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ATPM 6.03
March 2000



How To



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How To

by Jamie McCornack,

Snazzing Up Your iMovie Titles

If you have an iMac DV, chances are you’re already producing videos with it. It came with iMovie software installed, which is a nice piece of work, and if you followed the iMovie tutorial from one end to the other, you probably have the skills needed to capture, edit, and title your very own QuickTime and Digital Video movies. The only problem is that all your videos have a certain similarity. What’s worse, all your videos have a certain similarity to everyone else’s iMovie productions. You’re probably feeling déjà vu before the opening title fades from the screen—which is exactly what the title will do if you chose Centered Title from the twelve standard titling options. You and a million other iMovie users get a ten-frame fade in and a ten-frame fade out every time you select Centered Title. Also, the text will be roughly 1/16th as tall as the window for all your iMovies, and everyone else’s.

This is the strength and the weakness of iMovie: it’s so simple you can master it in a day, so what are you going to do tomorrow? Tear out your hair and gnash your teeth, that’s what. By day two you’ll realize that (1) the fixed title size is truly a nuisance (a Mac graphics program that won’t let you change the size of your text?), (2) you don’t always want your opening title in the center, and (3) the other iMovie titling options make your video look like a ransom note.

Luckily for you, your iMac DV came with all the software you need to create clean, readable, and original opening titles—though it didn’t all come in the iMovie folder. You can have placement and size control, overlapping titles, fade control, and even text color transitions, without the learning curve or (gulp) price tag of professional video editing systems. And luckily for the software industry, this is going to leave you hankering for more. At the very least, you’re going to want a more sophisticated photo-editing program, because—let’s face it—AppleWorks isn’t the sharpest pencil in the box when it comes to image manipulation. But we’ll get into that next month; for now, let’s see what we can do without spending any money.

  1. Open the iMovie Tutorial.
    ts01Better yet, open a copy of the tutorial. Copy the whole iMovie Tutorial folder and rename the copy “DogTitle Tutorial.” Then go inside the folder and name its iMovie document “DogTitle Tutorial.” Double-click this DogTitle Tutorial, and you’ll have your iMovie tutorial before you, just the way you left it but under a different name. (If you haven’t done your tutorial yet, now’s the time; we’ll be working with laddie.pict, which is a single-frame image you make during the tutorial process.)
  2. Open an AppleWorks PT Document.
    Fire up a new AppleWorks Painting document. Open the Format menu and select Document. Set all the margins to zero (we won’t be printing this) and the Pixels Size to 640 Across and 480 Down. Zoom it down to a handy size (66.7 is good) with the zoom button at the lower left of the window, and adjust the window size so that there’s a bit of gray around the bottom and right of the image area. Save this as a Stationery document, and name it “640 x 480 (PT),” or whatever will make it easy to find and recognize again. If you’re going to manipulate individual iMovie frames, you’ll be using this stationery a lot. After you Save as Stationery, you’ll still have an untitled AppleWorks (PT) document open—that’s what we’ll be working with.
  3. Insert laddie.pict.
    Select Insert from the AppleWorks File menu. You’ll find laddie.pict in your DogTitle Tutorial Media folder (that is, if you did the tutorial). If it’s not there, run through the iMovie Tutorial again and make one. The instructions are in Tutorial:Producing a movie:Step 2: working with clips.
  4. Overlay a Title.
    Use the AppleWorks text tool to make your opening title the way you want it. This font is impact, at 72 points, in light yellow. The text is roughly 1/8th the height of the image window. (Note that nearly every paint/photo/image program except AppleWorks will let you click-and-drag your text around after you’ve placed it. In AppleWorks, if you don’t like where your text lands when you type it in, you’ll have to hit command-Z, reposition your cursor, and try again.)

    The impact font is easy to read, even in small sizes. However, if we were washing a Gothic dog in Old English Text MT, or a ’40s dog in Script MT Bold, the title would be unreadable using iMovie’s built-in title functions and a Web-sized movie. I think the iMovie development team chose small titles for a modern, sophisticated look, but also because small titles are less likely to smother the picture (which is a problem if the title is going to be planted right in the middle of the frame.

