Building a Basic Video Track

Start a new project by selecting File, New Project. In the Create New Project dialog box, name your movie. Move to the volume on which you are going to store it and click Create. Unlike many other applications, what you create is not a file but rather a folder that contains all the elements of your project.

NOTE

Be sure to choose a volume with plenty of free space to store your iMovie project on. If you have a partitioned hard disk, you might need to move outside your Home directory to store your project to have enough room. In the ideal situation, you will have a dedicated hard disk or volume on which to store your project.


Save your project. Then, move to the Finder and open the project folder you just created to see three items: a folder called Media, an iMovie file, and a QuickTime movie with the same name as the project (see Figure 17.2). The media folder is used to store the clips, images, additional sounds (such as a music track), and other components you use in your project. The iMovie file, which has the same name as your project, is a small pointer file that contains references to all the files in the media folder you are using. If you want to open your project by double-clicking something, this is the file you double-click. The QuickTime movie file contains references to the QuickTime movie of the project.

Figure 17.2. When you create a new iMovie project, you create a folder that contains the Media folder, an iMovie reference file, and a QuickTime file.

graphics/17fig02.jpg

Now you are ready to build your movie; you need to fill the iMovie Clips pane (also called the Shelf). To open the Clips pane, click the Clips button. The Clips pane is a holding area for the video clips, QuickTime movies, imported images, and other content you use in your movie. You drag clips from the Shelf to the Clip Viewer to place them in your movie. You can also drag clips from your movie and place them on the Shelf again. There's more on getting clips to and from the Shelf and the Clip Viewer later in this chapter.

Importing Clips from a Digital Video Camera

Setting up a FireWire camera to work with iMovie is a snap. Power up your Mac, and then turn on the camera to its output setting (this is sometimes labeled VCR or VTR). Connect the FireWire cable to the DV camcorder and your Mac. iMovie switches into the Camera mode automatically.

CAUTION

If the FireWire plug doesn't slip in easily, take a closer look. FireWire connectors are relatively fragile, so don't push too hard.


A message appears in iMovie's Monitor window confirming that iMovie is in touch with your DV camcorder. In addition to the "Camera Connected" message, notice that the button just under the Monitor is now Import. This means you are ready to begin importing your clips into iMovie.

The really cool part about an iMovie-compatible DV camcorder is that you can control your DV camcorder using iMovie's controls. The Play, Fast Forward, Stop, and other buttons in the iMovie Monitor control your DV camcorder. If you aren't using an iMovie-compatible camera, you have to control the camera using its controls and manually control iMovie as well.

graphics/r1newtroubleshootingi_icon.jpg

If you aren't able to control your camera from within iMovie, see "Nothing Happens with My Camera When I Use iMovie" in the "Troubleshooting" section at the end of this chapter.


To begin playing the tape in your camcorder, click the iMovie Play button (see Figure 17.3). The clips on the tape begin playing in the Monitor. Use the iMovie controls to move to the point on your tape at which you want to begin capturing clips from the tape.

Figure 17.3. When you capture clips from a DV camera, you work in iMovie's Import mode.

graphics/17fig03.jpg

TIP

If, for some reason, you aren't getting the screen shown in Figure 17.3, check the Camera/Edit Mode switch and make sure its in Camera mode.


Following are the controls iMovie provides (from left to right and bottom to top):

  • Import? You use this when you want to import clips to the Clips pane.

  • Camera/Edit Mode? This switches iMovie between the Camera mode (which you are in now) and the Edit mode, which is the mode you use to edit your movie.

  • Rewind/Review? When the tape is not playing, the Rewind button rewinds the tape at top speed. When the tape is playing, it plays the tape backward (you see the video, but there is no audio). In the Review mode, you have to "hold" down the button to keep the review going (in other words, if you let up on the button, it goes back into Play mode).

  • Pause? This one freezes the video at a specific frame.

  • Play? This plays the tape in the camera.

