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Add Enhancements

Once you've made a rough cut of your movie that includes all the clips you want and you've arranged them in the order you want, you can start adding enhancements to make the movie look more professional. Add transitions between scenes, titles, effects, still photos with a pan-and-zoom effect, additional audio, and chapter markers that can be used later if you create a DVD.


A transition is a visual effect that creates a bridge from one scene to the next. It could be a cross-dissolve, fade-out, spinning image, or any of the other transitions that are included with iMovie.

To add a transition effect between two clips

  1. Click the “Trans” button to show the Transitions Pane, shown below.
  2. To preview transition effects in the small preview window, click on a transition in the list. To preview the effect full-size in the Monitor, click the “Preview” button at the top of the Transition pane.
  3. Use the “Speed” slider to set the duration of the transition in seconds and frames (formatted as 00:00).
  4. Select a transition, drag it to the Timeline and drop it between two clips of your choosing.

To apply a transition to multiple clips: Select multiple clips in the Timeline to which you want to apply a transition, then click the “Apply” button.

To delete a transition: Click on the transition in the Timeline, then hit the Delete key.

To change a transition: Select it in the Timeline, change the settings in the Transitions Pane, then click “Update.” In the Transitions Pane, choose another transition or modify existing transition settings, then click “Apply.”

Add titles to your movie

A title is text that you place in its own frame or on top of a clip. A title can show credits, act as a caption, or add comments. There are many styles of titles to choose from and you can use different typefaces, sizes, and colors.

To add titles to your movie

  1. Select a clip in the Timeline (click once on it). The clip you select shows in the thumbnail preview window when you click on a title style.
  2. Click the “Titles” button to reveal the Titles pane, then select a title style.
  3. Type your title text into the text fields in the Title pane.
  4. Use the Font pop-up menu to select a font.
  5. Use the “Size” slider to enlarge or reduce the type.
  6. Click the “Color” box to choose a font color from a color palette.
  7. Click the “Over black” checkbox to create a title that stands alone against a black background and does not affect other clips (other than moving them down the Timeline to make room for the added title). If you do not select the “Over black” checkbox, the title will be rendered on top of the clip immediately to the right of where you drag and drop the title in the Timeline (see Step 9).
  8. If you plan to export the movie as a QuickTime file, check the “QT margins” box to allow the title to expand within the limitations of the QuickTime margins.

    If you plan to burn a DVD and show it on a television, make sure this button is not selected or your type may be cut off on the edges, or just leave it unchecked all the time to play it safe for any media.

  9. Select a title style in the list of styles and drag it to a position in the Timeline between two clips (see the example on the previous page). All of the clips to the right of the dragged title move to the right, making room for the title.

To delete a title

  • Select the title clip, then hit Delete.

To modify and update a title

  • Select the title clip, change the title style or any of the title settings, then click the “Update” button.

Place still photos in the Timeline

There are several ways to place photos in iMovie. The easiest and most convenient method is to click the “Photos” button. The Photos Pane replaces the current pane to the right of the Monitor and shows the tools you'll use for selecting photos, setting a duration, and adding motion to photos.

The Photos Pane is divided into the “Ken Burns Effect” section and the iPhoto section. The iPhoto section contains all the photos that are currently stored in iPhoto. From the pop-up menu you can select the iPhoto Library or any album in iPhoto. The scrolling pane displays thumbnails of your photos.

  1. Click on a photo to select it, or Command-click on multiple photos.
  2. Click the “Ken Burns Effect” checkbox to activate a pan-and-zoom effect (see the opposite page).
  3. Click the “Apply” button. Selected photos are placed at the end of the Timeline, to the right of existing clips.

You can also drag photos from the Photos Pane to a precise point in the Timeline that you choose (shown below). The current Ken Burns Effect settings, such as duration, are automatically applied to photos unless you uncheck the “Ken Burns Effect” checkbox before you add photos to the Timeline.

Another method for placing photos in the Timeline is to simply drag a photo from anywhere on your computer straight to the Timeline. The current Ken Burns Effect settings will be applied to the photo.

You can also import photos into iMovie, as explained on the next page.

Import still photos

You may want to use photos in your movie that are not in iPhoto. Perhaps you have a collection of scans in some other folder, or a CD of photos from someone else. You could import those photos into iPhoto to make them accessible from the Photos Pane, but you don't have to. Instead, just import them from wherever they're stored on your computer.

To import from a CD or from any location on your computer

  1. From the File menu, choose “Import….”
  2. In the sheet that drops down from the iMovie title bar, locate a photo or a folder of photos that you want to import. Select a single photo, multiple photos, or an entire folder, then click “Open.”

    The imported photo is placed in the Clips Pane (not the Photos Pane). The photo's duration is automatically set to the duration setting in the Ken Burns Effect pane. If Ken Burns Effect is turned on, the effect settings are applied to the imported photo.

  3. Drag the imported photo to the desired position in the Timeline.

The Ken Burns Effect: pan-and-zoom still photos

Ken Burns is a documentary filmmaker who popularized the technique of slowly panning across and zooming in or out of still photos to add motion and drama. Click the “Photos” button in the button bar to show the Photos Pane and the “Ken Burns Effect” controls.

