IN THIS CHAPTER
Taking stock of the iMovie window
Understanding the moviemaking process
Importing and adding media content
Putting the pieces of a movie together
Creating a movie trailer
Sharing your movie
Remember those home movies you used to make in high school? They were entertaining and fun to create, and your friends were impressed. In fact, some kids were so downright inspired that you’re not surprised when you discover at your high school reunion that they turned out to be graphic artists or got involved in video or TV production.
iMovie, part of Apple’s digital lifestyle suite, makes moviemaking as easy as those homemade movies. Apple simplifies all the technical stuff, such as importing video and adding audio, leaving you free to concentrate on your creative ideas. In fact, you won’t find techy terms such as codecs and keyframes in this chapter. I guarantee you’ll understand what’s going on at all times. (How often do you get a promise like that with video-editing software?)
With iMovie, digital video from your smartphone or your camcorder, and the other applications that Apple provides, you can soon produce and share professional-looking movies, with some of the same creative transitions and titles used by Those Hollywood Types every single day — all on your MacBook, all by yourself.
If you turn out to be a world-famous Hollywood-Type Director in a decade or so, don’t forget the little people — like computer-book authors — along the way!
If you’ve ever tried using a professional-level video-editing application, you probably felt as though you were suddenly dropped into the cockpit of a jumbo jet. In iMovie, though, all the controls you need are easy to use and logically placed.
To launch iMovie, click the iMovie icon within Launchpad. (It looks like a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.) You can also click the Applications folder in any Finder window Sidebar and then double-click the iMovie icon.
To follow the examples I show you here, take these strenuous steps to create a new movie project:
Choose File ⇒ New Movie (or press ⌘ +N).
Alternatively, you can click the Create New thumbnail and choose the Movie entry from the pop-up menu.
You can also create movie trailers (short previews or teasers) within iMovie, as I demonstrate later in this chapter. Generally, however, you should create your trailer project after your movie is completed (unless, of course, you’re specifically creating just a trailer). Why? For the same reason that studios create trailers after the filming is finished: After you complete your movie, all the clips will be imported already, and you’ll have a better idea of what you want to include while “teasing” your audience!
Click a theme thumbnail to select a theme to apply to your finished movie.
To preview the appearance of a theme, hover your cursor over the thumbnail and click the Play button that appears.
iMovie automatically adds the transitions and titles that correspond to that theme.
Normally, Step 3 is what you want to do, but you can add transitions and titles manually, as I show you later in this chapter. So if you decide not to use a theme out of the gate, you don’t have to open the Theme Chooser at all.
Click the Change button.
iMovie adds the new project to the list in the Sidebar, and you’re on your way! Check out Figure 14-2: the whole enchilada in one window.
You’ll use these controls and displays most often:
Libraries list: This Sidebar list allows you to display your photos from your Photos library. (You can also display images from your Aperture library, if you used this legacy application.) Additionally, the Libraries list displays all the video clips you can add to your project from events you’ve imported. The items in the list change depending on the type of content you’ve chosen in the content library. You can also select an existing iMovie project from the iMovie library. To hide the Libraries list and make more room for the media pane, click the Hide button that appears in the top-right corner of the list. (To display the Libraries list again, click the same button, which now reads Show.)
You can hide and show both the content library and the Libraries list with one click of the Show or Hide the Media Library button, which appears in the top-left corner of the iMovie window; it bears a tiny musical note–and–filmstrip icon. By hiding both, you maximize the space available for your Viewer.
Event/Project Library pane: If you select an event in the All Events entry in the Libraries list, iMovie displays a thumbnail of that event’s content in the Event pane. (Move your cursor over the Event thumbnail to see previews of the clips.) If you decide that you want to include a clip, double-click the event to display the clips and add the desired clip to your project. This pane also serves as the Project Library pane, where you can display your existing iMovie projects; click the Projects entry in the Libraries list to display your projects as thumbnails. To load a project, just double-click the thumbnail, and the project appears in the Project Library pane.
The Event/Project Library pane displays different content depending on the entry you select in the Libraries list.
Those are the major highlights of the iMovie window. A director’s chair and megaphone are optional, of course, but they do add to the mood.
I don’t want to box in your creative skills. After all, you can attack the moviemaking process from several angles (pun unfortunately intended). But I’ve found that my movies turn out best when I follow a linear process. So before I dive into specifics, allow me to give you an overview of moviemaking with iMovie.
Here’s my take on the process, reduced to seven basic steps:
Sure, you need video clips to create a movie of your own, but don’t panic if you have a small supply. You can certainly turn to Apple’s other digital media applications for additional raw material. (See, I told you that whole “digital suite” thing would come in handy.)
