iMovie for Mac is a fantastic free tool that allows people of all skill levels to create and share bold, beautiful, custom movies right from the comfort of their home, office, or anywhere they can use a laptop or desktop. In this article, going to show you how to to use iMovie for beginners. You’ll learn:
First, find iMovie in the task bar, or your Applications folder, and open the app. Once the iMovie window opens, you can see three small tabs at the top of the window: “Media,” “Projects,” and “Theater.”
The “Media” tab allows users to upload, sort, and store various media files such as video clips, audio clips, and still images. Before you start making a new movie, you’ll need to collect some media. First, click on “iMovie Library” on the left side of the screen, then right-click and select “New Event” from the menu, and today’s date will appear in the Media Library. An “Event” is essentially a folder where you can store all the various media files you plan to use for a specific movie project. In this example, I’m going to name my new Event folder “Cities.”
Next, click on “Import Media,” just to the right of the Media Library, and this will show you all the various media files you have saved on your computer. Let’s say that I already have some videos, pictures, and sound files related to urban traffic, and I want to use all of these elements in my new movie. I can select one clip at a time, or I can select multiple clips by holding down the Shift key and clicking on each file I want to select. Once I’ve selected a file I click “Import” to add files to the Cities” folder, or simply click, drag, and drop them into the folder.
Take a quick look at the “Theater” tab at the top of the iMovie window. “Theater” is where you can store and view your completed iMovie projects. Once a completed project is in the “Theater” folder you can play it, share it, and even view it with other devices that you have linked to your computer through iCloud. The final tab is “Projects.” This tab is where users go to create and edit movies. It’s essentially the “Work in progress” section of iMovie.
Now that I’ve covered the three main tabs, I‘m going to guide you through the steps of beginning a new movie project. To begin, click on the “Projects” tab, then click on “Create New,” and iMovie will offer two options: “Movie” and “Trailer.” Click on “Movie,” and a new window will open up where you can start making movies like a pro.
In the new window, I have the “Project Media” list on the left, then a blank space with an “Import Media” icon in the middle, a “Preview” panel to the right, and finally the “Timeline” at the bottom. Over in the Project Media list, I can see “My Movie 1,” which is the default name that iMovie gives the new movie project I’ve just started. Below that, I can see the “Cities” folders where I’ve collected various sound clips, video clips, and image files.
Click on the “Cities” folder to open it, then drag and drop the media files into the movie Timeline at the bottom of the Projects window. You’ll notice that when you add files to the Timeline, sound files are colored green, and video and image files have a blue line along the bottom. These colors are a handy visual aid that iMovie uses to help you keep track of which files are which.
Once there are three or four files in the Timeline, things might start looking a bit crowded, and some of the files will extend way right off the right side of the screen where you can’t even see them. But don’t worry, there’s a tool to help with that! Just look at the top right corner of the Timeline, and there’s a small slider labeled “Settings.” The slider allows you to zoom in and out on the media files in the Timeline window. If you zoom out, you get a wide angle view of all the files. If you zoom in, you get a more detailed, close-up view, which is great for choosing specific moments in a video clip or sound file, like a space in the video where you want to make a cut or fade to a new scene.
The Timeline has a wonderful range of tools, features, and actions you can use to make your movie something special. First, go up to your Project Media list and click on “My Movie 1.” Now you will see the thumbnails of all the media files that are currently in the Timeline. Just click on one of the thumbnails–let’s say one of the video clip files–and the thumbnail will appear highlighted with a yellow border. Hold down the “R” key and click and drag across that highlighted thumbnail, and that will make the video run back and forth, so you can see the whole video moving and quickly or slowly as you move your mouse. You can also click “Play” on the Preview panel to the right side of the thumbnails, and watch video clips in a larger format. The Preview panel is a great way to find specific moments in a sound or video clip without changing anything in the Timeline.
