Quick Tip: Some things about markers


Since chapter markers made a comeback in iMovie '09, there hasn't been much discussion on the Web about them. This may be due to the fact that Apple got the implementation just right. Well, if you aren't totally satisfied with chapter markers in iMovie '09, here are some observations:

• Markers are an Advanced Tool. If markers aren't there and you don't know why, open the iMovie preferences and check this box:
Once the Marker tray shows up, you want to drag the orange blobs with the arrow inside them. Those are chapter markers.

• Navigate in your project with the markers menu. For long projects, this is really nice. If you click on the arrow just right of the marker tray, you can choose any of your comment or chapter markers to jump to that point in your project. Also, this is a great way to review the names of your chapters before heading to iDVD.
• Chapter markers work on any marker-speaking device. This means mostly anything that speaks chapters, like an Apple TV, will understand the markers you set in iMovie.

• Markers stick to the clip, not to the spot. If you want a chapter marker to show up at a certain point in a song, then move the clip under the marker, the marker moves with the clip. In most cases you want the marker to stick to the clip, but this is still a good thing to know. Comment markers also stick to clips.

• Put a chapter at the start to avoid the automatic "Beginning" marker. If you don't place your own chapter marker at the start of your movie, iDVD creates its own chapter called "Beginning." Placing your own chapter there tells iDVD not to use its own.

Some people have experienced problems when inserting their own chapter marker at the beginning. If your chapters aren't appearing in iDVD, delete the marker at the beginning and share to iDVD again. Once in iDVD, you can manually rename the "Beginning" chapter that iDVD created.
Also, if your chapters aren't showing up in a Quicktime export, be sure to check the "Fast Start" box.
• Comment markers are great for collaborating. If you're migrating your project from one computer to another for someone else to work, comment markers (the brown ones) are great for noting important points for the second editor to remember.

If you have anything you want to add, please email me or leave a comment!


iMovie Software Update: Version 8.0.1


Apple has updated iMovie '09, and true to form, they are gushing with details about the update:

This update improves overall application stability as well as addressing minor issues related to usability.
For those who are still curious, here are some of the more notable changes:
  1. As you may have noticed in the screen shot, you can now easily export to 720p HD. It works for the Media Browser, the regular Export option, and even YouTube! (This last option became a really big deal when YouTube started supporting HD.)
  2. Related to this, Apple has fixed the interlacing export issue plaguing 1080i footage. It now de-interlaces properly.
  3. You can enter decimal coordinates directly into a travel map, giving a custom name. This replaces the need to create a custom entry in the WorldLocations.txt file. (Step-by-step post coming tomorrow.)
Of course, if you've noticed other changes please take a moment to tell us all about them in the comments.


Link: Beyond the Basics Screencast by Andy Piper


More great stuff to share about iMovie, this time from blogger Andy Piper. He has put together a great screencast on all kinds of iMovie goodies, like video stabilization, video effects, titles, themes, and more.

So if you want to see a lot of these features in action, I highly recommend this link:

Andy Piper's Beyond the Basics iMovie Screencast


How to Do Cutaway Sound in Three Different Ways


We've come a long way, baby. In the not too distant past, doing cutaways was a pain the neck. iMovie '09 makes cutaway audio so easy, you have three different ways to do it, each fitting different circumstances.

So if you are trying to get the audio from clip A to cover clip B, here are three ways to do cutaway sound:

1. Insert a cutaway.

The cutaway feature is the obvious choice really, but not perfect for every circumstance. This works great if you want clip B to remain permanently subordinate to clip A, but doesn't work great if you only want clip A to cover part of clip B. Plus, this is a pain if you want clip A's audio to cover clips B, C, D, etc.
To insert a cutaway, first turn on the Advanced Tools in the iMovie preferences, under the General tab. (Once you turn these on, there really isn't much reason to ever turn them off again.)

With clip A already in your project, select the footage for clip B from the Event Browser. Drag and drop the selection onto clip A, and you will see something like this:

Just choose Cutaway from the menu, and your clip B sits on your clip A, casting its shadow and everything.

Because we want to promote clip A, select the cutaway that is now clip B and either change its volume via the Inspector or just mute it entirely by pressing Shift-Command-M.

2. Use the Precision Editor.

This works best if you want clip A's audio to cover just part of clip B.
Add both clip A and clip B to your project, side-by-side. Double-click on the space between clip A and clip B. (Don't double-click on the transition, if you put one there. If there is a transition between A & B, double-click the space just above or below it.) This brings up the Precision Editor (Let's call it the PE for short).

At the top right corner of the PE, there is a sound wave button. Click that to show the audio tracks that go with your clips. Your PE window should look something like this:

Now that you can see the sound for your clips, you can also change the cut point for the just the sound. To see what I mean, grab the part of the blue cut line that crosses the audio track of clip A. Drag it to the right and it snaps off the big blue line and drags independently. That little blue fragment of the bigger line will be the new cut point for the audio, covering as much of clip B as you want.

3. Extract a clip's audio.
This way works best if you only want clip A's audio without the video or if you want the audio from clip A to extend over multiple clips.
There are two ways to get the audio track out of a clip, which depend on where the clip is:

Clip A is still in the Event Browser. Just drag the selection from the Event Browser and drop it onto another clip. The Drag and Drop Menu appears, then just choose Audio Only. iMovie inserts just the clip's audio as a green audio banner in your project. Drag it wherever you want.

Clip A is in your project. Select the clip and right-click (Control-click) on it. From the shortcut menu that appears, choose "Detach Audio". iMovie will split off the audio into a purple banner, and it also mutes clip A. (That way you aren't playing the audio twice.) Drag the purple banner wherever you want.

Orders of Magnitude
It's a great thing when you go from one painful way of doing cutaway audio to three easy ways, each with their own strengths. If the trend continues, maybe someday we'll all have brain implants and editing iMovie projects will be done while we sleep. Maybe we can expect that in iMovie '63.


Link: Typical Mac User Podcast on Video Tips


Just wanted to point everyone to a great podcast episode on basic video tips. It's full of great advice on shooting and editing video (in iMovie) to keep things clean and interesting. (Neat idea: edit to a song so your movie has a good tempo, then just remove the song.) They discuss especially great advice on getting good sound in your shots. Listen to it here:

Typical Mac User Podcast #171: John Flowers Talks IMovie09, And Video Taking Tips

And in case Victor and John read this, thanks for the very kind mention! (Also, you *can* edit to the beat then remove the song. Just get your Snap to Beats project how you like it then delete the background track. The edits stay in place.)


A Book Worth Mentioning


I have been a busy dude the past few weeks, but not for naught. A tiny number of you may remember that I helped David Pogue by tech editing his last iMovie Missing Manual book. This time around I was lucky enough to join him as co-author.

Our new iMovie '09 & iDVD: The Missing Manual is currently available on Amazon for preorder. Because I never really intended for this blog to cover every little feature, I (humbly) recommend the book as a great resource for getting started.

Things on the blog should be picking up now. Look for a How To on stop-action movies coming soon.