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Video Editing

A LibGuide on how to use iMovie to create your own videos

Additional Resources

How to Edit Any Video in iMovie on Your Mac: An article on the overall process of making a movie

How to Make a Movie on with iMovie on iPhone or iPad: Instructions on making a movie on iPhone or iPad

iMovie for Mac Audio Tips and Tricks: An 11 minute YouTube video going over editing audio and a few other editing tips.

iMovie for Mac: How to use the Clip Trimmer for Pro Editing: A 10 minute YouTube video for editing clips. Highly recommended to watch

How to edit, trim and adjust audio clips in iMovie: An article on editing audio clips in iMovie


iMovie comes with all Macs by default, and is currently one of the most popular video editing software in the market. It is far from the most advanced, but iMovie is fairly easy to use, making it ideal for beginners as it can be used for school assignments and even for YouTube videos.

iMovie unfortunately does not come with Windows, so if you intend on using a computer on campus and want to use iMovie, make sure you are using a Mac. There are alternatives to iMovie, some of which can be found at this link here as well as here. Some of the principles in this guide might be able to be applied to other software, though it is still recommended to look at guides and/or experiment to determine how many of the settings and options are the same as portrayed in this guide.

Setting Up

When you open up iMovie, you have the option to either open up a previous project or a new project. Select "create new" and you can either make a movie or a trailer. Most projects will focus on movies, though trailers can be fun too.

When you select "movie," you will be met by a screen with three main parts. The upper left corner contains the clips, photos, audio, and resources imported into iMovie that you can use in making your movie. The upper right corner is the program monitor that contains a screen that displays your movie as well as several editing option. The bottom half is the timeline, where the clips and audio you are using is displayed and is also where you can edit your clips and audio too.

The iMovie Interface

Setting up the movie is the easy part so long as you have all the clips, audio, and other files you want to use. All you have to do is drag them to the timeline and put them in order.

iMovie does have the option to record additional audio with a mic option below the movie display in the upper right corner. Make sure you select the part where you want to begin recording as the icon won't appear until you do so.

Make sure everything you use that you didn't create is attributed properly!

Editing Specific Clips

There is a lot to discuss when it comes to editing.

  • Starting with the timeline, you can shorten clips by grabbing one of the ends towards the other.
  • If you go too far, you can use the "undo" command to undo the action.
  • You can also split the clip by right-clicking and selecting "split clip," allowing you to move the individual pieces around or delete the piece you do not want.
  • Other ways of modifying clips is the "trim to playhead" command which times a clip to to where you have the playhead placed in the timeline. 
  • You can also select the clip itself and then go to "clip information" in the upper right corner to alter the duration, but it can be difficult to visualize. 
  • For more precise edits, you can use the "clip trimmer" by right clicking on the clip and selecting the option. This allows you to edit the length of the clips without worrying about having to use the undo command, but make sure you close out when you are finished editing. 

Using the "clip trimmer" command on an audio clip

After selecting a clip you will see a preview of the clip along with some editing tools in the upper right portion of the window. 

  • The first tool is "color balance" which allows you to adjust the color values of your selection. Normally, "auto" will be enough, but there are three other options available for additional adjustment. "Match color" allows you to adjust the values to match another frame in the video. "White balance" and "skin tone balance" adjust the color of your footage depending on what on the frame you define as “white” or “skin tone”

Editing Screen - Start    Using the color balance option

  • The next option is "color correction." This allows you to adjust colors more specifically. The first (blue) bar adjusts the shadows. The second (rainbow) bar adjusts the saturation of the colors. The final (yellow/blue) bar adjusts how warm or cool the colors appear.