    Here, the “Washing” graphic is well to the left of center, so it doesn’t obscure Laddie’s face, and slightly raised from center, so it doesn’t fade into the yellowish vegetation in the background. If you don’t like a particular draft, reinsert laddie.pict and try again. If you’re using a more sophisticated graphics program for your title art (e.g., Photoshop), you may have the option of sliding text layers into position—but AppleWorks will do the job, and it came free on your iMac.
  5. Save Title as a PICT.
    Go to the menu bar, select File:Save:Save as:PICT, give your art a descriptive name (e.g., “Washing.title”), and save it in your DogTitle Tutorial folder.
  6. Repeat Steps 4 and 5 as needed.
    ts07I added a subtitle in 64-point Impact, a slightly darker yellow, and saved that as “DirtyBigDog.title.” Then I used the paint bucket to fill the “dirty” word with light orange, and saved that as “OrangeDirty.title.” These are saved as PICT files because that’s a still frame format iMovie can recognize, and because PICT is a lossless file format. Now quit AppleWorks and go back to iMovie.
  7. Import and Sort the Title Frames.
    In the iMovie File menu, select Import File, choose the frames you want, and click the Import button. You can either import DirtyBigDog.title twice, or import it once, drag it to the Clip Viewer bar, and split it in half using the Split Clip at Playhead command in the Edit menu. The newly imported still clips will appear on your iMovie Shelf (which, depending on where you’ve set your screen resolution, has either nine or twelve spaces available). If your shelves are full of other clips, you’ll have to drag the clips down to the Clip Viewer as you go along—otherwise you’ll see the dreaded “no-room-on-shelves” alert. Arrange the still clips like so: Washing.title, DirtyBigDog.title, OrangeDirty.title, another DirtyBigDog.title, and finish off the series with laddie.pict.
  8. Add Transitions and Crop the Clips.
    Click the Transitions button in the middle of the iMovie window, select Fade In from the options, move the duration slider to 00:16, and drag the Fade In icon to the front of the Clip Viewer. This will give you a sixteen-frame fade, which is roughly half a second (30 fps). Now select the Cross Dissolve option, and set the slider to 00:20. Drag the Cross Dissolve icon between Washing.title and DirtyBigDog.title. Put 20-frame cross dissolves between DirtyBigDog.title and OrangeDirty.title, and between OrangeDirty.title and the second DirtyBigDog.title. Now put a ten-frame cross dissolve (move the duration slider to 00:10 before you drag the Cross Dissolve icon onto the clip viewer) between the second DirtyBigDog.title and laddie.pict, tag a ten-frame Fade Out to the end of the sequence, and we’re almost done.

    What’s wrong with this title sequence? It’s almost a minute long, that’s what. Knock it down to five seconds by shortening the title clips. From Washing.title to laddie.pict I’ve cropped the clips (using the aptly named Crop command in the iMovie Edit menu) to 00:24, 00:02, 00:02, 00:11, and 00:20.

    Ta-dah. We have an intro title that fades in with the word “Washing.” The subtitle “the dirty big dog” fades in a half-second later, the word “dirty” grows gradually orange then fades back to yellow, the titles fade out, then the image of the dog fades out. By using Cross Dissolve transitions between similar frames, only the differences are transformed. With you in control of size, placement, color, style, and speed, your titles will be clear, tracting (the opposite of “distracting”), and distinctive.

Plug In and Turn On

iMovie doesn’t have to stay simple. Like many high-end Macintosh programs, iMovie accepts plug-ins. Your iMovie application folder contains a folder called Resources, which in turn contains a folder called Plugins. That’s where iMovie stores its instructions for titles and transitions.

The first batch of aftermarket plug-ins is available now from Apple’s iMovie Web site. All iMovie-makers should visit this site now and then, for tutorials, updates, and assorted add-ons. You should certainly download the latest update, and probably the latest iMovie Plug-in Pack as well. You may also want to download a few Music, Background, and Sound Effect sets.

iMovie Plug-in Pack #1 includes Center Large Title, which (as you might suspect) is much like Center Title, except the title is about 50% bigger. This improves readability, though it slightly increases the likelihood of the title obscuring your subject. In most cases, it’s a real improvement over Center Title.

The Dark Side of Plug-ins

“Give a kid a hammer, and everything looks like a nail.” —Anonymous

We can expect a plethora of iMovie plug-ins coming down the pike, despite Apple’s efforts to discourage third-party developers. Not since Photoshop has there been a program so ripe for widgets, so hungry for enhancements, so susceptible to feeping creaturism. Plug-in Pack #1 offers a few more exotic title and transition effects, which could distract you (and your audience) from your craft. Do you want to dazzle your viewers with the artistry and message of your film, or with Zoom Multiple titles and Flying Words? Should you simply cut to the next exciting scene, or wow your audience with a Warp In or Radial transition?

