A new iMovie means a new blog! Come visit:
Unlocking iMovie '09 & '11

No doubt about it, the Event Library makes iMovie better in the same way that drawers and cupboards make kitchens better. Having your footage conveniently organized and accessible makes a huge difference in your productivity. The problem with kitchen drawers, though, is the infernal junk drawer. It's never fun to clean out, but who really needs the dead batteries and gum wrappers that fill it up?

The Event Library can get filled up with all kinds of junk: blurry shots, shaking shots, long and boring shots. The problem is that this kind of stuff takes up a lot of space, especially if you are shooting HD. You can get rid of it by rejecting and deleting each individual clip, but this can be time consuming. iMovie, in its wisdom, gives us a faster way: Space Saver.

WARNING: Space Saver risks getting rid of footage you want to keep. Using the junk drawer analogy, it works by picking out the things you want to save then just shoving everything else into the trash. There might be a ten dollar bill or important phone number that you'll never get back. That said, here is how to use the Space Saver.

You'll find the Space Saver in the File menu.

Before you select it, it's important to understand that Space Saver only works on events that you have selected in the Event Library. You can go an event at a time, not unlike going a drawer at a time in your kitchen. Or, you can select multiple events at once and run Space Saver on all of them together.

I realize that my warning may scare you from doing anything with Space Saver, but iMovie actually takes you through a few steps before anything really gets deleted. If you select "Space Saver" from the File menu, you will see this dialog box show up:

What it basically tells you is that Space Saver can delete any footage that:
1) Isn't used in a project,
2) Isn't marked as a favorite, and/or
3) Isn't marked with a keyword.
This essentially means that it will delete any footage that you haven't touched using any of the tools described in this post:

How to use the advanced editing tools

So if you want your footage to be saved from the Space Saver, go read that post and learn how you can make sure the right stuff gets passed over for deletion.

Depending on the criteria you select in the dialog box, iMovie will delete more or less of your footage. After you have click the "Reject and Review" button, it marks all the deletable footage as rejected and changes your view of the Event so that you only see the rejected footage. Click "Move Rejected to Trash" and iMovie cuts out the rejected footage from the event and moves it into the trash in the Finder. This last part of the process works just like the process covered in the post:

How to delete a clip

If you want to undo the Reject marking that Space Saver applied, don't bother unmarking all the footage. Just hit Command-Z, and iMovie undoes what Space Saver did.

Have fun with all that free space!

This is a really nice tip for those needing slowmo effects in iMovie '08, but don't want to send their project to iMovie HD. (If you haven't noticed, I don't really ever post tips that say, "Do it in iMovie HD." Where is the fun in that?)

Anyway, Karsten Schluter, one of the most helpful and insightful regulars on Apple's iMovie '08 Discussion boards has posted a great walkthrough for creating a slowmo effect with a free application called JES Deinterlacer.

The link:
SlowMo with iMovie '08

All I would add to Karsten's instructions is that you can just save the slowmo clip in the correct Event folder and iMovie will automatically find it and create thumbnails for it the next time you launch iMovie.

And by the way, Karsten, if you read this: That demo clip is A W E S O M E. What a kick!

Well, it's been awhile since I posted any more information about using GarageBand for DVD chapter markers. Since that time I have come across two very common problems that people have encountered in the process:

1. Large movies sent from GarageBand to iDVD lose their audio track.
2. DVD quality can be poor.

Here are two very useful pieces of information for those have been experiencing these problems.

1. Apparently, the audio dropping during the move from GarageBand to iDVD is a known issue. Sid shared in the comments on the original post that deselecting "Auto Normalize" in the Advanced pane of the Preferences.

I haven't experienced the problem, so I can't confirm that it works, but this is certainly worth a try.

2. There has been a lot of discussion about the best way to squeeze the highest quality DVDs from your audio. The problem is that iMovie requires you to render your movie before you can send it to iDVD, where it just gets rendered again into MPEG 2 format for DVD players.

I have it on good authority from a very knowledgeable expert at Apple that the best quality will come by exporting from iMovie using the Apple Intermediate Codec. You can access this as an export option by choosing "Export Using QuickTime" in the Share menu.

Once there, select "Movie to QuickTime Movie" in the Export dropdown menu. Then click "Options." You will see this window.

Click the "Settings" button to access and choose the Apple Intermediate Codec.

You will also want to export the right size of file. You can do this by clicking "Size" in the Options window. For people in the US, NTSC at 720 x 480 is a good size for widescreen content. If is is 4:3 content, choose NTSC 640 x 480.

Once you are done, export it to your Movies folder in your home folder. You can then add chapter markers in GarageBand, which you read about here:

How to add chapter markers

Or you can send the file straight to iDVD. Just open an iDVD project and drop in your movie file.

Book for Sale


Well, now that Amazon has iMovie 08 & iDVD: The Missing Manualin stock, I am letting the cat out of the bag. It comes in the form of a story.

Two months ago David Pogue unleashed his initial review of iMovie '08 on his blog. As I noted in this post, he wasn't happy. Trying to be a responsible netizen, I sent him a link to my blog. Knowing that the guy receives a googolplex of emails every day, I assumed that my email had the same likelihood of contacting alien life as actually being read by said Pogue.

I was joyfully mistaken. David Pogue not only replied, but graciously invited me to take part in the writing of his new book on iMovie. He was wonderful to work with and taking part in the book was a lot of fun.

Needless to say, I highly recommend the book. This blog was never really intended to be a primer for iMovie, but more to sort of fill in the blanks. David's book takes you from zero to sixty in seconds flat and is written in the same approachable, humorous style that makes him so successful. Having read it all myself, I think that everyone can get something useful from it. There's a convenient link on the right-hand column of the blog, or you can just click on this link:

iMovie 08 & iDVD: The Missing Manual

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love the keyboard shortcuts in iMovie '08. Michael Avory sent me this tip on using Shift and the arrow keys to mark start and end points of a clip while you are editing. I love the trick because if I am being slow and methodical about selecting a particular range of footage, I don't have to keep holding my mouse button down as I drag. It also works great because it means you can select footage during playback, no dragging required.

