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iMovie 2

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iMovie 2 for Mac OS XiMovie 2

iMovie is a digital editing software provided free with all Macintosh computers.  It is designed to give beginning moviemakers an easy means to convert digital video footage into edited movies with titles and a sound track. Analog video (on a VHS tape) can be converted to digital format through the use of iMovie and a digital media converter box (also known as a DV hardware codec converter) .

In iMovie, you can 

  • transfer video clips to and from your camera or VCR 
  • edit and arrange them into a timeline 
  • add transitions
  • add titles
  • add a soundtrack 
  • add limited visual effects.  

The edited movie can be published back to tape. stored to a hard drive or compressed (in another program) for use on the web. 

 iMovie is currently in version 2 for OS 9 and version 3 for OS X and above.  


iMovie is simple to use, but you must recognize many of the objects and tools by their names.


This is the clip viewer. Clips in the clip library or on the timeline are viewed through the clip viewer.  
Under the clip viewer is the  scrubber bar.

Important functions:

  • Import (button in the lower middle)
  • access to DV camera or video sources (camera icon in lower left)
  • Volume (lower right)
  • Play controls (play, stop, rewind and fast forward)
This is the clip library.  When video is captured it becomes a clip and numbered sequentially.  

Special functions such as transitions, titles, effects and audio are accessed from the clip library.

This is the timeline viewer. The timeline viewer shows the video and audio tracks and the current sequence of clips in the project.


Other terminology and icons will be explained as they are introduced.


Getting Started

  To import your movie, hook-up your digital video camera directly to a USB or Firewire port (depending on the cable you have), or hook up your VCR through a digital converter box.  A Firewire connection works best because it provides a higher data transfer rate.

If you are using a digital camera, you may be able to control the camera through the program, but analog VCRs must be controlled (play, stop, fast forward, rewind) through the deck itself.  Some digital VCRs can also be controlled by the program.

Turn on your computer and open iMovie.  It will ask you if you want to start a new project or open an existing project.  Choose new project.


Under the clip viewer on the left side of the scrubber bar  you will see an icon for a DV camera. Click on this icon.
The clip viewer will now tell you that your camera is connected.  If you have a DV camera that is compatible with iMovie, you can use the play controls in the scrubber bar to control the camera.

If you click on the Import button, iMovie will begin recording a clip to the clip library.  When you are done, click on the Import button again to stop the capture. You should capture all your video in this fashion. Don't worry if you get too many frames, the clips can be edited (cropped).



Cropping a video clip

There are several ways to edit a clip in iMovie.
  1. You can choose a section within the clip and crop away either side.
  2. You can choose the section you want to delete.
  3. You can split the video at the playhead into two sections and delete either one.

When you want to crop the beginning and/or end of an iMovie video clip, you first select the part of the video clip that you want to keep. 

1.      In the clip library, click on the clip you want to edit. 

2. Once the clip is selected (clicked on) it will display in the clip viewer. Place your cursor under the timeline.  Two triangular crop markers will appear as a ghost image under the playhead. Click on the markers and drag them to where you want the clip to begin and end. When you release the mouse button, part of the scrubber bar will change from blue to yellow. The portions outside of the crop markers will be deleted when you crop the clip.

Note: If you can't get the crop markers to appear, move your cursor out of the clip and then back to the time unit markers under the timeline. The crop markers should appear when you click in the time units.
3. To increase or decrease the edited area by a single frame, click the crop marker you wish to move and then use the right and left cursor (arrow) keys.  These cursor keys will move the crop markers (edit points) frame by frame.  

Note: If you change your mind and want to undo what you selected, choose Select None from the Edit menu.

4. One you have the area you want selected, choose Crop from the Edit pull-down menu. The excess footage has been removed from your clip.

Another way to select the area you want to crop is to move the playhead to where you want the clip to start. Holding down the Shift key, click at the point of the playhead on the scrubber bar and drag to select the portion you want to keep.

