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Creating a Slideshow With iMovie and Burning It to a DVD

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:MediumLanguages:

A picture is worth a thousand words and, by that token, a slideshow of pictures must be worth thousands more. Picking the right tool for creating a slideshow, however, can be a tough task. Most of the free pieces of software are under equipped and often confusing. In comparison, the more expensive software is normally seen as an unnecessary purchase. Although, with iMovie, the application Mac users receive free, you can make custom movies you'd be proud of.

In this tutorial I will show you how to create a custom slideshow in iMovie, how to add music and transitions, and then finish with the exportation to DVD of your final product. Read on to find out how to showcase your photos properly!


Introducing iMovie

For new Mac users the iMovie software comes as a free part of the iLife package. You may be surprised to learn that iMovie is just as good at making slideshows as it is with video footage.

For those of you who have not had any contact with iMovie before, the first thing you should do is check out my "iMovie: An Introduction" tutorial, where I explain the layout of the app and show the basics for starting a new project. Through this quick read you will be able to find your bearings easier.


Starting Your Project and Finding the Images

The first step you'll need to take is to start a new project. To do this you need to go to File > New Project or use the shortkeys CMD+N. Here you can either choose to pick a theme to accompany your movie or leave the pictures by themselves.

At the "New Project" page you can pick between various different themes.
At the "New Project" page you can pick between various different themes.

After clicking Create you will see that a blank timeline has appeared in the interface -- your next step will be the finding the pictures you would like to include in the slideshow.

To do this, find the button on the right hand side that looks like a camera. A new box will appear which will allow you to search for your desired snaps. iMovie is great at this as it is works well with another part of iLife, iPhoto -- giving you quick access to all your events.

Finding images is quick and easy with the ability to search iPhoto.
Finding images is quick and easy with the ability to search iPhoto.

Adding and Editing Images

To add images to your timeline you can simply drag and drop them. If you want to view them in a bigger resolution before adding them to the timeline just double click on any image. Your biggest priority at this stage should be sorting all the images into a perfect order. Try to avoid adding special effects at this stage, these will come after.

If for any reason you aren't happy with an image but still want to include it, you do have access to some editing abilities. These come from opening the inspector. Doubling clicking an image will bring this up and then you will be able to reduce or increase the duration of the image, as well as being able to edit aspects such as exposure. You can also change the brightness, contrast, and many more.

The Auto button is my favourite tool to use when editing my images on iMovie.
The Auto button is my favourite tool to use when editing my images on iMovie.

My favourite part of the inspector is the Auto button. Clicking this will quickly fix any colour balance issues, which great for those who aren't used to image editing.

Something you'll notice when playing through your slideshow is that the images will zoom in and out when playing -- this is called the Ken Burns Effect. This effect is added automatically by iMovie and to be honest, most of the time this is good enough. However, sometimes the automatic effect will look shabby and miss the complete focus of an image -- this is where manually changing is required.

The Ken Burns effect when done right can look great.
The Ken Burns effect when done right can look great.

If you want to change this you will first need to click on the crop button in the middle of the toolbar then navigate to the tab which says Ken Burns at the top of your viewing window. You will see that a green and red box have appeared over your image. Green shows the image which will be displayed at the start and the red shows the image at the end of the duration. To edit this you need to drag the boxes around and change the size until you're happy.


How to Improve Flow With Transitions and Music

After watching through your slideshow a couple of times you'll soon notice that there is no flow. The first main culprit is the lack of transitions between images. Currently, your slideshow will instantly switch being images, looking sudden and abrupt.

Transitions are in abundance, you'll definitely be spoilt for choice.
Transitions are in abundance, you'll definitely be spoilt for choice.

iMovie has a big range of transitions which are available from the transition button on the right hand side again, (shown above in the screenshot). To add these drag them between the images. You will soon see that your slideshow doesn't look as abrupt as it did before.

Your final step on the editing phase is the addition of music. This will give life to your slideshow and make it look more appealing to viewers.

Audio also has an Inspector loaded with various settings.
Audio also has an Inspector loaded with various settings.

Again, you need to visit the toolbar on the right hand side and click on the music note this time. You can now search for music across your Mac including on Garageband and iTunes. After finding a track you want, drag it into the timeline and let go to drop it over the whole piece. If you would only like to add the track to certain images you will need to drag the track directly onto them -- the term iMovie uses is "pinning".

Bringing up the inspector for the audio is exactly the same, using a double click. This tool is the best way to sort out the duration and the quality of your audio.


Exporting to DVD

The best way to turn your movie into DVD format is to use the app iDVD. This app was discontinued a couple of years back, but was part of iLife 11". If you don't own the program you can buy cheap copies of iLife 11" on the internet or use an alternative, my favourite being Burn.

To take your project to iDVD, go to Share at the top of the page and click iDVD. iMovie will then prepare your movie and open it in iDVD.

iDVD is quickly accessed through iMovie.
iDVD is quickly accessed through iMovie.

You will be brought to a screen where you can create a DVD menu for your slideshow. iDVD comes with many themes which are really easy to use, to add titles to your menu page you need to make a text box and type the appropriate title. Creating a title page is great for when you have more than one slideshow on a disk and you would prefer easy navigation forwards and backwards between them. On the creation page you also have the option to add your own audio and images.

iDVD has a great interface which is fantastic for creating menu screens.
iDVD has a great interface which is fantastic for creating menu screens.

On finalising your slideshow you can go to File > Burn DVD. iDVD will then collect everything together and give you your final product.


Wrap-Up

In this tutorial I started by showing you how to start a project and find your images. I then continued on to explain how to add these images and perfect them to your liking. After finishing this step I moved on to the additional extras including adding transitions and music which aim to aid the flow. Finally, I explained how you could use iDVD to create a title menu and burn your slideshow to a disc.

Through these distinct steps you should now be able to start, edit and export a custom slideshow to show off to all your friends and family. If you have any questions about creating a slideshow, or some tips for using iMovie, please leave them in the comments below.

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