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

Home > Articles > Digital Audio, Video > iMovie

Robin Williams Cool Mac Apps: iMovie

There isn't much more boring than an unedited movie, and home movies are no exception. This chapter will help you learn to edit your home movies with iMovie HD.
This chapter is from the book

For more information on iMovie, visit our Digital Lifestyles Reference Guide or Macintosh Reference Guide or sign up for our Digital Lifestyles or Macintosh newsletters


Chances are that your first home movie experiences were similar to ours—you shot some video tape, connected the camera to the TV, watched it once, then never looked at it again. In fact, we just stopped carrying our video camera with us on trips because it was big and heavy and we knew that we would never get around to looking at the footage again when we returned home.

Why did this happen? Because it's boring to watch unedited movies! We see beautifully edited movies every day—at movie theatres, on TV, and on the Internet. We've become too sophisticated as viewers to enjoy sitting through unedited home movies that for the most part look like —hmm, what's a good phrase to use here—home movies.

That's where iMovie comes in and dazzles. Get rid of the boring and repititous shots. Toss the scenes that have bad lighting. Add titles and a music soundtrack from iTunes. Create special effects and put Hollywood-style transitions between scenes. iMovie makes all of this incredibly fun and easy.

When you connect a digital video camera to your computer with a FireWire cable and launch iMovie, you're ready to create home movies that you won't mind watching again and again.

The best part is that iMovie makes it easy to share your movies with others in a variety of ways. Create small movies files that you can email or upload to a .Mac Homepage. You can even use your movie to create a professional DVD that plays on any computer or almost any DVD player.


This is the FireWire icon.

If you didn't get a FireWire cable with your digital video camera, check the box your Mac came in—often there is a FireWire cable in it. If you don't have a cable, buy one at your local electronics store or order it from one of the many dealers online (search for “firewire cables”).

Digital video (DV) requires a lot of disk space—one minute of DV footage uses about 220 MB of hard disk space. A four-minute iMovie that contains soundtracks, transitions, and titles may use 4 to 6 gigabytes of disk space.

Once you've seen what a difference editing can have on the audience reaction to your “home movies,” you'll be inspired. If you don't have a digital video camera, consider getting one. Teamed with iMovie, even the least expensive video camera is enough to create fabulous movies that can amaze you and your friends.

The Steps of Making a Movie

Making an iMovie consists of five basic steps. This chapter walks you through each step.

Of course, you must first shoot some video! Keep in mind that when you shoot video, every time you start and stop the camera, iMovie interprets that as a separate movie “clip.” You will be able to rearrange those clips to create a simple storyboard (a visual outline) for your movie.

Once you've got footage, these are the five basic steps you will follow:

  1. Connect a camera, open an iMovie project window, and import the video.
  2. Edit the clips.
  3. Add clips to the Timeline.
  4. Add enhancements (transitions, titles, effects, chapter markers, etc).
  5. Save and share the movie in various formats.

Connect a video camera

Before you can import video footage, you must connect your digital video camera to your Mac. If possible, it's best to connect the video camera's AC adapter for power while you import video footage to preserve the camera's battery power. Insert a video tape in the camera that has footage on it you want to import.

To connect your camera

  1. Plug the 4-pin connector end of a FireWire cable into the camera's FireWire port and then plug the 6-pin connector end into your computer's FireWire port.
  2. Set your video camera to “VTR” (Video Tape Recorder) or “Play” mode (do not set the camera to “Record”).
  3. Open iMovie, if it's not already open.
  4. Turn on the camera. After several seconds the words “Camera Connected” appear in the Monitor area, as shown below.

Create a new iMovie project

  1. Open iMovie. The project selection window opens. Choose “Create a New Project” (unless you want to open a project you've already been working on, in which case click “Open an Existing Project”)

    If iMovie is already open, you won't see the project selection window shown above. Instead, go to the File menu and choose “New Project…” to open the “Create Project” window (shown below).

    If you've already created a project, choose “Open Project….” Find and select the project you want to open. Or choose “Open Recent,” then select a project you've opened recently (shown on the left).

