In the previous two articles we looked at iMovie’s more advanced features, such as picture in picture, and how to switch on the advanced tools.
Firstly I want to talk about how iMovie organises your clips and movies. I’ve often helped people with iMovie and been shocked at how they have organised their events and projects. With iPhoto, all your photos are stored in your Pictures folder, and when you fire up iPhoto, you see your photos in events (a feature I love). In iMovie however, you have to import your movie clips into events but work on projects. There is some logic to this, and it may help to explain what this logic is.
Let’s say your going to make a video project. You have 10 clips that you want to use in this project. You will go to File > New Event. Now, using File > Import you can bring all your clips for this project into one new event. In this way your clips won’t get muddled up with all your other clips. But the real beauty is if you need to make a further video, all your clips are waiting for you in one event. When you start a different project, you can make a new Event an store the relevant clips in that event. It’s a powerful organizational method which, when used properly, can really help you to get the right clips for your projects. I’ve seen some people organize their clips via subject matter – interviews, outside shots and so on. In this way, you can organise your clips to work for you, rather than spending huge amounts of time looking for stuff.
Another tip is how clips behave when you click on them in the clips section. Normally, when you click on a clip (that you will want to put into your timeline) only 4 seconds of it are selected. You can then drag the left and right handle to grab a larger part of the clip before you pick it up and drag it into the timeline. Personally, I find it way too fiddly to do this in the clips panel. I actually prefer to drag the entire clip into the timeline and then cut and trim it there. You can change this behaviour from the Prefences window.
Note, the middle option lets you select an entire clip just by clicking on it. I find this is a real time saver for me when moving clips around.
One of the most powerful features in iMovie is the green / blue screen feature. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s basically one of the most widely used special effects in tv and movies. The general idea is to stand an actor(s) in front of a green screen and film them. You can then overlay that shot over another. iMovie will then replace anything thats green and show the clip underneath. So you could film somebody walking in front of a green screen and overlay that film over a clip of Time Square. It’s used and abused but I think it still has a place in movies. In fact, your favorite tv weather person regularly stands in front of a green screen which is then superimposed over a map of the weather. You of course need a good green or blue screen. Cloth or paper can be used to great effect, but make sure your lighting creates an even colour behind the subject and if you’re using cloth, try to avoid it folding and rumpling in the background.
Here’s another tip that can really help your movies get that polished look. The first one we’re going to look at is transitions. When you add a transition between movie clips, iMovie defaults to the same time for all your transitions. One way of adding style to a movie is to allow certain transitions to take place over a longer period of time. Simply double click any transition, and from the pop up window enter the time for the transition. Be sure to uncheck the option that “Applies to all Transitions” so that you don’t change ALL the transitions in your movie.
In the next part, we’ll deal with audio in iMovie, something that not only adds sound and music to your movies, but can really make a movie jump off of the screen.