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Want to produce slideshows that go beyond simple cross dissolves and single track background music? Apple’s iMovie for Mac OS X can help you create professional looking slideshow presentations with few prior skills.
You can create slideshows using web or mobile apps or even in iPhoto or Aperture. But as today’s article shows, iMovie provides a few more controls for adding titles, controlling the Ken Burns panning effects, and adjusting the volume and fading of background music.
iMovie 11, along with other iLife programs, comes pre-installed with new Mac computer purchases. If you don’t have the latest version installed on your older Mac, you can download it from the Mac App Store for $14.99. Most of the instructions shown in this tutorial also apply to iMovie 10.
Before you begin your slideshow production in iMovie, you should crop and edit your photos in iPhoto or Aperture. Though photos can also be cropped and enhanced in iMovie, it’s easier to get the job done in one of the Apple photo applications.
Next, create a album of all the photos and arrange them in the order you want them presented. Though you can arrange the order of photos for slideshows in iMovie, it’s easier to organize them in iPhoto or Aperture first, and then rearrange a few of them in iMovie as needed.
It might also be a good idea to actually select your photos and create a slideshow in iPhoto (File > New Slideshow) or Aperture (File > New > Slideshow) to get an idea of how it will look. For your trial run draft, simply use the classic or Ken Burns theme in one of the photo applications in order to preview the length of a slideshow and the arrangement of photos. This step is optional, but you might find it a little time saver before creating a slideshow in iMovie where you can do more fine tuning of the Ken Burns effects.
Creating a Slideshow In iMovie
If you haven’t used iMovie much, don’t feel intimidated by its layout and controls. iMovie basically has the similar drag-and-drop and editing features found in iPhoto and Aperture. The biggest challenge will be adjusting the panning effects and, if needed, the soundtrack fades off your slideshow.
When you open iMovie, your iPhoto (or Aperture) library will be listed in the left side panel of iMovie, as well as a section for managing your iMovie Library projects. By default, iMovie organizes all your imported movies and photos by date. If you have never used iMovie, it will create an event with the current day assigned as the title, which can be changed by double-clicking on it and creating a new title.
Creating A Slideshow
Select a theme for your project. You can click on a theme and preview it to get an idea of it motion effects. Depending upon your project, the Simple, Photo Album, Comic Book or Scrapbook theme works best for photo slideshows.
Note: After applying a theme to a project, it can be changed to a different one by selecting the project (and deselecting clips in the timeline), and then clicking on the Settings button under the toolbar.
Give your slideshow a title (which can be changed) and select an event to place it in. When the new project is created, a blank timeline will appear.
Click on your iPhoto or Aperture library and locate the album of photos you created. Double-click to open it.
If your photos are in the order you want them, select them all and drag them to the timeline. You can also drag and select each photo based on the order you want. Even after the photos placed in the timeline, they can still be re-arranged. If for example, you don’t like the photo that appears in the cover theme, drag and drop another photo at the beginning of the timeline.
With your project selected, hit spacebar to play a preview of the slideshow before you start editing. Notice when you place a mouse cursor inside the viewer window, the viewer controls appear for starting and pausing the video, playing one or more selected clips a time, skipping back and forth between single clips, or playing the movie in full-screen mode.
Add Background Music
Before you begin editing the panning effects and the length of your slideshow, you should add your choice of background music. Try to match the combination of panning effects and music to the content of the photos as much as possible.
You can access music tracks in your iTunes library in the Content Library section of iMovie, or locate your tracks and drag them to the timeline. You can also select a track in the library and hit the E key to quickly add it to the timeline. The video tutorial at the top of this article illustrates how to add and edit tracks in the timeline.
Editing Your Slideshow
The panning effects initially applied to clips in iMovie will not always be exactly how you want them, so editing the Ken Burns effects is where you will probably spend the bulk of your time. Note that iMovie saves your project as you work, and it has an unlimited number of undo states.
Before you start editing, you might want to increase the viewing size of the clips so they can be easily selected and edited. Do this by clicking film strip icon on the right, and the increase the size.
Also notice in the timeline you can see the current length of the slideshow, the timing between each clip, and when you place your cursor over a clip, iMovie shows the length of the clip.
Other Editing Features and Sharing
Though iMovie themes can’t be totally customized, clicking on the Transitions and Titles section of iMovie does allow for changing the transition and title styles in a theme.
To change the transition style, select a different style and drag it onto an existing style in the timeline. iMovie gives the option to apply the style to a single transition or to all of them.
Additional title clips and credits can also be selected and dragged into the timeline.
When your slideshow is done, iMovie makes it easy to export your project to either a movie file, email, or a social network site. You might also want to export your slideshow to iTunes and iMovie Theatre.
Your iMovie Tips
While creating slideshows in iMovie requires more steps than creating them in one of Apple’s photo applications, or online applications, the extra work provides a more polished slideshow presentation.
Image Credit: Dean Drobot via Shutterstock.com