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I was at Macworld Expo when Apple introduced iMovie, and seeing it in person was a bonafied “a-ha” moment for me and most of the people in attendance. Video editing, a skill that people spend years mastering in specialized schools, had arrived on the average user's Mac. Of course this was going to work. When Steve Jobs presented a short video of two children playing, I knew the days of long, choppy, unedited videotape recordings were coming to a close. Not only can you easily—let me repeat that: easily—capture video footage and transfer it to your computer, you can now edit out all the bad shots, the awkward moments, and those times when the camera was inadvertently left recording while dangling at your side.

In January 2005, Apple ratcheted up home editing up a notch by introducing iMovie HD, which adds support for the high-definition HDV video format (as well as widescreen digital video and native MPEG-4 formats). Although iMovie users won't be shooting in HDV soon—the cheapest HDV camcorder currently costs about $3,500—supporting it in a consumer application is a bold step toward owning the format in the future, when the prices of HDV gear are bound to be much cheaper.

Who Should Read This Book

iMovie HD & iDVD 5 for Mac OS X: Visual QuickStart Guide is aimed at the beginning or intermediate videographer who wants to know how to quickly and easily edit movies in iMovie and create DVDs using iDVD. Perhaps you've just purchased your first camcorder and want to turn your home movies into little masterpieces, but don't have the time or money to invest in a professional video editing application. Or maybe you're an old hand at shooting video but new to editing the footage on a computer. Then again, maybe you're a budding Spielberg with scripts in your head and a passion for telling stories on film—the movie business is a tough one to crack, but it's entirely possible that your iMovie-edited film could be the springboard for a career in Hollywood. (In fact, one of the official entries at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival was edited in iMovie.) Or you could also be the owner of a new Macintosh, and want to know why Apple is going to the trouble of giving you a powerful video editing application for free.

What You Should Know

Every endeavor requires at least some prior knowledge, so I've made some assumptions about your knowledge while writing this book.

  • Macintosh fundamentals. You need to be able to operate your Mac, which includes launching applications, accessing menus, using the mouse, etc. If you're a complete beginner to the Mac, don't worry: play around on the computer for a little while to get a sense of how things work. You'll pick it up quickly and won't break anything.

  • How to use your camcorder. Although I'll cover some of the basics, this isn't a book about camcorders. You should know how to record, stop, and review what you've recorded.

  • How to bounce back after screwing up. It's inevitable that something won't go the way you wanted it to: a clip got deleted, the wrong transition was applied, you spelled your kids' names wrong in the movie title…you know what I'm talking about. The great thing about iMovie and iDVD is that you can go back and fix or rebuild scenes that didn't turn out as you expected. Have fun with it. I insist.

Since iMovie's introduction, we've seen a boom in digital video editing. Sure, it was possible before, using much more complicated and expensive programs such as Final Cut Pro or After Effects (and you can still take that route). But with iMovie and iDVD, anyone can make a movie and burn it to a disc that can be played in nearly any consumer DVD player.

What's New in this Edition

The book overall has been updated to cover the changes in iMovie HD and iDVD 5, especially importing HDV and other formats. I've also added sections on areas such as extracting video from a DVD, exporting a movie to a Palm OS handheld, and saving DVD projects to disc images, versus burning lots of test drink coasters.

An iMovie and iDVD Toolbox

A full-size movie crew can be unbelievably large and take up a city block. You probably won't require that much gear, but a few items are necessary to use iMovie and iDVD.

  • Mac OS X 10.3.4 or later. iMovie HD and iDVD 5 run under Apple's now and future operating system, Mac OS X, version 10.3.4 (Panther) or later. You also need a Mac with a PowerPC G3 or G4 processor running at 400 MHz or faster. Apple also says your Mac needs to be equipped with FireWire, but that's not technically true. iMovie will work on a Mac without it, but you lose the capability to directly import footage from your camera.

  • iMovie HD and iDVD 5. If you've purchased a Mac sometime after January 2005, you probably have iMovie HD and iDVD 5 already—look in the folder named Applications. The programs are also available as part of the $80 iLife '05 package, which includes iTunes 4, iPhoto 5, and GarageBand 2.

  • A digital camcorder. This handy and compact device records the raw footage that you will edit in iMovie. If you own a camcorder that's not digital, you can still import video into iMovie using a third-party analog-to-digital converter. That said, I can't stress how much easier it is to work when you have a digital camcorder. See Chapter 7 for details.