Anyway, take a moment to try out Michael's great tip:

Here is a tip for setting IN/OUT points that might interest you:

Make sure clip is not selected (no yellow frame). Play/drag to IN-
point (pause), hit shift + left arrow (IN is marked) Play/drag to OUT-
point (pause), shift + left arrow and the clip is selected from IN to
OUT. To select a portion of clip up to a specific point: play/drag to
point, hit shift+left arrow, place cursor at start of clip, shift +
left arrow and the clip is selected up to your first chosen point.
These are very useful for editing clips to the beat of a music track
etc.

Perhaps this post is long overdue. In reality, you can find a lot of this information elsewhere in this blog, but I think that having it all contained in one, easy-to-link post will help smooth the transition for those taking their first dive into iMovie '08.

So here it is. If you used iMovie HD, here are the things you should know about iMovie '08 before you get started.

1. Don't expect iMovie '08 to behave like previous versions of iMovie.

This is the most important thing I will say to you. It bears repeating:

Don't expect iMovie '08 to behave like previous versions of iMovie.

If you switched from Windows to the Mac (or from OS 9 to OS X, for that matter) you had to relearn a few things. Trying to get the OS X to act like Windows only resulted in frustration. Buttons were in different places. Functions did different things. The same concept applies here. iMovie '08 may share a name with iMovie HD, but they are two completely different pieces of software. Use iMovie '08 the way it was meant to be used.

If you were a heavy iMovie HD user, the editing process may confuse you at first. For example, you won't be able to use a traditional timeline view. Be patient. You will learn it quickly and probably, as in my case, learn to love it.

Relevant posts from this blog:
How to customize your interface
How to use the advanced editing tools

2. iMovie '08 uses nondestructive reference editing.
What in the world does that mean? Well, in old versions of iMovie, if you trimmed a clip, the actual video file in the Finder was trimmed. Once you were beyond the limited power of the Undo command, these changes were irreversible. If you regretted an edit, you'd have to reimport video from your camera, assuming you still had it.

iMovie '08 doesn't work this way. A movie project in this version acts something like a big list of instructions. All the source video is stored safely in your Event library and iMovie '08 just makes a list of what pieces should appear where. It doesn't actually move or edit your source footage. (iMovie will edit or move your source footage if you are rejecting it for deletion or reorganizing your events.) Everything you see when you preview a project is just a representation of "the list" that iMovie is creating and showing you on the fly. As far as I can tell, this is one of the reasons older Macs don't run iMovie '08, because creating a preview on the fly is demanding on the computer.

The benefits of this ability:
* Your source footage is always safe and sound.
* Using footage in two different projects does not require two space-hogging copies of the same clips.
* iMovie doesn't render anything during the edit process. Transitions, titles, and color effects are instantaneously available.

Some warnings:
* Don't mess around with Event footage in the Finder, unless you know what you are doing. If you delete event footage, all projects using that footage will be broken.
* You don't save projects. This means that if you want different versions of an individual project, you need to make copies of the project in the Project list.

Relevant posts from this blog:
How to change the date DV event footage
How to delete a clip
How to save your movie project

3. iMovie '08 is missing some features found in iMovie HD, but not all the features others have said are missing.
Missing features are the biggest complaint that most people have about iMovie '08. Unfortunately, many people (myself included) had a knee-jerk reaction to iMovie and made some unfounded accusations. In fact, you might see some people refer to this version of iMovie as "iMovie Lite". (An ironic name considering some of the incredibly advanced stuff that iMovie '08 does that no previous version of iMovie can do.) I'd like to dispel some misconceptions before you start using iMovie '08.

Here is a list of key missing features.

* Video effects (including fast/slow/reverse) other than color adjustments
* Audio effects
* Themes
* Export to camera
* Chapter creation for iDVD
* "Rubber band" audio editing
* Some styles for transitions and titles

Here is a list of features still in iMovie.

* Frame-precise editing
* Precise audio level editing and fading
* Multiple audio tracks
* Extracting audio from a clip
* Adding black space to a project
* Sending movies to iDVD, iTunes, iWeb, or GarageBand
* Capturing a still image from a video clip
* Selecting multiple clips

Of course, there is an impressive list of things you can do in iMovie '08 that you cannot do in iMovie HD, but people inclined to complain don't spend a lot of time on these. Here are some of the really nice things you can do in iMovie '08.

* Crop or rotate video clips
* Footage organization tools, like favorites and keywords
* More than two audio tracks
* Advanced, flexible typography in titles
* Using images with transparency
* Adaptable editing interface
* Full screen scrubbing

Relevant posts from this blog:
Missing in Action: Export to Camera
How to add black space
How to add chapter markers
How to send movies to the Media Browser
How to fade audio within a clip
How to extract audio from a clip
How to make a clip black and white
How to capture a still image from a clip
Reader Tip: Create Video Masks
Quick Tip: Moving, lenghtening, and spanning titles
Quick Tip: Full Screen Scrubbing

3a. You can edit audio with basically the same precision, it's just done differently.
The very common complaint leveled against iMovie '08 is that you can't edit audio as well. This isn't a fair accusation. The rubber-band tool is gone, but you can still have audio dip at just the right point to just the right level. Just a few observations about this:

First, you can't edit audio within a clip, which means audio changes always apply to an entire clip. But, you can easily split clips. This is important to getting particular parts to dip or swell in the right places. Splitting clips doesn't effect the end product.

