Non-Linear Workflow: iMovie ’11 Even Faster!

I don’t know if anyone has yet tried my technique with iMovie about getting videos to the Internet faster, but I recently had the need to get many videos up there in a few short days’ time. My original posts about non-linear workflows using iMovie explain how you can “cheat the system” when importing footage on top of an older file of the same name. Though this practice works, there were some details I seemed to have left out, plus some updates how I make it work for me.

When ripping from MPEG Streamclip, or just putting a video file into iMovie, it is unnecessary to save it as the same as your previous file. It does give you a few extra seconds so you don’t have to drag the clip from your bin into the timeline. (If you do not know what I am talking about, please read my first two posts on Non-Linear Workflows using iMove ’11.) The issue I had was if I overwrote the old clip with the new clip all of the thumbnails and waveforms in the timeline were incorrect; they were actually those of the old clip.

iMovie is a type of database, it looks for the main file and uses the corresponding data and puts them all together in the timeline for you to manipulate. But I was “cheating the system” and replaced the original file, but the thumbnails and waveforms had not been updated because, according to the database, there was no change since the new clip had the same name as the old one. Get it?

So what? Can’t you adjust the timeline anyway? Yes, but it helps to have the appropriate thumbnails in the timeline for scrubbing, after all, that’s how iMovie was designed to function.

I discovered by going into the iMovie Events folder in my Movies folder, I could force iMovie into making me new thumbnails and waveforms from outside the program, since, there is no way to do that from within. Inside iMovie Events, find the event where your video has been imported, in my case it is Church Service. In this folder you’ll find the imported clip (mine is AM_Service.mov) and any additional clips you may have in that event. You will also see three more folders in the event called iMovie Cache, iMovie Thumbnails, and iMovie Waveforms. Inside iMovie Thumbnails and iMovie Waveforms find and delete the file with the same name as your main clip (AM_Service for me).

Inside the iMovie Events folder

What this does is eliminate the waveforms and thumbnails that are put in the timeline. Then, when you restart iMovie, the program notices they’re gone and uses the main clip to recreate those files according to the new main clip you have put in there (AM_Service.mov for me). This way you have new data in your timeline and can edit just like you ought to in iMovie.

One additional thing for me would be that sometimes AM services are shorter and sometimes they are longer than the previous week. iMovie lets you extend and shorten clips by 1 second increments which can be a real drag.  So, rather than using the “precision editor” which I don’t really like, I just grab the clip from the bin and replace the one in the timeline with it. It’s easier to reduce less than one second than have to add 5 or more minutes. (All of my clips are cut to have a pad just before and just after the start and end.)

Have advanced settings on in your preferences and these options will show up

This, for now, ends my Non-linear workflow tips for iMovie ’11. Other software like Avid, Premiere, FCPX, and others have different and way better tools and functionality, which I prefer, than iMovie. But, hopefully these can be useful for you as you try to get your semi-pro videos online faster than you thought possible.

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