Tech Talk on

Digital Movies
with iMovie

By John Kendall

Thursday, February 21, 2008


the star of the show,
courtesy of Heather Masterpol,
his film and literay agent


I) The Overview of the Overview


         A) When might this technology benefit you?


1) If you have recorded an event on your digital camcorder and you want to do a little editing (adding titles or captions, separate audio, delete scenes they don't want, re-arrange the order of scenes)


2) If you have taken a lot of still photos, and want to organize them to show in sequence, perhaps with a musical background


3) Classroom uses:

            a) Unifying many still photos of a project such as "Little House Day" or "Ethnic Pride Day" or the Farm Trip or Writing Day, etc., into one smooth coherent presentation (one click shows the whole thing)

            b) A variation of an oral presentation by students, which can easily be archived on web pages or Moodle pages

            c) One-click resource to access a variety of visuals, such as in an art class, or my Odyssey movie, or American Presidents, etc.

            d) You could also emphasize the audio, by inserting world language audio clips with visuals, or playing musical pieces with their composers' pictures or other relevant images.

            e) Students can make creative projects, in lieu of a standard paper or test, to demonstrate what they have learned (see the poem movies from my summer classes).


         B) Beginning assumptions


1) Technology always takes longer than you think. Respect the learning curve.

Heather Masterpol and I spent 35 minutes last week not being able to turn off the iSight built-in camera, which was appearing on Heather's iMovie screen, instead of taking the feed from the cable from her camcorder.

            We finally switched to my 2.5 years older iBook, which doesn't have the iSight camera, and it worked fine.

            It also could have been a defective cable from Heather's camera, also. Anne Pentlicky's loaner cable solved that problem.

            We actually constructed the 45 second movie of Gizmo, her dog, in about 45 minutes or less, a good ratio. For every minute of final product video, assume you'll need an hour of production time, and that does not include learning how to do things the first time.


2) Technology is not always as hard as you fear.

This 30-minute talk will give you a "big picture" overview, introducing general concepts and many examples of final products.

A two-hour hands-on workshop is enough time to make a several minute film like the "poem" movies I'll show you later.

One day of "summer computer camp" (or a week end) is probably all you need to be more confident.


3) You don't need to use a camcorder and to shoot live footage, in order to use iMovie and make what seems like a movie

(think "slide show" in PowerPoint or Kid Pix or other applications)


II) Overview of Using iMovie to Edit Video.

"(Show "Gizmo's Movie" as final product, first)


A) Connect camcorder to your computer. Open iMovie.


B) Import raw footage into iMovie.

Heather transferred two or three minutes video of her dog, Gizmo, from her camcorder into iMovie


        C) Crop excess material at the beginning or end of video.

Heather split up the one or two long segments and separated repetitions ones, putting them into the "Clip Pane" for storage.


         D) Split a long video segment into smaller clips to:

                  1) Re-arrange the order of the clips

                  We found the best section on Gizmo nodding and shaking his head.

                  2) Create still clips from video

                  We then created a still of Gizmo for the opening credits.

                  3) Structure editing of audio sections

         We attempted to minimize the amount of snorting (not by the dog) and further structured the sequence.


         E) Use the Timeline viewer / Clip Viewer at bottom of software as a Storyboard to organize your movie (pen and paper version of a storyboard helpful, too)


         F) The Title menu can create:

                  1) a title for the beginning of the movie

         The "Gizmo's Movie" title uses "Scroll with Pause" with a blue text, Cooper Black font, at largest size, with a transparent layer, so we can see the photo beneath the text.

                  2) captions or explanations during the movie

                  3) credits and bibliography at the end of the movie

                  We chose "Rolling Centered Credits" for the credits at the end of the film.


         G) The Transitions menu may help you segue to different areas (e.g. different students presenting on one movie), but resist over-doing them where not warranted

         Fourteen seconds into the movie, we used the "Radial" transiton to suggest a change of time from our introducing the start, to his detailed Q & A which follows


         H) Use the Audio tools in iMovie

                  1) Keep original dialogue with video where effective

                  The Q & A section of the dialogue is crucial for Gizmo's comic body language


                  2) but separate audio from video when it's not, to

                           a) substitute music or sound effects

                  The "bark" sound effects for the title credits, vs. incidental talking in the original video

                           b) insert separately dubbed "voice-overs"

                           See the "eliminating excess snorting" note under item II, D, 3 . . .

                           c) extract audio and move it to other video clips

                  See examples in the "Stagecoach Robbery" (2006) movie and Anne Pentlicky's star turn as the voice of a CNN reporter in the "Alien Attack" movie of 2006


IV) Exporting a Digital Film into Quicktime, to be used elsewhere (self-contained)


A) Difficult to show results within iMovie. The file is huge; won't fit on a CD or even a DVD easily. Too many buttons to hit by accident.


B) Quicktime usable in PowerPoint, Word, HTML, and probably whiteboards, smart boards, etc.


C) By exporting it, then able to convert to iDVD software and burn a DVD, which can then play on a regular DVD player, as well as on your computer.


D) Unlike item A, the DVD is easy to transport, plays in a variety of venues, good for a back-up, etc.


V) Samples of Digital Films Created by Middle School Students in Summer School, 2003-2007


A) Live Video Only (frought with peril, although easy to begin and has status as documentary)

1) Backyard Football (2003)

2) "X" Marks the Refrigerator" (2004)

3) "Stage Combat" (2005)

4) "The Curse" (2003)


B) Films Using Only Still Images, Audio and Sound Tracks

1) Poem Movies: Animal

            a) "Alexis_dog"

            b) "Bats_Vineet"

            c) "Dog_Calvin"

            d) "Dog_Gianni"

2) Poem Movies: Color

            a) "Blue_Laura"

            b) "Blue_Ritu"

            c) "Red_CS"

            d) "Yellow_Dylan"

3) Poem Movies: Other Poems

            a) "Basketball_Vineet"

            b) "Chocolate_Brenda"

            c) "Digging_group"

            d) "Freeway_group"

            e) "Spring_Ritu"

            f) "Seashore group"


C) Other Examples

1) Junior Class Park Project (2006)

2) Writing Day 2005


D) LEGOmation

1) "The Stagecoach Robbery" (2006)

2) "Lacrosse Playing Robots" (2007)

3) "Forest Fire Rescue Robot" (2007)

4) "Tap Dancing Robot" (2007)