Now I’m going to take you through some of the editing options in iMovie. First, Move your cursor back and forth across the Timeline, and you’ll see that there’s a white vertical line that moves along with it. Think of this white line as a marker–a moment in time. As you move the line back and forth, you’re also moving back and forth in the clip. For example, let’s say that I want my movie to show a specific moment when a white car drives by. I can move that white line across that relevant video clip in my Timeline, watch the video in the Preview panel, and–when I find the precise moment that the white car drives by–I click and I see that there’s now a gray vertical line marking that precise moment in the clip. That gray line means “Start.” Now just hit the space bar on your keyboard to begin playing the clip from that exact moment marked by the gray line, and hit the spacebar again to stop playing.
iMovie also provides several ways for users to edit and adjust the sound within clips. Let’s say there’s a video clip of traffic driving by on a busy city street, and you’d like to remove the background traffic noise and replace it with some dramatic music. If you look at the video clip in the Timeline, you’ll see that there’s a blue line running horizontally across the bottom of the clip. That blue line is the audio data within that clip. Now simply right-click on that clip, then choose “Detach Audio” from the menu, and the audio will instantly get taken out of the video clip and appear as a separate file, down below with the green audio files in the Timeline, as well as up above as a thumbnail in the Media files. Now you can delete that removed sound file, or save to use later in another project.
You can also adjust the audio directly inside of each video clip. For example, perhaps you love the ambient background noise in your city traffic clip, but you’d like to add a voiceover, and the ambient sound is just a bit too loud. To adjust the volume, just click on that clip in the Timeline, then click on and drag the little horizontal white line inside of the blue strip running along the bottom of the clip. That line is actually the volume adjustment for that specific clip. The green audio clips also have that same horizontal adjustment line for making the volume exactly as loud or soft as you want.
Another feature to be aware of in the Timeline is the small “connector” line between clips. Click on an audio clip in the Timeline, drag it just under a video clip, and when the audio clip gets close enough to the video clip, a small green line will appear at the top left corner of the audio clip. As soon as that little green line touches the video clip above it, those clips are now connected. Now when you click and drag the video clip around the Timeline, the audio clip will get dragged along with it. You can do the same thing with any of the clips in the Timeline. Just drag a clip next to the main clip, move it until that tiny line appears at the top or bottom corner, and then drop that clip and it will stay connected to the main clip. If you decide that you want to change the exact location where the sound clip connects to the video clip, just click and drag the sound clip to the new location, and move it until the green line appears and connects it to the video clip again.
iMovie also allows users to change the length, or duration, of a clip. Let’s say I have an image file in my Timeline. Click on that image file’s thumbnail, and it will display a number. This number is the number of seconds that this image will appear onscreen when the movie plays. In this case, I can see that my chosen image will appear on the screen for 2.7 seconds, but I want that image to stay on the screen for 5.5 seconds. All I need to do is hold down the “R” key, then click and drag the right edge of the image, and I can see the number of seconds increasing and decreasing as I drag back and forth, left to right. It’s important to remember that when you make a clip shorter, you’re actually removing, or deleting, information from that clip. But no worries! If you make a mistake and remove information you didn’t mean to remove, just click “Edit” from the main menu at the top of the screen, then click “Undo,” or hold down “Command” and hit the “Z” key to undo that last action.
Another fun tool allows users to adjust how quickly or slowly a clip plays in the movie. For example, perhaps your movie needs a dramatic slow-motion scene. Just click on that video clip in the Timeline, right-click, and choose “Show Speed Editor” from the menu. Now a black horizontal line will appear at the top of that clip. Click and drag that black line to the left to speed up the action, and a little icon of a rabbit appears to let you know that you’re in “faster” mode. Drag to the right to slow down the action, and a little icon of a turtle appears, indicating “slower.” This way you can easily create slow-motion and fast-motion clips or scenes in the Timeline with just a simple click and drag. And if you don’t like the look, just use Cmd + Z to undo.
Cutting and editing scenes and clips has always been an essential part of making movies. The “Split Clip” tool allows users to split a clip into sections so that they can delete, move, and rearrange sections of video and sound as much as they like. For example, I’d like to add a still image in the middle of a clip of urban traffic, and I need to make a space for that image to fit into. All I do is go to the Timeline, move that white vertical line to the correct moment in my traffic clip, right-click, and choose “Split Clip” from the menu. Splitting clips doesn’t remove any information from the clip, it simply breaks the clip into separate pieces. Now just click and drag the still image around the timeline and center it over the split in the video.
