Editing video is a task ideally suited to large monitors and lots of screen real estate. You want to see your video large, but still have plenty of room to view the project’s clips. Unfortunately, most of us don’t own a 30-inch Apple Cinema HD Display.
The designers of iMovie were sympathetic, however, and included several options for maximizing the editing environment for any screen size. Whether you want to focus on your project instead of your video library, or just want to recover some elbow room while editing, the following techniques will help.
1. Preset layouts. The standard iMovie ’09 layout balances the main elements of the interface: the Project Editor, the Viewer, and the Event Library. But when you’re looking for clips, you may want to use more of the window to view your Event Library. Choose Window -> Viewer -> Small (or press Command-8) to make the Viewer (and the Project Editor) smaller and increase the size of the Event Library and Event Browser.
When you’re building and organizing your project, choose Window -> Viewer -> Large (or press Command-0) to increase the size of the Viewer and the Project Editor. This mode is also great for adjusting the Ken Burns Effect on imported still photos.
To return to the normal view, choose Window -> Viewer -> Medium (or press Command-9). In any view, you can also click and drag on the toolbar that bisects the top and bottom sections of the window to change the Viewer size.
2. Change the icon size. In addition to providing more space for specific areas of the interface, you can view more (or fewer) items by changing the size of the clip icons; this allows you to see more of your movie or video library, or to use larger icons for finer control over what appears in the Viewer as you move the mouse pointer over a clip. Drag the Icon Size slider, which affects the icons in both the Project Editor and the Event Browser.
3. Hide the Events List. You don’t need to see all of your events if you’re working on clips from just one. Click the Hide Events List button in the lower-left-hand corner to display only clips from the currently selected event.
4. Viewer on secondary display. If your computer does have an external display attached (such as one connected to a MacBook or MacBook Pro), iMovie includes a great advanced feature for taking advantage of both screens. First, make sure the Show Advanced Tools option is enabled in iMovie’s preferences. Then, choose Window -> Viewer on Secondary Display. The preview of your movie is pushed to the other screen, and you get to use the entire top portion of the interface for editing your project.
Sure, these options aren’t the same as having a giant monitor to work on, but they’re certainly a lot less expensive.
Jeff Carlson is the author of iMovie ’09 & iDVD for Mac OS X: Visual QuickStart Guide (Peachpit Press; 2009) and the managing editor of