequencing
Paste from the Clipboard. You can also
add a clip to the timeline using the Paste
command. Select a clip in the Clips pane—
or a clip that’s already in the timeline—
and cut or copy, then paste. You can even
paste clips from a different iMovie HD project, although if the clips use a different
video format, iMovie HD will have to transcode them when you paste. (See the sidebar
on page 225.)
Directly from your camera. If you’ll be
using almost all of the footage you shot—
in the order in which you shot it—you might
want to have iMovie HD add your clips
directly to the timeline when you import your
video. In the Import portion of the
Preferences dialog box, click the Movie
Timeline button.
The clip viewer shows large
thumbnail versions of each clip.
In this viewer, you can change
the order of clips by dragging
them left and right. You can also
rename clips here. However,
this viewer does not show audio
tracks or provide audio controls.
The clip viewer is ideal when
you’re first assembling a movie
or you want to experiment with
different clip sequences. When
it’s time for audio fine-tuning
and other precise work, switch
to the timeline viewer.
The Timeline Viewer: Audio, Trimming, and More
The timeline viewer adds two
audio tracks and a control for
adjusting audio levels.
Use the timeline viewer to work
with sound and trim clips directly
as described on the following
pages. Unlike earlier iMovie
Timeline Techniques: Adding Clips to a Movie
you work on a movie. To switch between views,
click the clip viewer button or the timeline viewer
button, or press 1-E.
Drag several at once. You can add multiple
clips to the timeline at once. Select each clip
by Shift-clicking on it, then drag the clips to
the timeline as a group. You can also select
multiple clips by dragging a selection rectangle around them; click the narrow gray border
between clips to begin drawing the selection.
Drag from another project. If you have
more than one iMovie HD project open, you
can drag clips from one project to another.
Tip: Want to insert a clip between two
clips that are already on the timeline?
Just drag the clip between them, and the
two existing clips separate to make room
for the addition. (If a transition is between
the two clips, you need to delete it first;
see page 253.)
You can view your project’s march of time in
either of two ways: using the timeline viewer or
the clip viewer. Each viewer has its strengths, and
you’re likely to switch between them frequently as
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spread M06
iMovie HD: Making Movies
versions, iMovie HD also lets you
change the order of clips in the
timeline viewer.
Advanced Timeline Techniques
In a well-edited video, the cuts between
scenes occur at exactly the right moments.
In movies, the action cuts between two
actors as they converse, reinforcing both
the dialog and the drama. Every moviegoer
has experienced this, probably without
even thinking about it.
In iMovie HD, several features work
together to let you edit with precision. You
can set bookmarks, visual guideposts that aid
in trimming and positioning clips. You can
trim clips directly in the timeline, much as
you can in high-end programs, such as
Apple’s Final Cut family. And timeline snapping makes it easy to move clips to the
desired location as you drag them to and
within the timeline viewer.
Tips for Trimming
A bookmark is a virtual Post-It note that you can tack
onto the timeline. Want to go back and refine a section
later? Set a bookmark so you don’t lose your place.
Want to time edits to music? Create bookmarks at each
beat, measure, or other musical milestone.
Resurrecting trimmed footage.
Need to bring back some footage that
you trimmed away? Just drag the edge
of the clip again. For example, to bring
back some footage from the end of a
clip, drag to the right. To restore the clip
to its pre-trimmed state, select the clip
and choose Revert Clip to Original from
the Advanced menu.
To create a bookmark, position the playhead where you
want the bookmark to be, then choose Add Bookmark
from the Markers menu or press 1-B. A bookmark
appears as a small green diamond on the timeline.
Recognizing trimmed clips. You can
tell whether a clip has been trimmed by
looking at it. A clip that has been
trimmed has square corners.
Tips: You can set a bookmark while your movie is
playing. Press 1-B to create a bookmark without
halting playback.
You can use the Markers menu or keyboard shortcuts
to jump from one bookmark to the next. Press 1-[ to
move to the previous bookmark and 1-] to move to
the next one.
A clip that hasn’t been trimmed has
slightly rounded corners.
Timeline Snapping
Trimming and adjacent clips. What
happens if you trim a clip that already
has a clip next to it? It depends.
If you lengthen a clip, the clips to its right
move to the right, extending the total
length of your project. Videographers call
this a ripple edit.
What if you don’t want to change the
position of the remaining clips? For
example, maybe you’ve already timed
them to music or narration, and a ripple
edit would ruin your work. Easy: just
press 1 while lengthening the clip.
When you 1-drag to lengthen a clip,
iMovie HD also trims the clip directly next
to the clip you’re stretching, making it
shorter. All other clips stay in place, and
the overall length of your project stays
the same. This is called a rolling edit.
You’ve probably encountered snapping
features in other Mac programs: when
you drag one item near another, it snaps
toward the second item as though the
two share a magnetic attraction.
iMovie HD’s timeline-snapping feature
brings this magnetism to your movies. Use
the Preferences command to turn on timeline snapping, and the playhead snaps to
various elements as you drag: to the
beginning and end of clips, to bookmarks,
to chapter markers, and to silent portions
of audio tracks (page 250).
Better still, clips themselves snap to
these same elements as you drag them.
And so does the mouse pointer when
you’re using direct trimming. Timeline
snapping pairs up beautifully with bookmarks and direct trimming.
Tip: You can temporarily activate (or
deactivate) timeline snapping: just press
the Shift key while dragging an element.
Advanced Timeline Techniques
In music videos, scenes change in
rhythm with a piece of music, turning the
visuals and the soundtrack into a unified
performance. Every MTV viewer has seen
this, probably without even thinking about
anything at all. (I’m kidding, kids—music
videos are among the most tightly edited
productions on the planet.)
Setting Bookmarks
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iMovie HD: Making Movies
Trimming Clips in the Timeline
With iMovie HD’s direct trimming feature, you can
remove footage from a clip after you’ve added it to the
timeline. Video editors often describe this process as
changing a clip’s in point or out point.
To trim a clip, move the pointer near one end of the clip
and then drag toward the center.
Managing the Trash
As I’ve mentioned previously, when you
delete clips, iMovie HD moves them to its
Trash. You can free up disk space by emptying the Trash: choose Empty Trash from the
File menu.
You can also be selective. Choose Show
Trash from the File menu or click the Trash
icon, and iMovie HD displays a window
showing the contents of the Trash.
What was that clip, anyway? To find out,
select it and use the controls below the
thumbnail image to play the clip. If you
decide you’d rather not trash the clip
after all, simply drag it from the Trash
window to the Clips pane.
To delete just one clip, select it and click
Delete Selected Clip.
To delete all the clips in the Trash, click
Empty Trash.
Creating Cutaways
A cutaway is a common video-production
technique. Think of Barbara Walters
nodding solemnly while Fabio describes
what kind of tree he’d like to be. Or
maybe the video changes to show a
close-up of Grandma’s garden as she
talks about it. To create edits like these,
use the Advanced menu’s Paste Over at
Playhead command.
Step 2. Set Up for the Edit
Begin planning cutaway shots when
shooting your video. After Grandma
talks about her garden, shoot some
close-ups of the plants she talked
about. While you’re shooting the school
play, grab a couple of shots of the audience laughing or clapping. Or after
you’ve shot an interview, move the camera to shoot a few seconds of the interviewer nodding. (In TV news, this kind
of shot is called a noddie.)
With your footage imported, you’re ready
to set up for the edit. With cutaway
shots, you retain the audio from the
primary clip and discard the audio from
the cutaway shot. iMovie HD does this
for you: choose Preferences from the
iMovie HD menu, click the General button, and be sure the Extract Audio
When Using “Paste Over at Playhead”
box is checked.
Tip: Still have an old VHS or 8mm
camcorder? Dust it off, pop it on a tripod, and use it to shoot short cutaway
shots. Dub the footage to your miniDV
camcorder, then import it into iMovie
HD. The video quality won’t match
exactly, but your viewers may never
notice. And your cutaways will be
authentic rather than staged.
Make sure your
primary and cutaway footage exist
as separate clips.
Step 5. Mark the Footage
You Want to Replace.
With your primary footage in the timeline,
navigate to the spot where you want the
cutaway to begin (tip: a bookmark can be
a handy way to indicate where you plan
to insert a cutaway). Select the clip in the
timeline, then drag crop markers to indicate the area you want to replace.
Step 6. Insert the Cutaway.
Choose Paste Over at Playhead from
the Advanced menu (Shift-1-V).
The pushpin icons indicate the audio
is locked to the video above it. If you
move the video, the audio moves
along with it, maintaining synchronization between sound and picture.
Step 3. Crop the Cutaway.
Using the crop markers as described on
page 228, crop the cutaway footage so
that it begins at the first frame you want
to use as the cutaway. Don’t bother
specifying the exact end of the cutaway
at this point—you’ll do that in Step 5.
Step 4. Copy the Cutaway.
In the Clips pane, select the cutaway and
choose Copy from the Edit menu (1-C).
Another way to cutaway. For those
times when you want precise control
over the contents of the cutaway clip,
use a different technique to insert the
cutaway. In Step 3, crop the cutaway clip
to the exact length you want it to be.
Copy the cropped clip to the Clipboard,
then position the playhead at the spot
where you want to insert it—don’t highlight an area with the crop markers.
Now choose Paste Over at Playhead.
iMovie HD pastes the entire cutaway clip,
replacing an equal amount of footage
in the timeline.
As you drag the crop markers, iMovie
HD highlights the region that will be
replaced by the cutaway. The cutaway
will be inserted where the yellow bar
starts, and it will end where the yellow
bar ends. iMovie also indicates how long the cutaway will be.
iMovie HD mutes the
audio of the cutaway
clip so you don’t hear it.
iMovie HD extracts the
audio from the primary
clip and puts it in Audio
Track 1.
iMovie HD pastes the
cutaway footage into
the timeline, beginning
at the location of the
first crop marker.
Creating Cutaways
Try it yourself. Want to experiment
with cutaways? Go to www.macilife.
com/imovie and download the Cutaway
Example Footage archive. Double-click
the archive after downloading it, then
open the folder named Cutaway Footage
and read the instructions inside.
Step 1. Get Your Shots
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iMovie HD: Making Movies
Cutaway Notes and Tips
When you choose Paste Over at
Playhead, iMovie HD uses as
much footage from your cutaway
clip as is needed to fill the
region you highlighted. For
example, if the cutaway clip is
five seconds long and you highlighted a three-second region
with the crop markers, iMovie
HD uses the first three seconds
of the cutaway clip.
you can extend the clip to fill the
gap by dragging its right edge.
On the other hand, if the cutaway clip isn’t long enough—
if you highlight five seconds but
your cutaway clip is only three
seconds long—you’ll have a gap
in the timeline. If there’s sufficient footage in the cutaway clip,
(The one exception to the previous paragraph occurs if your
cutaway clip is a still image.
In this case, iMovie HD simply
extends the length of the still
image to fill the region you
Whew. Got all that? It’s
actually easier than it sounds.
Experiment with some spare
footage, and you’ll be doing
cutaways in no time.
Adding Photos to Movies
Photographs are mainstays of many types
of movies, especially montages and documentaries. With the photo browser in
iMovie HD, you can add photos from your
iPhoto library to your movies. You can
also add photos that aren’t stored in your
iPhoto library by dragging them into
iMovie HD or by using the File menu’s
Import command.
Adding a Photo from
Your iPhoto Library
Click the Media button, and then the Photos button.
Whatever the effect’s name, its result is
the same: it adds motion and life to otherwise static images.
To view a specific
album, choose its
name from the list.
When zoomed in on a
photo, drag the photo
using the hand pointer to
specify which part of it
you want to see.
Step 2.
Play or pause
the preview.
Select the photo. You can select
multiple photos by Shift-clicking
or 1-clicking on them.
Loop the preview
Specify the desired start
and end zoom settings by
dragging the slider or by
typing in the box. To
change the starting zoom
setting, click Start before
adjusting the zoom setting. Similarly, to change
the ending zoom setting,
first click End.
To pan-zoom a photo,
you must specify the start
and finish settings for the
move: that is, how you
want the photo to look
when it first appears,
and how you want it to
look at the end of its
iMovie HD applies
the settings and
adds the photo or
photos to the
Reverses your settings—
for example, turns a zoom
in into a zoom out.
Preview scrubber bar;
drag the diamond left and
right to “scrub” through
the preview.
Cancel and hide the
Photo Settings panel.
Apply the
To specify the length of
time you want the image
to appear, drag the slider
or type in the box.
(Values are in seconds
and frames. For example,
for a 5 1⁄2 second duration,
type 5:15.)
Note: The Ken Burns
effect is sticky. That is,
iMovie HD remembers
the last set of pan and
zoom settings that you
used and applies them
to future photos.
Photos from elsewhere. You can also
use photos that aren’t stored in your
iPhoto library. Click the Clips button,
then drag the photos into the Clips
pane. You can also import photos using
the Import command in the File menu.
You can even drag a photo’s icon
directly to the timeline.
When you import a photo using any of
these techniques, iMovie HD applies the
current Ken Burns effect settings to the
photo. To change those settings, see
the next page. Alternatively, if you know
what Ken Burns settings you want, you
can set them up first and then import
the photo.
Trimming photo clips. If you’ve
applied the Ken Burns effect to a photo,
you can trim its duration in the timeline,
but you can’t extend it. If you haven’t
applied Ken Burns, you can trim and
extend a photo’s duration. If you anticipate making significant changes to a
photo’s duration as you work, wait to
apply the Ken Burns effect until after
you’ve laid out your clips in the timeline.
Adding Photos to Movies
That’s the Ken Burns effect. Now, Ken
Burns himself would probably call it by its
traditional filmmaking terms: pan and scan
or pan and zoom. These terms reflect the
fact that you can have two different kinds
of motion: panning (moving across an
image) and zooming (moving in or out).