Along with video clips you import from your DV camcorder, your MacBook’s trusty built-in FaceTime HD camera (or an external webcam), and your internal drive, you can call on Photos for the still images you’ll need for your credits. On the audio side, you can call on Music and GarageBand for background audio and effects. In this section, I show you how.
Your MacBook comes equipped with extras that come in handy for video editing: a large internal drive and ports to connect stuff. Depending on the MacBook model you’re using and your external devices, you may use a USB or Thunderbolt connection. I cover both older, tape-based camcorders and USB/Thunderbolt mass-storage devices in this section.
Oh, and don’t forget that your MacBook has a FaceTime HD camera on board, ready to record clips. Heck, you’re a self-contained movie studio!
Here’s the drill if your clips are on your camcorder or mass-storage USB/Thunderbolt video device:
Set the camcorder to VTR (or VCR) mode.
Some video devices call this mode Play.
Click the Import button in the top-left corner of the iMovie window (refer to Figure 14-2).
iMovie opens the Import window.
Open the Import To pop-up menu at the top of the Import window and choose the destination for your new video clips.
To create a new event for the imported clips, choose New Event. Alternatively, you can import into an existing Event or iMovie project. If your family reunion spanned more than one day, you can create a new event for each day. (How does Apple think up these things?)
Click the desired video source in the Source Sidebar on the left side of the Import window.
If you’re using a tape-based camcorder, playback controls appear under the Camera Import window, mirroring the controls on your camcorder. These controls allow you to control the unit from iMovie. Keen! If you’re using a mass-storage camcorder connected by USB, you instead get an Import All button underneath the thumbnails of available clips. (Note that this button changes to Import Selected if you select one or more of the clips.)
If you choose your FaceTime HD camera from the list, you see a real-time preview and a big red Record button. Click the Record button to start and stop recording. (You can skip the rest of the steps in this section, which deal only with external camcorders.)
Click OK and admire your handiwork.
iMovie begins transferring the footage to your drive and automatically adds the imported clips to the specified destination.
TABLE 14-1 Video Formats Supported by iMovie
Standard 4:3 digital video
Widescreen 16:9 digital video
HDV and AVCHD
High-definition (popularly called widescreen) digital video, in 720p and 1080i
Digital video format used for DVD movies
A popular format for streaming Internet and wireless digital video, as well as handheld iOS devices such as the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch
To import a movie file, follow this bouncing ball:
Alternatively, you can also drag a video clip from a Finder window and drop it in the Project pane.
Still images come in handy as impressive-looking titles or as end credits to your movie. (To be truly professional, make sure that you list a gaffer and a best boy. I have no idea what they do, but they’re always listed.) You also can use still images to introduce scenes, close scenes, and separate clips. I use stills when delineating the days of a vacation within a movie or different Christmas celebrations over time, for example.
Here are two methods of adding stills to your movie:
You can pull in everything from Wagner to Weezer as both background music and sound effects for your movie. In this section, I focus on how to get those notes into iMovie and then how to add them to your movie by dragging them to the Project pane.
You can add audio from several sources:
Adding songs from Music and GarageBand: Click the Audio button in the Content library and select the Music entry in the Sidebar to display the contents of your Music library. Then select the desired song in the scrolling list (which displays all your music). To display a playlist or Smart Playlist, click the Music drop-down list above the waveform display. Figure 14-4 illustrates a playlist of Frank Sinatra that I selected for this project. You can add a track to your movie by dragging any song entry from the list to the desired spot in the Project pane.
You’re not limited to Music for ear candy, however. If you exported any music that you composed in GarageBand to your Music library, you can use those songs in your movie. Click the GarageBand button in the Sidebar to view your GarageBand music and then drag and drop to your heart’s content.
Adding sound effects: If you need the sound of a horse galloping for your Rocky Mountain vacation clips, click the Audio button in the Content library; then click Sound Effects in the Sidebar. iMovie includes top-shelf audio effects that you can use in the sound-effects audio track in the Project pane. This way, you can add sound effects even when you’ve already added a background song. Again, to add a sound effect, drag it to the perfect spot in the Project pane.
If you have several gigabytes in your Music library, it may be more of a challenge to locate Janis Joplin’s rendition of “Me and Bobby McGee,” especially if it’s included in a compilation. Let your supercomputer do the digging for you! Click the search box above the waveform (which carries the familiar magnifying-glass icon), and begin typing a song name. iMovie narrows down the song titles displayed to those that match the characters you type. To reset the search box and display all your songs in the library or selected playlist, click the X icon that appears to the right of the search box. (If you’re preparing a video for posting on services like YouTube or Facebook, remember that incorporating copyrighted music into your video may violate their policies.)
