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How to produce action-packed iMovie scenes

Use iMovie’s editing tools to create a slick, fast-moving action sequence to add drama to any film project

You can capture the ingredients for an exciting action movie sequence by filming a variety of subjects, from sporting events to vintage re-enactment displays. Modern viewers bombarded by content from the TV and their iPad tend to be easily distracted, so a 60-minute recording of an event won’t hold their attention. We’ll show you how to use iMovie’s non-linear editing tools to trim longer clips into short, sharp shots and create an action movie-style sequence that will grab your audience’s eye and hold it. You’ll learn how to re-time footage to focus on exciting events (like a blast of cannon fire) and bind your separate source clips into a smooth-flowing sequence using iMovie assets like transitions, captions and music. Find the clips we used for this tutorial here, so you can follow along as you read.

1: Create project

Go to File>New Project. Choose a 30fps Frame Rate with a 16:9 Aspect Ratio. Go to File>Import Movies. Add the clips from our ‘Action Sources’ folder to a new event.

2: Re-time clip

Drag Shot01 and Shot02 into the Project Window. Click on Shot02 and then go to Clip>Slow Motion>25%; this will prolong the dramatic burst of cannon fire.

3: Split clip

Choose View>Playhead Info and place the Playhead at 5:24. Ctrl/right-click and choose Split Clip. Select the first part of the split clip and hit Backspace to delete it.

4: Trim end

Shot02 now starts just before the cannon fires. Click on Shot02’s fine-tune icon and drag it slightly left to shave 30 frames off the end of the clip.

5: Add a title

Now add Shot03 to the project. Trim 30 frames from the end of that clip to keep the action flowing. Use a Horizontal Blur title to bridge shots 02 and 03.

6: Sharp shooting

Add Shot04 to the sequence and drag its fine-tune icon right to cut 30 frames, so that the soldier raises his gun sooner. Remember, we want short, sharp shots!

7: Detach audio

Add shots 05, 06 and 07 to the sequence and slow Shot07 down to 25%. Next go to Clip>Detach Audio then click on the audio bar and choose Edit>Copy.

8: Sound effects

The first cannon shot has no audio. Drag the cursor under Shot02, Ctrl/right-click and Edit>Paste. Slide the audio so the bang syncs with the video.

9: Add music

Drag in the Saber track from the Music browser’s Jingles folder. As the short track is loopable you can add it again to cover the entire sequence.

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