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iMovie '11: Enhance your project

Enhance your project

After you’ve created a project and added video to it, you can embellish it in a number of ways with both visual and audio enhancements. Themes give your project a polished look in an instant. You can also add background music, titles, and transitions that let you create professional-quality projects.

Add a theme to your project

iMovie comes with a selection of themes you can use in your movie. Each theme comes with its own title styles (text that appears onscreen) and transitions (visual effects that play between clips) that you can use to give your movie a big-budget look.

When you select a theme, you can have iMovie automatically insert titles and transitions into your project as you add video clips to it. You can always change or delete these elements later.

If you didn’t choose a theme for your project when you first created it, you can apply one at any time thereafter.

  1. If your project isn’t already open (showing in the Project browser), double-click it in the Project Library to open it.

  2. Choose File > Project Theme.

    The File menu appears in a light gray bar across the top of your computer screen.

  3. Select a theme by clicking its thumbnail once; the theme previews automatically in the viewer on the right

    You can click other thumbnails to preview those themes.

  4. If you want to turn off automatic transitions and titles so that iMovie doesn’t replace transitions that you’ve already added to your project, deselect “Automatically add transitions and titles.”

  5. Click OK.

Add background music from your iTunes library

Background music you add to a project plays behind the audio recorded with your video, so that you can hear both tracks of sound at the same time. You can adjust the volume of the background music so that it plays more loudly or softly, which allows you to layer sound in interesting ways.

The music in your iTunes library is automatically available for use in iMovie projects.

  1. If your project isn’t already open (showing in the Project browser), double-click it in the Project Library to open it.

  2. Click the “Music and Sound Effect” button at the right end of the iMovie toolbar.

    Image of the Music and Sound Effects button

    The “Music and Sound Effect” browser appears.

  3. Choose one of the music options (not the sound effects options) from the options at the top of the Music and Sound Effect browser; you should see either a list of options or a pop-up menu from which you choose an option.

    For example, if you choose iTunes, you see a list of everything that’s in iTunes. If you choose Music, you see just the music you have stored in iTunes. If you choose a specific playlist, you see just the music in that playlist.

  4. Scroll through the list to find the song you want to add, and then click the song so that it’s highlighted with a blue bar.

  5. Drag the song to the Project browser, to the dark gray area to the right of the last clip in your project, making sure that you don’t drag it over a clip.

    You drag by holding down the button on your mouse or trackpad as you move the selected song to the Project browser. Release the mouse button when you see a green Add button.

    Images of the background music well

    The background music well of your project is then shaded with green, representing the background music clip. The music begins at the start of your project and ends with your video, even if the song is longer than your video.

    If the music doesn’t cover your entire video, you can add more music by dragging it to the background music well of your project.

  6. To adjust the volume of the background music, click the Action pop-up menu (looks like a gear) in the upper-left corner of the green background music well, and then choose Audio Adjustments.

    Images of the Action pop-up menu.
  7. In the window that opens (called an inspector), drag the volume slider, which appears at the top, to the right or left to increase or decrease volume, and then click Done.

Add a photo from your iPhoto library

You can add photos to your iMovie projects—to add visual interest, to highlight specific moments, or simply to break up the action of the video footage itself. All the photos in your iPhoto library are automatically available for use in iMovie.

  1. If your project isn’t already open (showing in the Project browser), double-click it in the Project Library to open it.

  2. Click the Photos button at the right end of the iMovie toolbar.

    Image of the Photos button

    The photos appear in the Photo browser.

  3. Choose iPhoto from the pop-up menu at the top of the browser to see all the photos stored in iPhoto, or choose an iPhoto album from the pop-up menu to narrow your search.

  4. Scroll through the thumbnails (miniatures) of the photos to find the one you want to add, and then click it so that it’s outlined in blue.

  5. Drag your chosen photo to the project in the Project browser.

    You drag by holding down the button on your mouse or trackpad as you move the selected photo to the Project browser. You can release the mouse button anyplace you see a vertical green line along with a green Add button.