  • Stop? The Stop button halts whatever is happening with the camcorder.

  • Fast Forward/Preview? When the tape is not playing, the Fast Forward button moves the tape forward at top speed. When the tape is playing, it plays the tape forward at a high speed (you see video but don't hear any audio).

  • Volume? Drag the slider to the right to increase the volume and to the left to decrease it. Note that this affects only the playback volume and doesn't actually change the movie at all.

Click the Import button (or press the spacebar); iMovie starts the camcorder and begins capturing the clips. It stores the first clip in the first available slot on the Shelf. When it gets to a scene break (the point at which you pressed the Stop button while filming with the DV camcorder), it stops that clip and immediately begins capturing the next scene, which it places in the next available slot on the Shelf.

iMovie continues this process until it runs out of video to import or out of disk space to store clips, whichever comes first. If you don't want to wait that long, click Import again to stop the capture process (or press the spacebar).

As you import clips into iMovie, keep a close eye on the Disk Gauge in the bottom-right corner of the iMovie window. This gauge shows you how much free space is available on the disk where your project is stored. When you are in good shape spacewise, the gauge shows green. When it turns yellow, you are starting to run out of room. When it turns red, the disk you are using is full and you need to clear more space on it to continue capturing clips.

graphics/r1newtroubleshootingi_icon.jpg

If the Disk Gauge turns red, see "Why Has the Disk Gauge Turned Red?" in the "Troubleshooting" section at the end of this chapter.


Use the iMovie controls to move the tape to the next set of scenes you want to capture, and begin again. Continue until you capture all the scenes your script and storyboards call for, your disk runs out of space, or the Clips pane is so full of clips that you have trouble dealing with so many. The Clips pane now has some nice clips (and probably some not-so-nice ones), ready for you to edit and use in your movie.

When you are done, disconnect your camera and turn it off.

Deleting Clips

As you capture clips, you will realize that some of them just aren't any good and you won't end up using them. That is the time to get rid of the worthless clip so it doesn't consume any precious disk space. On the Clips pane, click the clip you want to dump to select it. Drag it to the Trash (or press Delete)?it disappears from the Clips pane.

Placing a clip in the Trash gets it off the Shelf, but the clip still consumes disk space. To free up that disk space, you must empty the Trash. To do so, select File, Empty Trash. Depending on how big the clips in the Trash are, you might see a dialog box asking you to confirm that you want to empty the Trash. Click OK and the contents of the Trash are deleted. The space this junk consumed on the disk is free for other purposes. (The increased free space is reflected on the Disk Gauge.)


TIP

If you want to control how clips are broken instead of letting iMovie do it for you, uncheck the Automatically start new clip at scene break check box in the Import area of the iMovie Preferences dialog box. When you import video, the clips come in as one continuous chunk unless you start and stop the importing process manually. Frankly, dealing with one large clip is much more difficult than letting iMovie break up the clips for you. But if you have recorded your movie using very short multiple clips of the same scene, you might choose to have them come in as one long clip instead.


Importing QuickTime Movies and Images

In addition to clips you capture from a DV camcorder, you can also import QuickTime movies and images onto the Clips pane for use in your movies.

NOTE

You can import image files in all the common Mac image file formats, such as JPEG, TIFF, PICT, and so on. For best results, you should size your images so they have a resolution of exactly 640x480 because iMovie scales them to that size anyway, which can result in some distortion if the original image's size is much different from this.


TIP

You can access photos in your iPhoto Photo Library directly from within iMovie. You will learn how to do this later in this section.


To import content into iMovie, perform the following steps:

  1. Select File, Import (Shift-graphics/mac.gif-I).

  2. In the resulting Import sheet, move to and select the file you want to add to the iMovie project and click Open.

    The Import Files dialog box opens showing how the import is moving along. If your clip is fairly lengthy, this process can take a few moments. When the import process is complete, the clip or images appear on the Clips pane.

From this point on, imported content behaves in the same way as any other clip on the Clips pane.

