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Create a montage in iMovie

Combine parallel layers of video footage and mix your clips together in creative ways

Older versions of iMovie enabled you to mix the end of one clip with the start of another using transitions such as Cross Dissolve. This allowed short sections of clips to be visible at the same time. The latest incarnation of iMovie permits you to run two clips together for much longer, courtesy of the enhanced Cutaway feature. This ability to mix clips on separate layers enables you to combine video clips more creatively.

Here we’ll demonstrate how to use the Cutaway tool to make clips run as parallel layers, and then use the Opacity slider to mix the clips to create a dreamlike montage that evokes a driver’s thoughts of his family as he drives through day and night. You can adapt these layering techniques to produce a range of creative montage sequences in your own productions.


1 Import clips

Choose File>New Event. Label the Event as ‘Layers event’. Choose File>New Movie. Click on Import Media. Browse to select our four source clips and click Import All.


2 Add clips

In the Layers event, right-click on the Wiper clip’s thumbnail and choose Select Entire Clip. Click the clips + icon to add the whole clip to the timeline.


3 Add a transition

Select the entire Road clip and add it to the timeline. Go to the Content Library panel and click Transitions. Drag the Cross Blur Transition between the two clips.


4 Increase duration

Double-click on the transition icon in the timeline. Set the Duration to 5.0. Click Apply. Click OK to shorten the clips’ durations so that they can mix together for five seconds.


5 Layer a clip

Select the entire Driver clip and drag it onto a new layer above the two clips in the timeline. Place it so that it overlaps the transition between Wipers and Road.


6 Reduce opacity

Double-click the Driver clip to access the Adjust tools. By default, it will be set to Cutaway. Drag the Opacity slider to the mid point to make Driver become semi-transparent.


7 Fade in and out

Play the sequence. By default, the Driver clip will cut in and out abruptly as the sequence unfolds. To make it fade in and out more gently, set the Fade slider to 0.4 seconds.


8 Add second cutaway

Select the entire Memory clip and drag it onto the timeline as a separate cutaway layer. Reduce the Opacity to mix the layers together and increase Fade to 1.5 seconds.


9 Retime the clip

Click the Speed icon. Set the Custom Speed option to 60% to create a more dreamlike sequence. Trim the Memory clip so it finishes before the end of the driving sequence.