First Look: Slick Transitions & Effects

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Apple's entry-level video-editing application, iMovie 2, is a remarkably easy-to-use program that sports some surprisingly powerful features. But compared to the hobbyist's video applications that preceded it -- most notably Avid Cinema -- iMovie ships with relatively few transitions and effects. Apple addressed this issue by releasing eight additional transitions in the free iMovie 2 Plug-in Pack ( ). While this is a generous action, no additional effects are included, and the Pack's eight transitions are hardly comprehensive. (650/328-2359, ), makers of the Stealth Serial Port adapter, recently provided Macworld with an exclusive peek at a $30 solution for those who want more transitions and effects than what's included with iMovie. This collection, called Slick Transitions & Effects, includes over 44 transitions and 16 effects and works with iMovie 2.0.1 or later.

Installing the plug-ins couldn't be easier. Just unstuff the archive, move the transitions and effects to iMovie's Plug-ins folder, and place the Slick Transitions & Effects Lib into the System Folder's Extensions folder. On Restart, the additional transitions and effects are available in iMovie 2's Transitions and Effects windows.

The collection of effects is voluminous; arriving at a precise number is difficult. Although there are 29 transition files, some offer a couple of variations on those transitions. The Blinds transition that moves from one scene to another via a venetian blind effect offers either horizontal or vertical blinds. And many transitions also take advantage of iMovie's own Transition controls, so you can set the position of the transition. Using the Page Turn effect, for instance, you can change the direction that the scene peels away.

You can also tweak many effects for countless variations. The Camcorder effect, which imposes a viewfinder frame, red recording light, and video banding on the scene, allows you to change the brightness of the banding. Using the Film Noise effect, you can change the amount of hair, dust, and scratches that appear on your video. The Film Noise effect also allows you to alter the color of the video -- changing it to black-and-white, faded color, saturated color, or sepia tone. Only two of the effects--Lens Flare and X-ray -- provide no controls for tweaking the effect.

Ready for COPS  To make your movies look like they came directly from the latest car-crunching, reality-TV spectacular, try the Camcorder effect.

While a fair number of the effects and transitions are useful, some are included simply for the fun of it. After all, unless you're producing a sequel to Love, American Style or assembling intentionally cheesy wedding videos, it's doubtful that you'll use the Heart transition on a regular basis. Likewise, the Emboss effect isn't something you're likely to toss into your next corporate video. While Slick Transitions and Effects doesn't include a warning label, iMovie enthusiasts should understand that employing the Barn Door, Checkerboard, Down the Drain, Heart, and Spin transitions in a single video might be considered an actionable offense in many communities. Slick Transitions and Effects will be available for download for $30 from's Web site. For an additional $10, will send you the collection on CD-ROM.

A Shot of Ripple  One scene ripples into another with Slick Transitions and Effects' Ripple transition.
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