Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Digital Audio, Video > iMovie

This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Advanced Timeline Techniques

In a well-edited video, the cuts between scenes occur at exactly the right moments. In movies, the action cuts between two actors as they converse, reinforcing both the dialog and the drama. Every moviegoer has experienced this, probably without even thinking about it.

In music videos, scenes change in rhythm with a piece of music, turning the visuals and the soundtrack into a unified performance. Every MTV viewer has seen this, probably without even thinking about anything at all. (I’m kidding, kids—music videos are among the most tightly edited productions on the planet.)

In iMovie HD, several features work together to let you edit with precision. You can set bookmarks, visual guideposts that aid in trimming and positioning clips. You can trim clips directly in the timeline, much as you can in high-end programs, such as Apple’s Final Cut family. And timeline snapping makes it easy to move clips to the desired location as you drag them to and within the timeline viewer.

Setting Bookmarks

A bookmark is a virtual Post-It note that you can tack onto the timeline. Want to go back and refine a section later? Set a bookmark so you don’t lose your place. Want to time edits to music? Create bookmarks at each beat, measure, or other musical milestone.

To create a bookmark, position the playhead where you want the bookmark to be, then choose Add Bookmark from the Markers menu or press apple.gif-B. A bookmark appears as a small green diamond on the timeline.

You can use the Markers menu or keyboard shortcuts to jump from one bookmark to the next. Press apple.gif-[ to move to the previous bookmark and apple.gif-] to move to the next one.

Trimming Clips in the Timeline

With iMovie HD’s direct trimming feature, you can remove footage from a clip after you’ve added it to the timeline. Video editors often describe this process as changing a clip’s in point or out point.

Tips for Trimming

Resurrecting trimmed footage. Need to bring back some footage that you trimmed away? Just drag the edge of the clip again. For example, to bring back some footage from the end of a clip, drag to the right. To restore the clip to its pre-trimmed state, select the clip and choose Revert Clip to Original from the Advanced menu.

Trimming and adjacent clips. What happens if you trim a clip that already has a clip next to it? It depends.

If you lengthen a clip, the clips to its right move to the right, extending the total length of your project. Videographers call this a ripple edit.

What if you don’t want to change the position of the remaining clips? For example, maybe you’ve already timed them to music or narration, and a ripple edit would ruin your work. Easy: just press apple.gif while lengthening the clip. When you apple.gif-drag to lengthen a clip, iMovie HD also trims the clip directly next to the clip you’re stretching, making it shorter. All other clips stay in place, and the overall length of your project stays the same. This is called a rolling edit.

Timeline Snapping

You’ve probably encountered snapping features in other Mac programs: when you drag one item near another, it snaps toward the second item as though the two share a magnetic attraction.

iMovie HD’s timeline-snapping feature brings this magnetism to your movies. Use the Preferences command to turn on timeline snapping, and the playhead snaps to various elements as you drag: to the beginning and end of clips, to bookmarks, to chapter markers, and to silent portions of audio tracks (page 250).

Better still, clips themselves snap to these same elements as you drag them. And so does the mouse pointer when you’re using direct trimming. Timeline snapping pairs up beautifully with bookmarks and direct trimming.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account