iMovie 08 for Video Slideshows

by Charlie Miller

I’ve been really enjoying using my Aperture library to create video slideshows with iMovie 08. I wrote about using the previous version of iMovie for this back in July, but I’ve finally gotten around to spending more time with the new iLife 08, and let me tell you, iMovie ‘08 has made designing video slideshows easier, more flexible, and more intuitive.

As you may know from experience, or from the many online reviews, iMovie has been completely rebuilt in this version, and it bares little resemblance to its predecessor. Additionally, several features that were available in iMovie ‘06 have actually been eliminated from this release, prompting David Pogue of the New York Times to wonder how Apple could release a piece of software with the same name as its predecessor and fewer features. His questions are valid ones, and I don’t disagree that iMovie ‘08 is a completely different experience with a different features set than the software in its lineage. The lack of a traditional timeline and audio editing tools may have some amateur video editors considering a move to Final Cut Express. However, its redesigned tools for creating video slideshows from still photographs are a huge step forward.

When I create a video slideshow in iMovie, my goals are pretty straightforward: I want to specify which photos to use, choose their playback order, pick a duration for each, customize a “Ken Burns effect” zoom-and-pan, add transitions between photos, and maybe add some music and/or titles. Let’s see how easy this is in iMovie:

We’ll start by firing up iMovie and creating a new project. To access our Aperture library we can use the Media Browser: click the little camera icon at the middle of the left side of the screen, or simply press Command-2. Let’s drag a few demo photos from the Photos pane to our Project pane — drop the photos where it says “Drag media here to create a new project”. To reorder the photos, we can click once on a photo so that it is selected with a thick yellow border with two little handles on the right and left sides, then drag and drop to change the order. It’s easy to preview the playback of our project by scrubbing our cursor across the photos and watch the playback in the Viewer to the right.

Drag photos from the Photos pane to your iMovie project

To specify a duration for each photo, we can mouse over a photo and click the little clock badge that appears in the lower left corner. From the sheet that appears we can choose a duration for this photo only, or change the duration of all the photos in the slideshow. Now, let’s customize a zoom-and-pan with the Ken Burns effect — this is the redesigned workflow that I really love. Mouse over a photo and click the little crop badge that appears in the upper left. In the Viewer, be sure that “Ken Burns” is selected from the three tabs at the top left. To customize the effect, we can just resize and move the green Start box and the red End box. A yellow arrow helps us understand the movement that will take place. This is so much easier than in the previous version of iMovie. Preview the animation by clicking the preview icon in the upper right of the Viewer. When we’re satisfied, just click Done and the effect is applied.

Customizing zoom-and-pan with the Ken Burns effect

Adding titles and transitions is pretty straightforward: turn on their respective panes by pressing Command-3 and Command-4. Drag and drop from their panes to the Project pane; customize as desired. All in all, it’s possible to create a compelling, polished video slideshow really quickly. We can add a music track by showing the Music pane (Command-1), and dragging a song to the background (gray area) of the Project pane.

When you have some time to experiment, try creating a few video slideshows in iMovie. When you’re done, you can try the cool new built-in YouTube export. It’s super slick to be able to publish a video to YouTube with only a few clicks and no plugins or external tools. Give it a shot: I’d also love to hear about your impressions of the new iMovie and see links to any iMovie slideshows in the comments.


2007-11-12 10:11:43
Would you say that using iMovie is easier for slideshows than iDVD? I am only adding titles and comments with a fade-to-black, skipping the Ken Burns effect, and unfortunately my captions aren't anywhere I can export them (so lots of copy and pasting involved).
2007-11-12 13:13:19
Are you able to fade audio in and out and set up multiple tracks to cross fade?
2007-11-12 14:13:55
Sara, iDVD is a good option for the types of slideshows you're talking about. One nice feature of iDVD's slideshows is that you can choose to include the full-resolution JPGs on your DVDs; this can be a nice way of distributing photos.
2007-11-12 14:15:16
Phillip, yes, fading and cross-fades can be achieved with the Audio Adjustments HUD: press the 'A' key to bring it up.
2007-11-13 05:08:37
I am trying to use zoom in and zoom out, cannot see this. Can this be done?
2007-11-13 06:24:58
Richard, you can click the Crop badge and then instead of using the Ken Burns effect, click on Crop. Then use the green rectangle to zoom in on the image.
2007-11-17 00:23:16
Pretty sure I know the answer to this, but is it possible to do a manual advance of the photos in the slideshow (while the music still plays), or must you specify a period of time for the slide in iMovie?

I've found that iDVD allows manual advance, but it's capabilities for adding text over the photos is pretty weak.

2007-12-13 11:39:23
iMovie 08 and Ken Burns


I have just upgraded to iLife 08 and generally speaking am pretty happy with it. The only thing I am miffed at is that I use the Ken Burns effect quite a lot in my movies to add in photos and in iMovie HD I used to be able to zoom out with the Ken Burns effect and if the photo didnt fit it would just add black borders to fill the screen and I can't work out how to do this in 08. It seems to want to force the selected section to be within the constraints of the photo size, which means I cant add a portrait oriented photo to a movie without chopping off the top and bottom.

Anyone know how to get round this?