Secondly, as of the 7.1 update, you can get audio to fade in and out with custom settings you determine. This means a fade can last half a second or up to two seconds.

Just remember that, in general, editing audio revolves around the video clips. You don't need to dip an audio track itself, instead you just tell the video clip to dip all the other audio around it.

Relevant posts from this blog
How to fade audio within a clip

4. Keyboard shortcuts in iMovie '08 are awesome.
iMovie is still crazy-easy to use with just your mouse, but if you want more power you can get it. In fact, be prepared to enter an editing world where you feel like one of those pros who has a keyboard with different colored keys just for video editing. The keyboard shortcuts in iMovie are multitudinous.

More importantly, Apple recognized that you don't need the normal keys on your keyboard for actual typing. This means a lot of the keyboard shortcuts don't require the annoyance of modifier keys, like Shift or Option. (There are still plenty of those kind of keyboard shortcuts, but mostly because Apple is getting full use out of the keyboard.)

Why use keyboard shortcuts? They are fast and pretty easy to learn. You will feel like a pro when you edit, and you won't have to spend a lot of time learning before you start using the keyboard like crazy.

To view a list of keyboard shortcuts, go to the iMovie Help menu, open the help application, and search for "Keyboard Shortcuts."

Relevant posts from this blog:
Quick Tip: Play Around
Quick Tip: Cut or Add Frames with a Keystroke

5. Thumbnails can take a long time to make, so plan ahead
When you first add some footage to iMovie and discover that it may take a long, long time to make thumbnails for your footage, you might wonder if you did something wrong. You didn't. Thumbnails are just an integral part to the skimming ability of iMovie. If you don't have the time to create thumbnails for a whole set of footage, do what you can to import just the video clips you will need for your project.

Relevant posts from this blog:
How to Recreate Bad Thumbnails

6. iMovie '08 is still a work in progress.
If you decide to use iMovie '08, consider yourself an early adopter. And what that means, Early Adopter, is that you might encounter bugs or other problems. These are a tradeoff to all of the rather amazing features iMovie '08 provides to you.

It feels to me something like using OS 10.0. When OS X came out, I insisted on using it because it was the future. With each new version, I saw the different bugs melt away into what is now the best operating system ever made.

As an early adopter, you will also have a chance to contribute to the future versions of iMovie. Apple reads all of the feedback people submit through the established channels. If you submit thoughtful, insightful feedback, don't be surprised if Apple makes an improvement as a result.

Relevant posts from this blog:
Feed on Back

The right expecations
I hope these comments are useful. Having the right expectations from the start really does make a huge difference in the way you will use iMovie '08.

Sometimes iMovie '08 chokes on a bit of footage and, as a result, coughs up some bad thumbnails as a result. The iMovie interface doesn't provide an easy way to recreate these, so we have to delete the old thumbnail files to induce iMovie to make new ones. (iMovie automatically knows if thumbnail files for a clip are missing, and will create the missing ones every time it launches.)

This all means we have to go folder diving in the Finder to fix the problem. There are two potential locations for bad thumbnails.

Normal iMovie Events
In iMovie, right-click (or hold the Control key and click) on the bad thumbnail clip in the Event browser.

Select "Reveal in Finder" and it will take you to the folder containing all of that event's footage, as well as a folder called "iMovie Thumbnails." Go into the thumbnails folder.

Once you are there, you can move any of these Quicktime files to the trash, and iMovie will just recreate them. Be sure that you are deleting clips in the "iMovie Thumbnails" folder. If you delete clips from the event folder itself, you will lose your original footage. To be sure you have deleted the right stuff, just move the thumbnail files to a different location. iMovie will still make new files, and you can delete the files you moved after the new ones have been created.

Relaunching iMovie will cause it to create new thumbnails.

iPhoto Videos
iMovie conveniently looks into your iPhoto library and includes video clips from iPhoto in your Event Library. This is great if you want to include any footage you caught with your digital still camera. If iMovie created some bad thumbnails for clips in iPhoto, we have to take a different approach.

In the Finder, go to your Pictures folder in your home folder. Right-click on your iPhoto library and select "Show Package Contents." A new window opens with all of the stuff found in your iPhoto library.

Open the folder called "Data" then open the folder for the year the video clips were taken. Next open the folder for the date the video clips were taken.

In this folder you will find a Quicktime movie and a JPEG file for each video clip associated with this date. Move to the trash just the Quicktime movies for each clip that had bad thumbnails. (Don't delete the JPEG file, or iPhoto will have trouble displaying the video clip in its own window.) Relaunch iMovie and it should recreate the thumbnails.

Just a few other things. If you need access to the original files in the iPhoto library, they are stored using the same folder names (year and date), but inside the "Originals" folder instead of the "Data" folder. Also, you can quickly go straight to the original video clips from iMovie by right-clicking the clips and selecting "Reveal in Finder."

There are dozens of reasons you might need to view just a snippet of footage over and over. Editing to music, previewing a transition, or checking the entry of a title can all involve tweaking to get things just right. A way to quickly view just that part of your footage would be golden.

To more quickly view how you are doing, use the "Play Around" feature that is new in version 7.1. Position your playhead right over the point you want to quickly preview, then hit either the "[" key or the "]" key. The left bracket key will preview the two seconds of footage surrounding your playhead, one second before and one second after. The right bracket key will preview six seconds, three on either side.

So make a tweak, hit a bracket key, make another tweak, then hit a bracket key. This is a nice touch.

In a past post we put QuickTime to work in order to resurrect the creation of still images from video clips. It was a semi-complicated process, but a very powerful and flexible one at that. But you may not want powerful. You just want easy. Here's easy, thanks to the 7.1 update. (You did update iMovie to version 7.1, right?)

