Turning inner space into outer space

May 22, 2012

Your best friend in iMovie: the cutaway

If you haven’t discovered cutaways, you’re missing out on one of the best storytelling devices available in iMovie. I use them extensively with videos based on an interview. While the subject is speaking, I can cut away to a scene describing what they’re talking about. You simply drag the scene onto the timeline and choose “cutaway” from the pop-up menu.

But — you may be saying — I don’t see anything called “cutaway” in that menu. That’s because Apple deems this to be an advanced feature. Go into the iMovie preferences under the General tab and check the Show Advanced Tools box. You’ll not only get cutaways, but a bunch of other cool stuff as well. I wish someone had told me about this sooner, so I’m passing it along to anyone else who might be in the dark.

Below is an example of an interview video with cutaways. They set the scene and help break up what might otherwise be a static few minutes. Another thing to note is that the audio for cutaways should reduced to zero, or you’ll have background sounds from the cutaway mixing with the interview.

In hindsight I might have tried to place the cutaways so that they timed better with what was being said. But that’s life in a newsroom, where there’s always a ton of stuff to juggle and never enough time to do it all.