Making movies with iMovies 2 in Mac OS

Shoot. Edit. Enhance. Share. So goes the Apple spiel regarding its movie-editing software for OS 9 and OS X, iMovie 2. Wary of the hype, I found the program was actually a snap to use.

If your Mac didn't come with iMovie pre-installed, you can download it from At the time of writing, the download version of iMovie 2.1.1 retailed for $49.95. Registered users can download plug-in packs containing extra effects, transitions and titles.

Importing video

To begin, you'll need to be armed with footage taken on a video camera equipped with FireWire. Set your camera to video playback mode, load iMovie and plug your camera's FireWire cable into your Mac's FireWire port. iMovie should auto-detect that the camera has been attached, confirming the connection by displaying 'Camera Connected'. You can now control your camera's playback functions from the clearly laid-out CD player-like controls.

Click on Play then click the large Import button when you wish to import a section, and click Import again to stop. Each time you do this, a clip for each section will be created and displayed as a thumbnail on the right side of the screen. If you've got multiple takes on your video camera, iMovie may even be able to cut the footage you're importing into separate clips for you. When you're done, click Stop. You'll see a switch to the left of the rewind button allowing you to select between camera playback (camera icon) and on-hard disk footage (film icon). As you're playing back from the camera, it will be set to the left - simply switch it to the right to begin editing your imported video.

Editing video

The thumbnails of your movie clips sit on the right of your screen forming your movie's palette. The bottom of the screen is your timeline, the far left representing the beginning of your movie. Drag and drop clips from your palette to the timeline and quickly work out the order in which you want your clips to play. Duplicate clips by copying (-C) and pasting (-V). Take clips out of the timeline by dragging them back to the palette.

When you've done this, it's time to crop any parts of the clips that you want to delete. Click on the clip in the timeline that you want to edit. Just above the playback controls you'll see a blue bar, and clicking on it lets you quickly move to different portions of the clip that you currently have selected. Clicking just underneath the blue bar and dragging the mouse will highlight a portion of the clip in yellow, with the triangles that appear also helping to display the start and end points of your selection. To get the selection right where you want it, hold down the key while making a selection. To crop/delete this section, press -K.

To play back your movie so you can see your progress, click on the first clip in the timeline then press -A to select all clips, then click Play. The button to the right of Play will display your movie in full screen mode. Your best bet in learning more advanced methods is to consult the iMovie help files by pressing -?.

Adding effects and audio

The iMovie tutorial and help files are able to go into more depth of explanation, but adding effects shouldn't be too tricky. The palette area has options titled 'Clips' (your video Clip Palette), and the effect buttons - Transitions (where you can set fade-outs, etc.), Titles (text overlays), Effects (visual effects such as water ripples) and Audio (add sound effects or import music from a CD).

Using these features is fairly straightforward. Click on a clip, select your effect type, define how you want the effect to look and click Preview to see what it will look like. Once you're satisfied it will look how you want, drag the small preview window or the name of the effect onto your selected clip. The part of your clip containing the effect will be cut into its own thumbnail and a red bar will appear displaying the effect rendering progress.

You can add music by placing a CD in your Mac and clicking the tab to the left of the timeline that has a clock icon. Select the audio button (where the Clip Palette is) and drag a track number to an appropriate place in your timeline, underneath the movie clip thumbnails. Under Audio you can also add sound effects and record voice-overs. The Clock tab also allows you to slow down or speed up selected clips by using the Faster/Slower slider bar.

To go back to standard movie clip view, click on the tab featuring an eye icon. To export your movie back to your camera or to a QuickTime file, press -E after saving the project (-S).

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