Note: If you want to remove a section in the middle of the clip instead of the beginning or the end, you can use a different technique to delete that portion. Instead of selecting the area you want to keep, select the area you want to delete with the crop markers, then choose Clear from the Edit menu. The area between the crop markers is removed.

If you want to split the video into two sections, put the playhead at the exact point you wish to split the video.  Again, you can use the right and left cursor keys to move the playhead frame by frame. When you have the cursor positioned, pull down the Edit menu and select Split video at playhead.  A new clip will appear in the clip library with the video after the playhead.  This new clip will be numbered with the old clip number and a suffix for however many splits you have made (e.g., the first split on clip 6 would be called Clip 06/1).

Copying a clip and editing the cop


Sometimes you might want to keep a clip intact, but use a portion of that clip in the final movie.  To use just a portion of the clip: 

1. Click the clip in the clip library that has the portion you want to use. The clip will be highlighted in yellow.

2. Choose Copy from the Edit menu.

3. Choose Paste from the Edit menu. A new clip appears on the shelf.

4. Rename that clip and then edit out any parts you want to remove. After removing that footage, notice that the length of the clip has been reduced from the original clip.

Creating Transitions

In iMovie, you can add transitions between clips or at the beginning or end of your movie. iMovie include cross disolve, fade in and out, overlap, push and scale down.  In addition, the direction of some transitions can be selected.


1. Open your iMovie project.
2. Click the Transitions button t the bottom off the Clip Library to view the Transitions panel.

3. Use the Speed slider to set the speed of the transition. Slower transitions take longer to render. (The speed slider is below the preview screen.)

4. Click to select a transition. A sample of the transition appears in the transition preview screen.

5. Click one of the Transition Direction arrows to select a direction for the transition if the transition direction feature is available. (Not all transitions allow you to set a direction.)

6. Drag the transition to the clip viewer so that it's between the two clips you want to modify or at the very beginning or end of your movie.  The transition will render without having to click any option.

Note: Depending on the speed of your computer and the transitions being added, the rendering process may take some time. The status of the rendering is shown on the black bar filling with red.

Adding Titles

Titles can be used at the beginning and at the end of a movie as well as over clips throughout your iMovie project. Several title styles are included with iMovie. You can download additional ones from the iMovie Web site.
  1. Open your iMovie project.
2. To add a title over a clip, click to select that clip in the clip viewer or the timeline viewer. A title can also appear on a black background as its own clip.

3. Click the Titles button at the bottom off the Clip Library to display the Titles panel.
4. Click on a title style from the list in the Titles panel. A preview appears of the title you selected in the title preview monitor.

5. Use the Speed slider under the Preview monitor to adjust the speed for the title. With some title styles, you can set the duration of a pause as well using the Pause slider.
6. If directional buttons appear for the title style, you can click to change the title direction.

7. Click the Color box to choose a color for the title.

8. If you want to create a separate credits page or another page with a black background, check the Over Black box. 
9.  Select QT Margins if you will send your movie out as a QuickTime movie. If not, leave this option unchecked so that the movie will play showing all the text on a television screen.

Choose a font from the Font pop-up menu. This list displays the fonts that are installed on your computer.

Adjust the font size with the text size slider.

11. Type your text in the text field boxes. The text field shows two boxes for text at a time. For most title styles, each text box is a line of text. If the title allows for additional text boxes, you can click the plus button to add text. With some title styles, such as the Rolling Credits title, each set of two text boxes becomes one line of text. Click the minus button to remove text boxes.

12. Click Preview in the Titles panel to see your title play on the main iMovie monitor.

14. Once you have completed your title, drag the title from the titles list to where you want it in the clip viewer. If it is to appear over a clip, drag it to before that clip. If you want it at the beginning or end of the project, drag it before or after the clips. If you want it to appear in the middle of a clip, you need to split the clip into two clips and then place the title before the clip you want it on.