  2. In the “Create Project” window (shown below), name your project and choose the location where you want to save it. Be sure to choose a drive or partition that has plenty of unused disk space! If you make lots of movies, consider buying an external FireWire drive to use just for movie projects. Do not click “Create” yet!
  3. From the “Video format” pop-up menu, choose a video format to use:

    DV (Digital Video) is the format most video cameras use. This standard video format, the same proportion that standard TV uses, has an “aspect ratio” (proportion) of 4:3. This is most likely the format you should choose for your movie.

    DV Widescreen is the same format as DV, but it uses the widescreen aspect ratio of 16:9. Some video cameras have a setting that shoots in the 16:9 aspect ratio. If your video was shot using a widescreen setting, choose this format for your movie.

    HDV 1080i is High Definition Video that uses a vertical screen resolution of 1,080 interlaced scan lines. The horizontal scan lines that make up an interlaced image are divided into even and odd scan lines. Any given instant in the video actually displays only half of the image—either the even scan lines or the odd scan lines. Choose HDV 1080i only if your video camera shoots in this format.

    HDV 720p is a competing High Definition Video format that uses a vertical screen resolution of 720 progressive scan lines. There are fewer scan lines, but any given instant in the video displays both even and odd scan lines (referred to as progressive). Choose HDV 720p only if your video camera shoots in this format.

    MPEG-4 is a highly compressed video format used by many consumer video devices, such as a digital still camera. If your video footage comes from a camera that used MPEG-4 format, choose it here.

    iSight is a video format compatible with the Apple iSight video camera. Choose this format if you plan to make a movie using video clips captured with an iSight camera.

  4. Click the “Create” button to open a new, empty iMovie window.

Preview the video footage in your camera

  1. In the iMovie window, click the Camera mode button.

  2. Click the “Play” button (shown on the left) to view the video from the camera in iMovie's Monitor.

    At this point you are just previewing the video. iMovie does not digitize and import any video until you click the “Import” button. Use the controls below the “Import” button to control the camera. Rewind, pause, play, stop, and fast-forward to preview specific scenes.

Import video footage into iMovie

  1. Click the “Play” button to preview the video footage in your camera.
  2. When you see the scene you want to import, click the “Import” button (shown above). The “Import” button turns blue when it is selected and importing files.
  3. To stop importing, click the “Import” button again. Each time you start and stop importing, iMovie places that segment of video, called a “clip,” into one of the square slots in the Clips Pane.

    If you have plenty of disk space, you can just let the camera run. iMovie will detect scene changes, import the individual scenes as separate clips, and place each one in the Clips Pane. If you need to conserve disk space, preview the entire tape and import only the scenes you definitely want to use in your movie. Of course you can always delete a clip after it's imported (see the next page).

Delete clips and empty the Trash

To delete a clip, select a clip in the Clips Pane (or in the Timeline), then hit the Delete key. Or Control-click on a clip, then choose “Clear” from the contextual menu.

As you delete unwanted clips, the number in the Trash pane gets larger, indicating that the deleted clips are going into the Trash.

Clips in the Trash take up disk space. To free up valuable disk space, you need to empty the Trash often: Click the Trash icon to open the “iMovie Trash” window. In this window you can play a clip's preview to make sure the clip is not important. You can select just the clips you want to delete, then click “Delete Selected Clips….” Or click the “Empty Trash…” button to delete all clips in the Trash.

Import live video with a video camera

You can import live video (without first recording it to tape) into iMovie with any compatible digital video camera, even an iSight camera.

  1. Connect the video camera to your computer with a FireWire cable.
  2. Set the video camera to “Camera” or “Record” (not “VTR” or “Play”).
  3. Put iMovie in Camera Mode (shown on the left).
  4. Click the “Import” button in the iMovie window.

If you're using an iSight camera and can't get iMovie to recognize it, go to iChat's “Video” preferences, disable the option to “Automatically open iChat when camera is turned on,” then quit iChat. The “Import” button in iMovie changes to “Record with iSight.”

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive:

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020