It’s time to dive in and add the building blocks of your movie. Along with the video clips, audio tracks, and still images you’ve imported, you can add Hollywood-quality transitions, optical effects, and animated text titles. In this section, I demonstrate how to elevate your collection of video clips to a real, live, honest-to-goodness movie.
You can add clips to your movie via the Project pane and Event/Project Library pane (refer to Figure 14-2). The Dynamic Duo works like this:
Typically, you add a clip to your movie from an event. Follow these steps:
Drag the selection from the Event pane to the spot where it belongs in the Project pane.
Alternatively, you can press the E key.
iMovie includes a Play Full Screen button, which appears in the bottom-right corner of the Viewer. (Alternatively, press ⌘ +Shift+F or choose View ⇒ Play Full Screen to watch the selection.) Press the spacebar to pause, and press Esc to return to iMovie. You can also move the cursor across the filmstrip in the Project pane to browse your project quickly.
To play a selection from the beginning, press (backslash). If you’ve ever watched a director at work on a movie set, you may have noticed that he or she constantly watches a monitor to see what things will look like for the audience. You have the same option in iMovie!
While you’re watching video in the Event/Project Library pane, you may decide that a certain clip has a favorite scene or that another clip has material you don’t want, such as Uncle Ed’s shadow puppets. (Shudder.) iMovie features Favorite and Rejected frames, which allow you to view and use your best camera work (and ignore the worst stuff).
To mark a great video clip as a Favorite, select and right-click a range of frames or the entire clip in the Event/Project Library pane and then choose Favorite from the shortcut menu item (or press F). To mark clips that are subpar, select the offending clip in the Event/Project Library pane and press Delete (or right-click and choose Reject). Clips marked as Favorites have a green line on top of the clip, and clips marked as Rejected have a red line.
If you decide that a Rejected clip isn’t so bad after all or that a Favorite really isn’t your best work, no problem. Unmark any selected Favorite or Rejected scene in the Event/Project Library pane by choosing Mark ⇒ Unrate (or just press U).
Don’t like a clip? Bah. To banish a clip from your movie, follow these steps:
Click the offending clip in the Project pane to select it.
Alternatively, you can select a portion of a clip by holding down the mouse button (or maintaining pressure on the trackpad) and dragging the selection box that appears.
This step deletes the clip from the Project pane, but the clip is still available if you select All Events or the iMovie Library in the Libraries list.
If you remove the wrong clip, don’t panic. Instead, use iMovie’s Undo feature (press ⌘ +Z) to restore it.
If Day One of your vacation appears after Day Two, you can easily reorder your clips and stills by dragging them to the proper spaces in the Project pane. When you take your finger off the mouse (or trackpad), iMovie automatically moves aside the rest of your movie with a minimum of fuss and bother.
If a clip has extra seconds of footage at the beginning or end (as it should, to ensure that you get all the action), you don’t want that superfluous stuff in your masterpiece. Our favorite video editor gives you the following basic functions:
Before you can edit, however, you have to select a section of a clip:
Click a clip or image in either the Project pane (where changes you make are specific to this project) or the Event pane (where edits you make are reflected in any project that uses that footage).
iMovie displays the clip or image on the monitor.
Drag the cursor across the thumbnail to select the section of the media you want to edit.
Some editing functions, such as Crop and Rotate, automatically apply to the entire clip.
The selected region is surrounded by a yellow frame. You’re ready to edit that selected part of the clip.
When you move the cursor to the beginning or end of the selection, selection handles appear.
You can make fine changes in the selected section by dragging the selection handles.
Many iMovie owners approach transitions as visual bookends: They merely act as placeholders that appear between video clips. Nothing could be further from the truth, though, because judicious use of transitions can make or break a scene. Which would you prefer after a wedding ceremony: an abrupt, jarring cut to the reception or a gradual fade-out to the reception?
iMovie includes a surprising array of transitions, including old favorites (such as Fade to Black and Cross Dissolve) and some nifty stuff that you may not be familiar with (such as Cube and Page Curl). To display your transitions collection (see Figure 14-5), click the Transitions entry in the Content library.
To see what a particular transition looks like, click the thumbnail to select it and then move the cursor over the thumbnail to display the transition in the Viewer.
Adding a transition couldn’t be easier: Drag the transition from the thumbnail list and drop it between clips or between a clip and a still image in the Project pane. In iMovie, transitions are applied in real time.
