Authoring in iMovie HD (iLife ’06)

Authoring my first movie in iMovie took quite some time for three reasons, first because I didn’t know the program, second, because I didn’t have a fine tuned workflow, and last not least, because it was footage from my wedding, so of course I wanted it perfect, so I went back many times to redo it. My next movie was from my father in law’s 50th birthday party, and things went a lot smoother and I figured out a few more tricks because I made a more elaborate soundtrack with GarageBand. The wedding movie did not require that because all the sound was kept pretty much as filmed.

Here now are the steps that I found work best for me:

  1. Open iMovie and create a new project
  2. Select the proper video format, either DV or DV Widescreen. If you skip this step and your movie has a different format than what iMovie assumes then iMovie will spend a lot of time to reformat the movie after all the footage has been imported.
  3. If you have not done so already, go to import preferences and select to create a new clip at each scene break
  4. Import footage
  5. Edit the clips. One by one trim to the desired material, split them if appropriate, and label them so you identify them later. Either add them to the clip viewer as you edit them, or wait until all clips have been edited.
  6. Don’t forget to save every so often since iMovie unfortunately is not as stable as other applications.
  7. When all clips are edited, assemble them in the clip viewer, if not already done
  8. If any of clips need video FX such as white balance, color, brightness, or reverse, now is a good time to apply it so you see how it fits together with the other clips
  9. Add transitions and titles
  10. The final stage is to edit the soundtrack. Depending on how elaborate you want it to be, you can either edit it directly in iMovie, or use GarageBand for more control using multiple tracks, instruments, and other effects. Editing in iMovie will be discussed below, editing via GarageBand will be the topic of a separate post.
  11. Switch to timeline viewer and show the Clip Volume Level via the View menu.
  12. In the timeline, there’s three tracks, the top one is the video track, below it are two sound tracks. Volume to these tracks can be turned on/off with the check box on the right hand side.
  13. The video volume track is useful for fade-in/fade-out. The additional sound tracks can be used for background music and sound effects.

This workflow is primarily based on the iMovie Manual.

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