Be sparing with your power. Film editors earn Academy Awards with nothing but a Fade In followed by numerous Cut To’s. If your audience remembers your editing, you probably did too much of it.

Next Month: the most popular special effect in forty years of broadcast video—and you can do it with iMovie.

apple“iMovie AD” is copyright © 2000 Jamie McCornack,

Also in This Series

Reader Comments (59)

Ian Orchard · March 2, 2000 - 01:01 EST #1
Re the Dark Side of iMovie Plugins. iMovie has done to video what the Mac did for desktop publishing back in '84.....unleashed a tsunami of god-awful garbage. Remember pages with 30 different fonts? There'll be a period of similar movies until everyone settles down and concentrates on the content. We are going to see some wonderful stuff, especially when the kids get hold of this technology.
Linda Olsen · June 30, 2000 - 01:01 EST #2
I don't have the tutorial. Can you send it to me? I got the program sans tutorial so I am not sure how to start. Thanks.
Daniel Chvatik (ATPM Staff) · July 2, 2000 - 01:01 EST #3
The tutorial is not freely available. While Apple gives away the program for free and adds the tutorial to the iMac DV, the rest of us are out of luck for now. You can obtain more information on the iMovie site. There you find additional sounds, music etc. If you want the tutorial, you can order it from Apple: "A CD-ROM which includes iMovie and the tutorial files is available for a $19.95 (U.S.) shipping and handling fee, $29.95 (Canada). To order the CD, call 800-293-6617 in the U.S. or 888-295-0653 in Canada." There is also an online tutorial, but it is more advanced and assumes you did the tutorial you can order above.
Pat Hamilton · January 6, 2001 - 01:01 EST #4
Thanks for the information. It is just what I was looking for to teach my teachers about iMovie. Thanks for making it available to u
michele · April 26, 2001 - 21:40 EST #5
Very helpful article--I'm gonna try to use Photoshop to design some stuff to bring into iMovie.
jake goh · May 14, 2001 - 07:24 EST #6
Hi, could you please help me out with this software that i`m using? I`m using a panasonic DS33, i`m wonderimg if Smazzi works on this machime. My problem is, after editing, ad transferring everything into movie, the result is that the speech is slower than the person who speaks. T.Q Jake
David Robinson · June 10, 2001 - 23:06 EST #7
Hi, I am in the process of editing a wedding video captured on three different cameras, all operated by different individuals. Two of these cameras had the date function on during the filming. I want to edit out this unsightly feature by using a special effect of some kind. Or there any "frames" or "borders" available yet for iMovie2? Or can you make any recommendations? Thanks, David
anonymous · July 5, 2001 - 21:56 EST #8
My software is making videos in PAL. Does anyone know why or how to change it to NTSC?
Fizzlestix · July 31, 2001 - 10:28 EST #9
Thanks for this site with great info!! You can also import animated GIFs, Flash animations, etc., depending on your experience level with the software. (READ: iMovie2: The Missing Manual by David Pogue—it is *the bible*).
Alex Azam · October 9, 2001 - 13:05 EST #10
What is the best resolution for importing Photoshop files into iMovie? Some logos I've imported look so fuzzy. I've brought them in at 640x480, at 300 dpi. Is there a better way?
Celia · October 30, 2001 - 04:16 EST #11
We have been teaching iMovie for a year now, having finally ditched Premier in favour of an easier editing solution for our year 11 and 12 students. They really enjoy using iMovie and find it fast and effective in producing work. There are limitations: namely transitions, titles, etc., that all look similar. We also use Photoshop and Sound Edit for extra sound and imagery. Have used Photoshop for titles, 758 x 576 for full screen work, PAL, 150 dpi, with no problems with resolution. We always screen on a video projector, so the final result is slightly pixellated anyway. Another way we screen is to export to DV and then drop on to video and screen in class. All in all, a very effective editing program that allows students to quickly master the editing process. As always, it will not cover up shoddy image collection.
Matt · November 3, 2001 - 19:26 EST #12
This is fantastic, but alas is only useful for still frame clips. Is there any alternative than having to export the clip back to DV and then inputting into Final Cut Pro, doing a title, exporting again and finally inputting back into iMovie?
Dan Dozier · December 1, 2001 - 21:16 EST #13
Does anyone know how to make a title that will continue over all the clips in iMovie? Not a clip title. I need to superimpose a name accross the top of my entire iMovie footage. This title would always be visable over all the DV footage. iMovie provides no way to keep a title on for an unlimited time. Thanks! Dan Dozier
Dan Searle · December 10, 2001 - 19:15 EST #14
Does anyone out there manage to import text for titles, especially "Scroll in block" format? The instructions say "Type or paste...", but so far I have been unable to paste any format I have tried. Is it a memory problem or what? Comments appreciated. Dan Searle
Maria · January 15, 2002 - 05:28 EST #15
The article is great and it is very helpful! Thanks. I hope for more helpful information in the future from you!
Jennifer · February 4, 2002 - 15:13 EST #16
Would anyone besides me like to be able to easily add talk balloons and thought balloons to their movies? This could lend itself to lots of humor. It seems like it ought to be a fairly obvious plug-in for iMovie. I suppose until then, I'll just have to try it the cumbersome way of doing it up in Photoshop or AppleWorks and then importing into iMovie.
Shiju K. · February 16, 2002 - 09:51 EST #17
Hello. I want to create some subtitles on my own video. Can you inform me where I can get that software as freeware? I am expecting a reply for this mail very soon.

