Effecting multiple iMovie clips

In a recent exchange with a reader who was having difficulties with iMovie 6.0.1, I offered one of those throwaway “And, of course you can save yourself a lot of trouble by doing X” remarks only to hear, “Really? I had no idea. That’s a really useful tip!”

And when I get that sort of reaction it prods me to spread the word in case there are others who may have missed a program’s particular capability.

In this case, Floridian Jim H. was attempting to create a slideshow of some 400 images in iMovie. He chose iMovie rather than iPhoto because he wanted to take advantage of iMovie’s greater variety of transitions. Problem was that iMovie refused to apply some of these transitions, claiming that the clips were too short to accommodate the transition.

Following some back and forthing we determined that the clips were plenty long and that iMovie was simply confused. After tossing iMovie’s preference file did no good I suggested starting over with a fresh project. Of course that elicited a moan, so to alleviate some of the pain I replied:

“And, of course, you can save yourself a lot of trouble by applying the same transition to multiple clips. Just select all the clips you want to apply a particular transition to—say clips 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 25, 26, 27, and 28—click the Editing button, click the Transitions tab, choose the transition you want, and click the Add button. The transition will be applied to the selected clips. If you want to be really lazy about it, select all the clips in the timeline and apply a single transition to the entire slideshow.”

It was news to Jim, as it may be to you.

And yes, it works in earlier versions of iMovie too. You can also apply the same video effect—black and white, for example—to multiple clips. Note that you need to do this before you add any transitions. If transitions are in place, the video effect will be applied only to the first selected clip.

Follow up:

Reader Erik Michael knew of this feature but had a related question. He writes:

I did know about this multiple clips editing feature, but I’ve also been wondering if there is a way to change the time of a picture slide in the same fashion? For example, if I am inserting photos into iMovie and I then want each slide to last 4 seconds, is there a way for me to apply this time to multiple slides?

Yep, there is. In iMovie 6 select all the slides in the timeline, click the Media button, and then click the Photos tab. Click the Show Photo Settings button and in the Photo Settings window that appears, enter the time you want each slide to be displayed in the Time field (the field next to the tortoise and hare icons), and click Update. All the selected slides will be adjusted to that length.

You can use this window when you import your stills as well. Just choose a single image file in the Media window, enter a time in the Time field, and click Apply. All future image imports will use this time setting until you change it.

And no, you don’t need to apply the Ken Burns effect to the slides.

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