iMovie 2 Solutions Tips, Tricks, and Special Effects
Book Review

iMovie 2 Solutions Tips, Tricks, and Special Effects
Erica Sadun

ISBN 0-7821-4088-2
US $40.00
CA $64.00

iMovie 2 Solutions fills a niche that has been crying out to be filled: teaching advanced iMovie users how to exploit the full power of iMovie and QuickTime Pro. Books covering the fundamentals of iMovie fill the shelves at bookstores. David Pogue’s iMovie 2: The Missing Manual is the best of this lot. But I’ve not yet seen any iMovie how-to books that start where the beginner books leave off.

This book is not for you if you need to learn how to import footage from your video camera, or how to do basic editing and titling. But if you have already mastered those skills, author Sadun has plenty to teach you.

Make sure that you have a registered copy of QuickTime Pro when you use this book, as much of the power of iMovie is tied to the masking and transparency capabilities of QT Pro.

iMovie 2 Solutions begins with an overview of iMovie power user tips, only some of which can be found in other iMovie books. Chapter 2, iMovie Stills, has great info on how to blend colors in stills, adding stills around video clips, adding thought bubbles, etc. Chapter 3, Overlays, teaches how to do picture-in-picture overlays, oval and square video masks, and picture-in-grid techniques. This was all new information to me, and it opened a whole new world of editing possibilities!

Chapter 4, Transparency, is long and detailed. QT Pro is an essential tool to create transparent effects with iMovie, and this section has lots of excellent examples of different transparency effects. Chapter 5 covers animation, Chapter 6 works with advanced titling, and Chapter 7 works with coloring effects. My favorite color trick in Chapter 7 was learning how to make a clip seamlessly transition from black-and-white to color.

The included CD is an integral part of the book, as it provides all the source material for the many examples. Don’t try to get through the book without it! While the “cookbook” steps in the book are clear, I couldn’t grasp the visual point of the some effects merely from reading the text and looking at the screenshots. If you have never seen an “off-center zoom” before, reading about how to make one won’t help much. But watching the effect being created from the movie files on the CD made the text come to life.

Be forewarned that many of the effects, especially those involving masking and transparency, may take up to 20 steps, and require the use of a graphics editing application that handle layers. But remember that you are creating professional looking effects, and that the final result will be outstanding.

My only negative reaction to the book was that I thought some of the effects looked cheesy. Putting a video clip inside a hand-drawn TV screen is not something that I’d expect to see in a well-edited video, amateur or professional. Nor do I plan to have animated graphic borders surround my video footage in my next movie. However, I do realize that my tastes in visual effects may not be representative, so if you like those effects, include them. Fortunately, Sadun frequently repeats that video quality comes not from the sheer number of “gee whiz” effects, but rather the thoughtful use of effects to advance the story.

This is an outstanding book for those who want to move beyond the iMovie’s easy, built-in effects, and learn techniques to give your videos a more professional look.

Highly recommended!

MacMice Rating: 5 out of 5

David Weeks

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