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Behind the scenes with iMovie trailers

Serenity Caldwell | March 9, 2012
Along with Apple's iPad announcement on Wednesday, the company released updates for p retty much every major iOS appin its wheelhouse.

Along with Apple's iPad announcement on Wednesday, the company released updates for pretty much every major iOS app in its wheelhouse. Now, this isn't all that surprising, given that most of Apple's apps needed a graphics update to take advantage of the iPad's Retina display. But hidden amongst the tweaks and pixel perfections, some apps also received new features--including iMovie.

In a world ...

iMovie may not have the flashiest updates of the bunch, but it does gain a neat new feature from iMovie '11 on the Mac: movie trailers. Now, when creating a new project, you can choose to instead create a trailer with one of nine different templates: Retro, Romance, Scary, Superhero, Swashbuckler, Narrative, Fairy Tale, Expedition, or Bollywood. You can swipe through and preview these for a better idea of what the trailer formats are like--be prepared for child spies and adventuring backpackers.

Each template prescribes a running time and a number of actors needed to properly fill out the story, though creative types can surely work around this. (I hear sock puppets and green tennis balls make great stand-ins.)

Apple has also commissioned a set of scores for each of these templates. Some of the songs have the veritable pedigree of award-winning composer Hans Zimmer behind them, and were recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra. By themselves, the score snippets aren't anything I'd choose to listen to in iTunes, but they provide decent atmosphere for the trailers.

Once you're in the editor, you can fill in the outline--which asks for your movie title, actors, the studio title (and logo, of which there are five), and some basic end credits--or illustrate your trailer in storyboard mode.

In the traditional sense, storyboarding involves putting a rough outline of a film together using sketches and dialogue. Apple's trailer storyboard is a fair bit stricter, but has the same general outline approach: It uses the trailer template to define how many seconds of video there are per scene, and where the titles go.

You can replace the preset title text with your own by tapping it and typing in replacement phrases; as for the video, it's simple enough to browse through your available clips: The app uses the time limit on the scene to create an excerpt on longer clips, and you can tap and drag to select which section of the clip you want to use. (If you have clips that are too short, iMovie will automatically gray them out to let you know you can't use them in this shot.) You can't mash two clips together in one trailer scene without editing them together and exporting them in a separate project.


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