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In iMovie '11 Essential Training, author Garrick Chow illustrates the process of creating high-quality video using iMovie '11. The course covers the entire post-production process, from importing audio, video, and still images to adding effects, creating trailers, and sharing your finished projects on social networks. Also included are tutorials on adjusting audio levels, automatically identifying clips that include faces, and using green screen effects. Exercise files accompany the course.
As you work with your clips and still images in iMovie, you might find that some clips look dull or flat or may be overexposed. Fortunately, iMovie 11 comes with some pretty powerful tools for adjusting the color of your images to make them more vibrant and dynamic. Now when it comes to adjusting color, you can work with either the clips in the Event Browser or in your Project pane. Any changes you make to the clips in your Project pane will have no effect on the original source clips in the Event Browser. But if you make changes to the clips in the Event Browser, those changes will be reflected in any future project in which you use those clips.
Instances of the clips that are already in the current project won't be changed. So if you have some footage that you know could use some overall color correction, correct it in the Event Browser so you don't have to re-correct it every time you use that footage. But color adjustments can also be used for special effects like turning your footage to black and white or sepia toned, which you will probably use only in certain instances. So in those cases you would make your adjustments to the clips in the Project pane. Okay, so let's take a look at how we can play with the color settings of our clips. I am going to use this clip of our surfer catching a wave here, and this is a fairly dull, low-contrast clip that could stand to pop out a little bit more.
Now again, in a real-world editing scenario, I would probably make my adjustments to the clip in the Event Browser, because I would want a good-looking version of this footage no matter what project I put it into. But in this case I am just using it as an example, so I am going to adjust it here in my project. I'll start by double-clicking on the clip and going over to the Video tab, and here is where you will find all the different color adjustments you can make. So let's just work our way down here. First of all, we have our Level meter, which is under our histogram up here. Basically, Levels allow you to change the black-and-white levels. You would drag the left slider to increase the black or dark areas of your footage-- so if I wanted a little bit more darkness in the dark areas, I could drag that slightly to the right--and use the right slider to adjust the light level, so you can see if I drag it all the way, it sort of blows the whole thing out.
But I might want to adjust the levels in just a little bit. Next we have the Exposure slider, and that changes the shadows and highlights, as it says there. So dragging to the right intensifies the highlights-- again, I can blow that out--or dragging to the left minimizes the highlights. So in this case, maybe I want to add a little bit more exposure. Here we go. Next, we have the Brightness and Contrast sliders. Now these sliders change the overall levels of the brightness and contrast of the entire image. So dragging the Brightness slider to the right makes the entire image lighter; dragging to the left makes the entire image darker.
I tend not to like this slider too much, because I don't like changing the entire image all at once. But maybe in this case, I will add just a little bit of brightness. And the Contrast slider, similarly, changes the relative contrast of the light and dark tones in your image. So dragging to the right makes the edges between light and dark areas a little bit more stark. But again, this changes the overall image. I generally try not to apply too much brightness and contrast, and prefer to use the Levels and Exposure sliders. Next, we have Saturation, which changes the color intensity. Dragging to the right makes the colors a little bit richer.
Now, we don't have too many colors to begin with here. We can see that it does intensify some of the colors if I drag to the right. If I drag all the way to the left, that basically sucks all the color out of the image and turns it into a black-and-white image. So in this case, maybe I'll add a little bit of saturation. Next, we have the Red, Green and Blue Gain sliders, and that changes the amount of red, green and blue coloring. Dragging to the right increases the intensity of each color. So dragging the red slider to the right, you can see adds more red. If I drag to the left, it decreases the amount of red, which you can see gives us a blue cast. I don't think I need too much red in here, so I am going to leave that about where it was to begin with.
You can maybe add a little bit of green, bring out some of the water a little bit more, and maybe a little blue. I don't want to give it too much of a blue cast, though. Now, at any time if you want to compare to what the original image looked like, you can click Revert to Original to see that and then hit the command for Undo, which is Command+Z, to get your changes back. Next we have a White Point wheel, and this allows you to change the color range by resetting the color white. You basically click anywhere in the circle and drag around to maximize the white tones, or to change them.
You can see dragging into the yellow areas sort of gives me a sepia tone. Or you can drag down to the blue and the green areas, right about in the middle. Now similarly, note that you can also adjust the white point, as it says here, by clicking on a white or gray area in the viewer. So if I click maybe somewhere in here, you can see how that shifts my white point a little bit. Now if using all of these sliders is a little overwhelming, you can also try the Auto button, which examines the clip and then tries to adjust it for you. So I'll click that. But your results may vary depending on your clip.
Still, you can use the Auto setting as a jumping off point and then continue to fine-tune from there. I really don't like what it did too much, so I am just going to Undo that. Go back to the original settings I applied, though I do maybe want to adjust the Exposure just a little bit more here. Again, it's just something you will have to play around with for each individual clip to see if you can make it look a little bit better. When you're done, you can click Done. Of course, you can watch your entire shot to see how it looks. Now if you are happy with your results and you have other shots with similar color or exposure issues, another thing you can try is to select the clip you just adjusted and then choose Edit > Copy.
Then select the next clip you want to adjust-- maybe this clip here, which also looks like kind of dark and overcast. Let's select that, and then choose Edit > Paste Adjustments, and notice here we can apply all the effects we have copied from the clip, or just video, audio, crop, or any other effects we've applied here. I am just going to choose to apply my video adjustments. So now you can see this has basically received the same settings that I had applied to the other clip. So this way you don't have to redo all the slider movements for each clip you're adjusting. Now, if the same settings don't quite work for your other clip, you can again just use this as a starting off point and then continue to redefine your adjustments. And when you've achieved the look you want, just click Done to close the window.
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