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Working with Snap to Beat markers

From: iLife '09 New Features

Video: Working with Snap to Beat markers

In iMovie '09 you can now synchronize your video clips, photos, and titles to specific points in your audio tracks. This makes it super easy to edit your video to music or to make sure a cut happens exactly when a music queue or a sound effect occurs. You accomplish this by adding beat markers. As an example, let me show you how you can quickly create a photo slide show set to music. I have created a new empty project in iMovie, and let's look at some music first. I'll click my Music button, and let's look in our iLife Sound Effects folder.

Working with Snap to Beat markers

In iMovie '09 you can now synchronize your video clips, photos, and titles to specific points in your audio tracks. This makes it super easy to edit your video to music or to make sure a cut happens exactly when a music queue or a sound effect occurs. You accomplish this by adding beat markers. As an example, let me show you how you can quickly create a photo slide show set to music. I have created a new empty project in iMovie, and let's look at some music first. I'll click my Music button, and let's look in our iLife Sound Effects folder.

I'll go to Jingles and we have several different built-in jingles that we can choose from here. One I have chosen is Greasy Wheels Long. I'll play a little bit of that for you. (Music plays.) You get the idea. I'm just going to drag that into my project. So now that I have an audio clip in my project, let's add some beat markers. I'll click the audio clip's Action popup menu, and choose Clip Trimmer.

Now I see the audio waveform for my audio file here at the bottom of my window. Now it's just a matter of figuring out where I want the cuts in my video to occur by adding beat markers. Now there are a couple of ways of doing this. Let's give this a listen first. (Music plays.) So right there when the rest of the instruments kick in there, maybe that's where I want my first cut to occur. I can add a beat marker by right-clicking at that location and choosing Add Beat Marker, like so. If I move the playhead away from there, you can see the beat marker now appears there.

I can also drag beat markers to the locations where I want them to occur, and I do that by dragging the beat marker, and let's say there, for example, and there you can see it. You will just continue doing this while you are listening to your music, but personally, if you are trying to sync your videos to a music track, I think the best way to do it is to tap out the beat markers in real-time along with the music. As long you have decent sense of rhythm, this is the fastest and most fun way to add beat markers. All you have to do is let the music play and press the M key on your keyboard, that's m as in music, each time you want a beat marker to appear.

Let me show you how this works. First, let's get rid of the beat markers I have already added and we can do this either by manually dragging each one of them off, like so, or you can also right-click or Ctrl+Click anywhere, and choose remove All Beat Markers. So now I'm going to play the music from the beginning. I'll say the word now the first few times so you know exactly when I'm pressing the M key, but you will see the beat markers appear as I add them. All right, here we go. (Music plays.) Now, now, ...now, now, now, now, now, now...

(Music plays.) All right. So I went a little crazy there at the end, but let's go with it. Now that I have the beat markers, I can add my photos to create my slide show. I'll click Done and let's click the Photos button, so I can browse through my iPhoto library. Let's grab the photos from the smart album of the Allen family.

I'm just going to select them all. I'll select the first one. Hit Command+A to grab them all. I can see there are 52 photos selected, I don't know if that's too many or too few to match up to all the beat markers, but we'll see in a moment here. With them selected, I'm just going to drag them into my project. Normally, when you drag photos into your iMovie projects, iMovie gives them a default duration of about 4 seconds, but because we have added beat markers, what iMovie is going to do is take all of these photos and just line each one up to each beat marker.

There it is. You can see the beat markers in the Project pane. You can see that each photo is lined up with a beat marker. Also notice that the Ken Burns effect has been added to each photo, which is the default behavior for iMovie to perform when you add photos to your project. So let's see how this has turned out. (Music plays.) How cool is that? There is no faster way than that to edit an entire slide show to music. Now you don't have to drag all your photos in one at a time, like I did. If we don't have them all in an iPhoto album, or if you just want to put a little more thought into the order of the pictures, just browse through your photos and drag them in one at a time.

They will still automatically line up to the beat markers. You are still free to edit this photo layout any way you like. For instance, if I don't like that particular photo, I can just delete it out of there and let the next one take it's place. Since I have some extra photos here, I'll just delete them. Actually I like this last photo as the last photo in the slide show, so let's delete this one, and see how that looks. (Music plays.) Much better.

This works the same for video clips as well. Dragging video clips from your Event Browser into your Project pane will automatically sync them to any beat markers you have added. But also be aware that the clips will be trimmed to sync to the beats. So if you drag in, say a 10 second video clip, but there is only 5 seconds between beat markers, your clip will be trimmed to 5 seconds long. Now there are times when you don't want your clips to be trimmed. Just go to the View menu and uncheck Snap to Beats. From that point on, the clips you drag into your project will remain the length they were when you dragged them in, but you will still be able to manually sync other clips and photos to your beat markers just by dragging them in and lining them up to the beat markers visually. Keep in mind that you can also sync titles and even other audio clips to your beat markers.

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iLife '09 New Features

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Garrick Chow
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