Sometimes you’d love to add just a bit more interest and complexity to a movie to make it really pop, so now I’d like to introduce you to the “Transitions” options in iMovie. A transition is like that moment in a film when one scene fades to another scene, or when the soundtrack fades from exciting music to spooky music to match the action. There are two main ways to perform a Transition in iMovie, and I’ll start with the method you perform inside of the Timeline itself. Let’s say that I have an urban traffic video clip that I want to fade into an image of the Statue of Liberty, and then fade into a new scene in the video. I simply find the statue image file in the Timeline, then drag and place it right above the split between the two scenes that I just created with the “Split Clip” tool. When the image file is highlighted, I can see that there’s a little circle in the top right and top left corners of that thumbnail. Just hold down the “R” key, then use the mouse to click and drag the circles toward the middle. As you drag, you can look at the Preview panel above and see that the main video clip fades to the image, and then the image fades back to the next video clip. You can also use these exact same steps to fade sound clips in and out.
The second method is to use the “Transitions” tool. At the top of the window, above the thumbnails of all the media files, there’s a horizontal menu that shows options like “My Media,” “Audio,” “Titles,” “Backgrounds,” and “Transitions.” Just click the “Transitions” tab to open a menu of various preset transition effects such as “Fade to Black,” “Slide Left,” and “Ripple.” Now select a Transition from the menu, whichever looks the most interesting, and drag and drop it in between two video clips, or at the beginning or end of a clip, to add it to your movie.
At this point, you should have a good selection of video clips, sound clips, and images in your Media Library and in your Timeline. I’ve gone over the basics of cutting and editing, as well as how to use Transitions, so now I’ll demonstrate how to add some extra little touches to make the movie look even more professional and unique.
First, click on a clip in the Timeline, and that clip will appear in the Preview panel. Above the Preview, a menu of tool icons will appear.
One great tool is the “Match Color” tool, which allows users to create a harmonious look throughout the entire movie. For example, my main video clip of urban traffic is filled with rich, natural sunlight and colors, but I also have a clip of streetcars that I’d like to use, and that clip looks just faded and dull. The first step is to click on the streetcars clip in my Timeline so that the clip appears in the Preview panel. Next, I click on the black and white circle icon at the left side of the tools, then select “Match Color” from the menu. Now I move down to the Timeline, click on the urban traffic clip that has the sunny, natural colors that I want, and that clip will appear next to the streetcar clip in the Preview panel, and iMovie will make a subtle adjustment to the colors and tones in the streetcar clip so that it more closely matches the colors and tones in the main clip. If the results look good, I simply click the checkmark at the top right corner.
There are several more tools in the visual editing menu that allow users to adjust the look of clips in the Preview panel, like the Crop tool that lets you zoom in and get a closer shot, and the “Shaky camera” icon that lets you stabilize a shaky handheld video. You can even add filters to video clips to create a certain mood, turn a color movie into a black and white film, or make the movie look like it was filmed on a spooky, alien planet. I recommend taking time to play around, experiment with each tool, and explore all the wonderful ways iMovie helps users tailor and customize their movies. iMovie also offers a “green screen” effect, much like the effect professionals use to insert backgrounds into various film scenes. For example, let’s say there’s a little 10-second clip of a street view looking up at two skyscrapers in the foreground, with a bright, clear blue sky in the background. Now just click on that clip in the Timeline, it appears in the Preview panel, and up above a new icon appears in the editing tools menu. This icon looks like a little double box, or a square with a shadow. That little icon is the “Cutaway” tool. It’s important to remember that when you’re editing the main video, the clip that all these other sound and video and images get added to make a finished movie, you will not see the “Cutaway” icon. This particular icon only appears when you’re working on the other clips, the extra pieces of video that you plan to add to the main video. Now, click on the Cutaway icon and a drop-down menu option, named “Cutaway,” appears. Just click on the Cutaway menu to reveal all the options, then select “Green/Blue Screen.” This tool essentially takes all the parts of the video that are colored solid blue or solid green and makes them invisible. So now, once you click “Green/Blue Screen,” you can still see those two skyscrapers in the foreground, but instead of a blue sky in the background, you now see the main video clip in the background.
