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Building dynamic themes

From: iLife '09 New Features

Video: Building dynamic themes

iMovie '09 comes with a set of five Apple Design Themes, which consist of title and transition effects that have a unified look and feel and can give your movie a sleek professional appearance with very low effort on your part. iMovie Themes are a quick way to add a sense of fun and style to your movies without having to spend a lot of time adding titles and transitions yourself. You can apply themes to both new projects as well as projects you're already working on. Now take a look at how to use a theme from scratch on a new project. I'll choose File > New Project and let's title this project, Southern Utah because we'll be using footage that we shot in Southern Utah. Aspect Ratio is Widescreen so we'll leave it at that and these are the built-in themes.

Building dynamic themes

iMovie '09 comes with a set of five Apple Design Themes, which consist of title and transition effects that have a unified look and feel and can give your movie a sleek professional appearance with very low effort on your part. iMovie Themes are a quick way to add a sense of fun and style to your movies without having to spend a lot of time adding titles and transitions yourself. You can apply themes to both new projects as well as projects you're already working on. Now take a look at how to use a theme from scratch on a new project. I'll choose File > New Project and let's title this project, Southern Utah because we'll be using footage that we shot in Southern Utah. Aspect Ratio is Widescreen so we'll leave it at that and these are the built-in themes.

The default is None which means iMovie won't add any titles or transitions for you. But the other five items here are each professionally designed and animated themes that you can choose from to apply to your project. Skimming your mouse over a theme gives you a preview of what the titles and transitions in that theme look like. Let's go with Photo Album for this example. Although, keep in mind that you can change the theme at any time while you are editing your project together. Notice that Automatically add transitions and titles is checked by default.

This means iMovie will insert titles and transitions for you in the style or the theme you have chosen throughout your video. But don't worry, iMovie doesn't overdo it by putting transitions in it every single cut point and you are also free to delete and add your own titles and transitions where you want in your project. For the most part, iMovie adds simple Cross Dissolve transitions and occasionally if there are any theme- based transitions. But we'll see that in a moment. Once you have made your selections here, click Create to create a new project with that theme. So right now this looks like any other new project window. You have your empty project area at the top of the window and your Event Library here at the bottom where you can select clips and drag into your project.

So let's start with this shot of Bryce Canyon. I'm going to grab about 6 or 7 seconds of that and I'll drag that up into my project. Now because we are using a theme and we have chosen to let iMovie automatically add titles and transitions you can see that we now have an opening transition that looks like the cover of a photo album, which is the theme we chose. Let me play that one for you. So not only do we see this clip playing on the cover of this book, but there is also this nice zoom in effect going on. Each theme has its own opening and closing style that iMovie will apply to the first and last clips of your project.

So let's grab some more clips. So maybe after that opening clip we'll start with this footage that we shot from a moving car. Just grab that. Drag it in. Now notice that iMovie has added this Directed By Myself end credit. It's doing that because currently this is the last clip of my movie. But I'm going to continue adding clips and iMovie will continue to automatically adjust the titles and transitions. So let's add a couple of more clips here. I'm just going to grab a couple of seconds of each one of these.

Okay so there are the clips I want to use. Let's see what we have. Let's go back to the beginning and we'll just play through. Okay, so what we just saw there was one of the theme style transitions. In this case, it looked like we are pulling back from the Photo Album where we could see the other shots from the movie and then zooming back in on the next clip. Pretty cool! Let's continue playing. Okay so there we saw two basic Cross Dissolve transitions in a row. Nothing fancy but cross dissolves are a nice way to smoothly transition from one shot to another and again it's nice that iMovie doesn't go overboard by placing the photo album transition between every single shot. It would lessen the effect of that transition if we use it every time. So for the most part iMovie's going to use cross dissolves when it does decide if there are transitions in there.

Let's keep playing. Here comes anther Theme-based transition and another Cross Dissolve. Let's jump ahead to the end here. At the end we finally have that end credit. So right there we have a movie with professional looking titles and transitions and all I had to do is just drag clips into my project. Now as I mentioned earlier, you are not stuck with iMovie's choices on where transitions and titles appear or which transition effects or titles it uses. For example, this end credit here kind of covers up the setting sun in my shot.

The sun is setting right behind the title here. So it will be nice to not obscure that with the end credit. To change the title I'm going to click the Titles button. Here at the top of Titles, above this little separation line you see, we see the theme specific titles for this theme. Again, placing your mouse over the titles gives you a preview of them. This one here looks like it will allow my entire shot to be unobscured. So let's drag that over my end clip. We see it highlight. I release my mouse.

Now when you make the decision to customize the title and transitions, you have to turn off iMovie's automatic insertion of theme elements. But that's fine since I have my movie pretty much laid out the way I want at this point. So I'm going to Turn Off Automatic Transitions. Now let's see what that new title looks like. Cool! So now we can see my entire shot. There is a nice fade to black at the end. Now you probably noticed that part of the themes transitions include brief glimpses of still images from other footage in your project. For example, this one and this one. You can tell a theme transition by its icon as we see right here.

So each iMovie theme has variation on this sort of transition. So there might be times when you find that one of the still images is not ideal to your project. Maybe one of them shows someone with his eyes closed or as a blurry part of a video. You can change what you see in those still frames of the transitions by selecting the transition, like so. That makes these numbers up here showing you exactly where those still frames are being pulled from. Along with the screenshot of the transition with corresponding numbers in the Preview pane over here on the right. To change the image in a still frame just grab its number and drag it to the right or to the left. You can even drag the numbers to other clips in your project. So maybe I want the shot of the flowers there and instead of the rock.

So drag number 4 down to here, like so. I'll click off to deselect that transition and now we can see what that looks like. Cool! And again, each theme has transitions like this. So it's good to know how to change a still frame if necessary. Speaking of the other themes, I mentioned before that you can change the theme at any time. So to do so, either click the Titles button or the Transitions button and then click Set Theme. That gives you the Theme Chooser again where you can pick another theme and incidentally this is also how you add a theme to any project where you weren't using themes to begin with. Go to either the Titles button or the Transitions button and click Set Theme.

Now if you check Automatically add transitions and titles to an existing project, like I'm doing here, you have to answer the question of how you want iMovie to handle the transitions it as. Overlap ends and shorten clip means that cross dissolves will overlap the end of one clip with the beginning of the next clip which makes your video slightly shorter. If you choose Extend ends and maintain duration, iMovie will grab the couple of seconds of footage you edited out of your clips to make the cross dissolve if that footage is available. Once you have made your selections, click OK.

So notice that all of my titles and transitions are exactly where they were before, only they have a different theme now. If I go back to the beginning, I no longer see a Photo Album, I see the Scrapbook Theme. Here comes one of the theme transitions, again in the Scrapbook theme, and we still have our basic Cross Dissolves here. So it's easy to change themes at any point in the process and you can do it as many times as you like, and that's how we work with the new themes in iMovie '09.

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iLife '09 New Features

25 video lessons · 8682 viewers

Garrick Chow
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