The iMovie Window - dummies

By Mark L. Chambers

In iMovie, though, all the controls you need are easy to use and logically placed. To launch iMovie, click the iMovie icon in the Dock or in Launchpad. (It looks like a star from the Hollywood Walk of Fame.) You can also click the Application folder in any Finder window sidebar and then double-click the iMovie icon.

Follow these strenuous steps and create a new movie project:

  1. Click the File menu and choose New Project (or press Command+N).

    iMovie displays the sheet you see here.


  2. Type a name for your project.

  3. Select the aspect ratio (or screen dimensions) for your movie.

    You can select a widescreen display (16:9) or a standard display (4:3). If compatibility with the familiar SDTV format is important, choose standard (4:3) ratio; choosing 16:9 for an SDTV set will result in those familiar black “letterbox” bars at the top and bottom of the screen. On the flip side, choosing 4:3 results in black bars on the left and right when shown on an HD set.

  4. Choose the frame rate.

    The default frame rate is 30 frames per second (or fps for short), which is normal for the North American NTSC video standard. However, you can choose a slower frame rate if necessary — like the 25 frame per second setting for the overseas PAL video standard.

  5. Click a Project Theme thumbnail to select a theme to apply to your finished movie.

    If you choose a theme, iMovie automatically adds the transitions and titles that correspond to that theme. (Normally, this is what you want to do. However, if you want to add transitions and titles manually, click the Automatically Add Transitions and Titles check box to deselect it.)

    If you decide not to use a theme (by selecting the No Theme thumbnail), iMovie can still add an automatic effect between clips. Click the Automatically Add check box and click the pop-up menu to choose the desired effect.

    You can also create movie trailers within iMovie. Generally, however, it’s a good idea to create your trailer project after your movie project is completed (unless, of course, you’re specifically creating just a trailer project).

    Why? For the same reason that studios create trailers after the filming is finished: After you’ve completed your movie, you’ll have all the clips imported already, and you’ll have a better idea of what you want to include while “teasing” your audience!

  6. Click Create.

    iMovie adds the new project to the list in the Project Library pane, and you’re on your way!


The controls and displays that you’ll use most often are:

  • Monitor: Think of this as being just like your TV or computer monitor. Your video clips, still images, and finished movie play here. You’ll also crop and rotate your video within the monitor.

  • Media Browser toolbar: This row of buttons allows you to add media content (video clips, photos, and audio). The selected items fill the right side of the browser pane below the monitor.

  • Event Library: This list displays all of the video clips you can add to your project, including video clips you’ve collected within iPhoto.

  • Event pane: If you select a video clip in the Event Library list, iMovie displays a thumbnail of the content in the Event pane. If you decide you want to include it, you can add it to your project.

  • Project Library/Project/Trailer pane: iMovie displays the movie projects that you’ve created in the Project Library pane. Note that when you double-click a project in the Project Library pane, it turns into the Project pane, which displays the elements you’ve added to that specific project (such as video clips, still photos, and audio clips).

    If you drag an element into the Project Library pane, it turns into the Project pane for the selected project, and if you’re working on a movie trailer, the Project Library pane turns into the Trailer pane. (Whew!)

    The Project Library pane displays different content depending on the action you’ve taken.

  • Playhead: The red vertical line that you see in the Event and Project Library panes is the playhead, which indicates the current editing point while you’re browsing your clips or creating your movie. When you’re playing your movie, the playhead moves to follow your progress through the movie.

  • Editing toolbar: This strip of buttons allows you to control editing functions such as cropping, audio and video adjustments, voiceovers, and selecting items.

  • Camera Import window: Click this switch to import DV clips from your DV camcorder or iSight camera.

Those are the major highlights of the iMovie window. A director’s chair and megaphone are optional, of course, but they do add to the mood.