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Unlocking iMovie '09 & '11

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.

17 comments: to “ What Every iMovie HD User Should Know About iMovie '08

  • marieboyer
    October 23, 2007 at 6:33 PM  

    Again, your site is an incredible resource. I am sending this link to everyone I know who uses iMovie 08, or plans to at some point.

    Thank you so much!

  • Pascal Bourque
    October 23, 2007 at 7:33 PM  

    "discover that it may take a long, long time to make thumbnails for your footage"

    No kidding... I have imported a few MOV files into iMovie 08, and am stuck with about 45 minutes remaining to generate the thumbnails... And there is no way to cancel the operation! I don't want to force quit iMovie as I fear I might corrupt my project database, so it seems like I have no choice but to let it run until it is complete, even though I don't really care for this footage (I was just doing some tests with iMovie 08).

    Ah well...

  • Anonymous
    October 24, 2007 at 6:12 PM  

    Keep up the good work. Best site for iMovie8, better than Apple. I was very skeptic when it lauched but I thought that it had to be "learned" from scratch just as you experienced at the begining, except I was working on FCExpress and not in HDMovie6. I wish they would implement skiming and generating titles, transitions and audio with color correction on the fly, that alone would be better than the price of admission Keep the good work.
    Thank You

  • Anonymous
    May 7, 2008 at 8:38 PM  

    Is there any way to make the video effects in iMovie '08 (fast forward/reverse)?

  • Anonymous
    June 3, 2008 at 10:54 AM  

    I like reading your tips. Very useful stuff. I do have a question though. Can you add more than one title to a clip? I am trying to figure out if it is possible and i haven't been able to do it so far. Surely you can add more than one title to a long clip. I would just cut it and break it up but I hate to do that for fear of losing some transition quality as the clip is continuos conversation. Help!

  • Anonymous
    August 9, 2008 at 4:34 PM  

    Is their anyway to mirror your videos? When I used my camera, everything that it recorded turned out to be backwards, is their a way to reverse this???

  • Me & my Mac
    September 11, 2008 at 8:19 PM  

    heeey! you seem to know your stuff! Quick question, is there a way to add large blocks of text in imovie 6, like say, a paragraph? I discovered the "music video" title, but I want it centered. This is probably very basic, but I haven't worked with imovie before so...

  • WaltBrown
    September 12, 2008 at 4:02 PM  

    I made 2 movies with iMovie8.

    When I tried to import another .mov file. I could not get rid or delete the prior movie file. It was just added on to the prior file.

    I managed to get most of the prior file ddeleted, but the last two frames or clips persisted no matter what I tried.

    This is a very frustrating product and drives me right back to iMove6 HD.

  • http://www.ramseydesign.biz
    October 21, 2008 at 5:20 PM  

    As a new user, I am very happy to have discovered your blog. Keep it up.
    Good stuff!!!

  • Anonymous
    December 8, 2008 at 3:32 PM  

    "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."

    hahaha. that's exactly what happened to me :)

  • Anonymous
    December 14, 2008 at 8:18 AM  

    As a new user I have just discovered your blog - looks really very useful thanks. I was seeking a method to extract still images from iMovie08 & discovered that having downloaded the iMovieHD06 application I can capture 08 event footage in HD06 and use the create still image option. I then wondered whether this technique could be used to apply HD06 effects to clips from events captured in 08 and found that they can and that by exporting the modified clip back to Quicktime it can then be imported to 08. Obviously all this is somewhat cumbersome, however as I will only be applying SFX to a limited number of clips it’ll do the job.

  • Harold
    December 31, 2008 at 2:38 PM  

    Can I crop photos that I've imported from iphoto into an imovie project. When I select the picture, it doesn't stay 'selected' when I hit crop. Also can I use multiple photos over video that cut and/or dissolve into each other without revealing the video underneath. In other words can I use photos to cover a whole section of video?

  • Bimini
    January 28, 2009 at 1:45 AM  

    Hello! Maybe you can help me...

    I'm currently using my boyfriend's old macbook pro, and I recently got a Sony HDR-SR11 video camera for Christmas. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to upload the video from the camera to the computer -the still photos will upload, but not the videos.

    Every website I've checked has told me I need a firewire cable...But I'm sure this isn't true. I'm in Russia at the moment, and we tested uploading video to my laptop while I was in the states before I left, and I'm only supposed to need the USB cable. But it won't upload! I have iMovieHD...do I need iMovie 08 to do this? I've searched my computer and I don't have iMovie 08 --so then how did the footage from my camera get onto my computer when I was in the states?!
    When I plug the video camera into my computer, a "USB SELECT" screen comes up with only 4 options- "USB CONNECT", "USB CONNECT" (with a different picture), "PRINT" and "DISC BURN". None of them seem to work. My computer will recognise the camera is there, but will only open the still photographs, not the movies. It says that I don't have a program that can even open the folders where I think the movies are.

    I'm a little hopeless when it comes to computers, please help!

  • Kutuzov
    March 24, 2009 at 8:37 PM  

    Hmmm, I am more than somewhat disappointed with this version of iMovie. While yes, it does have some amazing features, the lack of basic video edits is astounding. A more than major oversight by its creators. I would definitely stay away. Just go for the 06 version. It covers the basics much better.

  • Anonymous
    December 27, 2009 at 10:56 AM  

    to gfwmac-
    you can! ive done it before. to the site, this is awesomely helpful.

  • Anonymous
    September 1, 2010 at 3:10 PM  

    I use Final Cut Pro now so any version of iMovie at this point looks like child's play comparatively. That being said, the person who wrote this article is ridiculous. If one were to compare iMovie HD and iMovie '08 to Final Cut Pro, it would be obvious which one comes closer to the professional interface and workflow of a professional-grade software such as Final Cut.

    Don't be fooled, iMovie '08 is a dumbed-down version of iMovie HD meant to appeal to those who are completely incompetent when it comes to editing and producing videos. The interface is not user friendly and the absence of certain features far outweighs those added and retained in iMovie '08. I love apple and their products, but iMovie '08 proves that even the best of companies aren't immune to stupid ideas.

  • Administrator!
    December 11, 2011 at 10:07 AM  

    This comment has been removed by the author.