In the Photo Settings panel, adjust the duration and zoom settings, then click
Step 1.
When adding photos to movies,
consider taking advantage of iMovie HD’s
Ken Burns effect to add a sense of dynamism to your stills. Why name a feature
after a filmmaker? Think about Ken Burns’
documentaries and how his camera appears
to move across still images. For example, a
shot might begin with a close-up of a
weary face and then zoom out to reveal a
Civil War battlefield scene.
Photo Tips
Step 3.
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iMovie HD: Making Movies
Cropping a photo. Want to show just
part of a photo, with no motion? Be
sure that the Ken Burns Effect box is
checked, then select a photo in the
Photos pane. Click Start and use the
pan and zoom controls to crop the
photo. Next, press the Option key and
click End. (Pressing Option tells iMovie
HD to copy the Start settings to the End
settings.) Specify a duration for the clip,
then click Apply.
Working with the Ken Burns Effect
Video Formats and Photo Proportions
Changing Settings
iMovie HD’s support for multiple video
formats introduces some special Ken
Burns considerations.
Most digital camera photos have a 4:3
aspect ratio. If the photos you want to
use don’t have these proportions, you
have two options. The easiest option is
to simply use the Ken Burns zoom slider
to zoom in just enough that the photos
fill the Ken Burns preview box.
The more dramatic option is to crop
your photos in iPhoto. From the
Constrain pop-up menu in iPhoto’s edit
view, choose 4 x 3 (DVD). Remember,
cropping alters the photo in your library
and anywhere else it appears. If you
want an uncropped (or differently
cropped) version of a photo, duplicate
the photo before cropping it.
HD format. Photos can look
beautiful in high-definition format, but
in their original form, they will definitely
not fill the video frame. Instead, they’ll
appear pillarboxed, with fat black borders on their left and right edges.
To avoid pillarboxing, specify a Ken
Burns zoom setting of 1.36.
Tip: As an alternative to navigating to
the Media pane, you can also Controlclick on the clip in the timeline and
choose Edit Photo Settings from the
shortcut menu.
If you’d prefer to give iMovie HD cropped
photos, use iPhoto’s Constrain pop-up
menu to specify a custom crop proportion of 16 x 9 (HD).
DV Widescreen format. This 16:9 format will also pillarbox a standard digital
camera photo. To zoom in just enough
to hide the black borders, specify a Ken
Burns zoom setting of about 1.36 or 1.40.
For a more drastic fix, crop the photo
in iPhoto. You can use the Constrain
pop-up menu’s 16 x 19 (HD) option,
but you may find the resulting photo
still has a thin black border. If that’s the
case, revert to the original version of
the photo and crop again, this time
specifying a custom crop proportion of
1.818 x 1. It sounds weird, but it works.
Note: If there’s a transition on either
side of the clip, iMovie HD will need to
recreate it, since it contains frames
that will no longer match the new clip.
iMovie HD displays a message warning
you that the transition will have to be
iMovie HD imports photos at their
full resolution. This lets you zoom in
on part of a photo and still retain
image sharpness.
However, if you zoom in on a lowresolution image or one that you’ve
cropped heavily in iPhoto, you will
probably notice some chunky-looking
pixelation. So think twice about zooming in on low-resolution images unless
you want that pixelated look.
If you’re working in a high-definition format, you may find that you
can’t zoom in very far on photos that
have relatively low resolution (for
example, two megapixels), at least not
without seeing ugly visual artifacts.
Searching for Titles
The Photos pane in iMovie HD contains
a search box, but it isn’t as versatile as
its counterpart in iPhoto. You can
search for text present in a photo’s title
only. You can’t search for text present
in comments, roll names, file names,
or keywords.
Zoom to Tell a Story
To always
have iMovie HD
re-render transitions, check
this box.
To re-render
adjacent transitions, click OK.
To cancel the new
Ken Burns settings
and keep the old
clips, click Cancel.
Creative use of zooming can help tell
your story. When you zoom in, you
gradually focus the viewer’s attention
on one portion of the scene. You
tell the viewer, “Now that you have the
big picture, this is what you should pay
attention to.”
When you zoom out, you reveal additional details about the scene, increasing the viewer’s sense of context. You
tell the viewer, “Now that you’ve seen
that, look at these other things to learn
how they relate to each other.”
Go Slow
Unless you’re after a special effect,
avoid very fast pans and zooms. It’s
better to pan and zoom slowly to allow
your viewers to absorb the changes in
the scene.
Generally, a zoom speed of 0.05 to 0.1
per second gives a pleasing result. For
example, a five-second clip should
have a difference between start and
finish zoom of about 0.5.
Vary Your Zoom
between zooming in and zooming out.
So does the screen saver in Mac OS X.
Tip: iMovie HD provides a shortcut
that makes it easy to obtain this variety. Select more than one photo in the
Photos pane, specify Ken Burns settings, and then press the Option key
while clicking the Apply button. iMovie
HD adds the photos to the timeline
and alternates between zooming in
and zooming out.
The Need to Render
When you apply the Ken Burns effect,
iMovie HD must create the video
frames that represent your efforts. This
is called rendering, and is described in
more detail on page 253.
You can continue to work in iMovie HD
while a clip is rendering, but you may
notice that the program’s performance
is a bit slower.
Working with the Ken Burns Effect
4:3 formats. Working in the standard
DV, iSight, or MPEG-4 formats? If you
plan to show a photo at actual size
(that is, a zoom setting of 1.00), be
sure your photos’ proportions match
the 4:3 aspect ratio of these formats.
Otherwise, the photos won’t completely
fill the video frame: they will have
black borders.
You’ve applied the Ken Burns effect
and now decide that you want to
change the clip’s pan, zoom, or duration settings. Select the clip in the
timeline, click the Media button, then
click the Photos button. Now make
the desired adjustments in the Photo
Settings pane and click Update.
Image Resolution
and Zooming
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iMovie HD: Making Movies
Variety is the spice of zooming. If
you’re creating a photo montage and
zooming each image, consider alternating between zooming in and zooming
out. For example, zoom in on one
image, then zoom out on the next.
A fine example of this technique lives
elsewhere within iLife: iPhoto’s automatic Ken Burns effect alternates
iMovie HD: Making Movies
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iMovie HD: Making Movies
Advanced Ken Burns Techniques
Ken Burns has some limitations. One is
that you can’t “hold” on a certain frame.
You might want to have a 10-second clip in
which the photo zooms for the first eight
seconds and then remains static for the last
two. Or maybe you want to zoom in part
way, freeze for a couple of seconds, and
then continue zooming.
Ken can’t do that.
Ken can’t do that, either.
At least not without a little finessing.
It’s actually possible to accomplish both of
these tasks in iMovie HD. Here’s how.
Combining Moves
To hold on a frame, save a frame from a Ken Burnsgenerated clip, then add it to the timeline.
Combining two kinds of moves involves importing the same
photo twice and applying different Ken Burns settings each time.
Step 1.
Step 1.
Step 2.
Step 3.
Step 4.
Set up the Ken Burns effect as desired and then
apply it, as described on page 237.
Set up the first Ken Burns
move as desired and then
apply it.
In the photo browser, select
a different photo, and then
select the same photo that
you selected for Step 1.
In the Photo Settings panel,
click the Reverse button.
Specify the End settings for
the second Ken Burns move
and then apply it.
This tricks iMovie HD into
preparing to create a new
clip instead of updating the
one you just created.
This reverses the Ken Burns
settings that you set up for
Step 1: its end point becomes
the new start point.
Step 2.
Select the clip that iMovie HD has rendered, then
move the playhead to its last frame.
Step 3.
Choose Create Still Frame from the Edit menu
Step 4.
Locate the still frame in the Clips pane, drag it to the
timeline and, if necessary, trim it to the desired length.
Tip: You can also adjust the still frame’s duration by
double-clicking the clip, then entering a new duration
in the Clip Info dialog box.
You can also start by holding on a
frame, and then panning and zooming. First, apply the Ken Burns effect,
then navigate to the first frame of the
resulting clip and create a still frame
from it. Position the still-frame clip
before the Ken Burns clip.
Another variation involves inserting
a still image in the middle of a Ken
Burns move so that panning and
zooming stops and then resumes.
For this trick, apply the Ken Burns
effect and then split the resulting clip
where you want to hold on a frame.
(To split a clip, position the playhead
at the desired split point and choose
Split Video Clip at Playhead from the
Edit menu.)
Next, move the playhead to the last
frame of the first half of the clip (or
to the first frame of the second half).
Create a still frame, and drag the
resulting clip between the two halves.
Beyond Ken Burns: Other Pan-Zoom Tools
Ken Burns isn’t the only game
in town. Several companies
offer pan-zoom tools that work
with iMovie HD.
Photo to Movie. Photo to Movie
by LQ Graphics (www.lqgraphics.
com) makes it very easy to create pan-zoom effects. Create
your effect in Photo to Movie,
export it as a QuickTime movie,
and then bring it into iMovie HD
and add it to your project.
Ken Burns effect. Photo to Movie
does a better job of what animators call ease in and ease out:
rather than motion abruptly
starting and ending, the motion
starts and ends gradually. The
results have a more professional appearance.
SlickMotion. This simple program is included with GeeThree’s
Slick Transitions and Effects
Volume 4, an extensive library of
iMovie effects. SlickMotion also
supports ease-in/ease-out, and
adds the ability to rotate images.
Advanced Ken Burns Techniques
Another limitation is that you can’t
combine multiple moves in a single clip.
For example, you might want to pan across
a photo and then zoom in on part of it.
Holding on a Frame
Motion Pictures. This scaleddown version of Photo to Movie
is included with Roxio’s Toast.
Photo to Movie’s results are
superior to those created by the
Adding Audio to Movies
Importing Music from Your
iTunes Library or GarageBand
Use the media browser to bring in music from your
iTunes library or GarageBand.
Step 4.
Poor quality audio is a common flaw of
home video and amateur movies. One problem is that most camcorders don’t have very
good microphones—their built-in mikes are
often located on the top of the camera
where they pick up sound from the camera’s
motors. What’s more, the microphone is
usually far from the subject, resulting in too
much background noise. And if you’re
shooting outdoors on a windy day, your
scenes end up sounding like an outtake
from Twister.
Step 1.
You can choose a specific
playlist from the list of
Position the playhead where you
want the music to begin playing.
Step 2.
Click the Media button and then the
Audio button.
Step 3.
Select iTunes or GarageBand in the
list of audio sources.
If your camcorder provides a jack for
an external microphone, you can get much
better sound by using one. On the following pages, you’ll find some advice on
choosing and using microphones.
If you’ve already shot your video or you
can’t use an external mike, there is another
solution: don’t use the audio you recorded.
Instead, create an audio bed consisting of
music and, if appropriate, narration or
sound effects (see page 245).
Locate the song you want to import.
You can sort the list of songs
by clicking on a column heading. Drag columns left and
right to move them. Resize
columns by dragging the
vertical line between their
Use the Search box to quickly
locate a song based on its
name or its artist’s name.
To play a song, select it and
click this button, or simply
double-click the song’s name.
Note: In order to be able to preview a GarageBand
project in the media pane, or add the song to the
iMovie timeline the project needs to be saved with an
iLife preview.
iMovie HD provides several features that
you can use to sweeten your soundtracks.
Take advantage of them. And if they don’t
do the job, consider bringing your movie
into GarageBand for additional sonic seasoning (page 362).
Step 5.
If you connect a microphone to your
Mac, you can record narration directly
within iMovie HD.
To begin recording, click the red button
next to the volume meter in iMovie
HD’s Audio pane. To stop recording, click
the red button again.
As you record, iMovie HD adds your narration to the first audio track, positioning it
at the playhead’s location and giving it the
name Voice 01.
Tip: For the best sound, you want to
record loud, but not too loud. At its loudest, your voice should illuminate the yellow
portion of iMovie HD’s volume meter. If
you illuminate the red portions, your
sound will be distorted.
Click the Place at Playhead button.
iMovie HD adds the music to the
timeline’s second audio track.
Tip: As an alternative to clicking
Place at Playhead, you can also
click and drag a song to any
location on the timeline.
For details, see page 347.
Recording an
Audio Narration
Adding Audio to Movies
In movie making, sound is at least as
important as the picture. An audience will
forgive hand-held camera shots and poor
lighting—The Blair Witch Project proved
that. But give them a noisy, inaudible
soundtrack, and they’ll run for the aspirin.
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iMovie HD: Making Movies
Also, position the mike carefully to avoid
the “popping p” syndrome—bursts of
breath noise. Record the phrase “pretty
poppies” as a test, and back off if the
results sound like a hurricane. (Audio
trivia: those breathy, percussive consonants are aptly called plosives.)
Tips for Recording Better Sound
Upgrade Your Microphone
To get better sound, get a high-quality
external microphone and place it close to
your subject.
Clip-on. Microphones come in all sizes
and designs. Some are specialized—for
example, a lavaliere mike, which clips to
a lapel or shirt, is great for recording a
single voice, such as that of a teacher
(or TV host). But a lav mike is unsuitable
for recording a musical performance.
Shotgun approach. When you can’t get
the mike close to your subject but still
want to reduce extraneous noise, consider a shotgun mike. In a shotgun mike,
the microphone capsule is mounted
within a long barrel designed to reject
sound coming from the side of the mike.
Shotgun mikes are popular in TV news
and movie making. They’re sensitive
enough to be located out of the video
frame, and their highly directional sensitivity means they won’t pick up noise
from cameras and crew members.
A shotgun mike works best when mounted
on a boom, a long pole (often hand-held)
Two in one. The most versatile mike
you can buy is a single-point stereo mike.
A stereo mike crams two microphone
capsules into a single package. Each
capsule is precisely positioned relative
to its companion, thus eliminating one of
the biggest challenges of stereo recording: getting accurate balance and separation between the left and right channels.