Skim your playhead to any point in a video clip that you want to capture as a still image. Right-click and choose "Add Still Frame to Project" from the menu that pops up. iMovie automatically creates a still frame and ads it to the end of your project. (If you have a one-button mouse, hold down the Control key and click to get the same menu.)

If the image was created from an Event library clip, iMovie will auto-apply the Ken Burns effect. If it was created from a clip sitting in a project, iMovie will leave the Ken Burns effect out so your image sits statically in the frame. (This is pretty intelligent behavior. If I am creating a still from a project, I probably want it to be a freeze-frame of the clip I am working on, not a "Ken Burnsed" image.)

Now here's the really handy part. If you want access to the image for other purposes, like adding to iPhoto, right-click on the image that iMovie created in your project and choose "Reveal in Finder."

There it is, sitting in a folder that is hidden inside the project package file. You'll only get JPEGs, but these should work fine for most people. If you want more options for still image exports, go read my original post on this subject.

This is a new feature in iMovie that needs its own post. If you find that you want to add just a few frames to the beginning or end of your clip, Fine Tuning makes this quite a bit easier. In the bottom corners of a clip, there is a button with a line that has two arrows on either side. You can see the buttons I am talking about in the bottom corners of this clip.

When you click on either button, an orange border wraps around that end of the clip. This border comes with a draggable handle.

Go ahead and drag the handle. As you do, you will see iMovie counting the frames that you add or remove from your movie, together with the Viewer window showing the footage you are adding. Pretty dang handy.

One other tip: if you hold down Command-Option as you mouse around in your project, you will see the Fine Tuning option pop up without the need to click the little buttons.

This is a new feature in iMovie '08, and its a gem. You can quickly cut or add frames to a clip in your project by doing the following:

1. Hover your mouse cursor over the clip you want to edit. (If you hover near the beginning of your clip, you will be cutting or adding to the beginning. If you hover near the end of your clip, you will be editing the end.)

2. Use the right or left arrow keys while holding down the Option key.

If you are adding frames, you will see it working as the clip grows beyond the yellow selection outline. If you are cutting frames, the yellow outline will still cover the entire clip.

It's back. The 7.1 update released last week has enabled selecting multiple video clips. Multiple selections aren't available for every feature, but they work for the most import ones. A selection of multiple clips will allow you to:

  • Paste adjustments
  • Drag and Drop
  • Mark favorite, rejected, and keywords
  • Drag from event browser to event list

It's great to see Apple responding to user needs.

If iMovie is a Boy Scout, QuickTime is the Swiss Army knife. Where iMovie's powers fall short, the built-in QuickTime features take up the slack. I have used it for a few different workarounds on this blog. Well, it's time to add one to the list.

The loss of most video effects in iMovie '08 is especially baffling because so many of them are built in to OS X. Core Video was supposed to be one of the coolest parts of Tiger (OS 10.4). Why not include these effects if they are already there?

Well, what iMovie ditched, QuickTime lovingly stuck in its back pocket. Here is how to use QuickTime video effects.

Preface
Because of their current location in iMovie, you cannot apply video effects as easily before. In fact, you can only apply them to a clip you are exporting as a Quicktime movie, a step usually taken at the end of an editing project. Let’s look at how QuickTime video effects work, then discuss a creative way to use filtered clips in an active project.

About QuickTime video filters
Quicktime, Apple’s video workhorse, lies at the heart of iMovie. It is generally the case that if Quicktime can do it, then iMovie can do it. For example, if Quicktime can play a particular video format, then iMovie can probably not only play it, but also edit it.

Quicktime is also capable of applying a variety of filters to video. These filters can do simple tasks like sharpen and blur, or they can do very complicated things like alpha gain. The filters most people would be interested in are:

Blur will soften your footage;
Edge detect creates outlines of the subjects in your footage;
Emboss makes your footage look like it was carved into a sheet of metal;
Sharpen crisps up blurry footage (as much as is possible anyway);
Color tint will make your footage turn black and white, sepia tone, cobalt, or like it was run through an x-ray machine;
Film noise takes modern footage and makes it look like it sat in your attic for 20 years; and
Lens flare adds a cool looking light flare that progresses across your footage.

A Disclaimer
I assume no responsibility for your movie looking amateurish and unprofessional due to a failure on your part to apply video effects judiciously. With great power comes great responsibility. Don't emboss your whole movie just because you think it looks cool. If an effect isn't helping you tell your story, do us all a favor and leave it out.

Applying a video filter
As mentioned above, these filters can only be applied when you are ready to export a project as a Quicktime movie. This means that whatever video filter you apply will be applied to your entire movie. You can also only apply a single video filter to footage, for each time you export it anyway. That said, let’s walk through the steps for doing it:

1. Export your movie as a Quicktime movie.
This is done by selecting Share-->Export using Quicktime.

2. Select “Movie to Quicktime Movie” and click the Options button.
This setting from the Export pulldown menu is the ultimate custom Quicktime setting. All the other options in that list are basically just (very) convenient shortcuts to what you can do with this setting.


3. Click the Filters button.
This is where you’ll find the video filters discussed earlier.

4. Select the video filter you want to apply, then click OK.
Each filter has its own settings. You can just accept the default settings, or you can adjust them to get the desired effect. The filters window provides a tiny preview window in the bottom right to help you see the results.

5. Adjust any other video or audio settings, then click OK.
Remember when I called the other export options convenient? I wasn’t kidding. If you find yourself lost with all the confusing options in this process, you’re not alone. There are some very advanced tools in here.

6. Select the name and save location for your movie, and click Save.
iMovie will go through the process of exporting your movie, including the video filter you applied. After it has finished, you can find your filtered movie in the place you told iMovie to save it.