Jennifer Lana · February 16, 2002 - 11:15 EST #18
If you have a Mac and iMovie, you can already add
subtitles. I don't know of any freeware that will
enable you to do this, but maybe someone else will.

Good luck,

Jane W. · April 4, 2002 - 19:31 EST #19
I'm using iMovie 2 and I put a title at the beginning of my project. Now, every time I try to put a title somewhere else in the project, it flashes on for a second at the beginning. It doesn't show up there on the timeline or anywhere I can delete it from, but just flashes on for a second. Has anyone else had this problem? Might it just be a glitch in my software?
Marilyn · April 27, 2002 - 14:12 EST #20
I use iMovie to make video photo albums. When I export the finished product to videotape, sometimes the audio skips. It might start skipping at the beginning, or it might go nearly all the way through and then start skipping at the end. Or sometimes it works fine. Any ideas or suggestions?
Dennis · May 4, 2002 - 21:06 EST #21
I have been using iMovie since it came out when I bought the original 733. However, I am mystified why the titles look good when you preview them, but "stutter" across the screen when rendered. Am I doing something wrong? Thanks.
Adrian · May 23, 2002 - 17:57 EST #22
They may look bad, but when you export them into Quicktime or DVD or whatnot, they look perfectly good.
Barry · July 1, 2002 - 15:16 EST #23
Remember the scene in the movie The Matrix in which the scene freezes and one can see around the person? I know this shot was made with special cameras but I understand a similar special effect can be made with iMovie. However, I am not sure how this can be done. I believe that one takes a video of say a person, either walking or driving a car around that person and then editing the shoot such that the person is "frozen." Does anyone know how this can be accomplished with iMovie 2?
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · July 1, 2002 - 19:06 EST #24
Barry - whoever suggested to you that the effect could be done in iMovie was rattling your chain. Either that, or you completely misunderstood what they were telling you. You hit the nail right on the head when you stated that you know the shot was made with "special cameras." Let me emphasize the plural, "cameras." The effect is created for movies by shooting the subject either simultaneously or in rapid succession by many 35mm still cameras plus regular motion cameras on the front and back ends of the sequence to permit a motion-to-stop entry into the effect and a stop-back-to-motion return. In addition, you can only shoot an arc of about 150-160 degrees (depending on focal length) if you set up the large contraption with all the cameras on it at an on-location site. Otherwise, the cameras on one end will see cameras on the other end of the arc. To move futher around--even 360 degrees or more, plus up/down motion--the subject has to be shot in a blue screen (or green, as the movies often use nowadays) environment so that it can be matted into an environment, which is usually computer generated. This Matrix web site page shows how the effect is done. This first page shows you the middle stage of the effect, after the frames have been digitally morphed together so that it doesn't appear like a stop motion video and various stage objects that couldn't be hidden have been painted out. Click the number 2 to see the original shot of all the cameras, and you can see how each camera is positioned behind a green screen matte with only the black lens poking through. The larger circles at the front and back end of the sequence are the regular motion cameras. Clicking number 3 will show the final composited shot.