I use the AT822 from Audio-Technica
aforementioned mikes are available in
balanced and unbalanced versions.
A balanced mike is wired in a way that
reduces electrical noise and allows for
cable runs of up to 100 feet or so.
Balanced mikes cost more than unbalanced ones, but professionals and
serious amateurs prefer balanced mikes
due to their resistance to electrical noise
and their support for longer cable runs.
A balanced mike typically uses an XLR
connector, and only high-end camcorders
have XLR jacks. But there is a way to
connect a balanced mike to an unbalanced miniplug jack: the DXA-2 adaptor
from BeachTek (
A compact metal box that attaches to
your camera’s tripod mount, the DXA-2
requires no external power supply
and has built-in knobs for adjusting
volume levels.
Placement is Everything
With high-quality extension cables, the
mike and camera can be up to about
25 feet apart. At greater distances, you
risk losing some high frequencies and
picking up hum and other electrical noise.
To do justice to any mike, position it
properly. For that school play or recital,
use a mike stand and position the mike
high, pointing down toward the stage at
about a 45-degree angle. If you can’t set
up your own mike stand, just try to get
the mike at least a few feet off the stage
and as close to center stage as possible.
A balanced alternative. When you need
to run cables longer than 25 feet or
so—or when you want the best possible
quality and are prepared to pay for it—
consider a balanced mike. All of the
How close should the mike be? That
depends on what you’re recording
(see the table at right). The closer the
mike is to a sound source, the less room
noise and reverberation it picks up.
But if the mike is too close, stereo separation is exaggerated—some sounds
come only from the left speaker, others
only from the right, and sounds in the
center are louder than they should be.
Move the mike too far away, and you get
a muddy-sounding recording with too
much room reverb.
When recording a live performance,
try to show up for rehearsals so that
you have time to experiment with different mike distances. If your camera has
a headphone jack, connect a good pair
of headphones—ones whose cups surround your ears and thus block out
external sounds. Record a test, play it
back, and listen.
For recording narrations, consider
assembling a makeshift sound booth
that will absorb room echo and block
computer and hard drive noise. Glue
some sound-absorbing acoustical foam
onto two sheets of plywood or foamcore.
(See for a wide
selection.) Position the two sheets in
front of you in a V shape, with the mike
at the narrow end. If you’re on a tight
budget, use blankets, pillows, carpet
remnants, or even a coat closet. The
idea is to surround yourself, and the
mike, with sound-absorbing material.
Another major microphone manufacturer,
Shure, has published some excellent
mike-placement tutorials. Download them
A Field Guide to Mike Placement
Ideal Mike Position
Solo piano
About a foot from the center of the
piano’s harp, pointed at the strings
(open the piano’s recital lid).
Wedding ceremony
As close to the lovebirds as possible.
Many wedding videographers attach a
wireless lavaliere mike to the groom or
the officiator. (Bridal gowns tend to rustle
too much.) A mike hidden in a flower
arrangement may also work.
6 to 9 inches from the speaker’s mouth,
angled downward. To avoid plosive
problems, use a windscreen and position
the mike just off to the side, pointing at
the mouth. Alternative: a lavaliere mike.
Choral group
1 to 3 feet above and 2 to 4 feet in front
of the first row of the choir.
Birthday party around a table
On an extended floor stand, angled
downward. Alternative: on a tabletop desk
stand, pointing at the birthday kid.
Tips for Recording Better Sound
Before you buy an external mike, determine whether your camcorder can accept
one. Some inexpensive camcorders don’t
provide a jack for an external mike;
others may require an adapter that connects to the bottom of the camera. Most
mid-range and all high-end camcorders
have external mike jacks. On most cameras, it’s a 1⁄8 -inch stereo minijack.
that allows the mike to point down at the
subject. When you see a video crew with
one person who appears to be holding a
fishing pole with a long tube on the end of
it, you’re seeing a shotgun mike (and a
sound technician) in action.
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iMovie HD: Making Movies
Creating an Audio Bed
If you weren’t able to get good audio
when you originally shot your video, consider muting your video’s audio track and
just putting a music bed behind your
shots. Create a montage of shots, using
bookmarks and direct trimming to help
you time your edits to the music.
And finally, a related tip: If you’re shooting scenes where the audio is mostly
ambient sound—the waves at the beach,
the din of a party—shoot a few minutes
of uninterrupted video, keeping the camera stationary. After importing the video,
delete the video track and keep the
audio. (In iMovie HD, drag the video clip
to the timeline, then choose Extract
Audio from the Advanced menu.) Now
you have an audio bed upon which you
can put a series of video shots. After you
add those shots, mute their audio. This
technique eliminates jarring sound
changes between shots.
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iMovie HD: Making Movies
Working with Audio Tracks
Adjusting the volume of an audio track
is a common task. And when you combine
audio in any way—mixing music, sound
effects, dialog, and background sounds—
you almost always need to adjust the relative levels of each sound to create a
pleasing mix.
You can also vary a track’s volume level
over time. When combining music and
narration, you might want the music to start
at full volume, fade when the narrator talks,
then return to full volume when she stops.
The timeline viewer provides several
controls for adjusting volume levels. Many
of them are easier to use when you have
iMovie HD display audio track waveforms.
To display waveforms, choose Show Audio
Waveforms from the View menu.
A waveform looks a bit like the penmanship of an earthquake seismograph.
Back-and-forth lines indicate the intensity
of the shaking—in this case, of the sound
wave. Being able to see your sound instead
of just a horizontal colored bar is a big help
when trimming audio tracks, adjusting volume, and creating audio fades.
Adjusting Volume Over Time
Here’s how to adjust a track’s volume level to accommodate
narration or dialog in another track.
To adjust the volume of an entire audio
clip, select the clip and then drag the
volume slider located below the timeline.
You can also type a
value in the text box.
Step 3.
Choose Show Clip Volume Levels from
the View menu.
To lower the volume, drag the marker down.
To increase the volume, drag the marker up.
To move the point at which the volume changes,
drag the marker left or right.
When volume
levels are visible,
iMovie HD displays a volume
level bar on each
Fading Out or Fading In
Creating an audio fade involves working
with volume markers in the timeline.
Step 1.
Choose Show Clip Volume Levels from the View menu.
Step 2.
Click the horizontal line in the audio
track to create and adjust volume markers.
To lower the volume,
drag the marker down.
To move the marker
earlier or later in time,
drag it left or right.
To adjust the duration
of the fade, drag the
beginning point of the
marker left or right.
The completed fade.
Conversely, to create
a fade-in, drag the
beginning point of a
volume marker all the
way down, then drag
the end point up.
Step 1.
Step 2.
Click on the audio track’s volume level bar at
the point where you want to adjust the volume.
A volume marker appears.
Here, the volume of a music track has been
tweaked so that the music gets softer during
a narration passage.
Working with Audio Tracks
iMovie HD provides several ways to
work with sound levels. You can reduce the
volume of an entire sound clip. You might
do this if you’re mixing music with the
sound of the surf, and don’t want the waves
to drown out the music.
Adjusting the
Volume of a Clip
To delete a marker, select it and press the
Delete key.
Step 4.
Can’t trim clips? Turn off levels. If iMovie HD
isn’t letting you use direct trimming to adjust the
in- and out-points of clips, it’s probably because
you’re viewing clip volume levels—direct trimming
isn’t available when levels are displayed. Be sure
that the Show Clip Volume Levels command in the
View menu is unchecked.
When you’ve finished tweaking volume levels,
choose Show Clip Volume Levels from the View
menu again so that the command is unchecked.
Applying Audio Filters and Effects
Sound engineers go to great lengths to
record high-quality sound during movie
making, but what you hear when watching
a movie is much different than what you
would hear on the set.
To Add an Audio Effect
Deleting an Audio Effect
Step 1.
Select the audio clip and press the Delete key to
remove the effect.
A soundtrack is usually sweetened in
several ways: speech is given a bit more
warmth, background noise is minimized,
and so on.
Step 2.
iMovie HD includes several tools for
punching up the quality of your movie’s
audio and sweetening the mix.
Note: To use audio effects, your Mac must be
running Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger or a later version.
Click the Editing button and then the Audio FX button.
Step 3.
Select the effect you
want to use and change
its settings.
Most of the effects
offer only one or two
sliders that control the
degree to which the effect
is applied. Some, like
Graphic EQ and Reverb,
offer convenient presets.
Click the Preview button
to hear how the clip will
sound. The sound plays
over and over until you
turn off the preview.
Updating an Audio Effect
When you apply an audio effect, iMovie HD renders
a new audio clip, but doesn’t delete the original clip;
the effect acts like a layer on top of the original.
(Video effects work the same way; see page 256.)
The advantage of this approach is that you can “stack”
multiple audio effects on a clip and have each effect
interact with the layer beneath it.
To minimize the amount of wind or road noise
(if the footage was shot in a car, for example), apply
the Noise Reducer audio effect. You don’t have much
control over isolating specific sounds, but this effect
does an adequate job of limiting white noise.
Unfortunately, you can’t pick a layer and change its
settings. You must select the audio clip and press the
Delete key to remove the effect, and then reapply a
new effect with new settings. And if you’ve applied
multiple effects, you need to remove the most recent
layers to get to the one you want.
Tip: How many audio effects have you applied? iMovie
HD’s interface doesn’t let on, but there is a way to find
out. Select the audio clip and choose Show Info from
the File menu. The name of the rendered file indicates
how many and what types of audio effects are present.
Original extracted clip
Applying Audio Filters and Effects
Whether you captured audio using
a camcorder or imported it from iTunes,
it’s all digital information—which means
it’s malleable and ripe for improvement
(or just experimentation).
Select the video or audio clip to which you want to apply an effect.
Reduce Background
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iMovie HD: Making Movies
Step 4.
Click the Apply button. iMovie HD extracts the audio (if you applied
the effect to a video clip) and renders the new version.
Tip: Pitch Changer can be great for a laugh—or for creating a big,
booming Voice of Doom. Applied in small degrees, Pitch Changer
can also raise or lower a person’s voice slightly to bring out depth
or character.
After applying Noise Reducer
Tip: For more information on what effects such as
Reverb and Delay actually do, see page 341.
Get links to sources of sound effects and music.
More Sound Advice
Waveform Tips
Scrubbing Audio
When you’ve used the View menu to
display audio waveforms, iMovie HD’s
timeline snapping feature snaps the playhead to silent portions of clips (specifically, when you scroll to within three
frames of silence).
Here’s a handy way to locate the exact
spot to trim or split an audio clip. Zoom
in on the timeline, then press the Option
key while slowly dragging the iMovie HD
playhead. Your audio plays back, but is
slowed down. The sound even plays
backwards when you drag the playhead
to the left. (Beatles fans: import some
White Album songs from your iTunes
library and have fun.)
When you import an audio clip or music
track, iMovie HD must render the track’s
waveform—a red progress bar appears
at the bottom of the audio track, and the
waveform appears a bit blurry until iMovie
HD renders it. Because this process takes
some time, you may want to leave the
waveform display turned off unless you
need it for precise editing or volume
Trimming Audio
You can trim the start and end of an
audio clip using the same direct-trimming
techniques described on page 232. As
with video clips, you can reclaim audio
that’s outside of a clip’s boundaries by
resizing the clip.
Extracting Audio
At times, you may want to use only the
audio portion of a clip. For example,
you’re making a documentary about your
grandmother’s childhood and you’d like
to show old photographs as she talks.
To do this, drag the video clip to the
timeline, then select the clip and choose
Extract Audio (1-J) from the Advanced
menu. iMovie HD copies the audio,
places it in Audio Track 1, and mutes the
audio in the video clip.
Next, select the video clip in the timeline
and press the Delete key. The video vanishes but its audio lingers on, and you
can now position still images and other
clips in the video’s place. You can also
drag the audio elsewhere in the timeline.
Camcorder Sound
iMovie HD may provide just two audio
tracks, but that doesn’t mean you’re limited to two simultaneous sounds. You can
overlap multiple audio clips in the timeline’s audio tracks: simply drag one audio
clip on top of another.
Most miniDV camcorders provide two
sound-recording settings: 12-bit and
16-bit. Always record using the 16-bit
setting. If your sound and picture synchronization drift over the course of a
long movie, it’s probably because you
recorded using 12-bit audio.
Repeating Sound Effects
You might want some sound effects to
play for a long period of time. For example, iMovie HD’s Hard Rain sound effect
is less than 10 seconds long, but maybe
you need 30 seconds of rain sounds for
a particular movie.
For cases like these, simply repeat the
sound effect by dragging it from the
Audio pane to the timeline as many times
as needed. You can also duplicate a
sound by Option-dragging it in the timeline. If the sound effect fades out (as
Hard Rain does), overlap each copy to
hide the fade.
You can build magnificently rich
sound effect tracks by overlapping
sounds. To create a thunderstorm, for
example, drag the Thunder sound effect
so that it overlaps Hard Rain. Add the
Cold Wind sound while you’re at it. And
don’t forget to use iMovie HD’s audio
controls to fine-tune the relative levels of
each effect.
Splitting Audio Clips
You can mute an audio track entirely by
unchecking the box to its right in the timeline viewer. If you uncheck the box next to
the video track, iMovie HD mutes the video’s sound. This can be handy when
you’re replacing the audio in a series of
clips with an audio bed—a segment of
background audio that will play across
multiple clips.
You can divide an audio clip into two or
more separate clips whose position and
volume you can adjust independently.
First, select the audio clip you want to
split. Next, position the playhead where
you want to split the clip. Finally, choose
Split Selected Audio Clip at Playhead
from the Edit menu or press 1-T.
Sources for Sound Effects and Music
Sound Effects
iMovie HD’s library of built-in
sound effects, accessed through
the audio section of the Media
pane, covers a lot of aural ground.
