How to Use iMovie to Make Quick (and Easy) Videos

December 5, 2021

Phillips’ Mill is excited to present “Beyond the Frame,” a new virtual exhibition that will bring a collection of an artist’s works to life in a short video or series of animations. This show, juried by fine artist Kelly Sullivan of Lambertville, N.J., will feature the works of artists in a fresh, new way. 

Artists are asked to submit their art as a 30- to 60-second video (deadline for submissions is January 30). Click here for more information.

If you are an artist who would like to be a part of this show, but are a little intimidated by the video-making requirement, we hear you! But it’s a great skill to have, especially if you use social media to promote your art. And guess what? It’s not nearly as hard as it looks. In fact, once you get the hang of it, you’ll find it’s quite easy! 

Of course, there are so many different editing tools out there, and we will talk more about that in subsequent blogs. For now, we are focusing on iMovie, which can be downloaded from your iPhone, iPad or Mac. It’s one of the first and one of the easiest to learn and use.

Compiled by “Beyond the Frame” curators: artists Haley Manchon, Amanda Penecale and Martha Workijowsi.

Getting Started: The Basics

Here is a “cheat sheet” to easily access tips and key information:

First create the layout of your iMovie:

Then locate the tools you will need in these places: 

- Top-Left: Find tools for media (visual & audio), audio, titles, backgrounds, transitions
- Top-Right: Preview the video, editing tools for specific clips
- Bottom: Use the timeline to help organize chronology and the length of clips

Apply your media titles, effects, transitions, etc. Click and drag the desired block into the timeline. Depending on what’s applied, they can be placed above, next to or in-between clips in the timeline.

Use the trim tool, and speed up and slow down tools, to ensure precise timing (to fit within time limit or to match with background music). 

Use the Split Clip (command B) to cut a clip at a certain point.

The YouTube Audio Library provides easy-to-access royalty-free music. Search by genre or mood to find just what you need. (Note: you will need to be signed in to your YouTube account to view the Audio Library)

Creating Certain Effects

  • You can use Photoshop to “cheat” the limitations of iMovie — create templates of multiple images, text, etc. Photoshop can also be used to produce certain effects.
  • Try the “Ken Burns” crop in the Crop section to create constant, eye-catching motion.
  • Fade images in and out to create nice overlays.
  • Use Cross Dissolve Transition to make soft transitions between images in sequence. If you double-click the space between the images, you can adjust the length of time of the transition.

YouTube Resources

Here are two tutorials we found helpful:

1. iMovie Tutorial for Mac: Pro-Level Editing Using Precision Editor

This is a great introductory resource, offering insights on how to use iMovie’s Precision Editor to create sophisticated editing techniques. 

You may want to refer to the following timestamps for the sections we found most useful:  

1:20 Continuity Cut

2:01 How to select the Precision Editor

3:47 Roll Edit

4:58 Edit Points

5:40 Manipulating a Transition

7:00 Split Edits

7:38 Split Edit 1: Audio Advance (J Cut)

9:50 Audio Keyframes (to adjust a portion of audio)

11:05 Split Edit 2: L Cut

2. iMovie Tricks Nobody Knows!!! (Editing hacks)

This is helpful if you are looking for tricks and details to personalize or polish a video.

You may want to refer to these timestamps for the sections we found most useful:

2:12 Cut past introduction / Working with fonts

3:40 Title Features

5:55 Overlays

8:00 Green Screens

9:13 Key Frames

10:47 Color Filters and Backgrounds

12:42 Color Correcting Footage

She made a follow-up video 2 years later. Here is the link:

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Illustration of the Phillips' Mill -Artist: Kathie Jankauskus