Editing Your Christmas Blockbuster

Getting Ready

With Christmas approaching, it’s time to think about making a movie of the old video clips you took years ago and still have on your computer or camera. Putting them together into a blockbuster Christmas video, requires you to edit them. This will take time and some experimenting, so this will be a long blog and will only cover the basics.  I’ve tried to make it easy to understand but you may need to have this opened in one window, your editor program in another window and help make sense of both by switching between them. So, lets start but first…

Choose an Editor Program

First you must choose an editing program. The days are gone where you can cut a piece of film and glue it to another frame but in most editors, you can do the same thing electronically. I use iMove for the Mac.  It comes on every Mac and it is simple enough to use.

If you run Windows, you could try Movavi, Adobe Premier Elements, or Digital Video Editor from NCH. Then read the step below – and give it a try. You may need to translate a few things into Windows menus and buttons but most of these editor will do what iMove does. We could argue about which one does it better but we should all end up in the same place even if it take a while to experiment with editors.

I could have chosen to write about iMove on the iPad.  It’s a bit limited but easier to “translate” the options from it big brother version on the iMac. Maybe I will write an iPad version of this blog sometime or if you make it work, write the steps down in a blog to mirror this one, then send it to us and we will put up your story on this website.

Importing Clips

Your editing session begins by starting a new project and importing the video from the camera/computer to the program. After you selected a new project from the projects window, plug your camera into a USB port, switch it on and put it in play mode. Then follow any prompts on the camera screen, to allow the computer access to the camera. If iMovie was running when you connected the camera, it will automatically open the import window.

If you are using files from a computer, select File > Import Media from the top menu bar and navigate to the place where your movie is stored. Then select the movie you need to import and click “Import”. When the import is finished, drag the clip from the preview window and drop it on the blank timeline in the bottom half of the screen. The next step is to select the parts you want to cut from the movie. Here is a clip from Christmas a few years ago of my grandson struggling to open a present and his mother doing the same thing in the background…

There are two main problems with this clip beside the audio. One is the camera is hand held and so it’s a bit shaky. The second is, a foot appears, in the lower left and corner. This gets worse as the tip continues beyond the end of this sample. The colours are an also little incorrect but they are fine for a home movie.

Remove the Shake.

To fix any shaky video, select the entire clip by clicking on it once in the timeline, and then use the stabilise button in

iMovie to fix it. The button is at the top of the screen and looks a bit like a movie camera with the shakes (you need to click on this picture here to see it properly!) The stabiliser zooms into the movie slightly to overcome the shake – the greater the shake the more it has to zoom in.  If you want to see the final result import the above clip into your computer (right click and select “download movie”) and then put it into iMove, and try it yourself. You will see the shake is almost gone and it’s smoother than the original clip. But it still has the foot to be cut out.

Cutting the Video

To cut the video at any point, select the frame where you want the cut to occur then click on it in the time line. That will move the white cursor to that point. Then while holding the Command key down, press B (for Blade). This cuts the clip at the selected point into two pieces. You can delete either piece by selecting it (there will be a yellow box around the selected part) and pressing the delete key. You can also move the end or start point by clicking on one end of the yellow box and moving the mouse right or left.

Changing the end point of a clip.

If you want to just get rid of the end of the clip, click and hold on the end of the clip (you should see double arrows appear) then drag the end point back to where you want the clip to end.

To add another clip to the end of the first one, select it from the preview window on the top left hand side, then drag it and drop it on the end of the first clip. You can do this as often as you like to build up your composite movie.

Add Photos

To add a picture from Apple Photos, choose “My Media” from the top left hand side of the main window. The select the “Photos” from the far left side. You will need to navigate to the photo you want, then click on it. A “+” sign will appear in the bottom right of the selected photo and clicking that will add the photo to the end of the movie. Once its there you can drag and drop it to wherever you like, or lengthen it (it defaults to 4 seconds long) and change it’s colours, or shape or make it look like you are zooming into it etc. More on that below.


Of course you need to add titles to the beginning of the movie. On the top left of the screen is a series of selections – “My Movie, Audio & Video, Titles, Backgrounds, Transitions”. Selecting Titles from this menu gives us a window full of options for the style of titles we want. When you have chosen a style, select it and drag and drop it into the start of the movie (or wherever you want a title to appear). The first clip will move aside and a box representing the length of the title will appear. That will give you the title over a black screen. If you want it to be over the first part of the clip rather than a black background, just drop it above the first part of the clip and the box will appear above the clip. Clicking that title box, enables you to edit the default text in the title using the viewer window.