But there’s always room for
more sound, and the Internet is
a rich repository of it. One of
your first stops should be
FindSounds, a Web search
engine that lets you locate and
download free sound effects by
typing keywords, such as chickadee. SoundHunter is another
impressive source of free sound
effects and provides links to
even more audio-related sites.
Most online sound effects are
stored as WAV or AIFF files, two
Muting an Audio Track
common sound formats. To
import a WAV or AIFF file, use
the File menu’s Import command
or simply drag the file directly to
the desired location in the timeline viewer.
Managing Sound
If you assemble a large library of
sound effects, you might find
yourself needing a program to
help you keep track of them. You
already have such a program:
it’s called iTunes. Simply drag
your sound effects files into the
iTunes window. Use the Get Info
command to assign descriptive
tags to them, and you can use
iTunes’ Search box to locate
effects in a flash. You might
even want to create a separate
iTunes music library to store
your sound effects.
search features that let you
locate music based on keywords,
such as acoustic or jazz.
Music Sources
Loopasonic is another cool
music site. It offers hundreds of
music loops—repeating riffs—
that you can assemble into
unique music tracks and use in
GarageBand (which, of course,
you can use to compose your
own movie music).
You’ll find a symphony’s worth
of music on the Internet.
For private, non-commercial
projects, try Freeplay Music
You can download and use
its music clips for, yes, free.
For commercial projects, however, be sure to carefully read
the company’s rate card and
licensing requirements.
Plenty of music is also available
from sites such as SoundDogs,
KillerSound, and Award Winning
Music. These sites have powerful
More Sound Advice
To work with more precision when viewing
waveforms, zoom in on the timeline. If the
audio in a track is on the quiet side, the
waveform may be hard to see. Solution:
select the audio clip and press the uparrow key. This accentuates the spikes in
the waveform. To make the spikes smaller,
press the down-arrow key.
Overlapping Audio in
the Timeline
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iMovie HD: Making Movies
And for building custom-length
music tracks, you can’t beat
SmartSound’s Movie Maestro
software. Movie Maestro provides an expandable library of
songs, each of which is divided
into blocks that the Music
Maestro software can assemble
to an exact length.
Adding Transitions
Visual transitions add a professional touch
to your project. Transitions also help tell a
story. For example, a cross-dissolve—one
clip fading out while another fades in—
can imply the passage of time. Imagine
slowly dissolving from a nighttime campfire scene to a campsite scene shot the following morning.
Testing the Transition
To add a transition between two clips,
first click iMovie HD’s Editing button,
and then click the Transitions button
to display the Transitions pane.
The preview controls
(from left) begin playback of the preview,
loop playback, cancel
the transition, or add
it to the timeline.
When you select
a transition, a
preview appears in
the monitor.
To see the finished transition, select it
and press the spacebar.
If you’ve selected two
or more clips in the
timeline, you can
apply the transition to
all of the clips by
clicking Add.
changes, and click the Update button in
the Transitions pane.
When you create a transition between
two clips, you establish a connection
between those clips.
Applying a Transition to
Multiple Clips
If you need to insert a new clip between
those two clips, you must first delete the
transition: select it and press Delete.
Now you can insert the new clip.
Updating a Transition
Change your mind about using a particular transition style? To change an existing
transition, first select it in the clip viewer
or timeline viewer. Make the desired
iMovie HD’s Fade In, Fade Out, and
Cross Dissolve transitions are “desertisland” transitions—the ones you’d want
when stranded on an island (perhaps while
editing an episode of Survivor). But unless
you are stranded on an island, don’t limit
yourself—experiment with other types of
transitions. To preview any transition,
select a clip in the timeline or clip viewer,
then click the transition’s name in the
Transitions pane.
You can apply the same transition to
multiple clips in one step: select the clips
in the timeline, select a transition, then
click the Add button. You can also update
multiple transitions at once: select them
in the timeline (1-click on them or use
the Edit menu’s Select Similar Clips command), adjust transition settings, then
click Update.
Some Background on Rendering
When you create a transition,
title, or effect, iMovie HD must
create the video frames that
represent your efforts. This rendering process takes time; you
may notice iMovie HD slows
down a bit during rendering.
Like effects, transitions are visual
spice. Season your video with them, but
don’t let them overpower the main course:
your subject.
To add the transition,
drag it between two
clips in the timeline
or clip viewer.
If you aren’t happy with the transition,
you can delete it (press the Delete key)
or choose Undo.
Inserting a Clip at a
Adding Transitions
Similarly, iMovie HD’s Push transition,
where one clip pushes another out of the
frame, is a visual way of saying “meanwhile...” Imagine using this transition
between a scene of an expectant mother in
the delivery room and a shot of her husband pacing in the waiting room, chainsmoking nervously. (Okay, so this is an
old-fashioned maternity movie.)
Creating a Transition
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iMovie HD: Making Movies
Some transitions, such
as Push, allow you to
specify a direction (for
example, to push from
left to right or from top
to bottom).
To change the transition’s duration, drag the
Speed slider or type a
value in the box.
You can continue to work while
rendering takes place. You can
even play back your movie,
although you may notice
stuttering playback when iMovie
HD reaches areas it hasn’t finished rendering.
rendering will take, look at the
transitions, titles, or effects that
you’ve added: a little red
progress bar shows how far
along rendering is.
Although you can work during
rendering, you might want to
avoid adding multiple transitions
or titles in rapid-fire succession,
as doing so can slow iMovie HD
to a crawl. To gauge how long
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iMovie HD: Making Movies
Creating Titles
What’s a movie without titles? Incomplete.
Almost any movie can benefit from text
of some kind: opening and closing credits,
the superimposed names of people and
places, or simply the words “The End”
at, well, the end.
iMovie HD’s Titles pane is your ticket
to text. You have roughly 50 title styles
from which to choose, with customizing
opportunities aplenty.
Regardless of the style you choose,
you’ll get the best results with sturdy
fonts that remain legible despite the limited resolution of television. For example,
at small text sizes, Arial Black often
works better than Times, which has ornamental serifs that can break up when
viewed on a TV set.
You’ll also get the best-looking titles
if you choose colors conservatively. Avoid
highly saturated hues, especially bright
red, which can “bloom” when viewed
on a standard-definition TV set. Highdefinition formats are less prone to these
problems, but since your video may
still end up being viewed on standarddefinition TVs, a conservative approach
is smart.
Roll the credits.
Creating a title involves choosing the title style, specifying
title settings, and then dragging the completed title to the
When you click a title style, iMovie HD
displays a preview in the monitor
(not shown here).
Step 1. Click the Editing button and then the Titles button
to display the Titles pane.
With some title styles, you can specify
text position and scrolling direction.
Step 2. Choose the title style you want by clicking its
name. Some title styles are grouped together in a category;
to view them, click the triangle next to the category name.
Normally, iMovie HD superimposes the
title text over a clip. For a simple black
background instead, check Over Black.
To edit an existing title, select it in the
timeline, make your changes, and
apply the changes by clicking the
Update button.
Type or paste the title’s text here. In
title styles that provide multiple text
boxes, you can jump from one box to
the next by pressing the Tab key.
Use this slider to adjust the title’s
duration. For some title styles, this
slider adjusts scrolling speed.
To add the title, drag its name to the
timeline viewer or clip viewer, or
click the Add button.
Step 3. Specify the title settings.
See the opposite page for an overview of title settings.
Step 4. Add the title by dragging it to the timeline.
Notes: To add a title to the middle of a clip, position the
playhead where you want the title to appear, then click the
Add button. To superimpose title text over a specific clip,
drag the title to the immediate left of that clip.
Changing a Title
Need to change an existing title? In the timeline, select the
title. Next, display the Titles pane and make your changes.
Finally, click the Update button in the Titles pane. You can
also Control-click on a title and choose Edit Title Settings
from the shortcut menu.
Creating Titles
Many of iMovie HD’s title styles are
animated, and it isn’t difficult to transcend
the bounds of good taste. Use restraint
and lean toward classic title styles, such as
Centered and Scrolling. When you want
something a bit flashier, consider the
Animated Gradient style within the Clip
to Characters category.
To Create a Title
Tips for Titling
Choosing Colors
Photoshop Titles
To choose a color for title text,
click the Color button in the
Titles pane. Click on the color
palette to choose your hue. To
match a color that appears in a
clip, click the magnifying glass
icon, position the pointer over
the color you want to pick up,
and then click.
You can use Adobe Photoshop
or Photoshop Elements to make
gorgeous, full-screen titles. You
can add photos, create color gradients, shadow effects, and more.
To create a title over a colored
background, create a color clip as
described on page 274, then add
the title to the color clip.
To create a title in Photoshop,
specify an image size appropriate to your project’s video format. For DV-format projects, use
720 by 528; for DV Widescreen,
use 869 by 480. For iSight and
MPEG-4 formats, use 640 by
480. For 720p HD, use 1280 by
720, and for 1080i HD, use
1920 by 1080.
Next, create your title, and
avoid putting any text in the
outer ten percent of the screen.
(It might get cut off when the
title appears on a TV set.)
And to avoid flicker, make the
thickness of any horizontal
lines an even number of pixels
(for example, 2, 4, 6).
To add the title to your movie,
simply drag the Photoshop file’s
icon into the Clips pane or
directly to the timeline. Photoshop
gurus: You don’t have to flatten
a layered file first. iMovie HD
accepts layered PSD files. You
can even apply the Ken Burns
effect to the title if you like.
You can combine Photoshop
and iMovie HD’s built-in titling to
create titles with text superimposed over a moving textured
background. Make the background graphic much larger than
your movie’s frame size so you
have room to pan. Import the
background graphic and apply a
slow pan. Superimpose a title
over the resulting clip.
You could also extract a page
from an iPhoto book using the
technique on page 193 and use
it as a title background.
Adding Effects
To Add an Effect
Effects Over Time
Adding an effect involves selecting one or more clips,
specifying effect settings, then applying the effect.
iMovie HD’s Effects pane is the gateway to a full spice rack of special effects.
The Aged Film effect makes a clip look
like old movie film, complete with scratches
and jitter. The Lens Flare effect simulates
the glare of bright light entering a camera’s
lens. Fairy Dust gives you that Tinker Bell
look, while Electricity creates faux lightning bolts. And the Earthquake effect creates a fast, back-and-forth blur that may
tempt you to duck beneath a desk.
Step 1. Select the clip or clips to which you want to
apply an effect.
Effects aren’t an all-or-nothing proposition—iMovie HD can apply or remove an
effect gradually. Apply the Black & White
effect over time to make a clip start in
black and white and turn into Technicolor.
Animate the Soft Focus effect to make a
clip start out blurry and come into focus,
or vice versa.
iMovie HD introduced a few new
effects. The Edges effect creates an edgy,
neon-colored look. The Crystallize effect
makes a clip looks like it’s being viewed
through a shower door, while the Edge
Work effect creates a pen-and-ink look.
You can also apply speed effects to your
clips. Slow a clip down to get slow motion,
or speed it up for a chuckle.
You can apply effects to multiple clips at
once: Shift-click to select a range of clips,
or 1-click to select clips that aren’t next to
each other in the timeline.
Have fun with iMovie HD’s effects.
But remember: too much spice is worse
than none at all.
Step 2. Click the Editing button and then the Video FX button
to display the Effects pane.
This value indicates how much time will
elapse until the effect is fully visible.
This value shows when the effect will
start to fade. The time is measured from
the end of the clip—in this example, the
effect will begin to fade 2 seconds and
11 frames from the end of the clip.
To animate effects, use the Effects
pane’s Effect In and Effect Out sliders.
To make an effect go away over time,
drag the Effect Out slider.
Step 3. Choose the desired effect by clicking its name.
iMovie HD displays a preview of the effect in the monitor.
Step 4. Specify the desired
settings for the effect.
iMovie HD can apply or
remove an effect over time;
see “Effects Over Time” on
the opposite page.
Each effect has its own
controls; they appear in
this area.
Step 5. To apply the effect
to the selected clip or clips,
click the Apply button.
iMovie HD renders the video
frames required to create the effect.
Effective Tips
Speed Effects
Being selective. Another way to
control where an effect begins and
ends is to apply the effect to only a
portion of a clip. To do this, select the
clip in the timeline and then drag crop
markers to highlight the range of footage to which you want to apply the
effect. Now specify the effect settings
and click Apply.
That video of Junior’s winning soccer
game could use some slow-motion
instant replays. iMovie HD provides them.
Select a clip in the timeline, display
the Effects pane, and then click on the
Fast/Slow/Reverse effect.
Silence the sound. Slowing or speeding
a clip alters its audio playback, too. You’ll
probably want to mute the clip’s audio:
select the clip and type 0 (that’s a zero) in
the clip volume control below the timeline.
Updating effects. To change a clip’s
effects, Control-click on the clip in
the timeline, then choose Edit Effect
Settings from the shortcut menu.
Make your tweaks, then click Update.
Removing effects. To remove effects
from a clip, select the clip and press
the Delete key.
Specifying position. Some effects,
such as Electricity, can be positioned
on the screen. Click in the monitor to
set a focus point.
To have the effect appear over time,
drag the Effect In slider.
Want to see that winning
goal in reverse? Click
Reverse Direction.
Slow down for smoother motion.
Slowing down a clip can also be a nice
way to smooth out jerky camera movement. If you had too much coffee before
shooting that flower close-up, slow the
shot down a bit.
To speed up the clip, drag toward Faster.
To slow down the clip, drag toward
Slower. When you move the slider, iMovie
HD previews your settings in the monitor.
To stop the preview, click the preview’s
Play button. To apply the effect, click the
Apply button.
Layer effects. You can apply multiple
effects to the same clip, as if they’re
stacked on top of each other. To remove
an effect, select the clip and press the
Delete key, as noted at left. To remove
all effects, choose Revert Clip to Original
from the Advanced menu.
