iMovie Lesson Two: Adventures in Editing

Welcome back to the iMovie Lessons series! In the last episode, you learned the basics of importing video and sound files using iMovie 2.0. Hopefully you've done a little homework in that area and are ready to move on to editing your video clips, which we will cover in this lesson.

This is the part of the iMovie-making process where you get to decide, with as little agonizing as possible, what to cut and what to keep. It's time to make the call on whether five minutes of footage of your significant other doing the moonwalk at your cousin's wedding might be about four-and-a-half minutes too much. I'll leave the tough artistic decisions to you, but I will help you learn the mechanics of editing, along with some tricky shortcuts that may be new to even veteran iMovie users.

To begin this lesson, I'll assume that you've launched iMovie, opened a Project and imported some video clips to the Clip Shelf.

We'll start by dragging your video clips from the Clip Shelf.

Click the Clock icon to switch from the Clip Viewer to the Timeline Viewer.

Click and drag the clip you'd like to edit A from the Clip Shelf to the top track of the Timeline Viewer A. When you see a light-blue bar appear on the track, release your mouse button.

Repeat Step 1 for all the clips you may want to put in your movie.

The Timeline Viewer

The Timeline Viewer can be overwhelming at first glance. I'll help you sort through it all by focusing on just the features you'll need to do basic editing. Here's a little tour.

The video track A holds all the video clips that make up your movie. Clips turn yellow when they are active or selected.

Audio tracks 1 and 2 B contain all your audio clips, such as imported AIFF files or sound effects. Audio clips, when active, turn a deeper shade of purple than when inactive.

The Playhead C is the inverted white triangle with the line dropping through each track. It moves frame by frame through the clips of your movie as it plays. Drag it to determine where you want a clip to begin playing.

The Scrubber Bar and the iMovie Monitor Window

Here's another tiny tour:

The current frame of your clip appears in the iMovie Monitor window A. Press the space bar to watch your clip, and press it again to stop.

The Scrubber Bar B is the shiny blue bar underneath the Monitor window. This is where you'll do all your editing using the clip markers and editing commands to cut, copy, and paste your clips.

The Clip Markers C are the pair of smaller white triangles that you drag to the beginning and end of the section that you want to cut or copy.

The tiny tick marks along the Scrubber Bar D represent each frame in the clip.

The Scrubber Bar has a triangular Playhead E that works like the one in the Timeline Viewer.

The timecode F next to the Playhead shows that we are exactly 1 second and 1 frame into the clip.

You have a perfect clip, except for a few frames at the beginning during which you hear someone talking out of turn. Here's how to cut out the offending video and audio.

Click on the clip and it will appear in the Monitor window A.

In the Scrubber Bar, with the Playhead placed at the beginning of the clip, press the shift key and click on the tick mark at the end of the section you'd like to remove. The section between the markers will turn yellow B.

Once you've set your markers, press Command-X, and the section will be cut and moved to the trash.

TIP: If you're not happy with your change, don't worry. Simply choose Edit from the Command menu and select Undo Cut or press Command-Z. You can undo changes up to 10 times.

The same technique for cutting frames works in reverse if you'd like to take a little off the end of the clip. Just drag the Playhead to the end of your clip and shift-click where you like to the left of the Playhead.

What if the aforementioned person talks out of turn in the middle of a scene, you ask? If you'd like to remove just the middle of the clip, use the Crop command.

Press the shift key and click on the tick mark at the beginning of the section you want to cut. Both tick marks will appear next to each other.

Drag the right clip marker to the end of the section you'd like to crop and press Command-K or choose Crop from the Edit menu.

Once the yellow, center section has been removed, the frames to the right and left of the cropped section will move together A.

TIP: Dragging the tick marks in the Scrubber Bar allows you to move through the action in your clip, but you gain much more control over your edits when you use the keyboard arrow keys to move through your clip one frame at a time. Tap the arrow keys and watch the Monitor window to find the exact frame you want. Press the Shift key while you use the arrow keys to move ten frames at a time.

TIP: I'm a big fan of the "When in doubt, make a copy" rule, and luckily, it's easy to make copies of your clips. Just click the clip, press Command-C to copy and then Command-V to paste. A twin of your clip will appear next to the original. If you make a mistake while editing the clip, don't fret. As long as you haven't emptied the trash can, you can quickly restore your clip to its original state. Just select the clip and choose Restore Clip Media from the Advanced menu.

Now that you've taken a turn in the editor's chair, I hope you feel motivated to explore more of iMovie on your own. There are cool transitions you can use to move between clips, and effects to make your movies extra special.

If you run into a problem, post your question to the general iMovie forum, or at the end of this article.

We check the forums often for the questions iMovie users are asking. I'd also like to see some suggestions from you about what iMovie topics you'd like to see covered in this series of iMovie lessons.

See you next time, when I'll show you how to edit audio in iMovie 2.0.

Jill Baird is an independent writer. She co-wrote My iMac , published by IDG Books. In previous lives she was a Web QA engineer and technical writer for Intuit.

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