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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Create a Photo Slideshow Project

Difficulty level: Easy

Much of this book is focused on bending video to your will, but don't forget that iMovie can also import and work with digital still photos. They're given the "Ken Burns Effect," named after the famed documentary filmmaker who popularized the technique of moving the camera over a still photo to give it a sense of motion. iMovie offers controls for customizing the effect, or ignoring it altogether. You can intersperse photos with video footage or, as I describe here, make a slideshow movie that's composed entirely of photos.

Import photos

If you use iPhoto or Aperture to manage your photo library, or want to grab snapshots from Photo Booth, iMovie can access the photos directly. You can also import photos from the Desktop or other locations on your hard disk.

Importing photos from iPhoto, Aperture, or Photo Booth

  1. Click the Photo browser button in the toolbar to view your photo libraries.
  2. At the top of the Photo browser, select a photo source. Clicking the disclosure triangle to the left of the application name reveals your events, photos, faces, places, albums, and smart albums in the program (Figure 4.14).
    Figure 4.14

    Figure 4.14 The Photo browser

  3. In the lower portion of the browser, click a photo to preview it in the Viewer.
  4. Drag the photo to the Project browser to add it to your movie. A green checkmark appears on the photo thumbnail in the Photo browser to indicate it's in your project.

Importing photos from the hard disk

  1. Locate the photo you wish to use in the Finder.
  2. Drag the photo directly to iMovie's Project browser, dropping it where you want it to appear in the movie (Figure 4.15).
    Figure 4.15

    Figure 4.15 Importing a photo from the Finder

Adding a source folder to the Photo browser

You can take advantage of the Photo browser even if you don't use iPhoto or Aperture. Drag any folder from the Finder to the top pane of the Photo browser; it appears within a new folder called Folders, and it reveals its images when clicked.

Adjust Ken Burns Effect settings

iMovie automatically applies the Ken Burns Effect to incoming photos. Also known as pan and zoom, the effect makes it appear as if the camera is moving over the surface of the photo, with a gradual zoom in or zoom out. It's a technique that works especially well if you want to focus on something specific, like a person's face, and then back out to reveal their surroundings. You can, of course, change how the effect appears by setting the start and end positions. If you'd rather remove the Ken Burns Effect, jump ahead to "Fit or crop a photo."

Adjusting the Ken Burns Effect

  1. Select the photo you wish to edit in the Project browser, and open the photo editing interface in the Viewer by clicking the Crop button on the toolbar; double-clicking the Crop icon in the corner of the photo clip's thumbnail; or pressing the C key (Figure 4.16).
    Figure 4.16

    Figure 4.16 The Ken Burns Effect editing interface

  2. Drag the corner handles of the green Start rectangle to specify the appearance of the first frame of the effect; the area inside the rectangle will resize to fill the frame when played. Also, drag within the rectangle to reposition it (Figure 4.17).
    Figure 4.17

    Figure 4.17 Setting the Start and End frames, and the result

  3. Drag the corner handles of the red End rectangle to set the last frame. Click the Play button to preview how it will appear.
  4. Want to swap the Start and End positions? Click the Reverse button.
  5. Click Done to apply the changes.

Fit or crop a photo

The Ken Burns Effect is snazzy, but too much panning and zooming can give your viewers a headache. If you want to display a photo without movement, set it to be either cropped to the frame or made to fit with black bars visible. The photo controls can also rotate photos, such as portrait-oriented pictures that were not automatically rotated when you imported them from the camera.

Fitting or cropping a photo

  1. After adding a picture to your project, view the photo controls (I prefer to double-click the Crop icon or select the clip and press C).
  2. Click the Fit button to get as much of the image into frame as possible (Figure 4.18).

    Figure 4.18

    Figure 4.18 Fit and Crop

    Or, click the Crop button and then drag the frame's corners to define the visible area. Cropping is also great when you want to focus on one area of an image and exclude another, just as you would crop a photo in iPhoto.

  3. Click Done to apply the changes.

Rotating photos

  1. Select a photo in your project and bring up the photo controls.
  2. Click the Rotate Counterclockwise or Rotate Clockwise button to turn the photo in 90-degree increments.
  3. Click Done.

Change a photo's duration

Incoming photos are given a 4-second duration by default, but you can make them as long as you want. Photos with the Ken Burns Effect applied automatically adjust the timing of the effect based on the clip's duration.

Changing a photo's duration

  1. Double-click the photo you want to edit (or press the I key) to bring up the Clip inspector.
  2. Enter a new time in the Duration field (Figure 4.19).

    Figure 4.19

    Figure 4.19 Setting a clip duration

    If you want all photos in your slideshow to match the same duration, click the "Applies to all stills" checkbox.

  3. Click Done.

Edit the rest of the slideshow

Now that you know the basics of adding and manipulating still images, continue to edit the rest of the slideshow movie using the editing techniques discussed so far in the book. Rearrange clips to your liking; add transitions, titles, and music; and apply color correction and video effects to photo clips just as you would to video clips (see "Correct Color Project," later in this chapter). (However, although iMovie's color controls are surprisingly powerful, I recommend performing your primary image editing in iPhoto or other software before bringing pictures into iMovie.)

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