The rendering process starts automatically. A black line is displayed that fills in with red as rendering continues. Allow your computer time to finish this process before moving on.

NOTE: To split a clip in two, position the cursor (playhead) at the point for the split
, pull down the Edit menu and select Split video at playhead.


15. Save the changes to your project.

Tip: In some cases, you might want to have a transition leading into a credits page. To do this, select a transition and drag it in front of the credits clip. 

Adding Sound

You can add music and sounds to your iMovie projects in several different ways. You can record your own voice, add a sound effect from theiMovie sound library, or use a clip from an audio CD.

Adding a voice clip

You can record your own voice (or someone else's voice) to use in your iMovie project. To record your own voice:

1. Check to see whether your computer has a built-in microphone or an external microphone. You need one or the other to record your voice.
2. Open the sound control panel and check that the sound for recording (incoming sound) is selected from that source, e.g. external microphone. To do this, choose Control Panels from the Apple menu (upper left corner of the desktop), then choose Sound from the submenu. Click the Input tab and make your selection in the Input panel. (You can also select your input device by opening the Sound Strip module on the Control Strip.)
3. Open your iMovie project.
4. Position the playhead where you want the narration to begin.
5. Click the Audio button at the bottom of the Clip Library to open the Audio panel, if necessary.
6. Click the Record Voice button and speak into your microphone.

7. Click the Stop button when you finish.
Your recording now appears in the timeline viewer as an orange colored strip.

Adding a sound effect
iMovie contains prerecorded sound effects (located in the Audio panel) that you can use in your projects. You can also download more sound effects from the iMovie Web site . These effects are copyright free.

To add a sound effect to your project, follow these steps:

1. Click the Audio button to open the Audio panel.

2. Scroll through the list of sound effects, clicking whichever ones you'd like to hear, until you have located a sound effect you'd like to use in your project.
3. Click the timeline viewer tab (the icon with the clock) at the bottom left of the screen.
4. Move to the spot where you would like to add the sound effect. Drag the sound effect you want from the Audio panel and place it in one of the two audio tracks in the desired location.

Adding music from a CD

1. Click the Audio button to open the Audio panel, if it's not already open.

2. Insert an audio CD in the computer's CD-ROM drive.
A list of tracks on the CD will appear in this panel.

3. Click on any track to play it.
4. Move the playhead to the point in your movie where you want the music to start.
5. Click the audio CD track that you want to add, then click the Record Music button. You hear the track playing and see it being added to one of the two audio tracks.

6. Click Stop when you want to stop the recording.

7. To crop the recorded music track, place the cursor on the triangle at the right end of the music track and drag to the left. Once you have determined the length you want, choose Crop from the Edit pull-down menu.
8. You can add a fade in or fade out effect to the track by selecting the audio track  and then selecting the Fade In or Fade Out option, or both.

Adding Visual Effects

Movie allows you to add video effects, such as soft focus and sepia tone, to your clips. You can use the effects integral to iMovie or download additional ones from the iMovie Web site
1. Open your iMovie project.

2. In the timeline viewer, select the clip, or portion of a clip, you want to use the effect with.

3. Click the Effects button.

4. Select the effect that you want to add from the list in the Effects panel. Some effects, such as Soft Focus, allow you fine tune the effect using the sliders below the Effects list.
5. Click Preview to play the video in the main iMovie screen with the selected effect.

6. Click Apply when you are sure you want to go ahead with the effect.

7. If you decide to remove the effect, click Restore Clip. You can change the effect by selecting a different one and clicking Update.

Important Note: When you add an effect, the original footage is still retained on your hard disk. If you want to delete this footage, click Commit. If you do this, however, you won't be able to change the effect.

VERY IMPORTANT: Be sure to save your project as you work on it!  If you aren't sure you want t keep all the changes, save the changes under a different name.  




Page last updated on: 02/27/2003


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Page last revised on Wednesday, February 26, 2003.