To apply a Ken Burns effect to a still photo

  1. Click a photo in the Photos Pane to show it in the thumbnail Preview window (in the upper-right corner of the Photos Pane).

  2. Click the “Start” side of the toggle button to set a start size and position. Drag the Duration slider (the rabbit and tortoise symbols) to set a duration for the photo.
  3. Inside the thumbnail Preview window, drag the thumbnail preview to a start position, then adjust the Zoom slider (the top slider) to set a zoom level (magnification) to start the effect.
  4. Click the “End” side of the toggle button to set a final size and position. Drag the Zoom slider to set a final zoom level, then drag the thumbnail preview to a final position for the end of the effect.
  5. To see the effect full-size in the Monitor, click “Preview.” Or click a photo in the Photos Pane to show it in the thumbnail Preview.
  6. Drag the photo from the Photos Pane to a position in the Timeline. Or click “Apply” to automatically place it at the end of the Timeline.


An effect is a visual distortion or alteration that is applied to a clip. The effect may be used for aesthetic reasons or for visual impact. A limited number of effects come with iMovie, but many more are available from third-party vendors such as Gee Three (

To add effects to a clip in your movie

  1. Single-click a clip in the Timeline to select it.
  2. Click the “Effects” button to show the Effects pane.
  3. Select an effect from the Effects list.
  4. Use the “Effect In” and “Effect Out” sliders to set the amount of time it takes for the effect to fade in and to fade out.
  5. If there are other settings sliders below the Effects list, set those as well. Some effects have more adjustment options available than others. Click the effect in the list to see a thumbnail preview.
  6. When you're satisfied with the effect, click the “Apply” button. iMovie starts rendering the effect immediately, indicated by a red progress bar that moves across the bottom of the clip.

    To stop the rendering and revert the clip to its original state, hit the Delete key.

    To remove an effect after it has been applied to a clip, select the clip in the Timeline, then hit the Delete key.


Audio editing is critically important to the perceived professionalism of your movie. When you shoot a scene, the background noise often is distracting or even unbearable. Audio editing lets you lower or mute the volume of problem clips and add a background music track or a narrative voice-over.

Even if the existing audio is fine, you can enhance the aesthetic and emotional impact of your movie just by having fun with additional soundtracks and narration clips. If you're making an instructional video, narrative voice-overs can add clarity and comprehension to your project.

Place as many audio clips in iMovie's two audio tracks as you need. When you record narration directly into iMovie, it's automatically placed in track 1, but you can choose to put additional imported soundtracks there also. You can drag imported audio clips to any position in an audio track. You can also drag audio clips from one audio track to another.

Audio clips can overlap on the same track or in separate tracks. When two audio clips in two different audio tracks overlap, both are audible. iMovie's advanced audio-editing features allow you to adjust and control the volume in overlapping tracks.

For instance, you can lower the volume of a background music clip while someone in a video clip is talking. Or you can fade-out the audio of a video clip as you raise the volume of a background soundtrack. The volume of each individual audio and video clip is editable. In fact, you can make multiple volume adjustments to a single clip. See “Advanced audio editing” on pages 162–163 to learn more about adjusting the volume of audio and video clips.

Add audio files to your movie

  1. Click the “Audio” button to show the Audio Pane (below).
  2. Position the Playhead in the Timeline where you want the audio clip to start.
  3. The Audio Pane's pop-up menu lets you choose a source location: the iTunes Library, any iTunes playlist, iMovie Sound Effects, or a CD that is inserted in your CD drive (shown below-right). The source you select is displayed in the scrolling Audio Pane.
  4. Click on an audio clip in the Audio Pane list to highlight it.
  5. Click the “Place at Playhead” button to place the audio clip in the Timeline. Or drag a clip from the list of audio files to either audio track and to any position in the Timeline.

To record a narration clip

Narrative voice-overs are a great way to add interest to your movie. If your computer has a built-in microphone or if you've connected an external mic, click the Record button to begin recording your voice; the button's outer ring is red when recording. Click the button again to stop recording. (If the Record button is dimmed, you don't have a microphone.)

The voice clip automatically appears in the audio track 1 in the Timeline when you start talking, starting at the current Playhead position. After you finish recording, you can move the audio clip to any position in the Timeline.

To import an audio track from anywhere on your computer

You might have audio files in various formats stored on your Mac, but not in iTunes, and therefore not accessible from the Audio Pane. You can import audio files from anywhere on your computer straight into an audio track.

  1. From the File menu, choose “Import….”
  2. In the Open dialog box that drops down from iMovie's title bar, locate an audio file that is stored on your computer. Select it, then click “Open.” The entire audio file is placed in the lower audio track.

    If a music file name is dimmed in the Open dialog box, you can't use it in the movie because its format is one that iMovie doesn't support. Music must be in a format that works with QuickTime.

    The most common formats to work with are AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format) and MP3. You can also import WAV (Waveform, a Microsoft/IBM audio format) and AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) files.

