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Add transitions to iMovie – A beginner’s guide

Learn how to use transitions in iMovie and direct a fantastic debut home movie thanks to the power of your Mac and iLife with our step-by-step guide.

iMovie - Transitions - Featured

iMovie - Transitions - Sidebar
iMovie - Transitions - Featured
If you watch a professionally made movie or TV show you will notice that between scenes the video will often fade, slide or switch to show you that you’re heading to a different place.
Small visual clues can tell your audience that something they are watching is about to change. iMovie offers a collection of different types of these transitions, allowing you to quickly and easily add them between your scenes and decide on how long you want them to last. The list in iMovie is extensive and enables you to be creative with your choices. Once selected, iMovie will automatically add your transition.

Adding them can make a real difference to your finished video, as well as help you visualise your scenes a little more easily. Read on to find out how to add and edit a transition, and for a few tips on when they will work best in your video. It’s a simple process, but one that will add a bit of class to your productions.

iMovie - Transitions - Step-by-Step

iMovie - Transitions - Step 1

Step 1: Transition Browser

First of all, open up the project you want to edit. On the right-hand side of the window are five buttons; click the Transition Browser option.

iMovie - Transitions - Step 2

Step 2: Preview transitions

A drawer will slide in and you will see a selection of transitions that you can use. Roll your mouse over one and a short preview of the transition will play.

iMovie - Transitions - Step 3

Step 3: Adding a transition

Once you’ve found a transition you like, click and drag it up into the project. The green line in the timeline denotes where the transition will be placed.

iMovie - Transitions - Step 4

Step 4: Transition editing

When you roll your mouse over the transition, a blue button will appear with a cog on it. Click and choose Transition Adjustments to make edits.

iMovie - Transitions - Step 5

Step 5: Overlapping

In that menu you can alter the transition’s length. In Overlapping, you can also choose to maintain your project’s length, or maintain the clip’s length.

iMovie - Transitions - Step 6

Step 6: Live view

You can also change the type of transition. The benefit of doing this now is that you can see the transition in full in the Preview window.

iMovie - Transitions - Step 7

Step 7: Precision editing

If you wish to change the transition to maintain the project’s length, you will want to edit your clip in more detail with the Precision Editor.

iMovie - Transitions - Step 8

Step 8: Close control

In the panel that slides down, you will be able to drag the clips around to carefully edit where the fade between your clips starts and ends.

iMovie - Transitions - Step 9

Step 9: Fade out

You can also use transitions at the start and the end of your movie, so if you want your project to fade to black at the end you can drop in that transition here.

 (Click the image below to zoom in and view the annotations)

iMovie - Transitions - Annotated