Using Video Filters in an Active Project
What if you want to apply one of these filters to a single clip within a movie? You can’t do that by exporting the movie itself, because iMovie will apply the filter to all of your movie’s footage. The trick is to create a separate project containing just the clip you want to filter. Export this project using the steps listed above. Add the exported footage back into iMovie using the Import Movies option from the File menu. Once you’ve added the filtered footage into your Event library, just add it to the project that needed the filtered footage.

Note: When you are exporting clips to bring back into your project, you should probably export them in the format of your original footage. This can be tricky if you are unsure of what format to use, especially because this export method will overwhelm you with options. If you aren’t sure what format to use, find the original footage in your iMovie Events folder and open the footage in QuickTime player by double-clicking on the footage file. Press Command-I or select Show Movie Inspector from the Window menu. The window that pops up will tell you the video format you should use when you export the footage from iMovie.

There's a reason carpenters don't rely on Swiss Army knives.
If you find yourself underwhelmed by what you've just learned how to do, you aren't alone. The problem with Swiss Army knives, after all, is that they just barely get the job done, even when they have the right tool built in. QuickTime is great and all, but hopefully iMovie relearns some old (and new) tricks when it comes to video effects.

Although the newest iMovie audio features are great, some of you may still want access to the rubberband tool. Reader William Pytlik, like many, finds GarageBand cumbersome for simple audio edits. He passed on the following advice for using iMovieHD to edit audio instead of GarageBand:

To me the most significant issue with iMovie 08 is lack of manipulating multiple sound tracks. My solution is somewhat time consuming, but it does work.

I first create my video project in iMovie 08 and export it (under Share). This creates a .m4v file. I then import this file into iMovieHD -- drag and drop does not work here -- use File then Import... I really don't care about quality of the video since all I'm looking for is to be able to edit audio against a timeline.

I create the sound track using the iMovieHD capabilities and export the soundtrack ( not the video) using File, Export... Compress Movie for: Expert Settings, Share, Export: Sound to AIFF. The .aif file can be dragged and dropped (it works here) into the Project window. Obviously one should wait as long as possible to do this because changes to the video may require that the audio be changed as well.

Hallelujah! Apple has substantially updated iMovie. Here is a full list of improvements:

iMovie 7.1

There are quite a lot of improvements, including multiple clip selection, manual audio fades, and still frame creation. I will be covering the improvements over the next week here on Unlocking.

PS - You are best off updating through Software Update. If you need to use the standalone updater, be sure to upgrade all of your other iLife applications as well. There is also an iLife update that you need to run before updating iMovie.

(Warning: If you use this tip, be sure not to use it on clips that have already been added to a project. This tip changes the names of clips, which will break projects that use them. Thanks to Mgarbowski for sharing this in the comments below.)

If you have old analog footage you want to import into iMovie, there are a lot of options for doing so. Most import methods work like MiniDV cameras, where you import the footage directly into iMovie. The problem is that analog footage imported this way doesn't come with timecodes that tell iMovie when the footage was filmed. As a result, iMovie assumes the date of the footage is the current date.

This makes for a confusing Event library. If you view your footage by date, the stuff you really filmed in 1994 actually shows up as being from 2007. iMovie doesn't provide an easy way to change this. But there is a way, and it doesn't require you to change creation dates in the Terminal, or other complicated procedures. It just involves changing some file names. Here is how you change the date of DV event footage.

The Basics
Although MiniDV footage has a timecode embedded in the file, iMovie uses filenames to organize footage by date. (This is because iMovie is creating new files when it imports DV footage, not copying existing files off of a camera. Other cameras' footage is sorted by the creation date of the files stored on the camera. I explain this more at the bottom of this post.) Presumably, when iMovie imports footage it looks for a timecode. If one exists, it names the imported DV clip with the timecode. If an embedded timecode doesn't exist--like with analog footage--it will use the current date to name the footage. Here is a list of some timecode-named clips

Here is where the footage exists in the Event library.

Because iMovie uses the names to evaluate the dates of the footage, this means that if you just change the names of footage to reflect the correct date, iMovie will change the date it uses to display the footage in the Event library.

Here is our list of clips again, but the dates were all changed to 1908.

Here is how they appear now in iMovie.

Everytime your change the names, iMovie will regenerate the thumbnails for the newly named footage. It doesn't delete the old thumbnail files, but you can delete the old ones yourself. They reside in the iMovie Thumbnails folder inside a given event folder. You can delete all of the thumbnails that use the old names you changed.

Other interesting behavior occurs if you have multiple dates in a single event. iMovie will group them into the year of the most recent footage. If I have footage from 1908 and 2006 in the same event, they will be listed under 2006.

Here is the renamed footage.

Here is how it appears in iMovie. Notice the date range listed under the clips.

If you split this event using the "Split Event Before Selected Clip option in the File menu--one event for the 1908 footage and one for the 2006 footage--iMovie will then display them under the proper years, respectively.

The Code
The timecode names are easy to interpret. Here is what a sample filename means:

clip-2006-07-15 19;19;56.dv

The "clip-" is just part of the naming convention, and doesn't effect the name.

The "2006" refers to the year.

The "07" refers to the month.

The "15" refers to the day.

The 19;19;56 refers to the hour, minute, and second of the footage's beginning.

To change the name, just select the file in the Finder and hit enter. The text of the name will be highlighted and ready for your to change to the date you see fit.

The Exception
This entire description works with DV footage, but I can't speak for other video formats as I don't have a wide range of cameras to play with. I do know that iMovie uses the file creation date for clips downloaded from still cameras. Replacing a name like "MVI_0186.AVI" with a timecode name like "clip-2006-07-15 19;19;56.AVI" doesn't change the date of the footage in the Event library. Still, footage like this may not need to have its date changed. I imagine that changing the creation date with some advanced tools would have the desired effect, but that is another topic for another day...

