Edit a movie using the Precision Editor in iMovie for OS X

Apple have removed many options found in previous versions of iMovie to simplify the video-editing process. It's retained options to help fine-tune edits with precision - this tutorial looks at the Precision Editor.

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Next Prev

First, choose a project or create a new one – go to File > New Movie. Whenever you create an iMovie project, it’s stored with an Event, which can make it difficult to find again since that Event can include clips from other projects as well. However, in the sidebar is a menu called ‘All Projects’ where every project you’ve created can be accessed.

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Next Prev Step 01

First, choose a project or create a new one – go to File > New Movie. Whenever you create an iMovie project, it’s stored with an Event, which can make it difficult to find again since that Event can include clips from other projects as well. However, in the sidebar is a menu called ‘All Projects’ where every project you’ve created can be accessed.

 

Step 2 of 10:

Your iMovie project should be populated with at least four segments of clips before proceeding further. You can trim or extend your selected clip by moving your cursor to one of its edges and dragging it left or right. You’re essentially working in the dark, though, as you can extend your clip but can’t see how much of the original footage there is for you to add.

 

Step 3 of 10:

This is where the Precision Editor comes in. It’s located in the menu bar, though, it may be greyed out. To access it, double-click on the dark grey upright rectangle, located in the gap between two clips. Doing so raises the clip on the left above the one on the right. You can now see all the footage you hadn’t used to the right of the first clip and to the left of the second.

 

Step 4 of 10:

The Precision Editor lets you alter the edit point. This is represented by an off-white circle with two vertical thick lines extending from it. Move your cursor over the top clip’s line and it’ll change shape. When that happens, drag it to the right – your first clip (the top one) will get longer, and the second clip (the bottom one) and subsequent ones will move to the right.

 

Step 5 of 10:

You can, of course, reduce the length of the top clip by dragging that line to the left. The same thing happens when you move your cursor over the second clip’s white line and drag it in either direction. You can do this as long as your have unused and available footage in your selected clip.

 

Step 6 of 10:

Here there’s a break between the video and audio part of the clips. This means you can create an L-cut – an edit where the audio and video are cut at different times. Move your cursor over that line but within the audio section. Dragging from there will leave the video cut untouched, but will change the audio.

 

Step 7 of 10:

You may see other dots along your timeline. If not, drag the slider, top right of the timeline interface, to the left. This reduces the number of thumbnails per clip, so you can see more of it. Stop once you can see other dots. When you click on one, the Precision Editor will focus on that edit point. This lets you navigate through your edit without leaving the Precision Editor.

 

Step 8 of 10:

Previewing your edit can be a little confusing at first as what is being played back differs depending on where your cursor is. The process is the same whether you hit the spacebar to view your edit in real-time or if you skim through your footage by moving the cursor to the left or right.

 

Step 9 of 10:

Move the cursor over the top clip and to the left of the line. Next, move it right until it passes beyond that line. You’ll keep previewing the same clip if the cursor is over the clip. Move the cursor above it into the timeline’s dark grey section and repeat the same motion. This time, as you move beyond the line, iMovie will display the video from the lower clip.

 

Step 10 of 10:

To the right of the slider you used in Step 7 is a filmstrip icon. Click on it to reveal further options. The Show Waveform tick box lets you see your clips’ audio waveform. If you’re not interested in audio manipulation, untick it. The Clip Size slider makes the clips’ thumbnails bigger to make it easier to see what you’re working with.

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