How to create iMovie 10 trailers

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In our last lesson we looked at building a straightforward iMovie project—the kind of movie you might throw together of the family gathered over a holiday meal or, in warmer times of the year, frolicking in the gush of an untended hydrant. Such movies allow you to piece together as much material as you like, which can be great if you’re the creator of Star Wars 4 – 6 Legomania! and less terrific if you’re the poor sap subjected to 90 full minutes of Baby’s First Bath!

Fortunately, iMovie 10 also offers you a way to create videos that are necessarily limited to a running time of just over or under a minute. They’re called trailers and, like the countless movie trailers we’ve seen in theaters and appended to DVDs, are heavily templated. Here’s how they work.

Previewing the trailers

To create a trailer choose File > New Trailer, press Command-Shift-N, or click the Create button in iMovie’s toolbar, and choose Trailer from the menu that appears. The resulting Create window presents 29 trailer templates, including Action, Coming of Age, Holiday, Romance, and Travel.

iMovie 10 packs a ton of trailer templates.

Select any template, and a Play button appears over its thumbnail. Click that button to see a preview of the trailer that uses Apple-supplied footage. Each template has its own visual style and title style, along with a unique musical score.

Below each template is a Cast Members entry, which gives you an idea of how many “main characters” the template supports. You’ll also see the trailer’s length beneath each thumbnail.

Working with a trailer

Double-click a trailer (or select a trailer and click the Create button), and the Trailer Editor pane opens at the bottom of the iMovie window. Within the Trailer Editor are three tabs—Outline, Storyboard, and Shot List.

Outline: In this case, “Outline” is a cute name for “title information.” Here you enter the time and date of your movie, as well as the information that will appear in the Cast, Studio, and Credits screens. With some templates you’ll additionally see a Video Style pop-up menu. Click it, and you can choose Normal, Film Noir, or Black & White.

You enter title and credit information in the Outline tab.

Storyboard: In the Storyboard tab you enter interstitial text (for example, “Pow!” “Intrigue!” or “Meanwhile…”) and place clips or stills to fill the video slots within the template. Filling these slots couldn’t be much easier.

Each slot indicates its length and the kind of shot it is—a close-up image of one of the characters (your child, for instance) or a landscape, wide, medium, group, or two-shot (a shot that shows two people in the frame). To add a clip, move to the Browser pane, find the still or clip you’d like to use, and click it at the point where you want the clip to begin. It will automatically occupy the slot, and it will last for exactly as long as the slot allows.

When the current slot is filled, the next is selected. Keep selecting and clicking to fill the remaining slots. Should you wish to preview your work, just place your cursor before the beginning of the first slot (which is likely the studio credit) and press the spacebar. The trailer will play in the Preview pane.

Shot List: This tab gathers together all the video slots and categorizes them by type—Action, Closeup, Group, Landscape, Medium, Two Shot, and Wide, for example. This arrangement is a convenient way to confirm that the kind of clip you’ve used to fill a slot matches the slot type—that you really have put a head shot, rather than, say, a broad image of the Grand Canyon, in a close-up slot. You can also preview clips by scrubbing your cursor over them.

Get a better idea of how your clips measure up in the Shot List tab.

Editing trailers

Even though you’ve plunked a clip into a video slot, you have the option to replace or edit it. To replace a clip you can simply drag another clip over it in either the Storyboard or Shot List tab. Or, if you like, select the slot and click the Remove icon that appears in the top-right corner of the slot.

As you hover your cursor over one of these filled slots, you’ll discover two other options. Click the Audio icon, and you can turn on the audio track for that clip. (By default, clip audio is muted.) In this case both the clip’s audio and the music soundtrack that accompanies the trailer will play.

Click the Adjust icon that appears in the bottom-left corner of the clip to reveal the Clip Trimmer. I’ll discuss the Clip Trimmer in greater detail in our next lesson; for the time being, understand that it helps you make finer adjustments to a clip’s length. The process involves choosing a different starting point for the clip by clicking that location within the Clip Trimmer, after which the clip adjusts accordingly to fill the slot. To close the Clip Trimmer, click the X that appears to the left of ‘Close Clip Trimmer.’

If you’d like to perform the same kind of edits that you can in a regular iMovie project, you must convert the trailer to a movie. Simply choose File > Convert Trailer to Movie, and iMovie does exactly that, placing the resulting movie in the Project pane at the bottom of the iMovie window.

Saving and sharing your trailer

iMovie 10 has no Save command because projects save automatically as you work on them. Given that, feel free to click the small X that appears in the top-left corner of the Trailer Editor pane to close it. An entry for your trailer will appear in the Browser pane when you select the event that holds the trailer. If you’d like to continue working on it, double-click it to open the Trailer Editor.

You share trailers exactly as you share any other iMovie project. Click the Share button in the iMovie window or choose an option from the Share submenu within the File menu, and proceed as I outlined in our last lesson.

And that’s largely it—an easy way to create some great-looking (and blessedly short) movies suitable for family and friends.

Next week: Exploring iMovie’s editing options

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