Editing a video fills many with dread. It’s not just the time it takes, but the whole idea appears to worry people more than editing a written document does, so most of us will just shoot a single clip and post it straight online. But some companies have worked hard to try and make editing as approachable as possible and the newest version of iMovie is Apple’s latest attempt to bring video editing to the rest of us. Let’s check out the basics.
See also: iMovie for Mac review
Step 1 - Of course, before you can do anything, you must have some footage to play with. You can grab clips or photos from your iPhoto or Aperture libraries by clicking on the appropriate titles in the sidebar, or import them from an iOS device or other video recorder thanks to the Import button, top left of the interface. You can also use any video clip stored on your Mac by either importing them or simply dragging them from the finder (although the latter only works once you have a project open).
Step 2 - In order to create a project, click on the large ‘+’ button, to the right of the Import button. You’ll be asked to choose between a Movie and a Trailer. Select the former (we’ll deal with trailers in a future tutorial), and a new window will open asking you to select a Theme to work with. Since we’re just dealing with the basics here, Double-click on ‘No Theme’. A drop down window will ask you to name your project (don’t worry if you don’t know what to type; you can change that at any time).
Step 3 - The pull-down menu beneath the title is important. In previous versions of iMovie, you saved your Projects independently of your Events. Now, you must attach your Project to an Event. But this is only for the purposes to choosing a location in which to save the file: you’ll be able to select any clip from any Event and add it to any project. So, click on that drop down menu, choose an Event of your choice and click on OK.
Step 4 - The Event you saved your project in will open in the top left section of the interface and your currently empty project will take over the lower part of the window. If you’d like to revert to the previous iMovie look, you can always go to Window > Swap Project and Event, but having the project at the bottom will give you much more space to work in. It's also possible that the Event and Project sections open up in each other’s places. In which case, knowing how to swap them back is important.
Step 5 - Scroll up and down your Event’s clips to see them all. The more thumbnails you see for a particular clip, the longer that clip is. You can change how often a thumbnail is generated by clicking on a filmstrip button, top right of that section. Click on it and alter the appearance with the sliders at your disposal. In order to preview your clips, move the cursor slowly over the thumbnails from left to right (or right to left) to skim through the footage (do not click or drag, just move the cursor along).
Step 6 - There are a couple of methods available to you to add part of a clip to your project. Once you’ve found the section you’d like to use, click on the clip where the action starts. This sets a line with a ‘+’ button. Click on that button to add four seconds from that point onwards to your project. Alternatively, you can click and drag on a clip in the Event to manually select a specific portion, which you can resize at will, then click on that ‘+’ again to add the clip to the end of your project.
Step 7 - This might give you the impression that you must add your clips in the sequence you’ll be presenting them, but that isn’t the case. Instead of clicking on the ‘+’ button to add part of a clip, once a section is highlighted, drag it into your project in between two clips. You’ll see any clip to the right moving along to make way for this new addition. You’ll also see that you can put clips on top of others using this method. This is something we’ll be looking at in the future.
Step 8 - This means that it’s possible to reorder your clips in your Project. In order to do so, let’s zoom out to see all the ones you’ve just added by dragging the slider that’s located top right of the project section, to the left. To move your clips around, click on one and drag it. As you do, the other clips move around to make room for the one you’re dragging. You’ll see a thick blue vertical line appear at the end of a clip - this tells you where the clip you’re dragging will end up if you release the mouse button now.
Step 9 - Selecting part of a clip in the Event window can be a rough affair. You might have highlighted too much or chosen a part that misses the beginning or the end of the action you wanted to preserve. This doesn’t mean you have to go back to the event and select it all over again: you can do this right from the timeline. Move the cursor to the left or right edge of your clip to see it change into a resize tool. You can then click and drag to the left or the right to add or remove frames to the clip you’re working on.
Step 10 - The more you add clips, the longer your project becomes. The timeline is represented as an infinite line that forever goes to the right, so you need to scroll left and right, and zoom in and out, a lot of the time when you’re editing. There’s another option, preserved from the previous iMovie version: edit like a word document: from left to right and top to bottom. In order to reveal this, add a few more clips to your project, then go to View > Wrapping Timeline. It’s not for everyone, but it does allow you to see much more of your project in one go.