Previewing Your Clips

Select a clip by clicking it on the Clips pane. The clip is highlighted with a blue border?this means the clip is selected. More telling is the first frame of the clip the Monitor shows. Notice that when you select a clip, iMovie also moves into the Edit mode, in which you can manipulate your clips (if it isn't in the Edit mode, slide the Camera/Edit Mode switch to the right). In the Edit mode, the iMovie window features the controls shown in Figure 17.4 and described in the following list:

  • Scrubber bar? The Scrubber bar is a visual representation of the timeline for a clip, a group of clips, or your movie (depending on what you have selected).

  • Timecode? The precise location of the Playhead is shown by the timecode that floats next to the Playhead. As its name implies, the timecode provides information about the time aspects of a clip or movie. Timecodes appear in the following format:

    Minutes:Seconds:Frames

    If a clip or movie is less than a minute, you see only two sets of numbers: Seconds and Frames.

    The Frames part of the timecode is a counter that measures the number of frames in a single second of the clip. Most clips you capture with a camcorder have 30 frames per second, which results in smooth onscreen motion. Within each second of the clip, the frames are numbered from 00 to 29 (for a total of 30 frames). The Frames part of the timecode tells you where in each second of the clip you are. For example, a timecode of 36:21 means the clip is 36 seconds long and has gone 21 frames into the 37th second (so it is actually almost 37 seconds long).

    TIP

    As you start editing, the timecode becomes very useful, especially when you are able to interpret it immediately. The first few times it can be a bit confusing, but just keep remembering that the last number in the timecode is the frame number; timecodes will become second nature to you as you gain iMovie experience.


  • Playhead? The Playhead is a pointer on the Scrubber bar that shows you the relative location of the frame that currently appears in the Monitor. You use the Playhead to determine where you are in a clip or in your movie. As a clip or movie plays, the Playhead moves across the Scrubber bar. You can also drag the Playhead to move in a clip or in your movie.

  • Start Crop Marker/End Crop Marker? As with most Mac applications, you select the material you want to change in some way (in this case, frames of a video clip) and then perform some action on them, such as cutting them out of a clip. You use the crop markers to select the frames with which you want to work. The Start Crop Marker indicates the first frame you select, whereas the End Crop Marker indicates the last frame in the selection.

  • Selected frames? The selected frames are indicated by the gold highlighting between the two markers. The action you select is performed on these frames. For example, if you select Cut, the selected frames are removed from the clip or movie.

  • Move to Start? Clicking this moves you to the start of your movie and unselects any selected clips.

  • Play/Pause? Click Play to watch and hear selected clips. Click Play again to pause the action. You can also start and stop play by pressing the spacebar.

  • View in Full Screen? Plays the selected clips in full-screen mode in which you see only the clips; the iMovie interface disappears. Click the mouse button or press the Space bar to exit the full-screen mode.

  • Volume? This slider adjusts the playback volume. Note that this affects only the current volume of the clip or movie and in no way changes the clip or the movie itself.

Figure 17.4. Getting comfortable with iMovie's Editing tools probably won't take very long.

graphics/17fig04.jpg

Click Play to watch and hear the selected clip. Click Play again to pause the clip. You can also start and stop play by pressing the spacebar. As the clip plays, notice that the Playhead moves across the Scrubber bar.

Navigating Clips in iMovie

As you edit, you are constantly moving around a clip to get to specific areas to edit. There are several ways to do this.

Click the Playhead and drag it to the right to move forward in the clip or to the left to move backward in the clip. When you release the mouse button, the Playhead is at the exact position where you left it and you can see the frame indicated by the timecode. Use this method for gross but quick movements in the clip, such as moving from the beginning to the middle.

You can also move the Playhead much more precisely using the keyboard; this is essential when you get to detailed editing because you can move by increments as small as a single frame. To move the Playhead one frame at a time, use the left- and right-arrow keys. As you probably guessed, the right-arrow key moves the Playhead forward one frame, and the left-arrow key moves you backward one frame.