Adding Effects
Special effects are the spice of the movie
world. When used sparingly, they enhance a
movie and add appeal. When overused, they
can make your audience gag.
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Adding Sizzle and Structure with Themes
Watch any TV show, and you’ll see that
video producers rely on a standard vocabulary of visual building blocks—elements
that identify major portions of the show
and serve to tie scenes together.
These elements of imagery are often
called motion graphics, and for good reason.
Instead of being static text and graphics,
they employ slick animation that adds
visual appeal. Words don’t just fade in and
fade out; they glide into view, superimposed over elegant, moving backgrounds.
It’s the kind of eye candy we’re used to
seeing on TV, and now you can serve it up
in your productions with the video themes
built into iMovie HD 6. Choose a theme,
then customize it by adding photos or movies to its drop zones. When you’re done,
iMovie HD renders the clip and adds it to
the timeline.
Themes can do more than just add
sizzle to your movies. They can also help
you add structure: by employing themes,
you can frame the elements of your movie
and tell a better story.
Using Theme Elements
iMovie HD includes four sets of themes, and many have counterparts in iDVD, iPhoto, and iWeb. Each theme provides one or
more drop zones into which you can add photos and video clips.
Most theme elements also provide an area where you can type
some text.
You can add theme elements
as you work on a movie, or
wait until after you’ve completed other editing tasks.
Tip: If you’re using timeline
bookmarks (page 232) to
align clips or time them to
music or other audio, you
might want to add theme elements as you work to avoid
disrupting your movie’s timing.
Each set of themes provides its own mix of visual elements, but
all of the sets have some common ground. Here’s a look at that
common ground from the perspective of the Travel theme.
Displays a montage of photos or movies,
culminating with a title. Use the opener to
begin your epic.
A shorter motion graphic that’s ideal for
separating major scenes of a movie.
Some themes provide more than one
chapter design.
Lower Third
True to its name, a lower third occupies
the lower portion of the screen; it’s ideal
for identifying the people or places in a
A bumper is also ideal for separating
scenes. In some themes, bumpers display
imagery only, with no text. Some themes
have multiple bumper designs.
You know what they are. Some themes
provide more than one credits design.
Play the preview and control
whether the preview plays
over and over (loops).
To view specific parts of the
theme element, drag the motion
playhead left or right.
Step 2. Click the theme element you want.
Hide (or show) the preview in
the monitor.
Hide (or show) the Drop
Zones panel.
Step 3. If the element you’ve
chosen provides boxes for title
text, type the text.
To add a theme element, click
the Themes button.
Step 4. Drag media to the
boxes in the Drop Zones
panel. To add photos from
iPhoto, click the Media button
to display the media browser.
Step 1. Choose a theme family from the pop-up menu.
To add a video clip, drag it
from the Clips pane or from
the timeline. You can also
drag it from these locations in
other open iMovie projects.
Tip: For best results, be sure
that the orientation of a photo
or video clip matches that of
its drop zone. For example, if
the drop zone is vertically oriented, use a vertically oriented photo in it. Otherwise,
the photo or clip may appear
strangely cropped.
Step 5. Click
or the
check mark ( ) in the Preview.
iMovie HD renders the clip
and adds it to the timeline.
You can work with the clip as
you would any other video
clip: trim it, add effects, and
so on.
Adding Sizzle and Structure with Themes
A show opens with a flashy graphic
containing text and imagery. The first segment is introduced with another graphic.
A city scene appears, and a superimposed
lower-third graphic identifies the scene.
One scene completes, then a short bumper
appears as a visual separator before the
next scene begins. These visual seasonings
are sprinkled throughout the rest of the
show, and then the credits roll.
The Elements of a Theme
iMovie HD: Making Movies
iMovie HD: Making Movies
To replace an item in a drop
zone, simply drag a new item
to the drop zone. To remove
a drop zone’s item, select the
drop zone and press the
Delete key.
Important: To use iMovie HD 6’s themes, you
must be running Mac OS X 10.4.4 or a later
version, if available.
Magic iMovie: Editing on Autopilot
With many movie projects, you want control over every step of the editing process:
timing cuts to match audio, trimming
clips with precision, and fine-tuning your
soundtrack until everything sparkles.
The Magic iMovie feature is for you.
Choose a few options, then sit back and
watch. iMovie HD imports video from
your camera, adds an opening title, tosses
a transition between each clip, adds a
soundtrack from your iTunes library, and
then ships the finished product off to
iDVD. It’s editing on autopilot.
You can edit a Magic iMovie in any
way you want, so you might also use the
feature to create a rough cut. After iMovie
HD gets you partway there, take the wheel
and drive the rest of the way.
Is it magic? Hardly. But Magic iMovie
is a fast way to spray some finish on your
Notes: To use Magic iMovie, you must be using a
DV or HDV camera; you can’t use an iSight or
MPEG-4 camera with Magic iMovie. And if you just
want to copy a tape to a DVD and don’t need transitions, titles, or a music soundtrack, check out the
OneStep DVD feature in iDVD (page 299).
Step 3 (optional).
To make a Magic iMovie, connect and turn on your DV or HDV camcorder (page 226). Then put iMovie HD to work.
Specify music soundtrack settings and click OK.
Step 1.
Step 4.
To see songs from a specific playlist, choose
the playlist’s name.
Choose Make a Magic iMovie from the File menu, and give your new
movie project a name. If necessary, specify the desired video format
(see page 224).
Step 2.
Specify Magic iMovie settings.
If you know that the
footage you want
occupies just a
portion of the tape,
check this option
and specify how
many minutes of
video to capture.
The Magic iMovie
feature also stops
importing video
when it encounters
ten seconds of blank
tape or when it
reaches the very
end of the tape.
To add a transition
between every clip,
check this box and
choose a transition.
Tip: Keep it tasteful
and avoid the
Random option.
Turn off this option
if you want to start
capturing scenes in
the middle of your
Your movie’s opening title will contain
this text, so keep
it short.
You can rearrange songs after you’ve added them
by dragging them up and down.
To set the volume of your
music soundtrack, use the
volume slider in the Choose
Music dialog box. If your video
contains dialog or other important audio, set the level fairly
low to keep the music from
overwhelming the other audio.
Or, if your video contains nothing but wind noise and car
horns, set the slider at Music
Only to have iMovie HD mute
the audio from your footage.
As with anything Magic iMovie
does, you can change the volume level later if you like. For
details on working with audio
levels, see page 246.
Click Create.
iMovie HD captures your video
and prepares the movie.
Magic iMovie: Editing on Autopilot
But sometimes you just want fast
results. It’s Sunday afternoon, and your visiting relatives are (finally!) preparing to go
home. You shot some video of the kids at
the beach earlier that day, and you want to
send everyone home with a freshly burned
DVD. You can’t spend hours in the editing
room—you want a movie now.
Making a Magic iMovie
Tips for Making Magic
Get a Head Start
To add a music
soundtrack, check
this box and click
Choose Music
(see Step 3
opposite page).
If you plan to finetune your movie
before burning a
DVD, uncheck
this box.
If you’re using Magic iMovie to
give you a head start in editing
and you plan to trim clips afterwards, consider unchecking the
transition option. That way,
iMovie HD won’t waste time creating transitions that you’ll end
up deleting anyway.
Tweaking Markers
Normally, the Magic iMovie
feature places a DVD chapter
marker at the beginning of each
clip. If you don’t want to divvy up
your movie into that many chapters, remove some or all of the
markers by using the iDVD pane
in iMovie HD (see page 266).
Adding Magic to a
You don’t have to use Magic
iMovie with a brand-new movie
project. If you use the Make a
Magic iMovie command when an
existing project is open, iMovie
HD simply adds the magic movie
to the end of the existing project.
Similarly, you can add a Magic
iMovie to a different project by
copying and pasting its clips.
This can be a fast way to put
together a montage destined for
a different project. Create a new
project, then make a Magic
iMovie. Then, open a different
project, switch to your Magic
iMovie project, and choose
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iMovie HD: Making Movies
Select All from the Edit menu.
Finally, drag the clips from the
Magic iMovie to the timeline or
clips viewer of the new project.
Note: Copying clips from one
project to another can take several minutes and devour disk
space. After the transfer is complete, consider deleting the original Magic iMovie project file to
free up disk space.
Working in Other Video Formats
If you’re like the vast majority of iMovie
HD users, you shoot and edit in the
DV format—the most popular digital
video format.
But iMovie HD isn’t limited to the DV
format. As described on pages 224 and
225, iMovie HD also lets you work in the
HDV, iSight, and MPEG-4 formats.
Here’s a look at the differences you’re
most likely to encounter as you work with
iMovie HD, and some tips for using various formats.
The HDV video standard provides
two primary formats: 720p and
1080i. Those not exactly lyrical names
refer to the way the video is recorded.
With 720p, each video frame is comprised
of 720 horizontal scan lines, and the lines
are painted on the screen progressively,
one after the next, just as a computer
screen works.
With 1080i, each frame contains 1,080
horizontal scan lines. The scan lines are
drawn in interlaced fashion, like standarddefinition TV: first the odd-numbered scan
lines, then the even-numbered ones.
The 1080i format provides the best image
quality, but its footage uses considerably
more disk space than 720p footage. And
because each video frame contains more
data that iMovie HD must process, transitions, effects, and titles take longer to render with 1080i footage.
MPEG-2 and intermediates. With HDV,
video is stored in MPEG-2 format.
Because of the way MPEG-2 data is structured, it can’t easily be edited on a frameby-frame basis. (See page 307 for an
introduction to how MPEG-2 video is
In order to make MPEG-2 video editable,
iMovie HD converts video into an intermediate format that is easily editable. This
conversion process uses a compression
scheme called the Apple Intermediate
Codec (AIC).
It’s this process of converting incoming
MPEG-2 that creates the “tape delay”
importing effect I described on page 227.
Only the fastest Macs are able to transcode MPEG-2 into AIC and display the
video in real time. On slower Macs,
iMovie HD stashes the MPEG-2 data on
your hard drive and transcodes it at
whatever pace your Mac is capable of.
A similar but much longer delay occurs
when you export HDV video back to a
camera, at which time iMovie HD must
convert from the Apple Intermediate
Codec to MPEG-2 format.
iSight Insights
Apple’s inexpensive iSight camera turns
your Mac into a hard disk-based camcorder. Connect an iSight to a laptop
Mac (or use the iSight built into the
MacBook Pro or iMac), and you can
shoot video anywhere. Shoot some iSight
video, throw in some photos from your
iPhoto library if you like, then ship the
project off to iDVD.
Recording. To record video and audio
with an iSight, first open its shutter and
put iMovie HD into camera mode (click
). Next, click the Record with iSight
button to begin recording. To stop
recording, click the button again.
Format reminder. You can record with
an iSight camera regardless of the video
format your project uses. But you’ll get
the best results and use disk space most
efficiently by choosing the iSight format
when you create your project. If you
record video into a project containing
footage in a different format, iMovie HD
will transcode the iSight video you record
into your project’s format. (See the sidebar on page 225 for more details.)
Speaking of disk space, if your project
uses the iSight format, your video will
use roughly 65MB per minute.
Weird video? If iMovie HD is displaying
a distorted or oddly cropped iSight
image, you may have an older camera
that needs updating. Get the latest
iSight software at
iSight accessories. A couple of
inexpensive accessories can make the
stand-alone iSight a better iMovie HD
companion. For starters, consider a tripod
mount. Kaidan ( sells an
iSight accessory kit that includes an
adaptor that lets you mount an iSight on a
tripod. Many clever iSight users have also
created their own mounts using a few
washers and bolts. Do a Google search
for iSight tripod for some inspiration.
Another accessory you might want is a
long FireWire cable to help you to get the
camera further from your Mac—particularly handy when you’re shooting outdoors with a laptop Mac.
Using MPEG-4 Video
Many cameras can shoot video clips in
MPEG-4 format. Gadget gurus are
embracing Fisher’s FVD-C1 (shown here)
and Sanyo’s VPC-C4, tiny still/video
camera combinations that can shoot up
to an hour of video on a memory card—
no tape needed. The video quality falls
short of what you get from a miniDV
camera, but it’s surprisingly good—and
is far superior to the movie quality most
digital cameras provide.
Working in Other Video Formats
As I mentioned previously, iMovie
HD’s basic operation is identical regardless
of which format you use. But there are
some subtle differences between formats.
Some formats use more disk space than
others—a lot more. Some formats allow
for device control—the ability to have
iMovie HD operate your camera’s mechanism when importing or exporting video—
while others require different importing
HDV Differences
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iMovie HD: Making Movies
Importing. These cameras don’t
provide FireWire interfaces and device
control. To import their video clips, connect the camera to your Mac’s USB
jack, then locate the camera’s icon on
your desktop. Open the icon, locate the
video footage, and drag it into the
iMovie HD window.
The same format reminder applies: if you
import MPEG-4 video into a project that
contains footage in a different format,
iMovie HD will transcode the footage into
the project’s format.
It’s a Wrap: Exporting to Tape
Exporting to a DV Camera
Once you export a movie to tape, you
can connect your camera to your TV and
screen your efforts. Or, connect the camera
to a videocassette recorder to make VHS
cassette dubs of your movie.
Choose Video Camera from the Share menu, or press Shift-1-E.
Connect your miniDV camera to your Mac’s FireWire jack
and put the camcorder in VTR mode. Be sure to put a blank
tape in your camcorder, or fast-forward until you’re at a blank
spot in the tape. Don’t make the mistake of recording over your
original footage—you may need it again in the future.
Step 1.
Step 2.
Click the Videocamera button.
