Video Activity One


This slideshow was created using Apple iMovie v8.0, which is a part of the iLife suite. I selected a series of photos I took on vacation in Bryce Canyon, Utah. Since these photos were already in iPhoto, I grouped them together (in order) in their own folder within iPhoto. This made them easy to find and utilize from within iMovie.
I knew that I wanted calm classical music for the slideshow soundtrack. I immediately thought of Beethoven's 'Pastoral' Symphony. This was easy to find via keyword search on, a site that provides free public domain classical music. I downloaded an MP3 of the 1st movement.
Once in iMovie, I created a 16:9 movie project and dragged the seven photos to the timeline. iMovie automatically assigned the stills a 4 second duration and the Ken Burns effect. I lengthened the duration and added 2 second transitions. Normally when creating slideshows, I stick to the cross dissolve transition as I find most of the other transitions quickly become trite and distracting. For this short slideshow, I wanted to see if I could use a greater variety. I decided to open the slideshow with a spin in transition and close it with a spin out. I also utilized the cross blur, ripple, and mosaic transitions.
Likewise, I tried out a variety of titles, both over black and over images. The opening title is Lens Flare and the closing credits use Far, Far Away, which is much like the opening text in Star Wars. Most of the title options over images I found to be too distracting, so I stayed with Lower Third and Soft Edge.
iMovie can access any of the music in your iTunes library (since iTunes is also a part of the iLife suite). However, I didn't want to go thru the extra steps of importing the Beethoven symphony into my library. I found that I could simple drag the MP3 file from the finder into the iMovie timeline, and it inserted the audio. Pretty slick and easy.
I spent some time tweaking the Ken Burns effect so that each image had the motion I wanted. Then I focused on the overall timing of the images, transitions, and how both related to the music. I moved the start of the music so that end of the first big swell lined up with the end of the Spin In transition at 0:08 seconds. I also used the audio clip editor to chose the ending point for the music. Once I had a target duration, I was able to adjust the durations of the still images so that the credits ended along with the music.


I have been using iMovie for about 10 years on and off, so I am fairly familiar with the application. It is very easy to put something together quickly and have it be 90% complete. The finishing, professional touches are what are difficult to achieve, since the tools are somewhat limited. Some of my frustrations:
  • audio fadeout is limited to 2 second - this was not long enough for my music fade out
  • cannot change the font on some titles (such as Lens Flare)
  • cannot change the position that the titles appear on screen
  • when I used the two finger scroll on my laptop trackpad to scroll up to the beginning of the timeline, if I had a title or music selected, it would move the title. It would take multiple undos to bring it back into position
  • Ken Burns effect doesn't allow you to move beyond the edge of the image, which makes it difficult to use with portrait orientation. I specifically choose landscape orientation images so I wouldn't run into this issue.

New Skills:

I consider myself a fairly adept iMovie user, but there are always challenges and new things to learn. On this project I experimented extensively with different transitions and title types. Though many were distracting, I did find a few to add to my usual favorite, the cross dissolve. I also learned that iMovie has good support for drag and drop of different media types. This can save the user from having to follow the iLife system of importing all media into the various applications (iPhoto, iTunes, etc.). I had learned about earlier this year, but I had not created an account nor used the service until this project.

Previous Work:

This project reminded me of a slideshow I made for my church a few years ago. We used R.C. Sproul's book The Priest With Dirty Clothes as the text for a vacation bible school. We wanted to use the story and the illustrations with a large group of kids, however many of them were poor readers in English. I scanned the illustrations and recorded the someone reading the text. With some careful Ken Burns movement, I was able to create a compelling slideshow in 3 parts. I've included just an excerpt of the total 15 minutes as an example.


Bryce Canyon images: taken by Jeff Francis, August 2009
Music: Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F Major 'Pastoral', Op. 68 - I. Allegro non troppo, downloaded from Music is public domain, recording use is permitted for non-commercial works.

The Priest with Dirty Clothes by R. C Sproul, permission received for slideshow for 2009 Saluda VBS. Fair-use excerpt shown here.