How To Edit a Video: iMovie Basics | Part 1

Are you interested in video tutorials? Are you looking to learn iMovie? You’re in the right place! In this article, I’ll be covering all the basic techniques you’ll need to get started. For more advanced information on animation, plug-ins and more, check out the next article in the iMovie series.

For the next few weeks, we’re going to be talking about which programs are the best for low budget beginners to professional videographers and voice over equipment for book trailers.


This week I will be talking about iMovie, a free video editing software provided by Apple that is compatible with every Macintosh device. iMovie is one of the fastest and easiest ways to turn your home video, school project or book trailer into your own motion picture. It’s a basic program that is free and ideal for those on a low budget. Some people think free programs don’t provide enough professionalism. While that is true for some software and hardware, if you master a program and learn a trick or two you’ll be able to produce exceptional footage. You can also find free or low cost downloads for many plugins and special effects bundles online. Throughout these tutorials I will be providing links where you can find these effects. However, today, we’re going to go over the basics. There’s no rushing perfection.

Today I’m going to be your helping hand to get started with your new project by teaching you how to import and organize your video clips, images, audio, by adding effects and transitions and even a soundtrack — all by the click of a mouse.

Here’s a few diagrams of iMovie’s Interface. These pictures were provided by sheldonworkshops. You can also find many tutorials about iMovie on their website.

imovie imovie-1imovie-2imovie-3

So let’s begin!


Before you jump into iMovie and rush into your project, you must create and title a new default folder as well as title and save your project. This is important so you have a back-up of your project just in case of an iMovie crash.

  • Step 1:
    Click on the iMovie icon in the dock and wait for the application to open. Select “Create Project.”
  • Step 2:
    In the “Save as:” field, enter what you’d like to call your project. Name it anything you’d like.
  • Step 3:
    Now click “Save” and you should see the empty iMovie interface with “iMovie:yourname” at the top.


  • Step 1: To import movies, images and even audio, choose File > Import >Movies. Here you can search through your folders and find the preferred movie, image or audio. (You can also drag and drop everything from your folders into iMovie manually).


Save your movie early and often. It has been known to shut down unexpectedly. Trust me, I’ve had projects completed and suddenly all of my data was lost due to my irresponsible choice not to keep saving my work.

  • Step 1:
    From the main menu, go to File > Save Project.


If you want to cut a clip into two pieces, use the “Split Clip at Playhead” technique. If you want to redefine the endpoint(s) of a clip, use the “Crop” technique.

  • Step 1:
    Drag a clip or clips from the viewing pane to the editing area below and select a clip by clicking on it. This will highlight it and make it a blue color.
  • Step 2:
    To Split a Clip: Place the cursor beneath the viewing window. Find the area where you want to split the clip into two. Go up to the “Edit” menu at the top, and select “Split Video Clip at Playhead.”
  • Step 3:
    To Crop a Clip: Drag the little triangles beneath the viewing window timeline to the desired in and out points. Go to the “Edit” menu at the top and select “Crop.”

Cropping might be confusing for beginners so check out this basic tutorial all about Cropping:

How to Crop a Video in iMovie 10.0 | Tutorial 6

  • Step 4:
    Save your project.


iMovie titles also known as text can be used to improve the professional look of your overall project. It is a great tool when giving a presentation or simply creating read-along books or interactive activities.

  • Step 1:
    Click on the “Title” tab.
  • Step 2:
    Choose a title from the window.
  • Step 3:
    Customize your Title. Remember:
  • How long would you like it to appear?
  • Would you like it to be presented on a solid color or over your movie?
  • Do you want to change the font and size of the text?
  • Step 4:
    After answering all of these questions and customizing your final decision click “Preview” at the top of the “Title” panel. If you are happy with your title, click on the “T” icon, , next to your selected title and drag it to the clip’s timeline along the bottom of the iMovie interface. (Refer back to the diagram above)
  • Step 5:
    A red bar will appear beneath your title in the clip timeline. This indicates that the clip is still rendering. For best results, wait until the red bar disappears, or until the title has finished rendering, before working any further with your project.


Now’s the fun part. Let’s add an effect to our clip.

  • Step 1:
    Select “Effects” tab from the menu below the clips pane. Select a clip from the editing section to add an effect to it.
  • Step 2:
    Select an effect.
  • Step 3:
    The effect should automatically be previewed in the preview window.
  • Step 4:
    Click “Apply,” and wait for the effect to render.
  • Step 5:
    Save your work.


Transitions are functions that allow the user to break between clips. It’s almost like swinging your hand in front of a camera to create a motion. Give it a try. They may help you achieve a professional result.

  • Step 1:
    Click on the “Trans” (transitions) tab.
  • Step 2:
    Select a transition from the window.
  • Step 3:
    Adjust the length or duration of the transition.
  • Step 4:
    Drag the icon – next to the transition you chose to the preferred section in your project on the clip timeline.

Notes (This would be found and told anywhere on the internet)

  1. The Speed ranges from 10 frames (30 frames are in a second) to 4 seconds.
  2. Because transitions are linking two clips, they actually need time from both clips. For example, let’s say you have a movie clip that is 3 seconds long and you would like to place a transition before it. You choose to “fade in” for 2 seconds. When you drag that transition to the clip timeline and it finishes rendering, you will have a 2 second transition and a 1 second clip. Plan accordingly when you are editing your film and images.

These are just a few basics of iMovie. If you’re ready for the next steps, check out this article on animation techniques, free plugins and downloads. If you have a videography tutorial you’d like me to write, let me know in our KidLit TV’s Facebook group!

You can also create short clips from your YouTube videos with Ssemble Shorts Maker!
Ssemble Shorts Maker detects the most popular segments from your YouTube videos and creates engaging shorts clips automatically. Visit the Shorts Maker page for more info.
Here’s how it simplifies the creation process into two easy steps:
– Insert the YouTube URL
– Get Viral Shorts Clips out of the video

Ssemble Shorts Maker


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Kid Lit TV Commenter Wedding videographer

These are some great things which gives us clear information regarding the video editing.I really loved it and thank you very much for sharing this with us. You have a great visualization and you have really presented this content in a really good manner.


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