At one time, editing a home video was a chore. You had to sit and copy each section separately from your camcorder to your VCR in the order that it was to be viewed . Pros call this linear editing because everything is put in place in the exact sequence.
iMovie, an easy-to-use digital video editor, makes all that unnecessary. Being able to edit a digital video using a computer is a revelation because you can copy the clips or segments in any order you want. Then, during the editing process, you put things in order. This process is called nonlinear, and it's a lot more flexible.
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iMovie is a ground-breaking application. Traditionally, non-linear digital video editing was only available to professionals willing to spend thousands of dollars. iMovie brings these capabilities to hobbyists.
Although iMovie, seen in Figure 10.3, is astoundingly simple to learn, it includes advanced features that you can use to make the most of your video footage. You can combine separate video clips using transitions, add sound effects and voiceovers , create title text, and export your final work into formats others can view.
Figure 10.3. iMovie makes video editing a joy.
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A large part of what makes iMovie work so well is FireWire, the connection standard we discussed in Chapter 7, "Choosing Peripheral Devices." In fact, to work with digital video from your camcorder using iMovie, you must have a computer and a camera with FireWire ports. That's because digital video files can be very, very large, and getting them onto your computer would be impossibly slow without FireWire.
How can you tell if your Mac came with FireWire ports? Check the connection panel and see if you have any FireWire connectors. You can identify them by their peculiar shape. Thin, oval at one end, squared off at the other.
Digital video cameras usually have a slightly different style Firewire connector (small, like a slightly misshapen rectangle) that may be labeled "IEEE 1394" or "iLink" in the camera documentation.
If you don't have a FireWire connection, you can still use iMovie for making slide shows from still photos.
Chapters 13 through 17 cover most of the things you can do with iMovie, including adding effects and exporting.