Adjust settings as desired.
iMovie HD will add some black
footage before and after your movie,
eliminating the jarring jump from
and to the camera’s blue standby
screen. The preset values of one
second probably won’t be long
enough—add a few seconds of
black before the movie, and at least
five to 10 seconds of black after it.
Step 3.
Click Share; iMovie HD puts your camera in record mode and
plays back your movie, sending its video and audio data over
the FireWire cable to the camera.
Exporting to an
HDV Camera
Exporting high-definition
video to an HDV camera
involves the same steps listed at left.
The one significant difference involves
time: as described on page 262,
iMovie HD must transcode your finished video from the Apple Intermediate
Codec into the MPEG-2 format used by
HDV cameras, and mix down and compress the audio. This process can take
a long time on slower Macs—several
times the length of your movie.
Making VHS Dubs
To make a VHS dub of a movie, connect
your camera’s video and audio outputs
to the video and audio inputs of a videocassette recorder.
You may have to adjust a setting on the
VCR to switch input from its tuner to its
video and audio input jacks.
Once you’ve made the connection, put a
blank tape in the VCR, press its Record
button, and then play back your movie.
Tip: If you’ll be doing a lot of dubbing,
look for a VCR that has front-panel
audio and video input jacks, which eliminate the need to grope around the
VCR’s back panel.
If your camcorder and VCR each provide
S-video jacks, use them for the video
signal. S-video provides a much sharper
picture. If you use an S-video cable,
use only the audio plugs of the camera’s
cable; just let the yellow one
dangle behind the VCR.
It’s a Wrap: Exporting to Tape
You’ve finished your epic—now what?
You decide. If you don’t have a DVD
burner, chances are you’ll export many of
your movies back to tape. If you’re working
in the HDV format and you want to view
your work in its full, high-definition glory,
you’ll have to export to tape—iDVD
doesn’t yet support the emerging standards
for high-definition video.
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iMovie HD: Making Movies
Your camera included a cable that
probably has a four-conductor plug
on one end, and three RCA phono
plugs on the other. Connect the
four-conductor plug to the camcorder’s output jack (it will be
labeled A/V In/Out or something
similar). Connect the yellow RCA
plug to your VCR’s video input jack,
the red plug to the audio input jack
for the right channel, and the white
plug to the audio input jack for the
left channel.
Creating Chapter Markers
DVD chapters let you view video on your
own terms. Whether you’re watching a
Hollywood blockbuster or a DVD created
by a friend, you can use on-screen menus to
instantly access scenes of interest. You can
also use the Next and Previous buttons on
your DVD player’s remote control to jump
to the next chapter or to return to the
beginning of a chapter and watch it again.
Chapter markers are also instrumental
when creating video podcasts (see page 354),
letting viewers skip to sections in the video.
Chapter markers can be handy within
iMovie, too. You can use them as bookmarks that help you quickly navigate
through a lengthy movie: when you click
a chapter in the Chapters pane, iMovie
HD immediately moves the playhead to
that location in the timeline. (You can, of
course, also use bookmarks as bookmarks.
But iMovie HD doesn’t display a list of
bookmarks in one place as it does with
chapter markers.)
You don’t have to create chapter markers in sequential order. If you add a
marker to a movie that already contains
some markers, iMovie HD automatically
renumbers any markers that are located
to its right.
Step 1.
Position the playhead at the location where you want the chapter
marker. Note that you can’t have a chapter marker within the first
one second of a movie, and that there must be at least one second between chapter markers.
Naming Chapters
For movies containing chapter markers, iDVD
creates a “Scene Selection” menu button.
When your DVD’s viewers choose that button,
they get an additional menu or set of menus
that enable them to view each scene.
You can drag the playhead there or use the keyboard shortcuts
described in “The Keys to Precision” on page 229.
If you haven’t named your clips as
I recommend on page 228, you
can wind up with meaningless
chapter titles and button names,
such as Clip 03 or, for iPhoto
images, Roll 86-2.
Step 2.
Click the iDVD button.
The Chapters pane appears.
Step 3.
Click the Add Marker button.
Repeat these steps for each chapter marker you want to create.
Tip: You can also create a chapter marker by choosing
Add Chapter Marker from the Markers menu or by pressing
In the timeline viewer, iMovie HD displays a yellow
diamond at each chapter marker’s location.
When you add a chapter marker,
its name appears in the Chapter
Title area of the Chapters pane.
iMovie HD automatically names a
chapter after the clip that appears
at the marker’s location. When
you use that movie in an iDVD
project, iDVD names buttons
according to the chapter titles.
Each marker
becomes a button, and each
button’s name
corresponds to
the chapter title.
Notice that
iMovie HD automatically creates
a marker for the
very beginning
of the movie.
Tip: To quickly rename a chapter marker, select
it and press Return. You can move from one
marker to the next by using the up-arrow and
down-arrow keys. By combining the arrow keys
with the Return key, you can rename markers
without having to reach for the mouse.
Even if you have named
your clips, you might still want
different button names. You can
always edit button names in
iDVD, but you can also edit chapter titles in iMovie HD: simply
double-click on the chapter title
and then type a new name.
If you’re creating a video podcast,
you can embed a URL that displays for eight seconds. Doubleclick the Link URL field, then
type a Web address (including
the http:// part). When the viewer
clicks that chapter in iTunes,
the Web page opens in a new
browser window.
Tips for
How might you use chapters?
That depends on what’s in
your video. Here are some
scenarios to give you ideas.
A wedding video
Create chapters for each of the
day’s main events: the bridesmaids beautifying the bride,
the groom arriving at the
church, the ceremony, the
A kid’s birthday party
Create chapters for each phase
of the party: the arrival of the
guests, the games, the opening
of presents, the fighting, the
Creating Chapter Markers
By adding chapter markers to your
movies, you give your viewers this same
freedom of movement and spare them the
tedium of fast-forwarding and rewinding.
You can create up to 99 markers in iMovie
HD, and iDVD will create menus and
buttons for them.
Adding Chapter Markers
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A vacation video
Create chapters for each day or
for each destination you visited.
A documentary
Create chapters for each of the
main subjects or periods of
time that you’re documenting.
A training video
Create chapters for each subject or set of instructions.
A video podcast
Create chapters for each new
subject, or when you want a
clickable image that leads to a
Web page.
Go Small: Internet and iPod Movies
First things first: the Internet isn’t the
best medium for sharing digital video.
The huge size of digital video files means
that anything but a very short movie will
take a long time to transfer, particularly
over a modem line.
To Email a Movie
To Share to iWeb
Step 1.
In iLife ’06, iWeb is the vehicle for publishing your
movies to the Web.
But if you have made a very short
movie—or you have a fast Internet connection and expect that your viewers will,
too—you can use iMovie HD to prepare
your work for cyberspace.
Name your shared movie.
A movie compressed for the Internet
contains fewer frames per second, so
motion may appear jerky. The movie’s
dimensions are also much smaller—as
small as 160 by 120 pixels, or roughly the
size of a matchbook. And depending on
the options you choose, the sound quality
may not be as good as the original.
The best way to watch a movie is on a
big screen. But if you’re willing to trade
some quality for the portability of an
iPod or the immediacy of email or the
worldwide reach of the World Wide Web,
iMovie HD is ready.
Like iPhoto, iMovie HD
lets you use any of
several popular email
programs. Choose
yours here.
Read it and weep:
iMovie HD tells you
just how much your
movie will be mangled
and how big the mangled version will still be.
(Of course, your original To share only some clips, select them
before choosing Share, then check this box.
movie is still stored in
its original format.)
Step 2.
iMovie HD compresses the movie and attaches it
to a new email message. Compose and address
the message, then send it on its way.
If your movie is short and your connection is fast,
you might want to email a larger version of the
movie than iMovie HD creates. Click QuickTime in
the Share dialog box, then choose the Web option
from the pop-up menu (see page 270). Export
the movie, then attach it to an email message.
Many Internet providers restrict the size of
attachments—often to 4MB or thereabouts. If
your compressed movie is that large, it’s better
to share it via iWeb.
Step 1.
Step 1.
Choose iWeb
from the Share menu.
Step 2.
Choose to publish the movie on a Web page or as a
video podcast as a video podcast. The video podcast
option provides higher quality; you can read the specific
settings each option uses above the buttons themselves.
After you choose the option that’s best for your video,
click Share or press Return.
Choose iPod from the Share menu, then click the
Share button.
Step 2.
After iMovie HD compresses the movie, it copies
the movie to your iTunes library. Use iTunes to copy
the movie to your iPod. For details on viewing video
on the iPod, see page 96.
Go Small: Internet and iPod Movies
With the Share command, you can
email a movie, send it to iWeb for viewing
on your Web site, or prepare it for a videocapable iPod. iMovie HD compresses the
movie heavily to make its file size smaller.
In the process, you get an introduction to
The Three Musketeers of Internet video:
jerky, grainy, and chunky.
Choose Email from the Share menu. Specify the
settings shown below, then click Share.
To Share to an iPod
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iMovie HD: Making Movies
After iMovie HD compresses the movie, it switches
to iWeb, where you complete the publishing process
(see page 382).
Note: 16:9 movies don’t cleanly fit the
proportions of the iPod’s screen; the
movie will be letterboxed with borders above and
below the image.
More Ways to Share Movies
Amid the police lineup of the Share dialog
box are two buttons that represent iMovie
HD’s geekier sharing features.
With the QuickTime button, you can
export your project as a QuickTime movie.
You might export a QuickTime movie in
order to publish it on a Web site or burn it
on a CD (page 276). Or you might want to
email a movie to someone but use your
own compression settings instead of those
applied by iMovie HD’s Email preset.
Just remember to switch off your movie
theater when the aircraft is not stopped at
the gate.
Exporting widescreen. If you’re
exporting a 16:9 project, the movie
dimensions listed in the Share dialog box are
inaccurate—they’re for 4:3 movies. Your exported
16:9 movie will have the horizontal dimension
listed in the dialog box, but the vertical dimension
will be shorter.
If you’re using the Expert Settings option
described at right, specify a movie dimension of
720 by 405 pixels (or a multiple thereof).
To export your project as a QuickTime movie,
choose QuickTime from the Share menu, or press
Shift-1-E, and then click the QuickTime button.
Choose a preset from the pop-up menu.
Bluetooth is a wireless technology that
connects devices over distances of up to
about 30 feet. You can buy cell phones,
printers, palmtop computers, keyboards,
and mice that use Bluetooth’s radio
waves instead of cables to talk to each
other and to the Mac.
All current Mac models have built-in
Bluetooth. If yours doesn’t, you can add
Bluetooth using a tiny and inexpensive
adapter such as the D-Link Bluetooth
USB Adapter, which plugs into any free
USB port on your Mac.
To specify custom compression settings,
choose Expert Settings.
Expert advice. You can often improve on the
picture quality provided by iMovie HD’s Email,
Web, and CD-ROM presets by using the Sorenson
Video 3 compression scheme. To access it, hack
through the following thicket of dialog boxes. In
the Save dialog box that appears after you click
Share, choose Movie to QuickTime Movie from the
Export pop-up menu, then click the Options button. The Movie Settings dialog box appears; click
Settings. In the next dialog box, choose Sorenson
Video 3 from the pop-up menu. Now click OK several times to go back to safety. If you like, explore
the rest of the Movie Settings dialog box—it’s
where you can specify the movie’s pixel dimensions and sound settings.
To learn about compression, see iMovie HD 6 &
iDVD 6 for Mac OS X Visual Quickstart Guide, by
Jeff Carlson (Peachpit Press, 2006). For more
QuickTime resources, see
( and RealNetworks’
free RealPlayer (www.realnetworks.
Your phone may display a message asking if you want to receive the movie.
Choose Yes.
Making the transfer. Be sure your
phone is on, then choose Bluetooth from
the Share menu. In the Share dialog box,
click the Bluetooth button, then click
Share. iMovie HD compresses your
movie, then displays a dialog box for
transferring it.
After the transfer is complete, navigate
to your phone’s messages menu, choose
the new message, and watch the show.
To have your Mac search for nearby
Bluetooth devices, click Search.
Mobile multimedia. Having Bluetooth is
just one part of the mobile movie equation. Another part is a multimedia standard called 3GPP, which is supported by
a growing number of cell phones and
other gadgets. QuickTime supports
3GPP, too, and it’s this support, combined with Bluetooth, that makes it
possible to play a movie on a phone.
To play a 3GPP movie, you need a
3GPP media player for your device.
Two such players are Kinoma Player
Tip: iMovie HD saves the compressed
movie on your hard drive; you can use
Mac OS X’s Bluetooth File Exchange
program to transfer the movie again.
Inside your movie’s package file (see
page 274) is a folder named Shared
Movies. Inside that folder is a folder
named Bluetooth. Your compressed
movie is there; its name ends with the
file extension .3gp.
If you have numerous Bluetooth devices,
you can narrow down the list of devices
displayed by choosing the device category.
After choosing a device, click Select.
More Ways to Share Movies
With the Bluetooth button, you can
transfer your movie to a cell phone or other
gizmo equipped with Bluetooth wireless
technology. An iPod is a better venue for a
portable movie, but watching a movie on a
phone is great geek fun.
Exporting a QuickTime Movie
Exporting to a Bluetooth Device
iMovie HD: Making Movies
spread M24
iMovie HD: Making Movies
Select the device to which you want
to transfer the movie.
A Movie In Your Palm
To play a 3GP movie on a Palm
OS device, you need player software that supports the 3GP format. Some Palm OS devices,
such as the Treo 650 smartphone, can play 3GP movies
right out of the box. If your
device can’t, try Kinoma Player
(, a versatile
mobile media player that handles
3GP and other formats.
With Kinoma’s inexpensive
Kinoma Producer, you can compress a movie created in iMovie
HD into a variety of mobile formats. To do so, locate the
Timeline reference
movie for your project using the
instructions on page 276.
