Video 101: Editing with iMovie

If you've shot a video on your camera but have no idea where to go from there, then open up your eyes and ears and prepare to be enlightened! This lesson is for Mac users. If you have a PC, you're going to want to check out that lesson here.


Sitting in front of video editing software for the first time can be pretty intimidating. It doesn’t have to be, though! In this lesson, we explain some of the most essential elements of iMovie within the framework of creating a 5x5 video, which is one of the simplest ways to kick off your videomaking career.

Step 1:
The first step is importing your videos (also known as getting those crazy little moving images onto your computing machine.) To do this, you can either connect your camera to your computer with a USB cable or you can directly insert the camera’s memory card into your computer provided your computer has a slot for that. Once you’ve connected your camera or memory card to the computer, an icon will appear on your desktop. Double click on the icon and then drag whichever folder contains your videos onto the desktop. This will copy all of your videos onto your computer.

Even though our videos are already on our computer, we still have to bring them into iMovie. To do this, go to File > Import > Movies… In the window that appears, we can navigate to the folder on our desktop where we saved our videos when we took them off of our camera. Once you locate the videos, highlight them all. iMovie refers to projects as ‘Events’. Before you click the ‘Import’ button, be sure to have ‘Create new Event’ selected and give your Event a title like “5x5”. Then click ‘Import’. Once iMovie imports your videos, you’re ready to edit!

Step 2:
Time to start cutting! In iMovie, you’ll see that the program is made up of three main windows: the project library, the viewer and the timeline. The project library is where you will keep your videos while you edit, the viewer is where you will view these videos as you edit and the timeline is where you will make edits to the videos.

Whenever you click on a clip in your project library, iMovie selects and highlights a four second portion of that video. To lengthen or shorten the selected portion, drag on the yellow tabs on either end of the highlighted section. To bring the clip into your timeline, click the highlighted portion of the clip and drag it into the timeline. Since we’re making a 5x5, each of the five clips we use should be five seconds long. Once all of your clips are in the timeline you can re-arrange them by dragging them around. It’s that simple! And be creative! Don’t worry about making any irreversible mistakes while you edit, though. The videos you edit in iMovie are only copies of your original videos. Pretty nifty, huh?

Step 3:
Paying close attention to the sound and music of your video is crucial. Poor sound in a video is a huge distraction for the viewer. Fortunately for us, iMovie gives us some tools so that we can completely avoid this scenario. The first thing we want to do is make sure the audio level (or volume) of each clip is right. To adjust the audio level of a clip, mouse over the clip in the timeline to reveal the gear icon, click on the gear icon and select audio adjustments. From there you can adjust the volume of clip as well as set fades and a variety of other adjustments.

Then there’s music. Music does a great job setting the mood you want for your video. To add music, click the music icon below the viewer, which will open your Music and Sound Effects libraries on the right side of the screen. There you can choose from the iMovie and iLife Sound Effects folders as well as GarageBand and iTunes. Once you’ve found the piece of music or sound effect that you’re looking for, drag it into the timeline. Adjusting the audio clip is similar to adjusting the audio on a video clip. Simply mouse over the audio in the timeline, and click on the gear icon and select Audio Adjustments. Trimming audio clips is also easy. To do so, mouse over the clip and click the gear icon and select Clip Trimmer. The clip will then open up in the Event Library window where you can trim the audio by dragging on either of the highlighted ends.

Step 4:
Transitions and effects can be very useful tools to stylize your video…. when used in moderation. Going overboard with transitions and effects will distract your viewer and make your video look corny. I mean, how many star wipes do you really want to sit through?

Adding transitions in iMovie is simple. Click on the transitions icon beneath the viewer. It’s the square icon made up of four triangles. You can then drag whichever transition you choose to the space in between any two clips. This will apply the transition.

To add effects to an audio or video clip, hover over the clip and select Clip Adjustments. There you’ll see buttons for both video and audio effects. You can preview an effect by mousing over it. Click on an effect to select it and then click done to apply it.

Step 5:
Time to give credit where credit is due! Adding titles and credits is a classy way to present your video.

To add text to your video, click the text icon, which is a large T beneath the viewer. iMovie will give you a variety of styles to choose from. Once you’ve made your choice, you can drag the text to any point in the timeline. If you drag it to a point in the timeline where there is no video, iMovie will let you choose a background for it. Once you drop your text template into the timeline, you can edit what it will say in the viewer. You will also be able to choose font, color and size by clicking the ‘Show Fonts’ button in the top-left of the viewer.

Step 6:
Time to put this masterpiece up on Vimeo! Uploading your video to Vimeo from iMovie is a breeze thanks to the addition of a feature that allows you to export and upload your video directly from iMovie. To export and upload your video to Vimeo, click on the Share menu and select Vimeo. Then all you need to do is enter the email address you use to log into Vimeo, your password as well as a title, description and tags for the video. You can also select which size you’d like your video to be. Then all you need to do is read the Vimeo terms of service and click Publish. Your video is now on its way to Vimeo!

Time for a little recap:


  • The first step is getting your footage from your camera to your computer.

  • Open up iMovie and import all of your footage so you can get to work.

  • You can arrage and trim your videos however you like.

  • Music is a great way to set the mood.

  • Transitions and effects stylize your video. Don't use too many, though!

  • Text and titles are a nice finishing touch.

  • You can export and upload your video to Vimeo directly from iMovie!

5x5 videos have a way of making mundane stuff look a lot cooler. For example, doing your laundry has never looked so awesome:

Ready for a challenge?

Take everything you've learned here and create an awesome 5x5 video

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Category:
Editing
Difficulty:
Beginner

6 Comments

Jan Mueller

Jan Mueller Plus

I'm getting a weird error. Trying to share a smaller vid (~ 50mb) I get an error message stating that there is not enough space available. There's more than 5 GB available..
When using the export function rather than share, iMovie has no troubles generating the video.
Is this a vimeo or iMovie Bug? And how would I report it to the right department?

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Lesson Summary

It's time to learn the basics of editing. If you're on a Mac, you can use iMovie to take your videos from your camera, all the way to Vimeo. It's really simple!

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