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Unlocking iMovie '09 & '11

How to add black space

One of the first things I noticed about iMovie '08 is that you can no longer run audio beyond the end of the video clips. I also noticed that you cannot drag clips apart in the timeline to create black space between clips. How do you drive home the drama without some black space to let the moment sink in? Well, here's one way...

Go to the titles button on the right side of the iMovie window. Pick the Centered title and drag it where you need some black space.

Once you have your title in place, select the text in the preview window on the right. Delete it all and leave it blank so it looks like this:

This blank title serves as an adequate substitute for black space. However, you probably want to adjust the timing of it to fit your movie's needs. Unfortunately, although you can just drag to adjust the timing of the title (which isn't there because you deleted all the text), you cannot drag to get the clip itself to the desired length. To adjust the timing of the clip itself, you will need to choose the "Set Duration..." option. You can find it in the Edit menu...

In the contextual menu you get by right-clicking or control-clicking...

Or you can just hit Command-R.

Once you do, a little window pops down from the top that lets you type in a numerical value, in seconds, for how long you want the black clip to last.

This process will probably take some trial and error, but hopefully you can get the length you want without too much trouble.
In the end, your project will look something like this:

If anyone figures out an easier or more accurate way to get just the right amount of black space, please share it with us in the comments!

11 comments: to “ How to add black space

  • Paul Rehel
    August 12, 2007 at 11:01 AM  

    thanks for this site, I can see it being a lifesaver. Once you have dropped the text into the "timeline" to create a black clip the blue text box above it is automatically selected, just hit the backspace to delete the text, leaving the black clip, then you can alter the time of the clip by clicking on the clock icon in the bottom left hand corner of the clip.

  • Aaron Miller
    August 13, 2007 at 9:38 AM  

    Thanks for the great tip, Paul. It never occurred to me to just delete the blue text box or click the little clock. There seems to be a lot of hidden UI functionality in iMovie '08. It's great to get other insights to figure these things out.

  • Anonymous
    September 22, 2007 at 9:56 AM  

    Hi. Whenever I need a black clip i use a simple spacer.jpg (black, 1x1 pixel) and drag it from the photo view into my project. Maybe it's a bit faster :)

  • Anonymous
    September 4, 2008 at 8:43 PM  

    perfect! thanks!

  • Anonymous
    October 7, 2008 at 12:39 PM  

    I'm having problems with iMovie adding an extra 2 minutes of black frames to the end of my movie. I don't have any clips at the end of my timeline or any other elements there, but iMovie wants to export the movie with two minutes of blank footage. Anyone have any ideas how I can get rid of this?

  • Mike
    October 27, 2008 at 6:18 PM  

    I'm on a MacBook pro, and I used Photobooth to take a picture of my hand over the camera lens. Now, right there in the photo browser, I have a nice blank image to use as a black block.

    Not that your method isn't good, but this method is quick and reusable very easily.

    Great blog, by the way!

  • Don
    August 7, 2009 at 10:23 AM  

    My problem is: I've partly created a project in iMovie 08. Now I want to go back and insert a title screen before the FIRST frame, like a normal movie-title intro, and specify its duration. I'd want to pick a color, font and duration.

    iMovie won't let me insert anything before the start of the project. iMovie help is no help.


    Don Buck

  • Don
    August 7, 2009 at 10:38 AM  

    Woops -- please ignore that last question about a title screen at the beginning. I got it to work.


  • Dan
    April 21, 2010 at 1:15 AM  

    Too Much Black at End?

    I have iMovie HD 2006, but you may have the same problem:

    When I finish sliding stuff around, there is often too much silent black at the end. I usually have the music end in black, so I need a little, but this is maybe a minute or two of just black.

    I found out at the top left of the timeline, there's a clock and a film frame looking icon. In Timeline mode, the usual mode, the clock is highlighted. If you highlight the frame, you get "Clip View Mode." Blank areas now show as a black clip with a duration!

    You can click the last black clip, which is minutes long, and reduce it bit by bit 'til it's the right length for closing black of your video.

    Go back to "Clock" (timeline) mode, play the last bit and see how it looks. Then, SAVE IT!

  • Ellenoor
    June 22, 2010 at 4:46 PM  


  • Micah
    October 17, 2010 at 11:52 PM  

    @ Dan! TOTALLY worked! Thanks!