Drag this icon into Kinoma
Producer, choose the desired
audio and video settings, and
click the Convert Files button.
You can use Bluetooth File
Exchange to transfer the compressed movie to your Palm.
iMovie HD: Making Movies
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iMovie HD: Making Movies
Fun with Freeze Frames
Step 1. Trim as Needed
You see it all the time in movies and TV
shows: a scene begins with the action frozen, and suddenly the still image springs to
life. The frozen image often has a special
effect, too—maybe it’s been altered to look
like a faded photograph. When what
appears to be an old photo suddenly turns
Technicolor and starts moving, the effect
can be magical.
Once you’ve chosen a video clip for this project,
trim its start point so the clip begins at the most
appropriate spot. For example, if there are a few
seconds of jerky camera movement before Junior
starts opening presents, crop or direct-trim the
clip to remove the bad footage.
This effect can be a fun way to introduce an event that just screams nostalgia—
a kid opening presents, a family sitting
down to a Thanksgiving feast, or some
kids hitting a slope for some sloppy sledding. Start your scene with this effect,
superimposing some title text if you like,
and you’ve instantly gone beyond a runof-the-mill home movie.
Step 2.
Create a Still Frame
Now select the trimmed clip and position iMovie
HD’s playhead at its very first frame. The easiest
way to make sure the playhead is at the very
beginning of the clip is to press the Home key.
Next, choose Create Still Frame from the Edit
menu. iMovie HD creates a new clip—a still
image from the first frame—in the Clips pane.
A still frame always
has a duration of five
seconds. To change
its duration, doubleclick the clip and
specify a new value
in the Clip Info dialog
box. You can also
adjust the duration in
the timeline, as
described on the
opposite page.
Step 5.
Add the Original Clip
Before applying the effect, add the freezeframe clip to the timeline by dragging it from the
Clips pane.
If you haven’t yet added your original clip—the
one from which you extracted the video frame—
do so now. Select it in the Clips pane, then drag it
to the timeline, positioning it immediately after the
freeze-frame clip.
Step 4. Add the Effect
Now you’re ready to alter the appearance of the
freeze frame. If you’re after a nostalgic look, try
the Aged Film effect—it makes a clip look like a
scratched, jittery movie.
Select the freeze-frame clip in the timeline, click
the Editing button, then click the Video FX button
to bring up iMovie HD’s Video FX pane. Click the
Aged Film effect.
Adjusting the Effect Out setting. For this project, you want the effect to fade away shortly
before the end of the clip; this enables the freeze
frame to blend cleanly with the live-action clip
that will follow it.
To make this adjustment, drag the Effect Out
slider to the right. As you drag, watch the
numbers in the slider’s text field. This value tells
you how much time it will take for the effect to
fade away. Try a setting of about one second,
or 1:00. You can always adjust this setting later.
Play it back if you like: select it and
press the spacebar.
Position the original clip
immediately after the
modified freeze frame.
After you’ve adjusted the Effect Out setting,
fine-tune any of the effect’s other settings if you
like. When you’re done, click the Apply button.
iMovie HD displays a message telling you that the
still clip must be converted into a “regular” clip.
Click Convert, and iMovie HD renders the frames
required to create the effect.
Now sit back and admire your work. First, be sure
no clips are selected (choose Select None from
the Edit menu or just click in a blank area of the
timeline). Move the playhead to the beginning of
the freeze-frame clip and press the spacebar to
begin playback.
Optional steps. Does your freeze-frame clip seem
too long? To shorten its duration, trim the clip: in
the timeline view, point to the clip’s left edge, then
drag to the right. For extra precision, use the
Zoom slider to zoom in first.
iMovie HD doesn’t limit you to just one effect.
Maybe you’d like that aged film clip to appear in
black and white. It’s easy: select the freeze-frame
clip in the timeline, return to the Effects pane, and
apply the Black & White effect.
To add a title to the freeze-frame clip, use the
Titles pane as described on page 254.
Variations on a frozen
theme. You can also
turn this trick around:
have a scene suddenly
freeze and then turn
into a old movie frame.
This can be a fun way
to end a scene.
Fun with Freeze Frames
In Hollywood, they use expensive
equipment and expensive artists for cinematic tricks like this. You can do it for
free using iMovie HD, and it’s a cinch.
Simply save a still image from the very
beginning of a particular clip, then apply
one or more effects to it. Once you’ve
altered the freeze frame, it just takes a few
clicks in the iMovie HD timeline to complete the effect.
Step 3. Add the Still Frame
to the Timeline
To do it, save a frame
from the last frame of a
clip. Adjust the Effect In
setting of the freeze
frame’s effect so that
the effect appears after
a second or so. Then,
put the modified freeze
frame after the clip
from which it came.
iMovie HD Tips
Multiple Clips at Once
You can make additional copies of a clip
by copying it to the Clipboard and pasting
it into the Clips pane or the timeline. If you
want to experiment with different effects
or cropping schemes, select the clip and
choose Copy. Next, select another clip on
the Clips pane and choose Paste. iMovie
HD makes a copy of the clip and puts it
on the Clips pane for you. Another way to
duplicate a clip is to press the Option key
while dragging the clip—either to another
box in the Clips pane or in the timeline or
clip viewers.
Remember that iMovie HD lets you select
and manipulate multiple clips at once.
You can apply the same effect, transition,
or Ken Burns settings to several clips in
one fell swoop. Just Shift-click to select
a continuous range of clips, and 1-click
to select clips that aren’t next to each
other. To select a series of similar
clips—for example, all transitions—
select one clip and then choose Select
Similar Clips from the Edit menu.
You can even move clips from one project
to another by copying and pasting them,
though it’s often easier to simply open
both projects and drag clips between
them. If you paste clips into a project that
uses a different video format, iMovie HD
transcodes the clips into the destination
project’s format.
Want to create a text title with a background other than black? Here’s how.
Moving Clips Faster
If you need to move a clip a significant
distance—say, from the end of a project
to the beginning—you could just drag it
and let the clip viewer or timeline scroll
automatically. But there’s a faster way.
Drag the clip from the clip viewer or
timeline into any empty box on the Clips
pane. Scroll to the new destination, and
then drag the clip from the Clips pane
back into the clip viewer.
Creating Color Clips
In the timeline viewer, drag any clip to
the right to create a gap.
Control-click on this gap and choose
Convert Empty Space to Clip from the
shortcut menu. iMovie HD turns the gap
into a clip whose color is black.
To change the clip’s color, double-click
the clip, then click the Color swatch in
the Clip Info dialog box. (While you’re
there, consider giving the clip a descriptive name, such as Blue Background.)
Many of iMovie HD’s visual effects are
candidates for sound effects, too. Pair the
Fairy Dust effect with the Stardust sound
effect. Combine the Electricity visual
effect with the Electricity sound effect.
But let’s step back and look at the
greater question: why bother? Compared
to the quality you get from a real video
camera, the movies from most digital
cameras look genuinely awful.
“effects” are standard equipment. Have
a video camera? Shoot some footage
using it and your digital camera’s movie
mode. Then cut between the two for a
cool effect.
Now you can add a title to this clip.
You can also use the previous tips to
move the color clip to the Clips pane, or
make duplicates of it for use elsewhere
in your project.
And if you’re adding a little tectonic
action with the Earthquake effect, try
using the Suspense sound effect along
with it.
And yet there are some good reasons to
consider using a digital camera movie in
an iMovie HD project.
For the sound. When I was in Paris, I
wanted to capture the sound of the many
street musicians who play in Metro stations. I shot digital camera movies, then
brought them into iMovie HD and
extracted their audio tracks (see page
250). Then, I added still photos of the
street musicians to the timeline and
applied the Ken Burns effect to the photos. The result: a montage of still photos
with an authentic soundtrack.
Another Way to Freeze
You can also save a frame as a JPEG or
PICT file for use in another program.
Position the playhead at the frame you
want to save, then choose Save Frame
from the File menu (1-F). In the Save
dialog box, choose the JPEG or PICT format from the pop-up menu.
You can add JPEG frames to your iPhoto
library and even make and order prints.
However, the images are small, so don’t
expect to get high-quality prints in large
sizes. You can email them, though, and
that can be a fun way to share a few
particularly good frames.
Combining SFX with FX
In the movie world, SFX are sound effects,
while FX are visual effects. As anyone
who has watched a Hollywood blockbuster
knows, they go together perfectly.
You get the idea: think about enhancing
your visual effects with complementary
sound effects that add impact.
Movies from Your
Digital Camera
You can add movie clips taken by a digital camera to your iMovie HD projects. If
a movie you want is in your iPhoto library,
you can locate it using iMovie HD’s photo
browser. If the movie isn’t in your library,
simply locate its icon on your hard drive
and drag it into the iMovie HD window.
It’s all you have. If you don’t have a
camcorder but want to include some
video in a movie project (as opposed to
still photos and Ken Burns clips), use
your digital camera. Adjust its menu settings to get the largest frame size and
highest quality your camera is capable of.
iMovie HD enlarges the video frames to
fill the screen, so you’ll get better results
from larger movies.
For a special effect. Video producers
often spend big bucks to get video that
looks pixilated and has jerky motion.
With digital-camera movies, those
Incidentally, if you have a Sony digital
camera and you’re having trouble importing its MPEG movie clips into iMovie HD,
see for a
iMovie HD Tips
Copying and Pasting Clips
iMovie HD: Making Movies
spread M26
iMovie HD: Making Movies
Navigation Tips
Get Around
Take advantage of iMovie HD’s
View menu to quickly navigate
a large project. If you’ve scrolled
a large distance and want to
jump back to the playhead’s location, choose Scroll to Playhead
(Option-1-P). The Scroll
to Selection command (Option1-S) lets you quickly jump back
to a selected clip. Zoom to
Selection (Option-1-Z) zooms in
on the selected clip or clips.
Control Your
And if you’re using bookmarks,
you can jump to the previous
Remember that you can Controlclick on just about anything to
bookmark by pressing 1-[
and to the next bookmark by
pressing 1-].
bring up a shortcut menu that
lets you perform relevant tasks.
Try Control-clicking on a clip in
the Clips pane, the playhead, the
scrubber bar beneath the iMovie
HD monitor, and on audio and
video clips in the timeline.
Get links to iMovie HD add-ons.
More iMovie HD Tips
Archiving a Project
If you’ve created a fairly short project,
you can archive it on a CD or (more
likely) DVD. Choose Burn Project to Disc
from the File menu, then insert a blank
disc when iMovie HD tells you to. iMovie
HD burns your project file to the disc.
When it’s done, you can free up disk
space on your hard drive by deleting the
project file.
Accessing Your Project’s
In older iMovie versions, a movie project
was stored in a folder, and its media
assets, reference movies, and shared
movies were stored in a folder within it.
iMovie HD works differently. Its project
files are packages, a special kind of
Mac OS X folder. That’s good in that it
makes it easy to back up a project (just
drag its icon to another hard drive) and
makes it difficult for iMovie HD newcomers to damage a project by removing or
altering files they shouldn’t.
But as I’ve mentioned on previous pages,
sometimes you need to get to the innards
of a project. You still can: at the Finder,
Control-click on a project icon and
choose Show Package Contents from the
Shortcut menu. The window that appears
contains your project’s timeline file,
In the Cache folder is a movie named
Timeline This is your project’s
reference movie—it’s a QuickTime movie
containing pointers to the media used in
your project. You can drag this reference
movie into a compression utility such as
Kinoma Producer or Sorenson Squeeze.
iSight as Microphone
If you have an iSight camera, you can
use it as a microphone to record narration. For the best sound quality, hold the
iSight several inches from your mouth
and talk to the top of the camera—that’s
where the microphone is. Put iMovie HD
into camera mode as described on page
263, then click Record With iSight.
Add the clip you recorded to the timeline,
then Control-click on it and choose
Extract Audio. Delete the video portion
of the clip, then move the audio to the
desired location on the timeline.
Exporting Your
Movie’s Sound
There may be occasions when you want
to export part or all of the audio track of
your project. Maybe you want to bring it
into an audio-editing program, such as
SoundStudio or Amadeus, for fine-tuning.
Or maybe you recorded a music recital
and you’d like to bring the performance
into iTunes or GarageBand.
To export your project’s soundtrack,
choose QuickTime from the Share menu,
choose Expert Settings, and click Share.
In the Save dialog box that appears,
choose Sound to AIFF from the Export
pop-up menu. Click Options, then choose
the desired audio settings.
If you’ll be bringing your audio back
into iMovie HD, use the default options.
If you’ll be importing the audio into
iTunes or GarageBand, choose 44.100
from the Sample pop-up menu.
Burning Movies to CD
and Video CD
If your Mac has a CD burner, you might
want to burn your exported movie to a CD
so you can share it with others. In the
Share dialog box, click QuickTime, then
choose the CD-ROM option. Next, insert
a blank CD into your Mac’s optical drive
and copy the movie to the CD. The resulting CD will play on any Mac or Windows
computer that has QuickTime installed.
If you have Roxio’s Toast software, you
can also create a Video CD. This video
format is very popular in Asia, and somewhat obscure everywhere else. But most
stand-alone DVD players can play Video
CDs, as can all current personal computers. (To play Video CDs on a Mac, use
Mireth Technology’s MacVCD X software,
available at And if
you don’t have Toast Titanium, you can
also make Video CDs using Mireth
Technology’s iVCD.)
reason is because the video frame size is
smaller—352 by 240 pixels, instead of
DVD’s 720 by 480. Another reason is
that the video itself is compressed more
heavily—about 90:1, compared to
roughly 30:1 for MPEG-2. But on the
plus side, a Video CD can shoehorn
about an hour of video onto a CD-R disc.
A variation of the Video CD format is
called Super Video CD, or SuperVCD. On
a SuperVCD, video is stored in MPEG-2
format, yielding better quality than a Video
CD. The SuperVCD format also allows for
many DVD-like features, such as alternate
language tracks. Its video quality still
falls short of a DVD’s, however.