The moral of the story is, don't count on being able to do this effect with just one camera.
Simon · July 30, 2002 - 09:37 EST #25
Hi. Is it possible to compress video as you import it into iMovie?

I want to transfer files via the internet using a 2mbit connection. What size would make it possible to transfer 10-minute sequences of video at a reasonable rate...say 10 minutes. My math is not up to the calculations. What ratio should I use to compress on digitization? Please help.

Bruce Moore · August 6, 2002 - 20:16 EST #26
Why don't you make a printable copy of your articles? It would be a lot easier to read and try the tips with iMovie up and running.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · August 7, 2002 - 00:06 EST #27
Bruce - I won't even go into detail about the fact that you can print this web page, but we do have downloadable (and printable) versions of our issues. All of them are archived on our Back Issues page. Just scroll down to the links for the issue this article appeared in (6.03) and choose if you want to download the offline Webzine, the eDoc, or the PDF format.

P.S. - it wasn't until the 6.08 issue that we started making two PDF versions available and have done so ever since. One is optimized to be read on your computer screen, and the other is formatted in two columns and is optimized for printing.
Joe · September 9, 2002 - 22:35 EST #28
I have used iMovie for about two years now and I have been able to do some great stuff with the program. But, for some reason, I can't import any pictures or sound clips into iMovie from my desktop. I am really frustrated about this and don't know if iMovie is acting up or if my computer is screwed. I really need to import some stuff real soon. Please help me out, anyone who may know what's going on.
John Hartge · September 15, 2002 - 13:03 EST #29
Good article, as titling can make a video very professional looking. I don't understand how bringing in a higher resolution frame would change the quality of final image in iMovie. Is there some dithering going on?

I have used Photoshop to create a more 3D look to the titles as well as highlighting the edges of the type.

Audio is an interesting problem with videotaping and sometimes you may need to amplify a portion of narration. What I have tried to do was to duplicate the clip and extract the audio. If you place several duplicate audio clips over one another, the volume seems to go up.

A problem I had was matching the original audio track so there was no delay or echo effect. I guess you could deal with this by removing or not checking that track of the original audio in iMovie. The duplicate audio clips would all be at the same point.

In iMovie, if you want to have transitions between shots but are trying to keep the audio level constant, try deselecting the fade button on the audio level of the transition.

iMovie is a very good program and so simple, I seem to use it more than Premier and Final Cut Pro. I will have to learn the other programs but sometimes that work just needs to get out.
G12 Video Productions · December 2, 2002 - 17:04 EST #30
We here at G12 Video Productions have found iMovie to be a great asset to the production world. We would recommend it to beginners and to those who are more advanced.

Can anyone help with more free transitions and effects? If so, let me know.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · December 2, 2002 - 18:18 EST #31
G12 - assuming you've already obtained the iMovie Plug-in Pack 2.1.1 from Apple's iMovie page, I'd advise simply going to your favorite search engine (Google did a good job for me just now), and type in "free imovie effects" as your keywords, as well as "free imovie transitions." I turned up all sorts of hits.
Jack Schachtebeck · December 29, 2002 - 21:19 EST #32
Man, I wish I had found this site two years ago!

My system: iMac G4 800MHz, 512mb RAM, running OS 9.2 (not Classic). I don't use OS X because Adobe Photoshop Elements requires OS 9. I'm also using iMovie 2.01

I use Adobe Photoshop Elements to process Epson Twain-scanned photos. I use it for text titles superimposed on photos and flattened to a 640 by 480, 72 DPI image, then import into iMovie version 2.01 for a slideshow.

Results: Helvetica bold text, white on black or black on white, ends up looking like fuzzy garbage in iMovie while the photo only degrades slightly. Adding sound degrades both visibly.

WHY? What am I doing wrong?

Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · December 29, 2002 - 22:33 EST #33
Jack - I can honestly think of no reason why adding sounds would degrade your slide show. More information would be helpful.

As for your text, try proceeding on either or both of these thoughts. First, high contrast text, i.e. black on white or (especially) white on black, will often cause a blooming effect when the movie is displayed on a standard television. Try using an extremely light grey instead—such as 95%, assuming white is defined as 100%. Second, you didn't mention if the fuzziness is seen on a television or on your computer screen. If it's on your computer screen, the fuzziness is sort of normal. If you go frame by frame, it'll look crisp, but when you play it back, you'll see the interpolation "fuzziness." If this same movie is played on a TV screen, that interpolation is what makes the text look smooth on an analog (television) display.
Annie Blick · December 30, 2002 - 10:58 EST #34
Can someone please help me with this? I like to use slow motion in a lot of my filming, but in iMovie, I am getting all this stutter when it is downloaded to a camera. It looks great--nice and smoooth--on the camera monitor, but on the TV, it shows how bad this stutter really is and I am unable to use it as my final piece.

