Add Transitions Between iMovie Video Project Clips in iLife ’11

By Tony Bove

A transition provides a seamless way for one clip to end and another to begin. Movies and professionally produced television shows typically use nothing but a simple cut from one clip to the next, but iMovie has an arsenal of transitions you can use, such as dissolve, wipe, and overlap. Transitions are usually kept simple because they can detract from the video and call attention to the video editing process. But sometimes a transition makes sense artistically in your iLife project, or it can be useful for suggesting the passage of time or to hide a flaw in the video itself.

If you chose a theme when you started your project, and chose the option to automatically add transitions, iMovie has already populated your video with transitions between clips that make sense for the chosen theme. However, you can change or edit the transitions, as well as add more transitions — especially after splitting a clip into two clips.

To split a project clip into two clips, drag across the project clip to select a frame range for the first clip and then choose Clip→Split Clip.

To see the available transitions and add one to your project, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Transitions button (the Hourglass icon on the right side of the toolbar under the Viewer pane).

    The Transitions Browser appears next to the Event Browser, with thumbnails for the transitions, including ones associated with the theme you chose.

  2. Move the pointer across a transition to see a generic preview in the thumbnail.

  3. To add a transition, drag it from the Transitions Browser to a location between two project clips in the Project Browser.

    If a transition already exists at that location, the new one replaces it. If you chose a theme and the option to automatically add transitions when you started the project (or later), iMovie displays a dialog informing you that automatic transitions and titles are turned on. Click the Turn Off Automatic Transitions button to add the transition (or Cancel to cancel).

    After you turn off automatic transitions, the automatic transitions and titles that iMovie already put into your project are still there, so you don’t lose them. However, you need to add transitions manually if you want them as you add more clips to the project.

  4. To see the transition in action, move the pointer in front of it to move the playhead in the project clip, and then press the spacebar to start playing. Press it again to stop.

    Drag the Cross Dissolve transition into position between two clips.

    Drag the Cross Dissolve transition into position between two clips.