iMovie HD
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Opening iMovie HD

Importing Video

Getting Comfortable

iMovie Editing

Trimming Clips

iMovie Safeguards




Import Photos

Import Audio

Record Narration

Add iDVD Chapters

Export to iDVD 5

Play Demo Movie

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Importing Video

There are several ways to bring video into iMovie, depending on whether the original source of your video footage is Digital or Analog.  iMovie requires Digital video information.  If you’re starting out Digital, you’re already speaking the right language.  If you’re starting out Analog, you’ll have to convert to Digital on your way in.

  • Digital to Digital:  The most common Digital source is footage shot on a DV format camcorder.
  • Analog to Digital:  You may also be able to start with an Analog tape source such as VHS or Hi-8.  To do this, you’ll need access to some form of Analog-Digital Converter, as well as to a VCR or camcorder that can play back your analog tape. 

In the IT Lab, we have TV/VCR carts already rigged with VHS decks and Digital Converters.  Ask a Purple Shirt for help getting connected.

Importing Video from a DV Camcorder

Firewire cables allow you to patch Digital Video (DV) directly into the Mac without any compression or loss of quality.  So if you’ve shot video on a DV camcorder, your footage is already Digital and ready to shoot right over.

Connect Your Camera:

  • Plug your camera into an AC power source.   Don’t rely on your battery when you want a good, clean video capture.

  • Connect the small end of the Firewire cable to the DV terminal on your camera.   On the cameras in the IT Lab, the DV terminal is typically located on the front of the camera below the lens.

  • Connect the larger end of the Firewire cable to an available Firewire port on your Mac.

  • Load your tape and switch your camera to PLAY (VCR) Mode.  Now you’re ready to use iMovie’s Import Tool.

Import Video:

Now that you’re connected, iMovie will let you control your camcorder and DV tape from your computer.  To do this, you’ll have to switch over to Camera mode.

  • On the iMovie interface, locate the Camera / Edit switch and click over to Camera Mode.

  • The monitor will report “Camera Connected” and a new series of VCR controls will open just below the monitor.

  • Cue up your tape with iMovie’s PLAY, REW, FF, STOP, and PAUSE keys.   You should be able to see your footage in the iMovie monitor.


  • When you locate the portion you’d like to capture, click the Import key (or tap the Space Bar). The Import key will turn blue and you should start to see new Clips accumulating in the Clips Pane.  Click Import again to stop capturing footage.

Tip:  Give yourself handles!  If you’re capturing selectively, always grab a little extra footage (at least 10 seconds) at the beginning and end of the section you want to import.  You may need these handles later on when adding transitions or effects.

  • Always SAVE your project when you’re done importing.  Choose File > Save Project.

Automatic Scene Detection.

  • iMovie will split your incoming video into clips by automatically detecting time/date breaks in your recorded footage.  Most of the time, iMovie does a pretty good job of detecting scenes.  If you think iMovie’s choices are too arbitrary, though, you can switch off this feature by choosing iMovie>Preferences>Import.  Now deselect “Start a new clip at each scene break.”  Then use the Split command to define your own clips (see Trimming Clips).

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© 2005 David W. Wilson| iSchool | UT Austin | webmaster