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Five Cool and Useful Techniques for iMovie '09 and iDVD

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It would be easy to overlook some video-editing and DVD-creation features in iMovie '09 and iDVD, as they aren't immediately apparent to a new (or even longtime) user. But these tips from Jeff Carlson, author of iMovie '09 and iDVD for Mac OS X: Visual QuickStart Guide, are immediately useful - and loads of fun.

iMovie '09 is a huge update to Apple's consumer video-editing software—one of those releases where the flagship new features, such as image stabilization or the Precision Editor, really represent just the top crust of what's been baked in. In the process of updating my book iMovie '09 and iDVD for Mac OS X: Visual QuickStart Guide, I found myself slicing-and-dicing the new edition to make room for all of the new material.

The situation with iDVD is oddly the reverse; Apple pretty much left the DVD-creation program alone this time around (with one important exception, as I point out in this article). You can now export a movie directly from iMovie to iDVD, a feature that went absent in iMovie '08, but everything else is the same.

For that reason, and to keep the physical size (and price) of my book reasonable, I decided to pull out the iDVD section and offer it as a free download to anyone who wants it. Click the Downloads tab on Peachpit's book page, or just click here, to open the PDF of the iDVD section of the book. Then save your own free copy—more than 70 pages!

For this article, I've chosen five tips that are easy to overlook, but that can greatly improve your video-editing and DVD-creation experience.

Tip 1: Add Any Location to a Travel Map

One of the flashy new features in iMovie '09 is the capability to create travel maps. Specify two locations, such as cities, and iMovie creates an animated map that draws a red line between the two. iMovie includes a database of 4,000 locations (cities, airports, and many landmarks), which sounds like a lot but doesn't cover the globe.

However, if you know the latitude and longitude of a location, iMovie can place it on one of its maps. Since you probably don't have that information easily at hand (heck, I still get lost in my hometown), do this:

  1. Go to Get Lat Lon, a website that looks up coordinates for you.
  2. Enter a place name, such as Elko NV, and click the Zoom to Place button. The specified place appears on the map, with the latitude and longitude coordinates listed below it (in this case, 40.83538, -115.767178). Select those coordinates on the screen, and copy them by choosing Edit > Copy.
  3. In iMovie, add a map to your project (drag one from the Maps and Backgrounds browser to the Project browser). iMovie's inspector (a floating window) appears, with San Francisco as the Start Location.
  4. Click a location button to flip the inspector and reveal the Choose Location window.
  5. Paste the copied coordinates (Edit > Paste) into the field at the top. In the field at the bottom of the window, enter a name for the location (see Figure 1). You can change the name here for any location, even those that are in iMovie's database.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Figure 1 You can add a precise location to the maps in your movies.

  8. To complete the journey, you can then specify another location. To preview the effect, press the slash (/) key to play just that clip (see Figure 2).
  9. Figure 2 Mark more than one location to create an animated line that connects the two locations.

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