iPads in Education

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6 Hidden iMovie Features for Better Instructional Videos

Copyright : Igor Yaruta

Recording a short video clip has become second nature for most people with mobile devices. However, producing quality video still requires a certain level of skill and creativity … and creating a well designed and produced instructional video is a daunting task. Whether you’re an educator creating tutorials or a student demonstrating your knowledge of a subject, it’s important to create video that communicates your message effectively. Adding some subtle transitions, titles and credits is a nice start but if you’re using an app such as iMovie on your iPad then there are several lesser-known features that will improve the quality of your final product.

(Note that both the video and notes below refer to the iOS version of iMovie but the same features can also be used in other versions of iMovie)

1. Change the volume of a clip
You’ve recorded a video clip and when you play it back you realize it’s a little hard to hear the person speaking. Alternatively, you want to add voice-over narration and the video has a loud hum of background noise that’s certain to distract viewers. Either way, you can change the audio volume on the video clip to accommodate your needs.

  • Insert your video clip into the iMovie timeline.
  • Tap on it to select it. A menu of options will appear on the bottom toolbar.
  • Tap on the volume option and slide the audio volume up or down as needed.

2. Crop and zoom clips
Framing has a very significant impact on the way an image or video is perceived. Getting closer to your subject gives it way more importance and clarity. If you didn’t focus in close enough to your subject then you can still zoom in afterwards when editing the clip in iMovie.

  • Insert your video clip into the iMovie timeline.
  • Tap on it to select it. A magnifying glass icon appears in the lower corner of the preview window.
  • Tap on the magnifying glass.
  • Pinch two fingers on the preview window to zoom in. Note that this will apply the zoom to the entire clip. If you only want to zoom into part of the clip then you can split the clip before zooming (see point 6 below for details on splitting video clips).

3. Rotate the video
You’ve meticulously arranged people and props and recorded the perfect video. It’s only later when you preview it that you discover the video was recorded with the wrong orientation! Don’t be too frustrated. You don’t need to run off and retake the entire video – you can actually correct the orientation by editing the video in iMovie.

  • Insert your video clip into the iMovie timeline.
  • Place two fingers on the video in the preview window and twist them in the direction you want to rotate the clip. A large arrow will appear and the video will rotate.

4. Add Picture-in-picture video
Adding a window that plays one clip over another video can add a very professional touch top any video. For example, you can record yourself adding a commentary to events that are playing in another video clip. Another great application might be overlaying a sign language video on another video.

Creating picture-in-picture videos isn't nearly as difficult as it sounds.

  • Record both video clips – the main clip and the secondary clip that will play in a window over it.
  • Insert the main clip on your iMovie timeline.
  • Move the timeline to the point at which you want to add the second picture-in-picture overlay window.
  • Tap to select the secondary movie in the media library window and a small menu appears under it. Instead of tapping the arrow that inserts it in the timeline, tap the three-dotted icon on the right side of the menu. 
  • A menu of options appears that presents positioning options for the secondary video window. Tap to select one.

Use picture-in-picture to layer one video over another

5. Fade out the sound
Adding music to your video can often make it more interesting and entertaining. It may be a short introductory clip or you may want to add background music throughout the video. In either case, it’s likely that you’ll need to cut off your music clip at some point to coordinate it with the video. When you end it prematurely it usually sounds very abrupt and awkward. The best way to end an audio clip is to have it fade out slowly.

  • If you’ve added a separate audio track to your timeline then it will appear on a different layer. Tap to select it. (Note that you can also detach audio from the video and place it on a separate audio track as well).
  • Tap Volume on the lower toolbar.
  • A Fade option will appear next to the volume slider bar. Tap it and it adds two arrows to the audio track.
  • Tap and drag the ending arrow backwards to specify the amount of fade at the end of your audio track.

6. Split video to remove sections
You’ve created a wonderful piece of video. It’s almost perfect but there’s one small stumble in the middle of it. You could go back and record the entire clip over again or use the editing tools in iMovie to split and remove the small section that contains the error.

  • Slide the video clip in the timeline so that it’s positioned at the start of the section you want to remove.
  • Tap to select the clip.
  • Tap Actions in the lower toolbar.
  • Tap Split to cut the video clip at that point.
  • Move the clip in the timeline to the end point of the section you want to remove.
  • Tap Actions and Split again to split the clip at the end point. The unwanted portion should now be a separate unattached video clip.
  • Tap and drag it up and off the timeline to remove it. 
  • Add a transition effect such as Cross-Dissolve to smooth the transition between the split sections.

Sam Gliksman


Twitter: @samgliksman



Views: 2409


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Comment by Terry Haddow on June 24, 2016 at 2:58pm
Great little video. Clear, concise and helpful.


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