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How to add cutaways to your iMovie video projects on Mac

Hide distracting jump cuts and add extra information by inserting cutaway clips into your iMovie video tutorials

MainMany documentary programmes feature a ‘talking head’ chatting to an off-screen interviewer. To turn a long interview into a short and snappy sequence you will need to remove much of your original interview footage. However, by cutting bits out of a sequence you run the risk of creating jarring jump cuts, where the interviewee’s head suddenly snaps into a new position. You can hide these distracting jump cuts and make the programme flow smoothly by pasting a cutaway over them.

In this walkthrough we’ll demonstrate how to use cutaways to hide edits in the interview. Cutaways also add extra visual information and make the video more interesting to watch. We’ll also demonstrate how to turn photographs into cutaways and enhance them in post-production. You can grab the source clips and images for this tutorials from our Tutorial Files page.


Step 1

1 Add interview clips

Create a new event and import our interview source clips  and stills (available here) into it. Press Shift and click on the three ‘talking head’ clips to select them. Drag them into the Timeline.

Step 2

2 Add introductory cutaway

Go to View>Show Skimmer Info. Drag Cutaway04 so that it overlaps the start of the interview. Click on the end of the cutaway and drag left to trim -1.8 seconds from the clip.

Step 3

3 Add illustrative cutaway

Play the programme until the interviewee talks about removing varnish. Double-click to select Cutaway01 and drag it onto this part of the Timeline to illustrate his point.

Step 4

4 Add bridging cutaway

Double-click to select Cutaway02 in the Event browser and drag it onto the Timeline to bridge the cut between Shot01 and Shot02. This helps the action flow and adds visual variety.

Step 5

5 Crop the photos

Drag the two stills (Painting_before and Painting_after) onto the end of the Timeline. Click Adjust. Click the Cropping icon and choose the Crop to Fill style. Click the tick.

Step 6

6 Trim video

Click the Adjust thumbnail appearance icon and tick the Show Waveforms box. Right-click on Shot03 and choose Detach Audio. Trim the end of Shot03’s video clip by eight seconds.

Step 7

7 Before and after

To mix between the aged and restored versions of the painting, click on the Transitions browser. Drag a Cross Dissolve between the two versions of the painting.

Step 8

8 Add music

Use Cutaway03 to bridge the gap between the end of Shot02 and the start of Shot03. To bind the cutaways and the interview footage together, add a music track such as Time Lapse.

Step 9

9 Boost contrast

Select a clip and click Adjust. Click Color Correction. Drag the Contrast slider to create darker shadows and brighter highlights. Apply these settings to the other clips.

Click Image to Enlarge: