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Unlocking iMovie '09 & '11

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.

14 comments: to “ Quick Tip: Capture a still frame

  • Alex
    October 16, 2007 at 7:16 AM  

    Can you edit the 'Ken Burns' settings on still frames? I found this a very nice feature of iMovie HD (06).

  • Aaron
    October 16, 2007 at 7:30 AM  

    @ Alex. You can! In fact, I much prefer the interface for doing this in iMovie '08. Basically, in the same window previewing your image you have two boxes, a green one and a red one. The green one identifies the start point and the red one identifies the end point. You just drag and resize the boxes to set the effect.

    The only difference is that you can't have an image start or end out of frame, like in iMovie HD. The entire frame needs to be filled with at least some part of the image. In iMovie HD you could start with a black frame and have the picture move in.

  • Laurie
    June 3, 2008 at 1:13 PM  

    Thanks for this tip! Just so you know, the image you capture will be of the original source, without any formatting (cropping, etc) you might have done.

  • Valenta
    May 8, 2009 at 1:11 PM  

    Thank you so much, I am new to imovie, and am posting images for someone who is living her last days...

    peace...

  • Doo
    July 14, 2009 at 10:48 AM  

    Thanks so much!! I've been trying to do this for so long!!! :)

  • Anonymous
    September 13, 2009 at 5:36 PM  

    Excellent Tip - this has been driving me mad !!!

  • mkug12
    February 23, 2010 at 7:35 PM  

    Thanks for the informative post. Of course time has moved on now and you might want to check out the video snapshot functionality in DV Kitchen. It has a purpose dedicated still capture module which allows you to snap multiple stills while the video is playing AND upload them to the web via ftp. Pretty impressive.

  • Anonymous
    February 28, 2010 at 7:04 PM  

    thank you thank you thank you for finally posting a clear, easy to understand post about this for the technology challenged like myself!

  • Anonymous
    April 11, 2010 at 11:14 PM  

    amen for this! I've been sitting here for an hour trying to figure the last portion out. I had everything up to the "Reveal in Finder" point. Thank you!

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  • Khoncepts
    May 20, 2011 at 9:16 PM  

    Thank you!!! I've been online for hours and found your helpful tips page -PERFECT solution.

  • Francis
    July 26, 2011 at 11:02 PM  

    hi I'm using imovie '11 v 9.0.2.
    It seems to act differently to what you describe.
    It has a Create freeze frame function but I can't find how to reveal it in finder once it has been created.
    Can anyone help with this?

  • Anonymous
    August 13, 2011 at 3:14 AM  

    Now this doesn't work - there is no reveal in finder for created still image in newer version of iMovie