Getting on the iMovie Train

logo for imovie

Our assignment this week for EC&I 834 is to test out a tool for content creation/sharing, especially of media. Since this is my last course, I decided it was time to tackle iMovie. It helped that Alec shared a post from John Spencer on doing sketchnote style animation. Admittedly, my little video isn’t quite sketchnotes but it’s a step in that direction. I actually started out in visual arts many, many years ago and my husband is an artist so I tend to pull out a pencil or a pen every so often to sketch something so it seemed like a good fit to do some cute little drawings and turn it into something.

I really appreciated how Graham did his breakdown this week so I’m going to try to do a bit of plus/minus sharing my experience.

Plus: I don’t have to have a Mac computer to use iMovie! It is available on both my iPhone and my iPad. I used my iPad so I could have a bigger screen to manipulate things.

Minus: While I’m working, all the files need to be on the device I’m using if I want to add photos and videos. So I had to do all my photo editing and saving on my computer first, then get them onto my iPad. I just saved them to Dropbox and then saved them to my phone from there. But it would be nice to work in the cloud. Maybe this is an option for newer features. Definitely not collaborative in the app though.

Plus: It was easy to import into the app from my device. Once I got everything into the app, I was ready to get creating.

Minus (minor): I should have reread the tutorial to check his file naming. If I had named all my files with the same beginning and just changed the numbering, they would have imported in the right order. Alphabetical order is the default sort for imported images.

Minus: There is no labelling of any of the icons or features so if it isn’t a familiar word or icon, I had to look it up. This included not being sure how to drag around the order of my images.

Plus: The help files were very helpful! The answer was easy to find and it was super easy to do (hold down my finger on the picture until it “pops out of the timeline” and then drag. Somewhat similar to reordering apps on my screens so yay for Apple with the keeping actions standard and straightforward.)

Minus: I created my images in the wrong aspect ratio so they were taller than wide and it meant I couldn’t actually resize them to fit in the screen. A bit of researching first would have helped but in the app your screen size assumes a landscape orientation and your pictures will be cropped based on that (again, it could be in the settings to adjust this or to give a background if I want smaller pictures, but I was doing the quick and dirty creation).

Minus: The “Ken Burns effect” is applied by default. If you don’t want your images sliding around your screen, you probably want to disable that, but it’s done picture by picture if you have them all imported already. So that took a little longer than I feel like it should. Not a fan of that as a default.

Plus: It was easy to readjust my audio after I accidentally started the recording partway into my first image. Again, hold down and drag. That felt more intuitive once I got that figured out for the images.

Plus: Deleting my first try of the audio and recording a second was easy.

Plus: Readjusting the timing of each image is very, VERY easy.

Minus: It is not quite as easy to listen to the audio and time the images because I have to listen, pause, then readjust. And if I move the first image, any adjustment I did at the end is changed too. I couldn’t see how to easily pin one image to a particular time. So definitely start doing your timing editing at the beginning of your movie, not the end. Oops. I did both.

Plus: Easy integration with YouTube and Vimeo as well as some other storage options online. I posted my video to YouTube really quickly.

Minus: It posted my video as private, which I didn’t see, so I had to log into YouTube to change that. Yes, it’s minor, but irritating when I sent it to a coworker and it wasn’t visible to him.

In the end, I am glad I listened to Angus last semester when he said how easy it was to use. Jennifer agreed clearly from her review! I was in a stable wifi zone so I didn’t think much about that issue but it would be an issue when getting the movie OFF the device, for sure.

I also really enjoy this style. I would definitely want to ink my images before scanning though. Pencil didn’t quite cut it. Then again, I am used to doing realistic drawing so my lines weren’t always as dark and clear as they should have been. The drawings and editing of those definitely took the longest. I am used to photo manipulation so I had some interesting images pre-edit.

full cat image prior to edit
full computer image prior to edit

I edited the cat’s pupils in one shot, and I drew the paw up AND down on the original image. And on the computer image, I drew the hand over the mouse and just erased different parts for different stages.
all images for my video on one paper

This is definitely pretty doable for an instructor or students, if they have the incination. BUT it takes time. And it takes a learning curve. Mostly, it takes planning. You need to know what images you want to use. For me, I did it backwards from the tutorial. I drew my images before I had a script, and then adjusted my script to the images. But that really wouldn’t be the best way to do a longer one. You need to know what you want to say and what is needed to illustrate it. So it’s a good longer-term project but it isn’t something to have finished in an hour. My 54 second video still took me 45 mins or more to draw the images, edit them, get all the versions saved that I needed, then an hour or so playing around to get it all set. I could get a bit quicker at it but to do 5 minutes will be a time investment for sure. An instructor would have to really want to do this for it to be worthwhile as opposed to a screencast or using a pre-done whiteboard style like Videoscribe (which you have to pay for) or Powtoon (which does have a free option although the themes are more limited and I didn’t see a ton that looked right).

And my usual thing, it is only once the file is done that it can be accessed and edited out of the Apple software. And it does require the Apple software which is not free. It’s $6.99 US (I believe) to buy the app if you don’t have it.

But without further ado, here is my little test video!