8 Replies Latest reply: Jan 18, 2008 8:15 AM by Rich839
Greg in London Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
Hi all - I'm hoping someone can help:

I'm making an iMovie from a series of slides, but I would like to control when the transitions occur, so they're properly in time with the music. Ideally, as a workflow, I'd like to be able to choose all my photos, then choose my music, then while the music was playing, just click when I wanted the transitions to take place, thus making my movie with perfect transitions on the fly.

Alas though, I know iMovie doesn't support that kind of easy synchronisation, but I'm struggling to find an easy way to do it manually. I'm currently doing it in iMovie 6, because I think it's even more difficult in iMovie '08, since you don't get the continuous visual soundtrack anymore that v6 has.

So what I'm currently doing is this: First I get the transitions roughly in the right place, say be setting all my photos to a 3 second duration. Then, starting from the beginning of the movie, I play the soundtrack, and push and pull each photo's edge so it ends up falling at an appropriate place in the music. It turns in to a real problem if I then do anything later to the middle of the show: (Say if I want to delete or add a new photo.

Let's say all the transitions are perfect except one, right in the middle of the movie: imagine it comes a fraction of a beat too slow; I can't seem to easily shift only that transition. When I shift the image length to be just a bit shorter (so the transition happens sooner in the soundtrack), if all of the rest of the transitions were to stay where they were, then you can imagine the current image would get shorter the one next to it would get correspondingly longer, and everything would be fine. But it does't seem to work like that.

When I pull the one image shorter, all the subsequent images are also brought back with it on the timeline, rather than leaving all the other start/end points locked, and only affecting the length of the two pictures in question. So then, all the rest of the movie is out of synch. (The feature of 'locking the playhead' with a little yellow pin doesn't seem to work - maybe it's actually designed for something else.)

Does anyone have a good way to control the transition points of slideshows with respect to the soundtrack? I'm open to hearing pointers to refine what I'm already doing so it works, or to hearing something else you do that works too.

Also, if anyone can confirm that I'm doing the right thing by holding off my iMovie upgrade until after I've finished this project so that I can keep the visual timeline, that would be great too.

Many thanks,

Mac Book, Mac OS X (10.5.1)
  • Rich839 Level 4 Level 4 (2,370 points)
    There are lots of ways to sync photos with your music. Here's the way I do it.

    In the timeline, drag your photos in at 5 seconds duration. (That duration is just easy to work with.) Drag your audio clip into one of the audio tracks. Then start your playback. As the audio is playing, hold down the apple key in the lower left portion of your keyboard, and tap on the "b" key in time to the music, wherever you think you might want a transition. Each time you tap, a little green diamond will be inserted just above the video track. After you have finished tapping out the rhythm, take your cursor and adjust the length of each photo to match up with the green diamonds. If you later make changes, such as removing a photo, you will need to readjust the length of the photos that follow it, again to match the diamonds. You can always redo the placement of the diamonds if you don't like the first arrangement. Or, you can run a photo for the duration of two or more diamonds. Once you have everything synced, lock your audio track to the first photo, using the Advanced Menu. That will at least roughly lock your audio to that particular run of slides, but it's not precise.

    Syncing music with video clips is a manual procedure, and takes a little time. Sometimes in the course of editing, things get out of sync. You just have to make adjustments. No way to avoid it.

    Another way, less precise, is to create your slide show in iPhoto, using the Fit Music to Slideshow option. Then you export it (File/Export) to your desk top as a Quicktime movie, and drag the slideshow movie into your iMovie project.

    Others on this forum probably have other ways to do the syncing. See what best fits your workflow pattern.
  • Greg in London Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks - I'll give that a go
  • Greg in London Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Spectacular answer - thank you. The difference in the PITA factor is palpable.
    This project has gone from being a chore back to being a joy again.
  • Greg in London Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Having that Apple Key - B set of markers on good transition beats made all the difference.

    Many thanks!

    -Almost makes me not want to upgrade to iLife 08 since you lose the visual music timeline and with it the ability to use your suggestion!
  • Greg in London Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    HI Rich.
    I have another synching question for you:

    If I follow your advice (which was great) and mark out my sequences with bookmarks and shift my picture boundaries to line up. Works perfectly.

    However: One of my sequences has cross-dissolve transitions between the photos. If I take a nicely timed photo & music sequence and add the transitions, the timing of all of it changes drastically.

    Further, if I try to put in the transitions first and do the timing afterwards, that doesn't seem to work. Once the transitions are in, I don't seem to be able to drag to stretch and compress the picture to match the timing bookmarks.

    Your advice for setting the timing of naked pictures to my music was spot on and perfect. Do you have any advice for handling pictures and transitions?

  • Rich839 Level 4 Level 4 (2,370 points)
    Use Overlap instead of Cross-dissolve. The Overlap transition won't vary the length of the time line, and it looks very similar to Cross-dissolve. So, you can set your markers with the naked pictures, and then afterwards add the Overlap transition to the string of photos, and that should still keep your sync. All of the other transitions, except Fade in and Fade out will eat into each video clip and shorten your time line. Like you have noticed, that throws things out of snyc.

    When you use transitions other than Overlap, you will have to manually adjust by ear, as far as I know. Tedious, but do-able. Set your photo durations ahead of time as close as you can to the music beat. You might be able to figure durations mathematically, computing how much that each transition will shorten your clips, and set your markers that way.
  • Greg in London Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    well done a second time.
    thanks again.

    you don't happen to know if this ability to visually synch to the beat disappears in '08, do you?
  • Rich839 Level 4 Level 4 (2,370 points)
    I don't have iMovie '08, so I don't know the answer to that question. You might want to post it on the iMovie '08 forum. You want to know if you can hold down the Apple key and tap the "b" key to set markers on the time line.

    Generally, editing is very limited in '08 compared to iM6. But owners of '08 can download for free iMovie 6.0.4, which I believe has the same features as iM6.0.3.

    But if you decide to buy iMovie '08, I suggest that you save a copy of your old iM6.0.3 on a separate drive. There have been problems with trying to revert back to the old iM6 after downloading iMovie '08. Apparently some of the file extensions are different, particularly with the iLife Sound Effects.