Cooper International Learning Center

iMovie in the CILC

iMovie is a video editing software program for use on Macs and iOS devices.These instructions are intended for projects limited to adding voiceover audio and subtitles to a single video clip.

How to Overdub, Add subtitles Using iMovie

 See Abe Reshad or a Language Lab assistant for help. 

The process is as follows:

  1. Acquire the original source video
  2. Import the source video to iMovie
  3. Create a movie
  4. Add video clip to the movie
  5. Make a script
  6. Add voiceover audio
  7. Add subtitles
  8. Render and share the video

1. Acquire the original source video

Many projects start with clips found on Youtube.  Please consider using clips shared under the Creative Commons license, e.g. . You can use any number of tools to download clips from Youtube, including loading a youtube video and then editing the URL by prepending “ss” to youtube, e.g. Select a high resolution mp4 video file to download.

Once your video clip has downloaded, it may open automatically in Quicktime Player. You will not need Quicktime Player so close that application if it opens.

2. Import the source video to iMovie

Open iMovie application and dismiss “Welcome to iMovie” splash screen.  Drag the downloaded video from the “Downloads” folder into iMovie “import” pane. This will add your clip to a “library” of material for your project.

3. Create a movie

Select “+ Create”, then select Movie. Select “No Theme”, then click on “Create”.  Name the movie as you wish.

4. Add video to the movie

Select some or all of the clip in the top left pane of the iMovie window and drag to the bottom pane. The bottom pane is the created movie timeline where most of the work is done in making a movie. The top left pane with film clips is your library of imported materials which may be used in any way you like in your movie.

5. Create your script

Using pen and paper or a word processor, make a list of speaking actors, in the order in which they speak, for each instance of speaking,  and create new dialogue.

6. Add voiceover audio

Zoom in on the movie timeline pane with CMD = (and zoom out with CMD -) as necessary to see the audio waveforms which coincide with dialogue (as opposed to other audio cues).

Place the timeline at the start of each piece of dialogue and press “V” on the keyboard to add a voiceover. Select the microphone button that now appears below the movie preview in the upper-right pane of the iMovie application to begin recording your voiceover. Select the microphone again to stop recording. Delete and try again, if necessary, and trim the voiceover by selecting and dragging the resulting audio waveform in the movie timeline in the bottom pane. Repeat as necessary until all new dialogue has been recorded.

Remove the Original Audio

At the iMovie application menu, click on “Modify … Detach Audio”.  To remove all of the original audio, simply select the resulting sound clip and delete.

Selectively Reduce Volume for the Original Audio

At the iMovie application menu, click on “Modify … Detach Audio”.  Split the original audio to allow selective volume adjustments: Move the timeline bar to the start of a voiceover. Right click on the detached clip containing original audio and select “Split Clip”.  Move the timeline bar to the end of the voiceover and again right click on the detached clip containing original audio and select “Split Clip”.  Repeat for every voiceover.In each of the original audio clips coincident with your voiceover, adjust volume by clicking and dragging the thin horizontal line. You may perform this action on multiple clips simultaneously by shift / command clicking to select multiple clips and then adjusting the volume.

7. Add subtitles

At the extreme lower-left corner of the iMovie application window is a “Content Library” field. In this area, select “Titles”.  The upper-left “imported video library” will now show different text graphic options. For subtitles, choose among the “Lower Third” options. Move the mouse pointer left to right across each option to view how the title will appear on the screen.

Select and drag your chosen title “style” to the timeline pane to the desired place along the timeline.

In the upper-right “movie preview” pane, type over the placeholder text with dialogue matching the audio from your script for each line. Press enter and then change duration of subtitle display by placing the pointer over either end of the subtitle “box” which appears over the movie in the timeline. The pointer changes from the ordinary arrow to left and right arrows suggesting that you may select and drag to resize the subtitle duration.

8. Render the movie

Select “Share” and then select “File”.  Choose a small output size to make the resulting movie file size small enough to email if that is important, otherwise go with a larger size and save to a thumb drive, etc.  This file can be uploaded to Youtube or Google Drive, too.

Save your work in progress

iMovie saves your work when you close the application. Your work is stored in the iMovie Library. Because the lab machines are shared with others all using the same user account on the computer you should rename the iMovie library package, and because the computers are restored to a frozen image every time they are restarted you should move your iMovie library to the “Save Files Here” location on the desktop, otherwise your work will certainly be lost. In Finder, open the Movies location. In Movies find “iMovie Library”. Drag the icon to “Save Files Here” location. Rename “iMovie Library” so that it may be identified as your project. Note that you can save and send the iMovie project package any way you like, but you must have the package on the machine on which you want to resume your work. Thumb drives, Google Drive, etc., are too slow for iMovie.

Resume your work in iMovie

Open “Save Files Here” on the desktop of the machine where you saved your project earlier. Alternatively, copy your project from your storage medium of choice to the “Save Files Here” and then double click on your saved iMovie library package. iMovie will start and your project should appear as it was when you last “saved” your progress.(If your project doesn’t show in the timeline) In iMovie: On the left panel, under Libraries—(Your Project Name): Double click the “My Movie” icon to restart where you stopped earlier. Your work will be saved in the “Save Files Here” automatically.

Submit your work directly from iMovie to Youtube

Select the “Share” icon at the top of iMovie. Select “Youtube” and set the Privacy setting to “Private.” Sign in to your Youtube account with your credentials (same as OCMail). All Obies have a Youtube account, even if they didn’t already know about it. Provided you made your own dialogue, you have fair use to the clip. Select “Publish” to continue. iMovie will render and upload the completed movie. Progress is shown by the blue animation in the upper-right corner of the iMovie window. There may be some delay as Youtube processes your video before you may successfully  proceed with the next step. Start your favorite internet browser and log in with your OCMail credentials to . Select “My Channel” on the left-side panel and then “Videos.” Select your video and select “Info and Settings” In the field “+ Add names, circles, or email address” under “Private,” select “Oberlin College.’’  Click “Share” and then send the URL to your professor.

Submit your work to Google Drive or other storage medium

Select the “Share” icon at the top of the iMovie application window. Select “File” and choose the quality level as appropriate and then upload to Google Drive or thumb drive, etc., per your professors’ direction.