    When you add a photo, by default it is set to remain onscreen in your project for 4 seconds. Also, the Ken Burns effect is applied to the photo. This effect makes it appear as though the camera were panning across and zooming in on the image.

  6. To change how long the photo stays onscreen, double-click the photo in the Project browser.

  7. In the window that opens (called an inspector), type a new value, in seconds, in the Duration field, and then click Done.

Add titles (onscreen text)

You can add onscreen text to any video in your project using one of the many title styles available in iMovie. Onscreen text can be used to add a title and credits to your movie, to visually “narrate” the scenes in your movie, to create textual segues from one scene to the next (for example, “Ten years later” or “Later that same day”), and so on.

  1. If your project isn’t already open (showing in the Project browser), double-click it in the Project Library to open it.

  2. Click the Title button at the right end of the iMovie toolbar.

    Image of the Titles button

    The title styles appear in the Title browser.

  3. Browse the title styles, scrolling through the window if necessary, to find the one you want to use.

    Many title styles are animated, which means that they move onto the screen in an interesting way. Move your pointer over the title thumbnails in the browser to see how they animate. If you have set a theme for your project, a number of theme-styled titles appear above the standard titles in the browser.

  4. Drag a title to the Project browser directly over the clip where you want the title to appear.

    You drag by holding down the button on your mouse or trackpad as you move the selected title to the Project browser. You can release the mouse button when you see a green Add (+) symbol.

    Image of a title being dragged to the Project brower.

    When you add a title, a blue or gold title bar appears above the video clip to show where the title appears in your video. Blue title bars represent nonthemed titles, and gold title bars represent themed titles.

    Image of blue and gold title bars.

    Placeholder text (text that shows placement only and is meant to be replaced) appears in the viewer on the right, and some or all of it is ready for editing (which means that it’s selected and ready to be replaced by your own text).

  5. Replace the highlighted placeholder text by typing your own text.

    If you need to select placeholder text, click it until it’s highlighted, and then type.

    Image of placeholder title text.
  6. To play back the title (see how the title looks in your video), click the Play button in the upper-right corner of the viewer.

    Image of the Play button in the viewer.
  7. Click Done in the upper-right corner of the viewer.

Add transitions between clips

iMovie comes with several styles of transitions that you can add between clips to give professional polish to your projects. A transition smoothes or blends the change from one scene to another. For example, a transition can make one clip fade in or out, dissolve into another clip, zoom in to another clip, and so on.

iMovie makes all the transitions in your movie the same length. Standard transitions are one-half of a second long, and theme-styled transitions (which are available only if you’ve set a theme for your project) are two seconds long. You can change these durations if you want.

  1. If your project isn’t already open (showing in the Project browser), double-click it in the Project Library to open it.

  2. Click the Transition button at the right end of the iMovie toolbar.

    Image of the Transitions button

    The transition styles appear in the Transition browser.

  3. Browse through the transition styles, scrolling the window if necessary, to find the one you want to use.

    Move your pointer over the transition thumbnails in the browser to see how they animate. If you’ve set a theme for your project, a number of theme-styled transitions appear above the standard transitions in the browser.

  4. Drag a transition to the Project browser before, after, or between the clips where you want it to appear.

    You drag by holding down the button on your mouse or trackpad as you move the selected transition to the Project browser. You can release the mouse button when you see a green Add (+) symbol.

    Image of a transition being dragged to the Project browser.

    The transition effect is represented by a transition icon in the Project browser. (Several icons are shown below; which you see depends on the transition style you added.)

    Image of transition icons.
  5. To play back the transition effect to see how the transition looks in your video, move your pointer in the Project browser anyplace before the transition effect icon (you see a vertical red line where the pointer is), and then press the Space bar.

  6. To change the duration of the transition, double-click the transition icon in the Project browser.

  7. In the window that opens (called an inspector), type a new value, in seconds, in the Duration field, and then click Done.

Last Modified: Jul 23, 2012
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  • Last Modified: Jul 23, 2012
  • Article: PH2117
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