Create a trailer

iMovie includes a number of templates you can use to create professional-quality movie trailers, with themes that range from adventure, to romance, to friendship and drama. Each template lets you customize screen text—such as the movie title and credits—and add clips of your own video to build a visually appealing story. Each template also comes with a unique musical score that matches the theme of the trailer.

Movie trailers are designed to be complete projects in their own right, but you can convert any trailer to a project, which you can then edit just as you would any other video.

To create a trailer:

  1. In iMovie, click the Create Project button (shown below) in the lower-right corner of the Project Library, or choose File > New Project.

    The File menu appears in a light gray bar across the top of your computer screen.

    Image of the Create Project button

  2. In the dialog that appears, click to select a template in the Movie Trailers section.

    When you choose a template, a preview appears in the viewer on the right. Click other templates to preview them.

    A brief description of the template and how many cast members it features appear below the viewer. This information can help you decide which template to use. If you plan to use footage that features just two people, you need to choose a template that allows for two cast members. Likewise, the description can help you assess whether a template fits the flavor of trailer you want to create.

    You can’t switch templates once you begin creating your project because the required elements from one template won’t fit with a different template. If you want to use a different template for your project, you need to create a new trailer from the beginning.

  3. Type a name for the trailer project in the Name field.

  4. Choose a screen format from the Aspect Ratio pop-up menu:

    • Widescreen (16:9):  Makes the movie appear much wider than it is high. Widescreen movies are optimized for viewing on widescreen computer monitors and high-definition TVs (HDTVs). When viewed on a standard-definition TV, widescreen movies appear with black areas above and below (sometimes referred to as “letterbox”).

    • Standard (4:3):  Makes the movie more square in shape. When viewed on a standard-definition TV, these movies can fill the screen. When viewed on an HDTV or widescreen computer monitor, they appear with black areas on the left and right of the video (sometimes referred to as “pillarbox”).

  5. Choose an option from the Frame Rate pop-up menu.

    You should choose the frame rate that you used to shoot the video.

  6. Click Create.

    A tabbed interface appears. You enter information about your movie in the Outline tab. You add video to your trailer in the Storyboard and Shot List tabs.

    Image of the tabs in the trailer template

  7. Type the requested information in the text fields in the Outline tab.

    Simply click the existing name or words and type new text. You can’t leave any fields blank because iMovie incorporates what you type in the fields into the trailer. The required information varies among templates. These are the possible categories:

    • Name and Date:  Required details vary from template to template. Type the movie name, its release date (for example, “January 2010,” or “1/10/10”), and any other information requested, following the model of the placeholder text.

    • Cast:  Type the names of the people who are featured as main characters in the footage you plan to use in the trailer. Some templates have no cast members, and some allow you to delete or add more cast members by clicking the Delete (-) button or Add (+) button to the right of a field.

      Image of the Add and Delete buttons

    • Studio:  Type a fictitious studio name and choose a logo style from the pop-up menu. You can’t change the appearance of the name (its font, color, size, and so on) as it appears in the logo.

    • Credits:  Type a name in each of the credits fields.

  8. Click the Storyboard tab.

    A graphic interface representing the trailer’s storyboard appears. It includes text bars at the top (and at other intervals) that let you edit onscreen text. There are also wells with placeholder imagery to which you add video clips to build your project.

    The text bars and wells are arranged in the order in which the elements appear in your trailer, but you can edit or fill them in any order you like.

  9. To edit any onscreen text, click the word or words in a text bar, type new text, and then press Return.

    Image of a placeholder text bar.

    Image of plceholder text bar with active text fields.

    You can mimic the wording style of the placeholder text to preserve the templated flow and flavor of the trailer. New text appears in the bar in italics to indicate you’ve edited it from the original.

    To revert to the placeholder text, click the Revert button at the right end of the text bar.

    Image of the Revert button

  10. Add video clips to placeholder wells simply by clicking video in the Event browser, or by selecting a frame range.

    When you add video by clicking it in the Event browser, starting from the point where you clicked, the correct length of video is added to fill the active placeholder well. (The time stamp on the left edge of each well indicates the length of video it requires.) When you fill a placeholder well with video, iMovie automatically makes the next well active in the storyboard. If you want to fill wells out of order, simply click one to select it.

    The video you click or select should conform to the style of shot illustrated by the placeholder image. For example, if the active placeholder shows a headshot, you should add a tight close-up shot of the cast member in question. If the image shows a character running, you should add footage of that character in action mode.

  11. To view your project’s clips organized by type of shot (for example, landscape, medium range, action) and by cast member, click the Shot List tab.

    This project view is helpful for planning for the types of shots you need for the trailer. In this view, you can also assess just the video in your projects. For example, you can see at a glance whether you’ve misplaced a landscape shot in a well meant for a cast member, or whether the action shots are varied enough.

    You can add, change, and delete video clips in this view.

  12. To delete a clip in Storyboard or Shot List view, select it and press Delete, or move your pointer over it and click the circular arrow icon in the upper-right corner. (This icon is visible in the image below.)

    You can also simply drag a new video clip from the Event browser over the existing clip to replace it. If you have the “Add to Project” tool enabled, click to select the clip you want to replace in the template (so that its border turns yellow), and then click the clip you want to replace it with in the Event browser.

  13. Play back your trailer at any time by clicking the “Play full-screen”) button (A, below) or Play button (B, below) in the upper-right corner of the template.

    Play buttons in trailer template.

  14. When you’ve completed your trailer by filling all the placeholder wells with video, a dialog appears. Click Watch Trailer to play the trailer, or click Done.

In the Project Library, trailer projects appear with a small ticket icon to the left of their names.

Small blue icons appear in the corners of a clip when you move the pointer over it. The circular arrow in the upper right deletes the clip from the well. The double arrows in the lower left open the Clip Trimmer. And the speaker icon in the upper left turns the clip’s audio (not the trailer’s theme music) on and off.

Image of the icons in a clip

To quickly find video clips that fit the style of a placeholder image:

If your Event video has been analyzed for the presence of people, you can sort the video based on the image style of a selected placeholder well in the trailer template.

  1. Open the Keyword Filtering pane by clicking the Keyword Filter button.

    Image of Keyword Filter button

  2. Click to select an empty placeholder well that features footage containing people, in either Storyboard or Shot List view.

    The Keyword Filtering pane shows the associated keyword as highlighted, and your Event video is filtered to show just the corresponding footage. For example, if you select a placeholder well that’s labeled “Medium,” the Keyword Filtering pane shows that keyword as selected, and the Event browser sorts to show just footage containing people that is shot at medium range. If you select a placeholder well that’s labeled with a character’s name, the Keyword Filtering pane shows the keyword “closeup,” “medium,” or “wide” as selected (depending on the range of the placeholder image), and the Event browser sorts to show just footage containing that character shot at the corresponding range.

To edit a trailer:

Do one of the following:

  • To edit a trailer you’ve already created, open the Project Library and double-click the trailer project to open it. Now you can edit any of the screen text or change video clips as described in the task above.

  • To edit the trailer just as you would edit a regular project, first convert the trailer to a project.