To review and import a CD soundtrack

If you want to use music from a CD, follow these steps:

  1. Insert a CD into your CD drive.
  2. Select the CD from the pop-up menu at the top of the Audio Pane. The CD songs show in the Audio Pane list.
  3. To review CD songs without importing them, click on a song, then click the Play button (circled on the right).
  4. To import a song, click on a song in the list.
  5. In the Timeline, move the Playhead to the point you want the song to start.
  6. Click the “Place at Playhead” button. Or drag a song from the list to a point in the Timeline where you want the song to play.

To adjust the position of an audio file in the Timeline, drag the entire clip left or right.

To trim the start and stop points of an audio clip, drag either edge of the audio clip toward the center of the clip. When you hover your pointer over a clip edge, it turns into a double-arrow icon, as shown below.

To fine-tune the trimming of an audio clip, select it, then use the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard: Tap an arrow key to crop the audio clip one frame for each tap. Shift-tap an arrow key to trim ten frames at a tap. To recover cropped audio, or use the arrow keys or just press-and-drag the clip edge outward (away from the center).

You can drag an audio clip from one audio track to another. This helps keep clips organized and accessible when you need to overlap audio files, such as a music track and a sound effect (shown on the next page).

You can even lay multiple audio tracks on top of each other in the same audio track and they all will be audible. Depending on the nature of the audio, you may need to adjust the individual volume levels of each clip.

As with video clips, a trimmed audio clip has square corners on the edge that has been trimmed. Untrimmed clips have round-cornered edges.

Advanced audio editing

iMovie's advanced audio-editing features are similar to those used in Final Cut Pro and other professional-level editing software. These features give you control over the placement and the duration of audio fade-ins and fade-outs. They let you create professional effects, such as lowering the volume of a background music track while a voice-over narrates the video, then lowering the video volume so the background music is emphasized. Very cool stuff. And easy.

From the View menu, choose “Show Clip Volume Levels.” Black horizontal lines appear in every audio and video clip, indicating volume levels.

To adjust the volume of an entire clip (audio or video), select the clip, then move the clip volume control slider up or down. In the example below, the audio clip in the bottom track is selected and the volume control slider is set to 40% of the original volume. The volume slider will only affect clips (audio or video) that are selected (highlighted).

To adjust the volume of multiple clips, select two or more clips, then move the clip volume control slider left or right to adjust the volume of all selected clips at once.

To set multiple volumes in a single clip, first make sure to select “Show Clip Volume Levels” in the View menu. Click anywhere on the volume level line in a clip. A volume marker appears on the volume level line. When the marker is selected, it is slightly larger and yellow. When it's not selected, it's purple. Drag markers up or down to raise or lower the volume. The percentage number (volume) next to the clip volume control slider changes as you drag. Create as many markers on the volume level line as necessary to make the changesyou want.

When you click on or drag a volume marker, a purple square appears to the left, marking the start point of volume change. The round marker identifies the end point of volume change. Grab the purple square and move it away from the round marker to increase the duration of the volume change, making it more gradual. Or move it closer to the round marker to make the volume transition happen faster.

In the example below, two audio clips are sharing the same track. The short volume line represents a short clip of sound effects (“Thunder”) on top of a longer music clip (“Foreboding”). Since they are both audible, we adjusted the volume of the “Foreboding” clip to zero just in the area where the “-Thunder” clip plays. We could drag the “Thunder” clip to the upper audio track to avoid confusion, but it works this way too.

To extract audio from a video clip: You might want to use the audio from a video clip—without the video. Select a clip in the Timeline. From the “Advanced” menu, choose “Extract Audio.” The extracted audio is automatically placed in audio track 1 (the top audio track in the Timeline). You can delete the video clip and use just the audio clip. The audio remains in the source video clip, but is muted; see below if you want to restore it.

To restore the video clip's audio, select the clip, click “Clip” volume control, then move the volume control slider from 0% to the desired volume. A volume setting of 100% restores the volume to its original state.

Dragging the Playhead through a movie to preview it is called “scrubbing.” To hear audio as you scrub through your movie, hold down the Option key as you drag the Playhead in the Timeline. This could be helpful when you need to locate a specific section of music or dialog that you want to synchronize with another clip, such as a loud musical accent or a shout.

Create chapter markers in a movie

One of the best ways to share movies is to create a DVD using Apple's iDVD software. And one of the biggest advantages of DVD is the ability to jump directly to pre-designated points in a movie, called “chapters.”

Chapter markers that you create in iMovie are automatically exported with your movie when you create an iDVD project (see the next page). See Chapter 4 to learn all about the amazing iDVD application.

To add chapter markers

  1. Open an iMovie project that is completed.
  2. Click the “iDVD button in the button bar to show the iDVD Chapter Markers pane.
  3. Move the Playhead in the Timeline to a position where you want to place a chapter marker.
  4. Click the “Add Chapter” button in the Chapter Markers pane. A thumbnail image for the chapter appears in the pane.
  5. If necessary, replace the clip name with a more meaningful chapter name. Later you can choose to let iDVD use these chapter names when it automatically creates a scene selection menu (as shown on the following page).
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