New feature time! We have How To's (the long ones) and Quick Tips (the short ones) but we need another category. See, I have a list of reader-contributed tips that deserve sharing. To make sure no one thinks I came up with these great tips, we are giving them their own category. I'll be posting more of these over the coming weeks and months.

The tip today comes from Karel Gillissen. He figured out that you can add images over top of video clips. Mix in some transparency, and you get masks!

Karel has taken his tip to a whole new level and posted videos of how the process works. To keep his .Mac account from getting kicked too hard, I have posted his walkthrough below. He shows how he creates the mask using Photoshop Elements, then how he adds it over top of a video clip. (Just drag and drop! I love it!) Check it out, because this is a very cool trick.
video
Karel then shows us that with video masks you can do all kinds of cool things. Duck hunt, anyone?
video


Titles work really well in iMovie '08. Previous versions of iMovie had to render titles when you added them, taking a lot more time than the instant placement you get in '08. But there is more to iMovie '08 titles than just the speed.

Moving titles
First, you can place titles wherever you want in your movie with pinpoint accuracy. Once a title has been placed in your movie--represented by a blue flag running above your clip, you can drag that title to any point in the movie. This is even true of titles "over black". In iMovie HD, you'd have to split a clip at the point you wanted a title to enter, then add the title to the second half of the split clip.

Lengthening titles
Another really nice feature of '08 is the ability to lengthen or shorten a title quickly. Simply grab the end of a blue title flag by clicking on the end with your mouse and drag the title to lengthen or shorten it. In iMovie HD, you'd have to select the rendered title footage and readjust and rerender the title, guessing at the right length with each render. This new way is much faster and easier.

Spanning titles

By either moving a title or lengthening a title, you can get a title to stretch across multiple clips. In the case of lengthening, you'll notice that you can drag the end so it runs across as many clips as you like, with no rendering! (You just can't span a title across another title.) Very handy and much faster and more accurate than iMovie HD.

The full screen preview in iMovie '08 is excellent. Here are a few quick tips on drawing out all of its power.

You can enter full screen mode either by selecting the "Play Full Screen" from the View menu, or by clicking the full screen button below your project or event footage.

The button you want is the darkened rectangle with the arrow inside it. There are two of these, one under your project and the other under your Event Browser.

Once you are in full screen mode, you will immediately notice that if you move your mouse around, a clip navigation shows up across the bottom of the screen.
(Click to enlarge.)

This navigation bar will ignore your mouse movements until you click on it. Once you have clicked on it, dragging your mouse across the bar will scrub just like it does when in the normal iMovie window.

If you have scrubbed to a given point in full screen mode, and want to begin normal playback from that point, just hit the space bar. (Clicking a second time on the navigation bar does not disable the scrubbing ability.) Alternatively, you can move your mouse cursor straight up so it no longer runs across the clips in the navigation bar, then move your cursor over to click the play button.

One other really nice feature is being able to restrict full screen playback to the correct resolution of your footage. Because most of us are editing footage that is lower resolution than our computer displays, a full screen preview will make your footage look worse because it upscales it to fill the screen. If you want to see what your footage looks like in its natural dimensions, go into the iMovie preferences and select "Actual Size" from the drop-down menu selecting full screen playback size.

Now your footage will display at its actual quality.

The more I delve into iMovie '08, the more hidden gems I find. If you have found any hidden gems, please send them my way or share them in the comments.

This one is Back in Action. Ignore everything below and go here.

Time for another MIA. I actually get Google traffic on this issue, so I figured I'd do my civic duty and give those people a quick answer: You cannot select multiple clips in iMovie '08. You can select an entire clip and a subset of a clip, but multiple clips are out.

What do you do if you have a lot of individual clips to add to a project? Here's a handy way, the fastest way I know to add clips to a project.

1. Enable the advanced editing tools in the preferences. (I describe those tools in this post: How to use the advanced editing tools.)
2. Select the "Edit" tool in the middle toolbar. It looks like a page with a star in it.
3. Option-click all the clips you want to add to your project.

Like magic, all the clips you click will be added with each click. Be warned that this is really super fast. You might end up adding footage you don't want in your project, especially because it will add an entire clip, even if it's two hours long. (Heck, that's what Undo is for.) If you were in the habit in iMovie HD of Shift-clicking clips and dropping them all together into your project, this is just as fast. We'll see more of the Option key in an upcoming Quick Tip.

Love it or hate it, the iMovie HD interface was always the same. The preview window was always large, often larger than necessary. The clips pane was always three clips wide, which meant for a lot of scrolling if you had too many clips. If you had a large project in your timeline, the only way to see it all was to shrink it to the point it was useless to try to make accurate edits to it.

The funny thing is, I thought I loved it. I always knew where I was and what I was doing. The reality is, I just didn't know things could be different, or, for that matter, better. When I first got into the iMovie '08 interface I felt like someone moved all the rooms around in my house. Just like how I can stumble into the bathroom in the middle of the night, I could move around in iMovie HD without putting much thought into it. In iMovie '08, I was stumbling into walls.

Then I started playing around, and that's when it hit me: I can put stuff just about wherever I want it. It's like moving the door to the bathroom right next to my bed (or even better, next to my three-year-old's bed) then putting it back when I am done. Talk about power. Here is how you customize your interface.

There are going to be a lot of full-size window captures for this one, so when you see an iMovie window, click on it to get the full view.

The default
This window is what most of you are now seeing in iMovie '08:

This really isn't a bad way to start. What you should notice if you are coming from iMovie HD is that your preview window is really small, much smaller than you are accustomed to. But think about it, did you really need to see your footage that closely? Probably not, especially because there was always the full screen preview. (It was like ordering food in America. "Did you want that extra large or super extra large?") When scrubbing through your rough footage, smaller is better because...

