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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.
At this point, you should be pretty comfortable with the idea of assembling your movie by dragging in various clips and still images from your Event Browser. But the way our movie is set up right now, all of the clips are basically going to cut very abruptly from one to another, which might be the effect you're going for in some movies, but most likely you will more often want to have smoother transitions between clips. That's where iMovie's transitions come in to play. Whether or not your viewers are conscious of it, transitions act to smooth the movement from one click to another and give you a project a more professional appearance than that of a video that just looks like it was assembled with scissors and tape.
You can see iMovie's available transitions here in Transition pane. So these are the 24 transition effects you can apply between your clips. Placing your mouse over a transition gives you a little a preview of the effect. Now generally speaking, if you want your video to have a more professional look to it, you will probably want to limit yourself to the Cross Dissolve and the two Fade effects. Cross Dissolve is probably the most useful transition to smoothly move from one scene to another. Fades are useful at the beginning or end of your project, and you can put them between clips to dip to black or white before coming in with the next shot.
Now the rest of the effects, while cool looking, can be kind of cheesy if you use them too much, especially if you use things like the Page Curl effect or the Cube Effect here. But really, the decision is entirely yours. If you feel the transition works for your project, then go ahead and use it. Using these transitions is a simple matter of dragging the one you want between two clips. And the great thing about the transitions in iMovie is that they are real-time effects, meaning you don't have to sit there and wait for your Mac to render the effects before you can see how they look. All you have to do is drag in the transition and play it to see how it looks.
So let's say I want to start the movie with a fade-in from black. So I will grab Fade to Black and drag that to the very beginning of my project. You can see now have this transition that's been added. If I play it, you will see I have that very quick fade-in from black in to my first clip, which in this case is this still image. And as I mentioned before, maybe you want to add one of these fades between clips. There is a Fade to White. I will add another Fade to White here. Let me see what that looks like.
(video playing) So you can this quick dip to whites. Now I actually went to put one right here, so I can move that from this location by selecting it and just dragging it between these two clips. (video playing) So that's how easy it is to add a transition. Now by default all the transitions are set to a half-second duration. If that's too quick for you--for example if you want a nice long dramatic fade- up from black at the beginning of your movie--simply double-click the transition and then change the duration.
Maybe I will make this 1.5 seconds. You will want to uncheck Applies to all transitions unless you want all of your transitions to be the same length. Now the only thing you have to keep in mind is that a transition can't be any longer than half the length of the shorter clip that's on either side of it, meaning, for example, I can't have a 10-second transition between a 5-second clip and a 3-second clip. So I will click Done, and now I will have a slightly longer fade-in at the beginning, and there it is. Now another option you have when it comes to transitions is to have iMovie automatically add them for you.
This is useful when you know you want the same transition to occur between all the clips of your movie. Now before I do this, first note the current length of my project is 57 seconds. I point this out because I need to show you something about how transitions work. Now to add automatic transitions, you can either click Set Theme down here in Transitions pane or choose File > Project Theme. In both cases, you will see this dialog box where you can change your project's theme if you don't like the one you chose when you first created the project. I'd chosen no theme for this project. But the option I am interesting in here is the Automatically add check box.
You can see iMovie lets you choose a transition to automatically place between every clip. So I will check that box, and I leave Cross Dissolve selected. Notice we have the option to choose any of the other transitions that we saw previously. I will click OK. So looking at my project now, you can see that automatically add transitions between all my existing clips, and it will continue to do this to any new clips that I add to my project from this point on. Now notice that the duration of my project has dropped to 50 seconds. So where did those 7 seconds go? Well, when you have a transition like, in this case Cross Dissolve, what happens is the end of one clip overlaps the beginning of the following clip.
So if you have to say a one-second cross dissolve, the last second of the first clip overlaps with the first second of the second clip, which shortens the overall length of your project, because the clips are slightly overlapping with each other instead of playing one after another. It might help you if you imagine laying a deck of playing cards end to end on the table. The rows of cards would be a certain length, but if you slightly overlap the ends of each card--kind of like you do with video transitions--the overall length of the entire row would be shorter. It takes a little pondering to wrap your mind around the concept if you've never really given much thought to how transitions work.
So anyway, now I have transitions between all of my clips. Now the only time this won't work is if you split a single clip up. iMovie won't add transitions between split clips. But you are free to add them yourself, or even to remove or change any of the once that were added automatically. And of course you should watch your entire movie from start to finish to make sure you like the automatically added transitions. If you don't like them, you can remove them either one of the time, just by selecting it and deleting it-- and I will talk about this in a second. I am just going to cancel for a moment.
Or you go back to the Project Theme and uncheck Automatic Transitions. You are then presented with some options on how you want iMovie to handle the removal of the transitions. This is why it's important to understand how transitions affect the length of your project. So if you choose to remove transitions and extend clip ends, you are telling iMovie to remove the transition, but to make sure those clips don't each lose one second. I think this is the most common option, because you probably edited your clips precisely, and you don't want to lose any footage because you are taking out of transition. So I will select that option, click OK, and notice my project is now back at its original length of 57 seconds.
Let's undo that, put the transitions back, and then go back to Project Theme and turn off Automatically Add Transitions again. Now if you select Remove Transitions and maintain clip durations, that removes the transitions, and the footage that was incorporated into those transitions will also be removed as well. So I will select that, and notice that further shortens my project. I am down to 43 seconds now. In most cases, you probably don't want this option. Let's undo that again. Go back to Project Theme.
The third option is Leave transitions in current locations. You would choose this option if you like the current transition where they are but you don't want iMovie to continue to automatically add transitions each time you add clips to your project. Let me cancel this for a moment, because earlier I showed you that if you want to delete a single transition-- if I selected and hit the Delete key-- notice that I do have to turn off automatic transitions. So if you only want to get rid of a single transition, you have to turn off the Automatic Transition option. Let's go back to my Project Themes again.
So in this case, I am going to choose Remove transitions and extend clip ends to take my project back to the way it was before I automatically added transitions. Notice that also removes the transitions that I manually dragged in, so I will have to add them back again if I want them. So that's how transitions work. Now if you do like having iMovie add the transitions for you but you want some variety, you might want to trial some of the built-in themes. So again go to File > Project Theme, and you can see we have other themes to choose from here. I will choose bulletin board, and you can see a little preview of it over here on the right.
I will click OK. You can see it building project. So in addition to these regular Cross Dissolve transitions that we see here, you will see stuff like this every now and then. The special icons indicate theme-based transitions. So we will see what that looks like if I play it. (video playing) So you can see how a little bulletin board effect is going on. (video playing) Here comes another one, and there is another one down here as well. Pretty cool! Notice this even adds theme-specific transitions to the Transitions pane down here.
So in addition to the regular transitions we have, we have got these four different transitions here, which you can drag in as you like. The nice thing is that you can try out all of themes without damaging your project. If you change your mind, just choose File > Project Theme again, and choose a different theme. Or if you prefer no theme, like I do, just select No Theme. Again, I am going to choose to Remove Transitions and extend clip ends, click OK, and everything is back to the way it was. So that's working with the transitions in iMovie 11.
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