One more feature I want to talk about is the “Titles” tab. “Titles” give users a whole range of extras like opening and closing credits, movie titles, and even subtitles. Simply click the Titles tab, located above the media thumbnails, and a full menu of various preset effects will appear. Now click on a thumbnail, and it will show up over in the Preview panel so you can get a closer look. Some of the titles even incorporate motion. For example, click the thumbnail named “Scrolling Credits,” then move the cursor back and forth across the thumbnail, and you can see credits moving up and down on the screen in the Preview panel. When you find a Title you like, just click, drag, and drop it where you want it in the Timeline.
Once the Title thumbnail is in the correct spot in the Timeline, that title will appear in the Preview panel, neatly laid over the video clip. Now you can start playing with the editing tools to add new text, select from a range of fonts, and change the text color and size. At last, you’ve completed your very first movie, and you’re dying to share it with friends! Just a few simple steps are all you need! Just go up to the top-right corner of the iMovie window and click the “Upload” icon. This will open a menu of options, such as Facebook, Vimeo, and Youtube. Let’s say I have a YouTube account, and I want to upload my movie so I can share the link. Just Select “YouTube” from the menu, and a window will open where I can choose whether to upload my movie in HD or not, whether or not I want this movie to be Private, and add any tags that might make it easier for people to find my movie with a keyword search. I also want to make sure to click the “Add To Theater” checkbox at the bottom of the upload window to add the new movie to the “Theater” tab for easy access. iMovie also offers options like “File” in the upload menu, which saves the movie directly to my computer.
Now that I’ve gone over some of the essential tools and features that iMovie has to offer, you have an almost endless range of options to help you make fun, amazing, fully customized movies for any event or occasion, from weddings and birthdays to work presentations and school projects. Have fun, and don’t be afraid to explore your own creative potential!
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Making a YouTube channel gives you a powerful platform to upload and share knowledge. You can also use YouTube to record your screen for free. In this article, I’ll show you:
Start your YouTube channel by signing into your Google account or creating an account here: https://accounts.google.com/SignUp
Once you’ve confirmed everything and logged in, you’ll see the account screen, as shown below. Click the grid of small squares in the top-right corner and this will open the app launcher. Then click YouTube from the selection of Google Apps.
Make sure you’re logged in to the correct Google account by checking the icon in the top-right corner. If you have multiple Google accounts, YouTube may default to a different account than the one you want for your new YouTube channel. Once you’ve confirmed you’re on the right account, click “Creator Studio” below the account name.
If you’ve never created a YouTube channel with this account, you should be taken to a mostly empty page that says “You must create a channel to upload videos.” Click “Create a channel.” Then you will be prompted to enter the name you would like to use for your channel. Think about this carefully, because there are limits on how many changes you can make to your channel name within a certain period of time. Once you’ve decided on a workable name, click “Create channel.”
This will open your YouTube channel video manager, which of course won’t have any videos in it yet. At the top of the left-side navigation you’ll see “Dashboard.” The dashboard shows you a snapshot of what is happening in your YouTube channel, including some analytics. I’ll go more in detail on more analytics tools later in this article. For now, click on “VIEW CHANNEL” below your name near the top of the page.
At the start, every YouTube channel looks boring, so it’s best to add a channel icon and a background image. If you don’t already have graphics for these, Canva is a great, free tool you can use to create custom graphics that are already the right size to work with your YouTube channel. You can see how to do that here.
When you click the small pencil on your channel icon you’ll receive a notice that it may take a few minutes or longer for your changes to take effect. Click “Edit” and you will be taken to your Google profile page where you can upload a channel icon, which is the same as your Google profile image. This is the place you can also use to change your channel name if necessary. Once you’ve added a photo to your Google profile image/YouTube channel icon, close the tab and you should see your YouTube channel again.