The next stop on the iMovie Hollywood Features Tour is the Titles list, shown in Figure 14-6. You find it by clicking the Titles entry in the Content library. You can add a title with a still image, but iMovie also includes everything you need to add basic animated text to your movie.
Most of the controls you can adjust are the same for each animation style. You can change the font, the size of the text, and the color of the text. To add a title manually, follow these steps:
Select a Title animation thumbnail in the Titles list and drag it to the desired spot in the Project pane.
Note that the title is previewed in the Viewer as well as in the Project pane.
Click the Play button in the Viewer to preview your title.
iMovie displays a preview of the effect in the Viewer with the settings you chose.
iMovie includes easy-to-use animated maps — think Indiana Jones traveling by airplane from place to place — and static backgrounds that can be used with your titles. To display them, click the Backgrounds entry in the Content library.
To use an animated map, follow these steps:
Click the Map Settings button above the Viewer (which bears a globe icon) and then click the Start Location button (and, optionally, the End Location button) to enter the start and stop points for the animation.
Type a city or place name to see your choices. (Heck, you can even type an airport code or decimal coordinates to specify the spot.)
Watch as iMovie animates your location (or your trip) in seconds!
To add a static background from the browser, drag it to the desired spot within the Project pane.
Yes, friends, you read that correctly: iMovie includes a Trailer feature that can turn your film clips into a Hollywood-class preview, complete with genre transitions and background music. This is off-the-scale cool!
To create a trailer project, follow these steps:
Click a Movie Trailer thumbnail to select it.
If you hover the cursor over the thumbnail and click the Play icon that appears, iMovie displays a nifty preview of the trailer style you selected. You can click different thumbnails to preview them before you decide. Naturally, you want to choose a trailer style that most closely matches the mood you want to project in your movie.
Note that each trailer has a suggested number of cast members. This number reflects the number of people who will appear in the clip placeholders during the editing process. (More on this in a moment.)
iMovie replaces the Project pane with the Trailer pane, as shown in Figure 14-7.
You can fine-tune your trailer with the Outline, Storyboard, and Shot List tabs:
Storyboard: When you complete your edits to the titles, click the Storyboard tab. Now you can edit the text for each transition: Simply click the text to display the edit box, and type. You can also drag clips from the Event pane (or from a Finder window) to fill the storyboard’s placeholders for video clips. To delete a clip from the storyboard, click it to select it and press Delete.
To preserve the look and feel of the trailer storyboard, try to match your clips with the description and suggested activity indicated by the placeholder. (In other words, don’t stick a wide-angle video clip of the family dog cavorting in the yard in a placeholder marked Closeup. You get the idea.)
The Storyboard tab may not look like an editing timeline, but you can move the cursor anywhere within the storyboard to preview your trailer. The playhead indicator appears wherever the cursor appears, allowing you to watch the clip or transition it’s resting on. You’ll soon be sweeping the cursor to the left or right to move through the sections of your trailer.
Shot List: For a list of each clip required for the full trailer, click the Shot List tab. On this tab, clips are organized by type. All the action clips appear in one section, for example, and all the landscape and close-up clips are grouped as well. If necessary, you can add, delete, or swap video clips in the Shot List.
To preview your trailer in its entirety, click the Play button at the bottom of the Viewer (or the Play Full Screen button in the bottom-right corner of the Viewer controls). Naturally, any storyboard placeholder you haven’t filled with a clip displays just the placeholder.
Note that iMovie displays your trailer when you click the Updated Projects entry in the Libraries list, and it appears in the Event/Project Library pane.
I bet that all those hard-working Hollywood video editors are fuming about how easy it is to create a trailer in iMovie!
Sometimes you may lose track of which project contains what content. Even superstar directors are only human, especially those with a number of movies in production! iMovie allows you to browse through all your existing projects by clicking the Projects button at the top of the window. When you move your cursor over a specific project thumbnail, a circle icon with three dots appears, and you can click that icon to play the project (without loading it), rename it, duplicate it, or delete it from iMovie.
Your movie is complete, and iMovie has saved it to your drive automatically. Now you’re wondering where to go from here. Select your movie in the Event/Project Library pane and then click Share in the top-right corner of the window. iMovie can unleash your movie on your unsuspecting family and friends (and even the entire world) in several ways:
Email: Send your movie as an email attachment.
When you choose a sharing option, iMovie displays the video quality for the option and makes automatic changes in the movie attributes. (Choosing Email, for example, reduces the file size of the finished movie as much as possible.)
If you’re worried about permanently reducing the quality of your project by sharing it in a smaller size, fear not! When you choose a sharing option to export your movie, your original project remains on your drive unchanged, so you can share a better-quality version at any time in the future.