Working with Digital Video

Digital Video (DV) technology enables you to capture high-quality footage and then transform that raw footage into a movie that people will actually enjoy watching. With Mac OS X, a digital video camera, and iMovie, you can express yourself in ways that are limited only by your own imagination. Your movies can have plots, transitions, sound effects, music, special effects, and more. And you can distribute and watch your movies in many ways, such as on videotape or on the Web.

The three fundamental phases to making a movie are the following:

  • Planning During the planning phase, every aspect of the movie is developed and planned. The major tasks include writing a script or screenplay, developing the storyboards, and so on. The tasks that are required to make the movie are also planned. Shot lists are made, location shoots are scheduled, cast and crewmembers are chosen, and on it goes.

  • Production This is the part that most people think about when they visualize the movie-making process. During this phase, the cameras roll and the file or video clips (from which the movie is eventually made) are captured.

  • Post-production During post-production, the clips are laid into a track to form the basic movie. Special effects and music are added. The movie is edited and reedited until it meets the creator's vision for what it should be. Only after the post-production process does the collection of clips actually become a movie.

Because I have only a few pages to explain the basics of using iMovie, this chapter contains information mostly related to the post-production process because that is the most Mac-intensive phase.


Making great movies is more than shooting and then editing DV clips. There is much more to the process than I have room to cover here. If you want to dive deeper into the world of DV, check out my book The Complete Idiot's Guide to iMovie 2.

In the post-production phase of making a movie, you will do the following tasks:

  • Create the basic video track

  • Add transitions, titles, and special effects

  • Create the soundtracks

  • Finish, distribute, and watch the movie

To create DV movies, you should have the following tools:

  • A Mac capable of running iMovie

  • iMovie

  • QuickTime Pro

  • Digital Video Camera

To learn more about QuickTime Pro, see Chapter 17, "Viewing, Editing, and Creating QuickTime Movies," p. 499.



The iMovie application is currently part of the standard Mac OS X installation so unless something unusual has happened or Apple has changed its policy on this, you should already have a copy of iMovie installed. If not, read the rest of this note.

Because iMovie for Mac OS 9 costs $50, it is unclear whether Apple intends to continue giving away iMovie for Mac OS X. If the free version is no longer available, you can purchase a copy at the Apple Store at

It is expected that Apple will continue to include a copy of iMovie with new Macs.

    Part I: Mac OS X: Exploring the Core
    Part III: Mac OS X: Living the Digital Lifestyle