In a similar way, you can add credits to the end of the movie as well and have them scroll past or slide in or whatever takes your fancy. I also use a title to put text at the bottom of the screen for those video shots that need some descriptions or labels. In that case the box appears above the timeline clip and is edited by selecting it there. I usually use “lower third” but others will work as well.

iMovie Buttons at the Top Right.

Now before we go on, lets talk about the buttons at the top near the stabilisation button. These buttons give you control over the colour of a clip, the size of a clip and the audio quality.  There are 8 buttons plus an information button. On the left hand end is a colour balance button.

So if you have mixed lighting in your clips (one taken outside another inside for example) you will need to use this button to make colour changes to your movie. Clicking on it gives you 4 options. The first is auto. I always use that first and see if it gives me the colours I expect. The second one is match – that means it can automatically match the colour of similar things from two clips. White Balance, the next option gives you the chance to make up for the fact the sun has changed since you started, so you can change the overall colours. Finally there is the skin tone option. That means it adjusts the rest of the picture to make sure the skin tone you click on is correct. By going through each clip with a person in it, you can make them look at same throughout. When you click on one of these options the cursor changes to an eye dropper which you use to point to the part of the clip you want to change (like faces for the “skin tone” button) and then click and the whole clip will change to make that part of the clip correct. If this doesn’t make sense, try it!  Holding the” Control key down and pressing “Z” takes you back one step if you make a mistake.

Colour Correction

The next button along is the image correction button. After you have selected a clip click on the palate button and fiddle with the sliders to adjust the brightness, contrast and saturation to get the clip looking as good as you can. It can be very fiddly to get it right. But remember the Control Z button will help if you have messed it up.


The crop button gives you a chance to remove parts of the picture (on the edges) that shouldn’t be there. It will automatically adjust the size of the picture to make ups for the fact you have just cut a bit off the edge. You also have an option to use a “Ken Burns” effects. That means you can generate what looks like a zoom in or out by using the settings for the start and end of a clip.  The computer calculates everything in-between to make a smooth zoom between. Why not give it a try.

We have already referred to the stabilisation button. It has a couple of adjustments if you want to fiddle a bit.  You should note the more stabilisation you apply, the poorer the quality of the final picture so use with caution!

Audio Adjustments

Next we have an audio button for adjusting the sound. Coupled with the next button you can adjust the quality of the sound and if you are using one sound clip over the top of another (for example you might make an announcement voice over clip) you can automatically adjust the volume of the other clip whenever the voice on the voice over clip is speaking.

Playback Speed.

The button that looks like a clock enables you to play a clip more slowly, or quicker or in reverse. If you are using one of our scripts I doubt that a clip of you speaking backwards can help you in any way.

The next button applies a filter to your clip. It enables you to apply adjustments automatically to achieve either video effects of sound effects. So if you want the voice to sound like it is coming from a two wave radio, theres a filter for that. Similarly if you want the clip to look like its a vintage clip, theres a video filter for that.  If you click on “Clip Filter” you will get to see the video effects and clicking on “Audio Effect” gives you the sound adjustments. Selecting one will apply that filter to the whole clip.

Just one more thing to note.  Every video clip comes with an attached sound track. If you want to move the sound from that clip forward or backwards with respect to the video, you need to detach it from the video. If you select a clip in the timeline, then choose “Modify” from the menu at the top, detach audio is about half way down.

Adding A Voice Over.

If you would like to add a voice over,  click in the timeline where you want to record the voice over, press the V key or click on the “Window” button at the top, enables you to select “Record Voice Over” and adds a red go button to the bottom of the viewer window. Clicking on the red start button will record whatever you say into the microphone.  Just note you should speak near the computer and make sure there is no distracting sounds in the background while you record.

Now I may have confused you with this long description but the truth is iMove is quite complex and you probably need to practice each of these items to get used to using the editor. There are many other things you can do – like adding a sound track, add sound effects, use a blue screen to produce a chroma key etc. So the best thing to do is, load a clip into iMove and get started. Try each of the things above and see if you can work out how to edit your movie. You can’t ruin anything (Holding Command and  Z goes back a step) so have a go at all these steps and buttons and see what you can do. The sooner you begin, the sooner you will be an expert and be able to amaze your grandchildren with your skills!

When you have finished editing your video, choose File > Share and select “File” to save your masterpiece as a file on your computer. Then, if you have used one of our scripts, send the movie to us and we will try to put it on our YouTube channel and that way you can show other retired blokes what you can do!


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