Now you can see more of your footage at once. Notice how the Event Browser takes up a full two thirds of the window. All the more room to see where you have been and where you am going. This isn't a big deal if you have twenty minutes of footage, but what if you have 300 minutes? It makes a lot more sense to have your rough footage get the lion's share of window real estate, for now at least. Sure the project window is small as a result, but it's big enough for me to drop footage into. At the start of making my movie, that is all I need it to do.

Trading Places
So what happens when my project is getting too big for comfort? Editing a large movie in something the size of a playing card only invites frustration. There are two ways to deal with this.

If I am the kind of person that always wanted timelines to run vertically--so I can feel like I am skydiving--I can just drag on any part of the middle toolbar not occupied by a button or slider and drag that bar downward. (I could also drag it upward if I wanted more room for my source footage.) Dragging the toolbar gives me this:

Probably not the improvement you were hoping for. Method number two of granting more real estate to your project will get the job done much better. On the middle toolbar, you will see a button with facing, curved arrows. Go ahead and give it a click.

Voila. Now all that space that was dedicated to your Event Browser appears to be not so dedicated. This is the kind of room you can really use to dig into your project with transitions, additional edits, and audio tracks.

This space becomes even more useful if you use the "Trim..." feature to re-edit clips within your project. All of this and a cool animation to boot. (Can't get enough of watching your project flushed to the bottom of the window? Hold down the Shift key while you click the button. Slo-mo!)

Now you see it...
There is even more room to capture, for either my project or my source footage. What's up with those lists, either my project list or my events list? If everything I want is in a single event, and the only place it's going is into a single project, then why keep those lists in view? Click the little star-page button below either your events list or your project list.

Ahhhhhhh. Now we can really stretch out.

Of course, the same buttons will bring your lists back.

When things are big that should be small*
So what if something is big and you want it smaller? What if something is small, and you want it bigger? Let's make it happen.

The preview window, or "viewer", can be resized two ways. You probably noticed that dragging the middle bar will resize it up or down. You can also select "Viewer" in the Window menu and choose between small, medium, and large. (You can also use the Command key with "5", "6", or "7" to the same effect.)

If your clip thumbnails are too small or too big, the slider in the middle toolbar will resize them to your liking.

You can have big thumbnails,

Or itty-bitty ones.

Tiny ones obviously help you see your whole project better. Big ones will help you find the particular point in your footage more easily. The size to which you set your clips will be reflected in the print-out if you decide to print them. ("Print?" Yes, you can print.)

Finally, if the fonts in your project or events lists are too small, you can make them bigger in the iMovie preferences.

(* You earned bonus points if you knew that this section's title comes from a Jamiroquai song.)

Set it, but don't forget it.

You may be a creature of habit, but don't be needlessly stuck in just one way to view your movies. iMovie '08 wants you to shift it, swap it, and twist it around to suit the task at hand. Put this flexibility to good use by being flexible yourself. In then end, it will probably save you time and sore eyes.

I have come to realize that Unlocking needs a new feature: Missing in Action. People often come to the blog looking for a particular feature in iMovie '08 that they were used to using in iMovie HD. While I try to be very creative in finding workarounds for most features, there are a handful that are not at all possible in iMovie '08 (yet).

Today's MIA is exporting to camera. You cannot use iMovie '08 to export to a camera. I imagine this has a lot to do with the much broader camera support in iMovie '08 (a good thing!) as exporting to all of these different cameras may not even be supported across the board. Perhaps the techies-in-the-know can enlighten the rest of us in the comments.

As always, when you want a feature not currently available in iMovie '08, give Apple your feedback!

Having all of your projects at your fingertips is a great addition to iMovie. It's really just as good as having them all open at once, but without the hassle of having a bunch of windows open at once. But what do you do when your projects start to pile up?

Apple was a step ahead on this one. iMovie '08 provides folders to organize your projects. These are just like the album folders in iPhoto or the playlist folders in iTunes. You can find them up in the File menu.


You can rename a folder by double-clicking on it.

I expect to be using this feature for several reasons. It would be a nice way to organize a group of projects I plan to add to a single DVD. This is useful because the Media Browser in other iApps will show the same folder structure that you set up in iMovie. I fully expect to use this to archive old projects as well. Hats off to Apple. This is a nice touch.

Sony HDR-CX7


Official Site
Sony

iMovie '08 Support
This camera is not yet officially supported by iMovie '08, but it appears to work without issues. (Note: Like with all AVCHD cameras, an Intel Mac is required.)

Video Format
AVCHD

Storage Media
This camera uses Media Stick PRO Duo cards.

Known Issues

  • One user is very pleased with this camera in iMovie '08.
  • One user experienced crashing and distorted thumbnails until disabling third-party Quicktime plugins, like Perian.
Know anything else about this camera? Have any questions? Please share in the comments below.


Macworld today has a pretty even-handed review of iMovie '08. I learned some new things, such as how iMovie allows selective import from non-tape-based cameras.

There are also a couple of other tidbits of interest. The reviewer says that Apple "has been very pleased with their third-party iMovie developers in the past and is looking into ways to allow third party plug-ins while maintaining the speedy performance of iMovie ’08." That is pretty encouraging.

There is also a little insight into future plans for the application. "Apple is clear that this is a 1.0 release that it will build upon, so I would hope and expect some of these features to return in future releases." This is what I have suspected as well. A lot of people have been speculating that iMovie '08 will always be trimmed down in features in order to drive people to Final Cut Express. I won't go so far as to call this baseless blathering, but I do find it hard to believe. I have directly asked a few people at Apple about this and, although they are not necessarily in the know, they had a hard time believing it. The reviewer for Macworld seems to have a little more insider insight, so his view that more complex features will return is also encouraging.

