Create Opening Titles in iMovie
Start by exporting your core slideshow from iPhoto to QuickTime. (Highlight the album that contains the frames for your slideshow, click the Share button, then click on Export, then select the QuickTime tab.) At this point you don't need to export the music with the slides, even though I usually include it so I have a feel for the raw presentation. You'll actually end up adding a different sound track later in this process.
Here's where iMovie comes in handy for this project: to build your opening title for the slideshow you created in iPhoto and exported to QuickTime. Open iMovie and create a new project. Then build your opening title using the Titles palette. This is an amazing tool. Even though you can create just about any opening sequence possible using Titles in iMovie, keep it simple for now.
Once you have an opening that you like, you need to render it by dragging it from the Titles work area to the Clip Viewer bar at the bottom of the iMovie interface. iMovie will now take a few seconds to build your opening sequence.
Export your sequence by choosing File -> Export Movie. Then select To QuickTime, and choose Expert in the Format drop down menu. Here's where you set a few parameters such as dimensions, compression, and frame rate. Make sure your sequence has the same dimensions as the core slideshow you created in iPhoto, usually 640 x 480 or 320 x 240. Photo Jpeg is a good compression setting, and a 12 or 15 fps will do for frame rate. Click OK, then Export. You now have a QuickTime opening sequence for your iPhoto slideshow.
This is where you need QuickTime Pro to stitch them together. You're going to select the entire contents of your core slideshow (exported from iPhoto), copy it, then add it to the opening sequence you created in iMovie, then exported to QuickTime.
Click on the core slideshow then grab its content by choosing "Select All," then "Copy." Now click on the opening sequence movie and select "Add." QuickTime will add the core slideshow to where ever you have the playback indicator positioned. In this case it should be at the end of the clip. Now you have a slideshow with an opening sequence.
You can create as many sequences as you want in iMovie and add them to your QuickTime presentations. I usually stick with opening and closing titles, but I'm not limited to them.
Fine Tune Your Music Track
Once you have all of your image sequences stitched together, it's time to add the soundtrack. You probably want to clean out any existing sound tracks in your presentation. This is easy in QuickTime Pro. Go to Edit and select Delete Tracks. You'll see a number of video tracks (don't touch those!) and a couple sound tracks. Delete all of the sound tracks.
Note the length of your movie. Hopefully it's not longer than a couple minutes. Now open iMovie again and select Import File from the File menu. Navigate to your Music folder where iTunes keeps all of your audio assets. If you've been conscientious about filing out your song records, then you'll see a list of folders by artist, with their respective albums inside. But it gets even better. Open the album folder, and you'll see all of the MP3 files with the song titles as the file names. Sweet.
Import the song you want to use for your presentation into iMovie where it will be placed on the audio portion of the Clip Viewer. Move the endpoints of the track so it is the same length (or a tad shorter) than your slide show. (For example, if your slideshow is 2 minutes long, then you might move the audio end points to create a music track that is 1 minute, 55 seconds in length.) Then, check the Fade In and Fade Out boxes so your music doesn't begin and end abruptly. Fade out is especially important and worth using iMovie just for that function.
Now export your edited music track to QuickTime just like you did your title clip. I usually choose "no compression" for my music unless I plan on serving it on the Web.
When you open the music track in QuickTime, you'll see that it also has an unnecessary Video track. Use Delete Tracks to get rid of it, then Select All, Copy, and Add to your slideshow. Now you have a custom sound track that is the perfect length for your show and fades at the end.
If you want, you can add many soundtracks at various points throughout your presentation. And for that matter, voice over too.
Pulling It All Together
Once you have your presentation the way you want it, save as a Self Contained movie. This will put all of your parts in one container that you can play off your hard drive, burn on to CD, or attach to mail (if it's not too big!). You can serve it on the Web too, but there are some issues involved such as compression (to reduce download times) and authorization for the music (which is another article all together). You can bypass these issues for now by sharing your presentations in person.
Of course there are many ways to refine your presentation, but even with these few simple techniques outlined today, you can see how well the iApps work together, and what great potential they have as a harmonious group.
As you discover creative applications for these tools, please share them in the TalkBacks below. In the meantime, be detailed with your data management in iTunes and iPhoto so you always have your prized raw material at your fingertips.
Derrick Story is the author of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, The Digital Photography Companion, and Digital Photography Hacks, and coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, with David Pogue. You can follow him on Twitter or visit www.thedigitalstory.com.
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