As you may recall, the last time we gathered we took three giant steps back and started over with the “How to Use iMovie” series. The idea was that we should be looking at the latest iteration of the application, and that iteration is iMovie 10. In the first lesson we took a stroll through iMovie’s interface. This time it’s all about importing media. Ready? Let’s begin.
The import business
In earlier versions of iMovie, import options were scattered about the interface. If you wanted to import movies stored on your Mac, you chose File > Import and then the appropriate command. To import clips from an attached camera, you chose File > Import From Camera. To record live video from a camera attached to your Mac, you’d issue that same command or click the Camera Import button in iMovie’s toolbar. iMovie 10 attempts to simplify matters by placing all these functions in a single window that you can access by clicking the Import button in the toolbar or by choosing File > Import Media.
With the Import window open, you’ll likely see three headings: Cameras, Devices, and Favorites. Any cameras and iOS devices attached to your Mac—compatible camcorders, still cameras (with or without the ability to shoot video), your Mac’s FaceTime camera, or an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch—appear under the Cameras heading. Below the Devices heading are any volumes attached to your Mac, such as your Mac’s hard drive. And under Favorites are Home and Desktop entries, by default. You can add more favorites by selecting a volume under Devices, digging down to a folder you’d like to add, and then Control-clicking (or right-clicking) that folder and choosing Add to Favorites.
Importing digital assets
To import media from a connected digital camera, digital camcorder, or iOS device, select the device’s name under the Cameras heading. The top of the Import window will reveal an ‘Import to’ pop-up menu. From this menu you choose an existing event or, if you’d like to create a new event, choose New Event. On the far right of the window is another pop-up menu. Here you choose the kind of media you want to see in the preview area below—Videos, Photos, or Photos and Videos.
You have the ability to preview media on some devices that are connected to your Mac. For example, if you’ve jacked in an iPad, clicked Import, and selected that iPad under the Cameras heading, you’ll see thumbnails of the images and videos it holds (provided that you’ve elected to view each kind of media). Above the thumbnails is a preview window; select a photo or video, and it appears there. In the case of a video clip, press the Mac’s spacebar to make the clip play in this window. When iMovie finishes with that clip, it plays the next bit of media—another movie clip if that item is next in line, or a still image if that appears after the clip. To stop playback, press the spacebar again.
Note that with some devices—a digital camcorder connected via USB, for example—the preview may take a long time to play, or it may stop and start as it previews. This happens because the video is taking a while to stream across the connection. Also, some connected devices may display no preview window at all.
To import images or clips, select those that you’d like to bring into your event and click the Import Selected button that appears in the window’s bottom-right corner. (To import everything, make sure that nothing is selected and then click the Import All button.) The Import window closes and a progress dial appears in the top-right portion of the iMovie window, as well as in the clip as it imports. iMovie imports media at its original resolution. Once the media has been imported, you’ll see a notification that additionally offers you the option to eject the device. The media you imported will appear in the Browser pane for the selected event.
As with previous versions of iMovie, not all camcorders and cameras are supported. To find out if your camera made the grade, visit Apple’s iMovie Supported Cameras page.
You can also import video clips into an iMovie project simply by dragging them from the Finder into the timeline or onto an event in the Libraries pane. In the previous version of iMovie, you could drag clips only to events. The added ability to bring clips directly into the timeline is very welcome.
Importing analog video
iMovie 10 supports many tape-based DV camcorders, as well. Connect such a camcorder, click Import, and your supported camcorder’s name should appear under the Cameras heading. To import video from it, select it, insert a tape, and use the transport controls that appear below the preview window to rewind or fast-forward to the beginning of the footage you want to capture. After you click Import, the tape starts playing as iMovie captures the output of the camcorder. When you’re finished, click Stop Import. Close the Import window, and you’ll spy your footage in the Browser pane.
Capturing live video
As before, iMovie can capture video from a FaceTime-compatible camera attached to your Mac. To capture that video, click the Import button and, under the Cameras heading, select your camera. A large preview window appears, showing whatever is in front of the camera (most likely that would be you).
To start the capture just click the red Record button that appears below the preview area. To stop the recording, click the button again. Click the Close button at the bottom of the window, and you’ll find the camera-captured clip in the Browser pane.
You’re not confined to importing just images and video clips. You can additionally import audio files. You have a couple of ways to go about it.
One option is to click Import, choose an attached volume under the Devices heading, navigate to an audio file, select it, and then click the Import Selected button. (Or select a folder full of audio files and click Import All.) The audio files will show up in the Browser pane and appear as green bars. Or, just as you can with video clips, you can drag audio files into iMovie’s timeline or onto an event in the Libraries pane.
You can also click the iTunes entry that appears below the Content Library heading in the Libraries pane and, in the Browser pane, drag the track you’d like to use into the Project pane. Similarly, you can select Sound Effects in this same Content Library area and drag a sound into your movie.
And that’s how to import media into iMovie 10.
Next week: Piecing together a project.
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Chris has covered technology and media since the latter days of the Reagan Administration. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, he's a professional musician in the San Francisco Bay Area.