Click on the blue button in the top middle of the screen that reads “Add channel art.” Here you can upload a photo you have saved on your computer, use a photo that’s previously been uploaded to your Google account, or select from stock images in the gallery. If you’re uploading your own image, make sure it is at least 2048 by 1152 pixels. The optimal size image for YouTube channel art is 2560 by 1440 pixels.
Channel art shows differently across devices, and once you’ve chosen an image, you will see how it will be displayed on a desktop, TV, and mobile device. Click “Adjust the crop” in the bottom left corner to make changes to your image if needed to make it appear better across devices.
If you’re making a custom graphic, you should experiment with the custom crop tool first and understand that only the middle strip will be shown on computers and mobile devices, so that is where you want any text or highlights to be shown.
Now, click “Video Manager” just above and to the left of your channel art. It is very easy to upload videos from here. You simply click the up arrow in the top-right corner and then click the large arrow in the middle of the screen you are taken to. From a dropdown menu below the large arrow on the Upload Screen, you can choose whether you want your video to be public, private, or unlisted. You can change this setting later if you like. If you set the video as public, anyone can view it. If unlisted, someone needs your link to view the video, and private means only you can view your video. You can either drag and drop video files into the big arrow, or you can click the big arrow and upload files from your computer.
While your video is uploading and processing, you can add details about the video like the title, description, and tags. You want to make especially sure that your title matches what you expect people to be searching for. For example, if you’re making a tutorial on baking a cake, you should title it “Tutorial for Cake Baking” or “How To Bake a Cake.” Write a lot of information in the description and make sure to use the keywords that you want to be found with. Add links in your description for your social media, website, and anywhere else you want viewers to go. Tags are also important to being found. You can enter up to 500 characters in the tags box, so make them count. Enter tags separated by a comma, and get as detailed as possible with as many tag combinations as you can come up with. I use a tool called TubeBuddy to help find tags that are relevant and see how well I’m ranking for tags I’m using. From the Upload Screen, you can also set it as Public, Private, or Unlisted. I usually start with my videos as Private from the upload, and make them Public once I’ve checked everything and made sure it’s right. You can also add your newly uploaded video to a playlist or multiple playlists directly from the Upload Screen. You can then choose one of the default thumbnails, which is just a screenshot from your video, or you can add a custom thumbnail later, which I’ve explained here. Finally, you can choose to Tweet your video directly from the Upload Screen, and you can then add another video by clicking the “+ Add more videos” button on the bottom right.
From the Video Manager, you can always edit any video you have and return to the Upload Screen. Just make sure to save any changes you make by clicking the blue “Save changes” button at the top or bottom of the screen.
It’s a good idea to verify your channel. You can start this process by going to “Channel” in the left-side navigation and selecting “Status and features.” You can view the detailed instructions for verifying your YouTube channel here. If your channel is verified, you can add custom thumbnails to your videos, and you can set up monetization through Adsense, offer paid content, or live stream on YouTube.
If you click the gear just below the channel art at the right of your Channel Overview, you can change your Channel Settings. You may want to change the privacy settings of your channel here, otherwise people will be able to see all the videos you have liked on YouTube, as well as your subscriptions and saved playlists. From the Channel Settings screen, you can also allow customization of your channel, which will let you do things like add a trailer and suggest content to your visitors.
With “Customize the layout of your channel” enabled, you will see a navigation menu at the top of your channel, much like you would see on a typical website.
Now, you can access an “About” page for your channel using the navigation menu. Here, you can edit your channel description and add links that will show up overlaid on your channel art. These links can be to your website, landing page, social media, or any other link you want to send people to. You can choose from the dropdown how many of the links you would like to be overlaid on your channel art. If you choose “5,” then the first five links you add will be overlaid on your channel art, as shown below, with the first one being the largest and most prominent.
I use playlists with my channel, and I arrange them with a horizontal layout. From the Home section of your channel, click “Add section.” Then you can choose what you want this section to show, such as a playlist or your most popular videos. You can choose whether you want that selection of videos displayed in a horizontal row or vertical row. As you create more videos that match whatever selection you’ve added to a section–such as a specific playlist–they will automatically populate that section.