You can also move the Playhead forward or backward 10 frames at a time by holding down the Shift key while you press the left- or right-arrow keys. This movement is also very useful when you are doing detailed editing because it enables you to quickly move to a precise location in the clip, but you get there more quickly than by moving one frame at a time.

A fast preview technique is to select a clip and fast-forward through it (press graphics/mac.gif-]) so you get a good idea of what it contains. If it looks as if it contains no usable footage, delete it. If it looks promising, watch it again at regular speed.

Editing a Clip

Editing clips is one of the most important tasks you will do. When you edit a clip, you remove everything from that clip that will detract from, rather than add to, your movie. Editing your clips is fundamental to creating good movies.

You can edit clips at any time, but in my opinion you are better off if you edit your clips before you place them in a movie. Building a movie from edited clips gets you to a completed movie more quickly because you deal with less unwanted material when you actually build your movie.

When you edit a clip, you select the frames you want to take action on by using the start and end crop markers. You use these markers to select video clips much like you use the mouse or keyboard to select text within a document.

Removing Frames from a Clip

One of the most fundamental tasks is removing frames from a clip, such as removing them from the beginning or end of a clip. However, you can remove frames from anywhere in a clip with the same steps:

  1. Click the clip you want to edit on the Clips pane to select it; the clip appears in the Monitor.

  2. Preview the clip and locate a part of the clip that should be removed.

  3. Click the End Crop Maker and drag it to the approximate point at which you want to stop removing frames from the clip. When you click the crop marker, it becomes dark blue to indicate it is selected, the Playhead sticks to it, and you see the frame at which both are currently located in the Monitor. The gold bar that appears between the crop markers indicates the frames you have selected. As you drag a crop marker, you can see the frames through which you are moving.

    While the Playhead is stuck to the end crop marker, you can move it one frame at a time by pressing the right-arrow key to add one frame to the selection or by holding down the Shift key and pressing the right-arrow key to add 10 frames to the selection. Similarly, if you press the left-arrow key, you remove 1 or 10 frames from the selection. Use this technique to position the end crop marker on the exact end frame you want to select.

  4. Click the Start Crop Marker (it becomes highlighted in dark blue and the Playhead jumps and sticks to it); then drag the start crop marker to the approximate location at which you want to start selecting frames. (If you want to start selecting frames at the first frame, you don't need to move the start crop marker because it is positioned there by default.)

    While the Playhead is stuck to the start crop marker, you can move it one frame at a time by pressing the right-arrow key to remove one frame of the selection or by holding down the Shift key and pressing the right-arrow key to remove 10 frames of the selection. Similarly, if you press the left-arrow key, you add 1 or 10 frames to the selection. Use this technique to position the start crop marker on the exact start frame you want to select.

    The frames you have selected are represented by a gold bar on the Scrubber bar (see Figure 17.5).

    Figure 17.5. Selecting frames is the most important step when editing a clip.

    graphics/17fig05.jpg

  5. To remove the selected frames from the clip, select Edit, Cut (graphics/mac.gif-X). The crop markers are reset to the beginning of the clip, and the selected frames are removed from the clip.

    TIP

    You can also remove frames by selecting them and pressing the Delete key or selecting Edit, Clear. The Clear command removes selected frames without placing them on the Clipboard. Technically speaking, you should use Clear rather than Cut because memory resources aren't wasted by placing the selected frames on your Mac's Clipboard. However, I prefer to use Cut because it has a keyboard shortcut, whereas Clear does not. And practically speaking, you won't notice any performance problems if you leave frames on your Clipboard.

  6. Play the clip to see how it is without the frames you just removed. If you don't like the result, you can undo it by selecting Edit, Undo (graphics/mac.gif-Z) and selecting a different set of frames to remove.

  7. Preview the edited clip and continue editing it until you have removed all the frames you don't want to include in the movie.

