iMovie (2013): Effects and adjustments overview

Effects and adjustments overview

iMovie includes several tools for adding effects to clips and movies.

Video effects and adjustments

You can apply stylized effects to clips and photos to modify their appearance. For example, you can apply a sepia effect to a clip to make it look like old film footage. In addition, you can make adjustments to the video attributes of the clips in your movie to change their appearance. These attributes include color saturation, brightness, and contrast.

Audio effects and adjustments

In addition to applying an effect to modify the sound in interesting ways, you can also make volume adjustments to the audio in your movie. Examples of audio effects include Robot, Cosmic, and Echo Delay. You can also change the pitch of audio clips or make them sound as though they were recorded in locations with specific acoustic characteristics, such as a small room or a cathedral.

Effects using connected clips

You can create composite images that show two different clips at the same time. These dual-image effects fall into the following categories:

  • Cutaway: A cutaway clip is a video clip you insert into another, usually related, clip in order to show two different elements of a single event. The two clips play sequentially: the original movie “cuts away” to the added clip and then returns to the original clip.

  • Green screen and blue screen: You can record video in front of a green or blue backdrop and then “cut out” the subject and place it into another video clip.

  • Side by side: A side-by-side clip creates a split-screen effect, showing two different video clips playing next to each other in the same frame, with each clip taking up half of the frame.

  • Picture in picture: A picture-in-picture video clip plays in a small window on top of another video clip.

Speed and motion effects

There are several ways to alter the speed and playback direction of clips in your movies:

  • Slow motion and fast forward: Slows down or speeds up the clip.

  • Instant replay: Replays the selected video at a percentage of its original speed—50 percent, 25 percent, or 10 percent. An Instant Replay title appears on the screen; you can edit it or delete it if you want.

  • Rewind: Rewinds the selected clip and plays it back after the original clip. You end up with a total of three clips: the original clip at normal speed, followed by the selected section played backward and sped up (that is, rewound), and finally the selected section at normal speed.

  • Reverse: Plays the video in reverse. For example, if you apply the reverse effect to footage of a person running down a football field, reversing it makes the person appear to run backward.

Additional clip effects

  • Fade to: Adds transitions before and after a portion of a video clip, fading it into and out of a special visual treatment such as black and white, sepia, or dream.

  • Flash and hold last frame: Adds a brief flash transition between the selected portion of the clip or frame range and its last frame. The last frame is then turned into a still image that remains onscreen for 3 seconds, but you can change this duration if you want.

Effects that improve clip quality

You can fix clips that have problems such as camera shake or rolling shutter distortion (caused by certain types of motion or quick camera panning).

Transitions between clips

You can add an effect between clips to control the change from one clip to the next. For more information, see Transitions overview.


You can add text to appear with your clips at any point in your movie. For more information, see Add titles.

Published Date: Nov 3, 2013
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