I would be so grateful for any advice. Thanks.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · December 30, 2002 - 21:05 EST #35
Annie - speed-adjusted iMovie clips must be rendered so they won't flicker on a television. You are probably just recording the movie on your camera by just hitting the play button after starting your camera. Don't ask me to comment on the logic of this but, unlike transitions between clips, speed-adjusted clips don't automatically render. To render them, go to the File menu and select Export Movie. Make sure the Export: selection is set for "To Camera" then click the Render Now button. After it's finished, you can also use this window as a better way to copy the movie to your camera. Most cameras will start recording automatically with this feature, and you can define how long to wait for the camera heads to spin up and start moving the tape, as well as how many seconds of black you want before and after the entire timeline.
Jack Schachtebeck · December 31, 2002 - 19:09 EST #36
Is iMovie version 2.1.1 in Mac OS X 10.1.5 functionally superior to iMovie version 2.01 in Mac OS 9.2? I have both, but Photoshop Elements will only work on Mac OS 9.2 and I would have to use Appleworks in OS X for titles.

Nik · January 16, 2003 - 18:29 EST #37
Can you please help? I would like to use a formal quote in my movie. I want to position it like a paragraph but iMovie will only allow it to be centered. By centered, I mean the sentences themselves are centered. I want the quote to be in the middle of the clip and presented like normal. I'm sure there is a way to do this.

Jack Schachtebeck · January 30, 2003 - 00:44 EST #38
Nik, you don't necessarily have to use iMovie titles to add titles,
quotes, or text to iMovie. You can put together centered text in either Appleworks 6 or Photoshop Elements and import them into iMovie as still frames. Use bold sans-serif fonts like "Impact" over still, PICT format pictures taken from iMovie, or over other photos. Or you can create a blank 640 x 480-pixel black or color of your choice, 640 x 480 frame, and add print to that in the above applications. Emphasis! Whatever you create, it must be in 640 x 480-pixel, PICT format to import it into iMovie (I prefer Adobe Photoshop Elements). The only drawback is not being able to superimpose the text over an active, movie frame. There are other third-party titlers that you can purchase that will work just like the iMovie titler. They were mentioned in a recent Macworld, MacAddict, or Videomaker magazine, I can't remember which. If anybody else finds this article, let me know!

BTW: For more iMovie title formats, you must update iMovie to version 2.0.1 with iMovie package 2 for OS 9 or iMovie update package 2.1.1 for OS X. Don't get these versions mixed up, as I did! Hope this helps.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · January 30, 2003 - 00:47 EST #39
Just a quick clarification - Jack's comments are largely sound advice. Two points, though. PICT is not the only format iMovie can import. PICT is good because it's a nonlossy file format, but you can import JPEGs and other formats in, too. Also, DV specifications actually are based on a 720x480 size for the video picture. This is the pixel dimensions you should use when creating a graphic in various paint software apps to bring full-frame into iMovie.
Daniel Wenger · February 4, 2003 - 14:37 EST #40
I have recorded video on my GL2 using two microphones. One records on the left channel and one on the right channel. When I import the film to iMovie, the sound is merged into on track. I would like to be able to edit the sound from each microphone separately. Any ideas?

Thanks. Daniel Wenger
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · February 4, 2003 - 14:47 EST #41
Daniel - even though you only see one track of audio from your capture, you are still getting both tracks as stereo sound. iMovie's features do not include independent tracks for left and right. Before you knock iMovie for lacking this ability, don't forget that it is (for the time being) still a free application that does a lot for its price tag.

For additional (translation, more professional) functionality, consider upgrading to Final Cut Express or Final Cut Pro.
Jack Schachtebeck · February 7, 2003 - 00:19 EST #42
Great article! I used it, too, but hit a snag, described below.

I've run into a problem in iMovie with 640 x 480 PICT files. My TV cuts off sides, tops and bottoms of imported still files in iMovie when I output same from my Canon GL1 camcorder analog output jack direct to the TV.