Cropping a Clip

You can also crop a clip to remove everything from it except the frames you have selected. This is a good way to remove frames at the beginning and end of a clip at the same time:

  1. Use the selection techniques you learned in the previous steps to select the frames that you want to remain in the clip.

  2. Select Edit, Crop (graphics/mac.gif-K). The frames that were not included in the selection are removed from the clip.

  3. Preview the clip. If you don't like the results of the crop, undo it.

Splitting a Clip

You might want to split a clip so you can work with each part independently. For example, you might want to use one part of the clip at one location in a movie and another part of the clip later in a movie. When you split a clip, the two resulting clips behave just like clips you have created by capturing them from a DV camera or by importing them. Do the following steps:

  1. Select the clip you want to split. It appears in the Monitor.

  2. Drag the Playhead to the point at which you want to split the clip.

  3. Select Edit, Split Video Clip at Playhead (graphics/mac.gif-T). The clip is split into two clips at the point in the clip at which the Playhead was located. A new clip with /1 is appended to the first segment's name and is added to the Clips pane (for example, if the clip's name was Clip 43, the new clip is named Clip 43/1). You can treat the two clips independently because they are now separate clips.

Building a Movie from Clips on the Clips Pane

After you have done the rough editing of your clips, you can begin creating your movie. You assemble your movie by placing clips on the Clip Viewer in the order you want them to be in the movie.

Click the Clip Viewer button, which is the rectangular shape just under the Scrubber bar, to bring the Clip Viewer to the front (it will probably be in the front already). To begin assembling your movie, simply drag clips from the Clips pane onto the Clip Viewer (see Figure 17.6). Drag them onto the Clip Viewer in the order in which you want them to appear; you can reshuffle them later if you want.

Figure 17.6. I have moved clips from the Shelf to the Clip Viewer; the Clip Viewer shows the sequence in which the clips will be played in the movie.

graphics/17fig06.jpg

When you select one or more clips on the Clip Viewer, the Monitor shows the clips you have selected. Vertical lines in the Scrubber Bar mark the boundaries of each clip. If you don't have any clips selected, the Monitor shows the contents of all the clips on the Clip Viewer?in other words, your entire movie.

If the Clip Viewer gets full, use its scrollbar to reveal empty space for more clips.

Press Shift-graphics/mac.gif-A to deselect any clips that are selected. Press the Home key to move to the start of your movie. To preview your movie, press the spacebar. Your movie plays. You can use the same movement and editing controls with an entire movie as you can when dealing with an individual clip (such as fast forward). (You can play a single clip again by selecting it on the Clip Viewer.)

You can change the order of clips by dragging them from one location on the Clip Viewer to another. As you move a clip between two other clips, the clips move apart to show where your clip will be placed when you release the mouse button.

You can remove a clip from your movie and place it back on the Clips pane by dragging it from the Clip Viewer to the Shelf. You can delete a clip by selecting it and then pressing Delete.

To see your movie in full-screen mode, click the Play Full Screen button. Your movie plays back so it takes up the entire screen. This helps you focus on your movie without any distractions from the iMovie interface. To stop your movie and return to iMovie before your movie has finished, click the mouse button or press the spacebar.

Continue placing clips in the Clip Viewer until you have all the clips you want to appear in your movie. You don't have to use all the clips on the Clips pane; you can leave clips there for later use or delete them when you are sure you won't use them in this movie.

Adding iPhoto Images to a Movie

You can add your iPhoto images to a movie, or you can create a movie consisting entirely of iPhoto images to create a slideshow. When you add images from iPhoto to a movie, you can configure motion effects for the images you add; in iMovie, these effects are called the Ken Burns Effect. This effect?taken from the treatment of images Ken Burns uses in his excellent documentaries, such as Civil War?applies motion and zoom effects to the image. You can configure the effect for each image you add to the movie, from no effect at all to a maximum effect.