You can even select what you want new visitors to see on your page versus returning subscribers. You may want to have a channel trailer or short explainer video shown whenever a new visitor sees your page. From your page overview, at the top you can choose to view your channel as yourself, a subscriber, or as a new visitor. This can help you get a feel for how your channel will look depending upon who is visiting it.
“It’s important to play with the look of your channel and give it a feel using custom channel art, custom thumbnails, having your picture on the profile–all these things can give it an interesting look to set it apart from other people.”
Your dashboard shows you a snapshot of important information, and you can customize it by dragging sections to where you want them. You can also change the settings for each section, or widget, by clicking the gear icon, and you can add new widgets by clicking the “Add widget” button in the top right corner.
In the Video Manager, we can add and edit videos and create playlists. You can also edit playlists and add a description to each playlist. The descriptions on your playlists are another searchable thing that can help Google find your videos, so it is very important to fill those out using keywords that you think people will search whenever they are looking for your videos. You can also add videos directly into a playlist from the Playlist section of the Video Manager.
Livestreaming is very important for YouTube channel growth, and you can create events in the Livestream section on the left-side navigation of your YouTube channel admin page. I have a full video tutorial on how to do that here. We’ll use this to make the screen recording in the last section of this article.
The Community section shows your messages and comments from viewers. You can directly engage with your audience in this section.
Under the Channel section, you should consider your Upload Defaults. I set my videos to automatically be private when I upload them, so that I can check everything out before the public sees it. I also set my default category to Education, since all my videos involve education in some way. We’ve already discussed why you should verify your channel under the Status and Features area of the Channel section, and I’ll cover the Featured Content, Branding, and additional Advanced options in another article. You won’t need to worry about these when you’re starting your channel, but they can be useful for encouraging action from your audience later on.
YouTube has a powerful and useful Analytics section that gives you insight into what’s working in your videos and channel as a whole.
The Create section has an Audio Library of music that you can use in your videos, just make sure you follow the instructions on certain songs that require attribution. There is also a Video Editor in the Create section that is built right into YouTube. It is not the best, but it can be used to line up video clips with audio backgrounds, apply effects, and create good looking videos. You can see my tutorial on using the YouTube video editor here.
TubeBuddy is a powerful add on that I use to optimize my channel. It will show what tags I’m ranking for and suggest tags for me. I go back and change my titles, descriptions, and tags from time to time to help them rank better and get more search hits.
Once your channel is verified, you can set up monetization and choose the type of ads you want to be shown on each video. If your video is over 10 minutes long, you can choose more types of ads and place ads to show multiple times in each video.
How to use YouTube as a free screen recorder
Screen recording is a powerful teaching tool for showing people how to do something on a computer. Most people don’t realize that you can record your screen quickly, easily, and for free with YouTube. First, click on your account icon in the top-right corner and select “Creator Studio.”
Select “Live Streaming” from the left-side navigation and click on “Events.” Then click “New live event” in the top-right corner.
For screen recording purposes, it’s best to set your live event to private. Otherwise, people can and probably will see it live. Select “Private” from the dropdown on the right side when you set up your event. Also, make sure that “Type” is set to “Quick (using Google Hangouts on Air)” because Google Hangouts has the screen sharing function we’ll be using. Then click “Go Live Now” at the bottom right to get started.
When Google Hangouts opens, choose the “Screenshare” icon on the left side. A window will open that lets you choose what you want to screenshare from the open programs on your computer.
Once you’ve chosen the program you want to share, go back to Google Hangouts and select “Start broadcast.” This starts the recording of the program you selected to screenshare in the last step. Now, record your screen and voiceover, and when you’re done click “Stop broadcast” on Google Hangouts.
After stopping your broadcast, you can close Google Hangouts and refresh your Video Manager in YouTube. Your video will be automatically uploading, and once it has finished processing, you can download it from YouTube or share it.
Now you’re ready to share videos and record your screen using YouTube!
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