    Do You Need a SuperDrive?

    Previous versions of iDVD required that your Mac include a SuperDrive, the optical drive that can read and write to CD and DVD discs (in fact, the program wouldn't even install if a SuperDrive wasn't present). iDVD 5, however, removes that limitation. If your Mac doesn't include a SuperDrive, you can save your project as an archive, transfer it to a SuperDrive-equipped Mac, and burn discs from there. Or, if you own an external DVD burner (which iDVD still doesn't support natively), you can save the iDVD project as a disc image, which can be burned to disc using Disk Utility (see Chapter 22).

  • Lots of hard disk space. Storage is getting cheaper by the day, which is a good thing. You'll need lots. I don't mean a few hundred megabytes tucked away in a corner of your drive. Realistically, if you don't have at least 10 GB (gigabytes) of storage (on the low side) to use for iMovie and iDVD, shop for a bigger hard drive. See Chapter 7.

The Moviemaking Process

Creating a movie can be a huge spectrum of experience, but for our purposes I'm going to distill it as follows.

  1. Preproduction. If you're filming a scripted movie (with actors, sets, dialogue, etc.), be sure you hire the actors, build the sets, write the script, and otherwise prepare to shoot a film. See Appendix B for some resources on where to learn more about the process of getting a movie before the cameras. On the other hand, if you're shooting an event or vacation, preproduction may entail making sure you have a camcorder (see Chapter 1), its batteries are charged, and that you have enough tape available.

  2. Capture footage. With preproduction out of the way, it's time to actually film your movie. The shooting part is when this book starts to come in handy. Chapters 2 through 5 discuss methods of composing your shots, lighting the scenes, and capturing audio.

  3. Import footage into iMovie. Your tape is full of raw video waiting to be sculpted by your keen eye and innate sense of drama. The next step is importing it onto your computer and into iMovie. See Chapter 7.

  4. Edit your footage in iMovie. Before iMovie, average folks had no simple way to edit their footage. The result was endless hours of suffering as relatives were forced to watch every outtake, flubbed shot, and those 10 minutes of walking when you thought the camera was turned off. iMovie changes all that. See Chapters 8 through 13 to see how to edit your video and audio, plus add elements such as transitions, titles, and special effects.

  5. Export video. The movie is complete, and it's a gem. Now you need to share it with the world. Using the information found in Chapters 14, 15, 16, and 17, you can export the movie onto a videotape; as a QuickTime movie for downloading from the Web, emailing to another person, or transferring to a device (such as a cellular phone) using Bluetooth networking; or onto a DVD (using Apple's iDVD software).

The DVD Creation Process

iDVD provides a clear path to customizing the appearance of your DVD, adding more content, and burning the DVD disc.

  1. Choose a theme. iDVD's professionally designed themes provide a menu system that your viewers interact with to watch your movie. Chapter 19 shows you how to expand the menu's organization by adding submenus and AutoPlay movies.

  2. Customize themes and add more content. With the bare bones in place, change the theme's settings to personalize the menus. Learn how to change buttons, replace background images, modify text formatting, build slideshows, and more in Chapters 20 and 21.

  3. Burn, baby, burn! Choose an encoding method and burn your disc, or create a project archive that can be moved to another computer for burning there (such as a faster Mac). The smoke rises over Chapter 22.

This Book's Companion Web Site

I maintain a frequently-updated iMovie weblog that includes additional tips, pointers to software, examples from the book, and other iLife-related information. Check often at http://www.necoffee.com/imovievqs/.

What You Can Accomplish by the End of this Book

To say, “Prepare your acceptance speech” would be overextending it a bit, but the truth is, you can theoretically use iMovie to create a feature film, award-winning documentary, or even just the best darn vacation video you've ever seen. As you delve deeper into digital video and nonlinear editing (NLE), you'll realize that more options and more control can be had with more sophisticated (and pricey) systems, such as Final Cut Express and Final Cut Pro. But nothing says you can't do what you want with iMovie.

Stepping out of the clouds, you should easily (there's that word again) be able to shoot, edit, and distribute your movie. In the process, you'll find a new respect for film and video—you can't help it. After using iMovie for a few hours, you'll start watching television with a new eye that picks up aspects like pacing, framing, transitions, and audio that you may never have noticed before.

That's been my experience, and now look at me: I've written four editions of this book. And assembled some of the best darn vacation movies you've ever seen.

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