Color Correction default    Increasing the shadows

Increasing the color saturation    Making the colors "warmer"

  • iMovie Upper-Right InterfaceThe third option is "cropping", with the options of "fit," "crop to fill," and "Ken Burns effect." Fit essentially is the default, where the frame embodies the entire clip as filmed. "Crop to fill" allows you to control how much of the image you want in the frame while the "Ken Burns effect" introduces a slow zoom-in (or zoom-out if you want to do it in reverse). There are also options to rotate the image, as well as reverse the start/stop point for the Ken Burns Effect zooms.
  • The fourth option is "stabilization" where there are options to stabilize shaky video as well as rolling shutter. The shaky video option allows you to control how much stabilization you want based on a percentage (33% is the default) while the rolling shutter option has options from "low" to "extra high" that allows you to adjust how much motion distortion there is.
  • "Volume” is the fifth option. You are given two sliders, the one on the left adjusts the volume of your selected clip and the one on the right adjusts the volume of any clips playing at the same time as your selection.
  • The sixth option is "noise reduction" which adjusts the background noise, whether by the volume as well as set an equalizer for it, whether reducing the hum, boosting the bass, and several other options to try out.
  • The seventh option controls the speed, which lets you adjust how fast or slow your footage moves. There are also other options like "reverse", which plays the video in the opposite way (mirror), and "preserve pitch" which maintains to pitch of your audio while adjusting speed.
  • "Clip filter and audio effects" is the eighth option adjusting the filter and audio of the clips. For both, you select an effect from the options provided. These filters and effects work just like the ones you find on Instagram or Tik Tok, manipulating the image or audio in fun ways.
  • Finally, "clip information" allows you to adjust the length of the clip as well as gives some basic metadata on the clip. Not much, but might be useful.

Once you play around and get used to these options, you'll be able to make a professional-looking video!


To insert audio, select the audio file you want and then drag it under the clip that you want to use it on.

  • You can also drag video files and put them under said clip to convert them into audio.
  • Additionally, if you want to isolate the audio of a clip, right click the clip in question and then select "detach audio. If you isolate this audio, then you can adjust it either using the volume settings found in the upper right portion of the interface or drag the horizontal bar found on the audio clip (in the timeline).
  • You can also adjust particular parts of the audio by holding the "option" key while clicking a point on the bar. This creates a new point, and multiple points will allow you to adjust particular parts of the audio file as you please.

Audio file on the timeline

Another method to adjusting audio, assuming it is for the entire clip in question and not just the audio file, is looking at the bottom of the clip at the blue bar (if you can't see it, go to "settings" on the timeline and select "show waveforms"). 

  • You should notice a horizontal line going across, and that controls the volume. Lower it to reduce the volume, raise it to amplify the volume.
  • The two points at each end are the "fade in" and "fade out," which controls how loud the volume is when the clip begins/ends. 
  • Be careful about deviating too far from the volume (as seen by the bars below) as this can create distortions in the audio.
  • You can still establish new points with the "option" key with this method.

Inserting Transitions, Title Clips, and Credits Clips

Transitions, titles, and credits are relatively simple to insert. You just select the tab they are under (upper left part of interface), select something you like, and then drag them down and position them in your movie however you like.

  • Transitions typically go between two separate clips while titles and credits are essentially clips themselves for all intents and purposes. 
  • For titles and credits, you can edit their text by selecting the clip and then double click the text in the upper right portion and type in what you want.


Unlike with a movie, choosing the "trailer" option gives you the option to choose from one of several templates of varying lengths and content. After selecting the template, the upper half is more or less the same, but the bottom half has a noticeable difference: there are three tabs: outline, storyboard, and shot list instead of the timeline.

  • The outline is responsible for assigning the information displayed in the trailer such as the movie title and credits.
  • The "storyboard" is where you put all assets you want included in the trailer such as video, audio, and text.
  • The "shot list" helps organize what clips and other assets you want to use by type like action and landscape, which can help with planning and structuring your trailer.

To select a specific clip to use in part of the trailer, select the part you want to insert the clip into and then select the part of the clip you want to insert. It will automatically insert the part you select, and even if you get it slightly wrong, you can adjust and select again.