The iDVD Tutorial talks about a "TV Safe-area mask," but no such thing mentioned in iMovie.

Since I will be showing this shortly using an LCD projector. I either have to go through the laborious re-do of 40 still files, or find some other solution.

Time is of the essence!

iMac G4, 800 MHz, OS X 10.1.5, iMovie 2.1.1


Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · February 7, 2003 - 09:25 EST #43
You are correct. iMovie does not have the "safe-area mask" that iDVD has. I've not had my hands on iMovie 3 yet, but perhaps the feature has been added. It should be.

Yes, televisions generally overscan a bit and anything very close to the edge of the frame in iMovie is likely to be cut off on a television.

There is a little bit of good news, however. Video projectors do not overscan. you'll get the entire frame.

Otherwise, if you want the objects on the edge of the pictures to not get cut off on a standard television, I'm afraid I have to inform you that, yes, you'll have to go to each one that is giving problems and fix them. And you can't just reduce them because iMovie will try to expand it out to full frame. The pictures have to be reduced and then the canvas expanded back out with black pixels to 720 x 480.

No, I didn't make a mistake on the resolution. True DV ratio is 720 x 480, not 640 x 480.
Jack Schachtebeck · February 8, 2003 - 01:44 EST #44
Lee, you are invaluable! The LCD not trimming off the edges of the Canon GL1 output is very good news indeed! Thank you very much!

You didn't make any error about 720 X 480 pixels. It was the book, "iMovie, the manual that should have been in the box" that kept pushing the 640 X 480 size.

Then, there's the Apple iDVD help tutorial. It's hard to find--click "Mac Help," enter "iDVD Tutorial," ignore the screen that pops up, click "Search for more info," then you get 5 pages of 6+ sizable items of tutorial info on iDVD, some very good.

Anyway, to continue, iDVD says use the 720 X 480 image size or iDVD will degrade the picture quality rescaling the 640 X 480 image in order to fill the TV "safe" area.

One thing I just found out the hard way is that no iDVD info I've found gives you concise, step-by-step details on the whole process of rendering and encoding, initializing the DVD disk, burning, etc. I've ruined two expensive DVD-R disks trying to burn my iMovie on same.

My 17-minute iMovie took 4 hours to encode (it did it twice) which is OK, but then to be disappointed by the "Preview" breaking up the 16-bit music channel, then flunking on the burn, giving me a message saying "Multiplexor error," then "initialization tracking error," then "wrong disk," finally got to me. Another "Missing Manual," David!

I'm calling my Apple warranty folks Monday after I cool off. Thanks again, Lee.

Jack Schachtebeck · February 24, 2003 - 19:44 EST #45
I just downloaded ATPM 9.02. In the e-mail section, there was an e-mail from old guy named Mobius Pope who, like myself, (I'm 74, he is 83), was discouraged trying to use OS X. He sounded kind of sad and was thinking of sticking with OS 9.

I would like to encourage and help him if I could find out how to contact him via e-mail.

A.J. Behram · April 25, 2003 - 13:44 EST #46
I appreciate your web site! I use iMovie 2 and I have been having problems with the audio tracks lately. It seems that on playback (not all the time, but enough to annoy me), a lot of the sound bites I have set up end up as if I have clicked the fade button on them. I have done as much as I can, including removing all fade features from the other tracks, but when exporting to my camera, the same thing happens. I just stayed up all night working on a school project (as a teacher). This has delayed a much-anticipated video for my students. Any suggestions? I am probably ignoring some basic axiom of computer usage. :-)

By the way, the reason I like iMovie 2 better is that it seems more stable and I like the record feature on version 2 better because I can just punch parts of a CD I might use. I have had a ton of crashes with version 3. I guess my iMac DV G3 512mb is not enough. Other than that, man I love the whole editing process!

