A Guide to Using Effects and Transitions in Your iMovie Projects

Add these techniques to improve the flow and appeal of your movie

Filmmaker's clapboard

Emilija Manevska / Getty Images

Add effects and transitions to your iMovie 10 projects. The two features are separate in iMovie 10, so the first set of steps below covers effects, and the second set covers transitions.

This article applies to iMovie 10.

01
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Finding Effects

iMovie screenshot

To access the video and audio effects in iMovie, open a project in the timeline.

  • Double-click the clip in the timeline.
  • In the top right of the screen, click the Adjust button. The second button from the right, after the i, is the effect icon.
  • Click the Effect icon to reveal windows showing the available audio and video effects in iMovie.
02
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Testing Effects

iMovie screenshot

After you've opened the Effects window, you'll see thumbnails of your video clip with the various effects applied. If you hover over any of the individual effects, the video clip plays and you'll get an instant preview of how the effect looks.

The audio effects function similarly.

This feature showcases different effects and without time-consuming rendering. 

03
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Editing Effects

After you've selected the effect that you want, click it to add it to your clip. You can only add one effect per clip, and there is no simple way to adjust the intensity or the timing of the effects.  

To add several effects to a clip or tweak the way an effect looks, export the project from iMovie to Final Cut Pro, where you can make more advanced edits. Or, if you're willing to get a little bit complicated, add an effect to a clip and then export the clip. Then, re-import it to iMovie to add a new effect.

Use Command+B to split the clip into pieces and add different effects to each piece.

04
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Copying Effects

iMovie screenshot

After you've added an effect to a clip or made other adjustments to how it looks and sounds, copy those attributes and apply them to one or more of the other clips in your sequence.

  • Select the clip that has the effects in the timeline and copy it (Command+C).
  • Select the other clips in your timeline. From the Edit drop-down menu, select Paste Adjustments.

Select what you want to copy from the first clip onto the others. Copy just one effect or all of the audio and visual adjustments that you've made.

05
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Finding Transitions

iMovie screenshot

Transitions are separate from the effects in iMovie 10, and you'll find them in the Content Library on the bottom left of the iMovie screen. 

Some basic video transitions are always available while other theme-specific transitions depend on the theme of your project.

06
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Adding Transitions

Transitions and Overlapping Audio iMovie screenshot

Once you've selected the transition, drop it in the timeline at the appropriate place.

When you add a transition between two clips, it blends the video and the audio of the two clips. If you add a transition at the beginning or end of your sequence, it blends the clip with a black screen. 

If you don't want the sound to blend, detach the audio track from your clip before or after adding the transition. There are no audio transitions in iMovie, but to blend the sound between two clips, use the volume sliders to fade in and out detach the audio and overlap the ends of the clips.

07
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Adding Automatic Transitions

Add Cross Dissolve in iMovie screenshot

Add a cross-dissolve transition to your video using Command+T. If you use cross dissolves as your standard transition it's a fast way to edit your movie.

If your cursor is positioned between two clips when you add the transition, it will be added in that spot. If your cursor is in the middle of a clip, the transition will be added at the beginning and at the end of the clip.