Reusing iMovie clips

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Reader Eric Reagan would like to reuse iMovie clips without having to use iMovie’s Share command. He writes:

I want to take clips from several different home movies and compile them into one. For instance, I’d like to take all the clips from my wife’s family holidays over the past several years and make a single movie. Can I swap these clips among iMovie projects or pull from other iMovie projects without having to use the “share” function in iMovie (it’s rather time consuming waiting for longer clips to export or whatever it’s doing)?

You can, yes. There are two ways to go about it.

The easiest is to open an iMovie project that contains a clip you want, select that clip, and drag it to the Desktop. This makes a copy of the clip, which you can then drag into a new iMovie project.

If you’d rather do it the old-fashioned way, select a clip in an iMovie project, press Command-I to produce the Clip Info window, and make a note of the name that appears next to the Media File entry—“Tipsy Uncle Bertie.dv,” for example, if you’ve previously named the clip or, more likely, something more generic like “Clip 02.dv” if you haven’t bothered to name your clips.

Now locate the project file for your movie, Control-Click on it, and select Show Package Contents from the contextual menu. In the resulting window, open the Media folder, locate the source file—that “Tipsy Uncle Bertie.dv” clip I mentioned earlier—and drag it into a new iMovie project.

Is there an advantage to the old-fashioned way? Possibly. When using the easy-does-it drag method, you’ll create a clip that holds the edits and effects from the original project. For example, if you’ve altered the brightness and contrast for the clip, that effect will appear in the clip you drag to the Desktop.

If you use the more tedious method, you can track down not only the edited clip, but also the original. In the Clip Info window, the Name field is likely to contain the name of the original clip—“Clip 08,” for example. (If you’ve applied an effect, the effect’s name will appear next to the Media File entry—“Brightness & Contrast 07.dv,” for example.) Armed with that name you can open the project’s Media folder, locate the unedited clip, drag it into a new iMovie project, and then edit it for your new project (begin or end it at a different point or apply a different kind of effect).

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