Video CD and SuperVCD are second-best
alternatives to DVDs, but if you don’t have a
DVD burner, any alternative is better than
none. For background on the Video CD and
SuperVCD formats, see
Adding On to iMovie HD
Several companies sell inexpensive addons that expand iMovie HD’s repertoire of
effects, titles, and transitions. Companies
offering iMovie HD add-ons include Virtix,
GeeThree, and Stupendous Software. Each
of these companies also offers free iMovie
HD effect plug-ins. For links to more plugins, see
Editing Like the Pros: Making the TV Connection
The best way to see how your
video will look on TV is to watch
it on TV while editing it. iMovie
HD makes it easy. First, connect
your DV camcorder to the Mac
with a FireWire cable as usual.
(Note: This works with the DV
format only, not HD.)
Next, connect your camcorder’s
video output to the video input
of a TV set. If your TV and
camcorder each have S-Video
connections, you should use
them for the best video quality.
If your TV lacks S-Video but has
a composite video input (an RCA
jack), use it. If your TV lacks
video inputs, add an RF modulator between the camcorder and
the TV set. You can buy the
modulator at Radio Shack for
about $30.
Once you’ve made the connections, choose Preferences from
the iMovie HD menu, click
Playback, and then check the
Play DV Project Video Through
to DV Camera box.
When this option is selected, your
project’s audio will not play back
through your Mac’s speakers. You
can rely on your camcorder’s tiny,
built-in speaker for sound playback, but you might want to
connect your camcorder’s audio
outputs to your TV’s audio inputs,
if it provides them; to a stereo
system; or to a pair of external
amplified speakers.
More iMovie HD Tips
Unfortunately, if the project is larger than
will fit on a single disc, you can’t archive
it using Burn Project to Disc. Instead,
back up the project by copying it to a
different hard drive.
source media, and shared movies (ones
you created using the Share command).
iMovie HD: Making Movies
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iMovie HD: Making Movies
Adjusting playback quality.
While you’re setting playback
preferences, examine the options
iMovie HD provides for optimizing
playback. If your Mac is stuttering
on a complex project, consider
downshifting to the Standard
quality setting. Have a fast Mac?
Aim high and choose Highest.
Video on a Video CD is compressed in
MPEG-1 format. The image quality is a
far cry from that of the MPEG-2 format
used on DVDs; Video CD image quality is
more akin to that of VHS videotape. One
Learn more about digitizing old tapes and movies.
Tips for Making Better Movies
Editing takes more than software. You
also need the right raw material. Advance
planning will help ensure that you have
the shots you need, and following some
basic videography techniques will make
for better results.
Plan Ahead
Consider starting with an establishing
shot that clues viewers in on where your
story takes place—for example, the
backyard swimming pool. To show the
big picture, zoom out to your camcorder’s
wide-angle setting.
From there, you might cut to a medium
shot that introduces your movie’s subject:
little Bobby preparing to belly flop off the
diving board. Next, you might cut away to
Mary tossing a beach ball. Cut back to
Bobby struggling to stay afloat, and then
finish with a long shot of the entire scene.
Keep in mind that unless you’re planning
to use the Magic iMovie feature, you
don’t have to shoot scenes in chronological order—sequencing your shots is
what iMovie HD is for. For example, get
the shot of Mary’s throw any time you
like and edit it into the proper sequence
using iMovie HD.
Nausea-inducing camera work is a common flaw of amateur videos. Too many
people mistake a video camera for a
fire hose: they sweep across a scene,
panning left and right and then back
again. Or they ceaselessly zoom in and
out, making viewers wonder whether
they’re coming or going.
A better practice is to stop recording,
move to a different location or change
your zoom setting, and then resume.
Varying camera angles and zoom
settings makes for a more interesting
video. If you must pan—perhaps
to capture a dramatic vista—do so
slowly and steadily.
And, unless you’re making an earthquake epic, hold the camera as steady
as you can. If your camera has an
image-stabilizing feature, use it. Better
still, use a tripod or a monopod, or brace
the camera against a rigid surface.
Keeping the camera steady is especially
critical for movies destined for the
Internet—because of the way these
videos are compressed, minimizing extraneous motion will yield sharper results.
Compose Carefully
The photographic composition tips
on page 214 apply to movie making, too.
Compose your shots carefully, paying
close attention to the background. Get up
close now and then—don’t just shoot
wide shots.
Record Some
Ambient Sound
Try to shoot a couple of minutes of
uninterrupted background sound: the
waves on a beach, the birds in the forest,
the revelers at a party. As I’ve mentioned
previously, you can extract the sound
from this footage and use it as an audio
bed behind a series of shots. It doesn’t
matter what the camera is pointing at
while you’re shooting—you won’t use
the video anyway.
After importing the footage, use the
Extract Audio command, described on
page 250, to separate the audio.
Shooting with
Compression in Mind
If you know that you’ll be distributing
your movie via the Internet—either
through a Web site or email—there are
some steps you can take during the
shooting phase to optimize quality. These
steps also yield better results when
you’re compressing a movie for playback
on a Bluetooth device, and they even
help deliver better quality with iDVD.
First, minimize motion. The more motion
you have in your movie, the worse it will
look after being heavily compressed.
That means using a tripod instead of
hand-holding your camera, and minimizing panning and zooming. Also consider
your background: a static, unchanging
background is better than a busy traffic
scene or rustling tree leaves.
Second, light well. If you’re shooting
indoors, consider investing in a set of
video lights. A brighter picture compresses better than a poorly lit scene.
To learn about lighting, read Ross
Lowell’s excellent book, Matters of Light
and Depth (Lowel Light, 1999).
Vary Shot Lengths
Your movie will be more visually engaging
if you vary the length of your shots. Use
longer shots for complex scenes, such as
a wide shot of a city street, and shorter
shots for close-ups or reaction shots.
ejecting them. To protect a tape against
accidental reuse, slide the little locking
tab on its spine.
Be Prepared, Be Careful
Don’t Skimp on Tape
Be sure your camcorder’s batteries are
charged; consider buying a second
battery so you’ll have a backup, and
take along your charger and power
adapter, too. Bring plenty of blank tape,
and label your tapes immediately after
Don’t just get one version of a shot,
get several. If you just shot a left-to-right
pan across a scene, for example, shoot
a right-to-left pan next. The more raw
material you have to work with, the better.
Converting Analog Video and Movies
Somewhere in your closet is a
full-sized VHS camcorder—the
kind that rested on your shoulder
like a rocket launcher. You want
to get that old VHS video into
your Mac.
If you have a DV camera,
chances are it has a passthrough mode that enables you
to use it as an analog-to-digital
converter. Connect the video
and audio output jacks on the
VHS deck to your DV camera’s
video and audio input jacks. If
your VHS deck and camcorder
each provide S-video jacks, use
them to get the best picture.
Next, put your camera in VCR or
VTR mode, and read its manual
to see if you have to perform any
special steps to use its passthrough mode. With some cam-
eras, you must make a menu
adjustment. With others, you
simply need to remove the tape.
After you’ve made the appropriate connections and adjustments, you can play your VHS
tape and click iMovie HD’s
Import button to record the
converted footage coming from
your camera.
A faster way to get analog video
into your Mac is through a converter, such as those sold by
Formac Electronics, DataVideo,
Sony, and others. These devices
eliminate the time-consuming
process of dubbing VHS tapes
to DV format. Connect a converter to your Mac’s FireWire
jack, then connect your old VHS
rocket launcher to the converter’s video and audio inputs.
Then, launch iMovie HD and use
its import features to bring in
VHS video. Using iMovie HD’s
Share command, you can also
blast edited video through the
converter back to the VHS
When importing VHS video, you
may notice a thin band of flickering pixels at the bottom of the
image. Don’t worry: these artifacts won’t appear when you
view your finished video on a
TV screen.
Converting Films
As for those old Super 8 filmbased flicks, you’ll need to send
them to a lab that does film-to-
video transfers. Many camera
stores can handle this for you.
The lab will clean your films,
fix bad splices, and return them
along with videotapes whose
contents you can bring into the
Mac. If you have a DV camcorder, be sure to use a lab that
will supply your converted movies on DV cassettes—you’ll get
much better image quality than
VHS provides. Some labs also
offer optional background music
and titles, but you can add these
yourself once you’ve brought the
converted video into the Mac.
Tips for Making Better Movies
Planning a movie involves developing
an outline—in Hollywood parlance,
a storyboard—that lists the shots
you’ll need to tell your tale. Professional
movie makers storyboard every scene
and camera angle. You don’t have to go
that far, but you will tell a better story if
you plan at least some shots.
Steady Your Camera
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I wrote a feature article on digitizing old tapes and movies for
Macworld magazine’s June
2004 issue. The article is available online; I’ve linked to it at
Creating Time-lapse Movies and Animation
Our minds are mesmerized by animation,
whether it’s a time-lapse movie of a brewing storm, some claymation that brings
Play-Doh to life, or the hand-drawn artistry of a classic cartoon.
A time-lapse or animation project can
be a fun school or family endeavor. Here’s
a look at the tools you’ll need, along with
some tips and project ideas.
To put your world in motion, you need a camera, a tripod, and some software. To get the best video quality,
connect a miniDV camcorder to your Mac’s FireWire
jack. If you don’t have a camcorder, an inexpensive
Web cam, such as Apple’s iSight, will also work.
iMovie HD 6 can create time-lapse movies, as can
several other programs. Boinx Software’s iStopMotion
was designed specifically for the task. It works with
DV cameras as well as Web cams.
You can also use Web-cam software, such as
Evological’s EvoCam or Econ Technologies’
ImageCaster. For links to these and other animation
tools, see
The Techniques
Prepare your gear. Mount your camera on a tripod and
plug the camera’s power adapter into a wall outlet—
batteries won’t last long enough.
Many DV camcorders shut themselves off after a few
minutes when you aren’t recording to tape. You can usually bypass this auto-shutoff by taking the tape out of the
camera. If your camera still insists on slumbering,
try leaving its tape door open.
For animators, patience isn’t a virtue—
it’s a must. Move objects slowly and
gradually—just a fraction of an inch
between frames. And whatever you do,
don’t bump your tripod between frames.
To save time, try shooting two frames,
instead of just one, between each move.
Animators call this animating on twos,
and it takes half the time but usually
delivers fine results.
Kids in motion. For a variation on the
previous theme, animate some kids:
point the camera at the backyard, and
have the kids take a small step between
each frame. In the final movie, they’ll
appear to move without walking.
Time for time-lapse. Making timelapse movies is much easier, since your
subject does the moving on its own. All
you have to do is set up your scene and
start capturing.
In iMovie HD, choose Time Lapse from
the camera icon’s popup menu, choose
an interval, and click OK. Then click
Import to start recording (see page 226).
Connect the camcorder to your Mac, launch your software, and you’re ready to go. Here are some possible
Toys in motion. For an easy stop-motion project, put
some toys in motion: the Matchbox Car 500. For your
animation stage, choose an area where the lighting is
going to be fairly consistent over several hours. If you’re
relying on light from windows, try to shoot on a cloudy
day. Dramatic variations in lighting from one frame to
the next will ruin the illusion of motion.
What to shoot? A snowstorm, a rose,
the clouds, a burning candle, a glass
filled with ice, the shadows cast by a
fence or set of window blinds. Anything
that moves or changes shape slowly in
the real world is a great candidate for
time-lapse photography.
Sunsets and sunrises make spectacular
time-lapse movies. To avoid damaging
your camera, don’t zoom in on the sun or
point the camera directly at a midday sun.
How frequently should you capture a
frame? That depends on how quickly your
subject is changing and on how long you
want your final clip to be. For a time-lapse
of a rose blooming, I used a one-minute
interval, which turned an hour of real time
into one second of video. For some cloud
scenes, I used a 15-second interval.
To calculate the ideal frame interval,
begin by determining the duration of the
real event, the desired duration of your
final clip, and the number of frames
per second you want the final clip to
have (20 frames per second is a good
starting point). Say a rose bud takes
four hours to blossom, and you want
the time-lapse clip to play for nine seconds. Multiplying nine seconds by 20
frames per second yields 180 frames.
Finally, divide the duration of the real
event by the number of frames you need.
In this example, 240 minutes divided by
180 frames equals about 1.3 minutes—
or about 80 seconds between frames.
After creating an animation, enhance it.
Make a montage. When researching
animation and time-lapse techniques, I
shot a variety of time-lapse scenes,
then edited them into a montage.
After shooting the clips and importing
them into iMovie HD, I added a music
track. I’ve always loved Koyaanisqatsi, a
film comprised largely of beautiful timelapse photography; its Philip Glass music
score is a perfect complement to timelapse scenes. A quick search of the
iTunes Music Store led to the soundtrack
album, and 99 cents later, I had my
soundtrack. (Remember, you can’t use
copyrighted work in commercial projects.)
Next, I imported my time-lapse movies
into iMovie HD and added them to the
timeline, cropping each clip so that the
scenes would change roughly in tempo
with the music. Then I added a crossdissolve transition between the scenes.
Run it backwards. To put a different
spin on a time-lapse clip, reverse it: see
a rose close itself or a glass of water turn
into a glass of ice. After adding the clip
to iMovie HD’s timeline, select it and use
the Fast/Slow/Reverse effect.
Creating Time-lapse Movies and Animation
With some inexpensive software and a
video camera, you can put your world into
motion. The process is simple, if time consuming. For animation, shoot one frame of
video at a time, moving objects or changing a drawing between each frame. Timelapse movies are easier: point your camera
at an interesting scene, then go to the mall
while your software snaps a frame at whatever interval you like. When you play your
final movie, clouds will billow, and flowers
will bloom—you get the idea.
The Tools
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