Thanks, and all the best.

jenbeast · May 17, 2004 - 09:13 EST #47
I tried to add simple titles in iMOVIE and though they looked great in preview, once rendered are barely legible. I am glad to find I'm not the only one having a similar problem. Someone suggested that once exported to Quicktime it will look fine BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT HAPPENED TO ME. Please check out the Quicktime movie if you like at It is the site of an actor friend of mine, click on the link to the "reel". In the very beginning of the movie I tried to use the titles to superimpose her name for a few seconds-it's so messed up looking it almost looks like it's just gunk on the screen. I CAN'T IMAGINE that a TV could be so different from my CRT monitor that it would render perfectly there. Besides, if I have many options to export to EMAIL, or WEB, then the type effects should render so as to display properly in those formats. IMHO. Has anyone found a solution? Thanks for listening, good luck!
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · May 17, 2004 - 09:30 EST #48
Jen - A TV is, in fact, different from a computer monitor. Images are interlaced for television, where computer monitors usually get a direct representation of the image. I'm sorry I don't fully understand how it works, but I do know that the blockiness you might see is the result. However, exporting as a QuickTime movie is supposed to correct for some of the blockiness. What I believe your problem is is related to three things. First, you're scaling the size of your QuickTime movie pretty small—only 240x180. Every time I've used this size, my titles also appear almost illegible. Try using 320x240 instead. Second (and third), your text appears to either be too small and/or too thin. Small letters often look okay on television, but they'll get lost in a tiny QuickTime file. Moving to 320x240 size may help them significantly, but if you can bump them up a few point sizes and make them use a bolder font, that'll help even more.
Susan Stamnes · May 18, 2005 - 17:28 EST #49
When we add a title over a video clip the sound is reduced and I can't bring it back up to volume by adjusting the volume bar in the timeline viewer. Is there something else we can do?
waldo rodriguez · July 16, 2005 - 10:51 EST #50
I just edited my first dv file of a wedding, the quality was excellent when viewed on i movie, however the dvd recording came out very fuzzy and the colors not as vivid. Will this also be the case when viewed on a TV? Also I tried to put a title on the movie but noting came out on the recording, as you can see I am very new to this so any help would be of great help.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · July 16, 2005 - 15:01 EST #51
Waldo - I've posted various responses above—some dating back to late 2002 and early 2003—that may answer your questions.
Ann Marie · December 4, 2005 - 19:27 EST #52
Can anyone give me instructions on how to input animated GIFs in iMovie HD? Thanks
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · December 5, 2005 - 00:15 EST #53
Ann - there may be a plug-in for this, but I'm not aware of any. The way I would do it is to open the GIF in an image editor that supports flipping to each individual frame of the graphic, then copy each frame as an individual file. Name them with a sequential numbering scheme. Then import those files into iMovie and place them on your timeline.
georges ADAL · April 19, 2006 - 20:53 EST #54
Susan- I am having the same problem as you, and I just don't know what to do , can anybody figure out the problem ?
Jasper Jancik · May 7, 2006 - 00:14 EST #55
I'm using imovie HD and am running into a couple of issues. One, when I add a subtitle to a clip that also has a slow down effect added to it, it significantly affects my audio quality. Any ideas? Also, after exporting it to idvd and viewing it on my t.v. the image is really pixelated...any ideas how to smooth it out? Thanks in advance.
paul arenson · December 23, 2006 - 01:06 EST #56
Jasper, I had this when I downloaded and converted from flv (as in google and youtube) to QuickTimee). Then imported to IMovie and added subtitles. I GUESS we can copy and repaste the video into a separate track, and THEN add the subtitle, then erasing the audio from the clip. Have not tried. is ther an easier way? Does THIS way work?

Did you find an answer until now?
Priya Path · April 4, 2007 - 15:22 EST #57
Every time I try to burn my movie in idvd (a keynote presentation coverted to Quicktime) I get this goes through the whole process of encoding and at the burn stage I get this error....
Error During Track Initialization
There was an error during track initialization and iDVD cannot continue burning this DVD 'the disc has not been
touched yet!). Please select Delete Encoded Assets' from the Advanced-menu and try burning this project again. I do this but it still doesn't work.
Sarah K · October 24, 2007 - 08:23 EST #58
I'm trying to get a scrolling text block to play over an audio track. Really simple. the audio is around 4 minutes, and it is quite a large text block, so I'm trying to time it right so the text syncs with the audio, but because it is such a big text file, the preview skips, so I can only test the timing after it is rendered, the problem is the rendering takes FOREVER! Why would it take so long to render some text over a black background? Did I miss something? Is there anything I can do to speed things up, maybe something in the settings? Please help!
Baruoon · June 8, 2008 - 02:57 EST #59
I am using imovie 2.1 running on a G5 with OSX
Downloaded movie but monitor is oversized and covering up the timeline and I can't seem to resize it in preferences. There's no moving tab on the bottom R corner. I can't access the frames dragged to the timeline or see the audio. HELP! Final week of school. Thanks

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