iMovie is my go-to piece of video editing software – it’s free, easy to use and includes all the tools I need to make a great edit. I used to work with GoPro studio but it had a couple of annoying quirks which I’ll explain as I go through. This is a short guide as to how iMovie works, why I switched to it and why I think you should give it a go…

First things first you either want to make a movie or a trailer. Most of us will want to make a movie so click the plus symbol after opening iMovie and then the ‘Movie’ button. I don’t think I’ve ever needed to use the ‘Trailer’ option but it’s nice to know it’s there.

Next you have to add your content. You can click the ‘Import Media’ button but I find it’s much easier to drag-and-drop files from your desktop straight to the storyline. Something important to note is that since some pieces of video may be shot in a higher resolution than others you want to put the highest quality video in the storyline first. If you put a 720p video in first iMovie WILL downrate the following footage to the same resolution.

The trimming and splitting process isn’t quite as intuitive as in GoPro Studio but once you know the shortcuts it works just as well. One thing you should do before splitting any clips is colour correct (saturation, contrast etc) because otherwise you’ll have to do the same thing for each individual clip. The arrow in the photo below shows the slider you need to use to adjust saturation. The slider to the right of that one is pretty much useless, the one to the left is for contrast but you should only use it in moderation as it makes the lighting look artificial if over-used.

You can see below that I’ve split the clip in two, this is because there was a gap between the two tricks and I wanted to shorten it. One important feature that I love about iMovie that GoPro Studio did not have is the ability to stabilize videos. All my GoPros have video stabilisation built in, but sometimes you’re using another camera for long distance shots or your GoPro couldn’t hack the vibrations even with stabilisation and you only noticed when editing. It’s nice to have the option when you need it, I personally use a 10% crop when stabilising pretty much all my videos just to ensure that they’re smooth. There is also an option to ‘Fix Rolling Shutter’ – if you don’t know what that means don’t worry but it’s very useful for those filming in certain situations, especially with drones.

iMovie also beats GoPro Studio when it comes to speeding clips up and slowing them down. In the drop-down menu there is an option for custom speeds but 10%, 25% and 50% are offered as standard along with the option to reverse the playback. The reason iMovie is better than GoPro Studio at this is that GoPro Studio wouldn’t play audio if the speed was changed whereas iMovie speeds up and slows down the audio as well. It’s a small thing but I like the sound of the water to be heard slightly over any music I add so it’s another point in favour of iMovie.

GoPro Studio did have Titles and Transitions but they were much more limited than in iMovie. There are plenty of options for different Titles to show up in different parts of the screen, all you have to do is select the one you want and then either place it on top of the video to overlay the text or place it inbetween to have a black page with the text on it before your video starts. As you can see in the photo below there are also many Transitions on offer, you just drag the one you want inbetween two segments; personally I like to use Cross Dissolve, I find the others just look a bit tacky and unprofessional…

Next, add the music. I have a lot of songs downloaded so I have plenty to choose from, if you want to check whether a song is copyrighted or not just go to Youtube creator studio and search your song in there to check if you’re allowed to use it. Similar to the Titles and Transitions just drag-and-drop the music and trip/split it the same way as the video. iMovie has sound effects too which GoPro Studio did not, which is suprisingly useful (especially for comedic effect), it also offers the option of doing a voice-over which is great if you screw up the audio, I used this feature in my ‘Carbon Fibre Boat Repair’ video – just click the microphone button I circled below…

Finally you want to export the video. If you didn’t know, apps like Instagram have a maximum allowed resolution. If you go above this it downrates it in-app which makes it look terrible so the trick is to get the highest possible resolution without going above this limit. Click the export button at the top right-hand corner of the screen and select the options shown below if you intend to post the video on Instagram. If you want it for something else like Youtube by all means select the maximum resolution available and change the ‘Compress’ option from ‘Faster’ to ‘Better Quality’.

I’ve been using iMovie for a couple of months now and while it’s a little harder to get into than GoPro studio, once you’ve learned the shortcuts it’s a powerful program with a whole array of useful features that GoPo Studio lacks. The additional features available in programs like Final Cut Pro might be cool but I think that the steep learning curve and extortionate pricing outweigh these benefits. Good video, lighting and subject matter will allow you to create professional edits on iMovie, don’t fool yourself into thinking more expensive software will create a better edit. If you liked this post then be sure to subscribe to my blog so that you’re emailed next time I release more content…