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Making Better iMovies

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Making Better iMovies

By Jeff Carlson, author of iMovie 2: Visual QuickStart Guide

Until recently, if you wanted to edit video you'd need a room full of specialized equipment. But now most of the tools you need are probably sitting right in your Applications folder. That's because Apple's iMovie software, which is included on most newer-model Apple computers, lets you import video footage and edit it into an enjoyable, professional-looking movie without a lot of hassle.

If you're just getting your feet wet with digital video, this article contains some helpful shooting and editing tips I picked up while writing my book iMovie 2 for Macintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide. For information on the basics of digital video and what to look for when buying a digital camcorder, see my other article, Getting Your Feet Wet: Buying a Camcorder.

A Stable Working Relationship

Most people equate video footage with the jittery movement of home movies or cop shows on TV. Except in rare circumstances, that look isn't a matter of style: The diminutive size and weight of most camcorders makes it hard to hold them steady while you're filming.

While mounting the camera on a tripod is your best bet for keeping the camera still, a tripod can be cumbersome to carry and set up for each shot. An alternative is to tuck your elbows into your sides and hold the camera steady with both hands. You also can use a feature found on most cameras called digital-image stabilization to cut down on that shaky look and feel. But keep in mind that this feature does a good job of compensating only for small variations in camera movement--you can't rely on it if you're shooting on a steady diet of candy bars and triple espressos.

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