NOTE

When you import images into iMovie, they appear on the Clips pane just like video clips. You add images on the Clips pane to a movie by dragging them to the Clip Viewer.


For all images you add, regardless of whether you choose to use the Ken Burns Effect, you can set the image duration and zoom. The image's duration setting determines how long the image appears on the screen, and the zoom determines which part of the image is displayed.

To add iPhoto images to a movie, perform the following steps:

  1. Click the Photos button to open the iPhoto pane.

  2. On the Source pop-up menu, select the iPhoto source, such as a photo album, that contains the images you want to add to the movie on the pop-up menu. The images contained in the selected photo album appear in the Preview window in the lower part of the palette (see Figure 17.7). To the right of the pop-up menu the number of images contained in the selected photo album is shown.

    Figure 17.7. Use the tools on the iPhoto pane to add images from your iPhoto Photo Library to a movie and add effects to them.

    graphics/17fig07.jpg

  3. Select the image you want to add to the movie. A preview of the image with the current motion effects appears in the image Preview window located at the top of the pane.

    TIP

    If you are configuring an image you placed in a movie from the Clips pane, you don't need to do steps 2 and 3. Just select the image in the Clip Viewer before you click the Photos button. When you click the Photos button, the image you selected appears in the Preview window and you can work with it just like an image located in your iPhoto Photo Library.

  4. If you want to apply the Ken Burns Effect to the image, click the Ken Burns Effect check box. The Ken Burns Effect controls become active and you see a preview of the image with the effect applied in the Preview window. If you don't check this box, only the Duration and Zoom controls are active.

  5. Click the Start radio button. This enables you to configure the starting location of the motion effect. Skip this step if you aren't using the Ken Burns Effect.

  6. Use the Zoom slider to set the amount of magnification applied to the image at the start of its clip if you apply the Ken Burns Effect or throughout the image clip if you don't apply the effect. Drag the slider to the left to show more of the photo or to the right to show less of it.

  7. Move the pointer over the image in the Preview window. The cursor turns into a hand.

  8. Hold down the mouse button and drag the image until the part of the image you want to be shown at the start of the image clip (with the Ken Burns Effect applied) or throughout the image clip (without the effect) is shown in the Preview window.

  9. Click the Finish radio button. The image jumps to its ending location and zoom settings.

  10. Use the Zoom slider to set the amount of magnification applied to the image at the end of its clip. Drag the slider to the left to show more of the photo or to the right to show less of it.

    TIP

    You can also enter the zoom and duration values by typing a duration (in the timecode format) or zoom (in zoom amount) directly in their respective boxes.

  11. Move the pointer over the image in the preview window. The cursor turns into a hand.

  12. Hold down the mouse button and drag the image until the part of the image you want to be shown at the end of the image clip is shown in the Preview window.

  13. Use the Duration slider to set the length of time for the image clip. Drag the slider to the left to make the clip shorter (which makes the motion effect faster if you have applied it to the image) or to the right to make the clip last longer (to make the motion effect slower if you have applied it to the image). (If you don't apply the Ken Burns Effect to an image, setting its duration only changes the length of time that image appears onscreen.) When you release the mouse button, a preview of the image and motion effect appears in the Preview window.

  14. Click Preview to see the image clip as you have configured it in the Preview window. (If you don't apply the Ken Burns Effect, the Preview button is inactive because there is no point in previewing a static image?what you see is what you get.)

    TIP

    If you want the motion effect to be applied in the opposite direction, click the Reverse button. A preview of the motion effect moving in the opposite direction (zooming in instead of zooming out) is shown in the Preview window.

  15. Make changes to the image settings until you are satisfied, and then click Apply. The motion effect, duration, and zoom settings are applied to the image, and the image clip is placed at the end of the Clip Viewer. When the image appears on the Clip Viewer, the image is rendered and selected so it appears in the Monitor.

  16. Drag the image clip to the location on the Clip Viewer at the point in the movie where you want it to appear.



    Part I: Mac OS X: Exploring the Core
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