The 'Unofficial' iMovie FAQ

Adding a still image that plays on top of a video

Last edited:7 December, 2004
Author: Karl Petersen
Illustrated by: Daniel Slagle

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Normally the iMovie-exported movie plays everything you want. But if you want to add an image that overlays the main movie, this lets you do that. This image could be your website name, a permanent title, copyright information, etc...

QuickTime Pro lets you build a "sandwich" of video tracks so one track plays on top of the other. We use that feature to build a 2-layer sandwich, where a still image plays on top of the iMovie video. The still image is smaller than the video layer, so it plays over it.

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Resolution Steps

1. In any graphics program (AppleWorks, Photoshop), create an image that's the size you want displayed in the video. Since the DV video is 720x480 (NTSC), the image would normally be smaller than that. If the image is text, you should CROP the image to the desired size, not resize the image, for cropping preserves the original quality while resizing reduces quality. Save the image and close the image window.

2. Close iMovie and in the Finder, open the iMovie project folder. Inside it is the, a movie with the same name as your project, with the suffix ".mov". Duplicate that file (in the finder you can control click copy - control click paste). Double-click the duplicate to open it in QT Player. (From now on, we'll refer to this as the video layer.)
copy movie finder

To avoid resizing the image portion of the movie later, we first change the image size of the movie to 640x480. To do that, in Quicktime choose Movie > Get Movie Properties (Command-J). In the left pop up menu, choose Video Track. Choose Size in the right pop up menu. Click Adjust. The image will acquire red markers. Click in the movie window to activate it, click on the image, then drag the red marker in a corner to 640x480. Click in the properties window, then press Done. When complete it should look like this: Quicktime adjust size

3. In QuickTime Player, open the image file. (It opens as a single-frame movie.) Choose Edit > Copy, which copies the image to the Clipboard. Close that window.

4. The next step pastes the image as a new layer over the video layer, while at the same time forcing the image to match the play time of the frames you've selected in the movie.

Activate the video window. In Quicktime select the frames where you want the image to go. Using the little arrows on the slider bar, Select area to inset imagethen choose Edit > Add Scaled.

5. Press the left arrow key to move back one frame. The image will appear over the video. Now we need to resize/reposition the image.

First, move the playhead to the first frame of the image. Choose Movie > Get Movie Properties. In the left pop up menu, choose Video Track 2 (our image). Choose Size in the right pop up menu. Click Adjust. The image will acquire red markers. Click in the movie window to activate it, then drag the image to where you want it in the window. You can press arrow keys to move it a few pixels. When it's right, press the Done button. (Don't worry about flickering.) It should look similar to this:Quicktime move image


6. Select Video Track 2 in the left pop up menu, select Quality in the right pop up menu. Check the boxes High Quality and Deinterlace Fields. Uncheck Single Field. Repeat for Video Track 1 if High Quality is not already enabled.

7. Save. If this is the movie format you want, save as a self-contained movie. Otherwise export to a movie with the desired format.

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