Here is the link to the review.
Macworld Review: iMovie '08


I am starting a new feature tonight. I call it the Quick Tip. This is for useful iMovie tricks that don't fit or shouldn't be buried in a longer tutorial. Our first quick tip was pointed out by a kind reader. You can now print in iMovie!

"Print?" you say? "Why in the world would I need to print?" Well, I can think of a number of reasons. Thanks for asking!

For example, let's say you are working in a long project that doesn't all fit into your window. Alternatively, let's say you want to share a visual representation of your movie project, identifying particular transitions, clips, or titles for someone who isn't there in front of your screen with you. Finally, imagine having a plethora of events in your library and you are sorting through them to decide which to trim or delete. In all of these cases, you can print your events or projects to have as a handy reference.

Just a few observations about printing behavior.

1. The print command will print whatever project or event(s) you have selected. (Select your events in the left-hand navigator to make sure you are getting the right ones. You can select multiple events.)
2. The print command respects the level of zoom you are using to view your clips. (The 1/2 second zoom means a lot of frames on your printed page while the 30 second zoom means a lot fewer frames on your page.)
3. (Updated. See Below) Whatever you select to print will be fit to one page, unless you really do have a lot. If you have too much for one page, it will spill to another page but all of your clips will appear very small.
4. If you are printing events, the printed page will have a divider identifying the each event.

I would advise using the print preview button as you are playing around with this. It will give you an accurate view of your output before you commit it to ink and paper. Have fun printing your movies!

Update: I always forget to check the application-specific print settings that many apps place in the print dialog. Someone pointed out that iMovie allows you to choose up to 8 pages for your output and also let's you turn on and off the metadata like favorite markups. Very cool.

UPDATE: The 7.1 software update created a very easy way to accomplish this. Although this post is still useful for those wanting a more powerful, flexible method of creating stills, I have written another post on the simpler method.

A lot of recently upset Mac users are keeping two lists. List A is a list of all the iMovie HD features missing from iMovie '08. List B has all the iMovie HD features that are found in iMovie '08. Their complaint is that list B is too short and list A is too long. In all fairness, there ought to be a list C, containing all the features of '08 not found in previous versions of iMovie, but I can't blame them for neglecting list C. I was among the first who started out only keeping two lists.

So it's time for everyone to pull out list A. Scan down the list to where it says that iMovie '08 can't capture a still image from a clip. Cross that out. Now pull out list B. At the bottom of your list, write down, "iMovie '08 can capture a still image from a clip". Here is how you capture a still image from a clip.

Feature Diving
A little nagging thought kept telling me that there would be a relatively easy way to capture a still image in iMovie '08. I just felt that it had to be in there somewhere, somewhere I hadn't yet thought to look. So I went feature diving. It turned out it didn't take long to find, but I think I got lucky. After all, who thinks of Quicktime when thinking about still images?

Exporting to Quicktime offers more choices than I ever picture myself using. I have no idea, for example, what an AU or an FLC is. But exporting as an Image Sequence seemed promising. It's more than promising, it's perfect. For those who want to skip the rest of this post, you can just isolate the frame you want to capture in a new project, export it with Quicktime as an image sequence, using the image settings that you want, and find the image or images in the folder where you sent the export. For those wanting a sample walkthrough, read on.

The Setup
Before you export anything, you need to select the frame or frames you need images of and add them to their own movie project. For help selecting specific frames, go to this post on frame-precise editing.

How to make frame precise edits

I called my project "Image" because I plan on keeping this project around for any footage I plan on capturing into still images. Once I have selected the appropriate footage and added it to my project, I am ready to proceed.

Remember that any footage in here will get the full treatment, and there are up to 30 frames per second in your footage. If you add a full second of a clip to this project, you will have up to 30 still images to sort through. This may not be a bad thing, as I will discuss below, but just be aware of what you are going to get.

The Export
Go to the Share menu, and choose "Export using Quicktime...". In that window, choose the menu option, "Movie to Image Sequence."

Once you have this selected, you can choose among the preset export options:

Or you can click the "Options" button and choose your own image type, frame rate, and even compression settings specific to your image format. (The compression settings are found by clicking the next "Options" button.)

I chose to export mine with a custom setting of JPEG at highest quality. You will probably want to do the something similar, but if not, it's probably because you know a lot more about image formats than me.

Your export window won't look much different when you have changed your settings, but be sure to take a moment to choose the destination folder and a name. The name will be repeated with image numbers behind it.

Go ahead and click "Save" and head on over to your destination folder. There you will find one or more images with the image name you gave and a number.

If you have multiple images to review, it's really easy to do so by selecting all of them and opening them in Preview. (Preview is a photo and PDF viewing application in your Applications folder. Double clicking on them all will probably open them in Preview by default.) Here you can figure out which to delete, which to keep, and even which to add to iPhoto if so desired.

The most humorous part about all of this is that this export setting is available in iMovie HD. Who knew? I guess with such easy access to the menu option "Save Frame..." under the File menu, I never thought to look.

Using the image in iMovie
Most of you probably want to capture a still image in iMovie to actually use it in iMovie. Doing so is as easy as ever. Just like in iMovie HD, you can add the image to iPhoto and grab it from your Media Browser, or you can just drag it from the Finder and drop it into your project. Obviously the way you actually use it in your project is a whole other ball of wax, so I won't go into that here. Just remember that if you are using the image to "pause" your footage on a particular frame, and have the footage resume after the image, head over to the previously referenced post on frame-precise edits if you need more help.

Hooray for List B
I'm still convinced that list B will grow with time. Still, with High Definition cameras now becoming so common, it's nice to know that we don't have to wait for Apple to add back in this particular feature. In fact, I really like this way of doing things. It doesn't have the convenience of a single menu item like in iMovie HD, but it does give me a lot more control over what I am getting.