Gonzo iMovie editing tips

Filed under: iPhone iPad iOS, Mac Tips | Tags: , , , |

I was doing interviews at MILOfest (Macs in Law Offices) conference. I had FinalCut X installed on my late 2010 Macbook Air and, over the course of the afternoon sessions, I got to watch the progress meter slowly churn on an 8 minute clip and still not finish. Previewing and editing lower thirds was positively painful. Everything might have been ok if I had not tried to re-render the clip (even using the proxy media setting).

I know, I know, I’m trying to use a heavy-duty app on an underpowered machine. So, despite the much greater editing, titles, audio, controls, I found myself going back to my iPhone for some rapid-fire, gonzo, video editing.

Here are tips for splitting clips, tricks with titles, and making video editing on the iPhone with iMovie doable.

Pinch and Zoom the timeline

Touch interfaces have a lot of gee whizz! However, fine editing on a small screen isn’t ideal; especially when you are dealing with small clips. Well, don’t sweat it! If you need finer control, use the two finger expand gesture to expand the clip.

IMovie iOS p z 3

Now, it is easier to find the right spot for edits, sound cues, etc.

How to undo in iMovie on iOS (iPhone and iPad):

Did you know iMovie has undo? I didn’t! There is no undo button.

However, if you shake the iPhone or iPad, you get an undo dialog:

IMovie iOS undo

There are even multiple levels of undo. However, if you split a clip, (discussed below), in my experience, the undo only works if you undo immediately.

Titles in iMovie (on iPhone and iPad) that DON’T take up the entire clip:

One of the biggest head scratchers about iOS iMovie is that you can’t make titles that build in and build out. If you put a title on a video clip, it stays on the entire clip! Want lower thirds when introducing someone? Want to add a website, twitter account or location? TOO BAD! You can’t do 5 second titles in iMovie for iOS!

Except that you CAN! All you need is a bit of jiggery-pokery. The secret is to split a video, and insert the title only on the portion you want. All the viewer sees is the title building in and then building out. Here’s how to do it:

Tap the clip in the timeline. The clip will be outlined in yellow. Put the red play head line where you want the title to END.

IMovie iOS 2

Swipe down across the video clip.

IMovie iOS 3

The clip splits into two with a transition block with a “|” noting “no transition.” If you have a different transition icon, tap the transition to select it, then double-tap to get a selection wheel. Select “None” and touch the “Done” button.

IMovie iOS 4

Now tap the clip you want the title on. A yellow outline appears around the clip.

IMovie iOS 6

Double tap the clip to access clip settings, and then tap “Title Style”.

IMovie iOS 5

Select the title style (Opening, Middle, Ending), then tap the “Done” button.

IMovie iOS 9

Double tap the title in the preview window to edit the text.

IMovie iOS 10

Note: if you don’t want a location added to the tile, double tap the clip again and then tap “Location”

IMovie iOS 11

You then have three buttons (current location, the “locate me” cross-hair, and “Other”). Tap the top button to edit the current location. Then just back-space or cut the location. Tap “Done,” and then “Done” again. Now the title no longer lists a location.

Here’s the final clip:

The title flies in and then flies out and the clip continues with no visible edit.


  • Jason Bray

    Awesome tip, Hopefully they will add timed titles soon,  the reason I prefer reel director or vimeo is the timed titles. The vimeo is my favorite UI, Reel Director has the best title settings, but imovie has the fastest rendering. Only if I could combine the best of the 3!

    Thanks for the cool trick!

    • http://www.Planet10Tech.com TomaszStasiuk

      How is Vimeo working out for you? It seems that the current version (updated 04/29/11) is causing about crashes for about 80% of reviewers on the app store.