Syncing media to music in iMovie 11

Today we’re going to show you an easy way to sync your media to music in iMovie ‘11. This can be a great tool for photo slideshows and you can even incorporate video as well.

The first step is to open iMovie ‘11. Just go ahead and create a New Project with no theme as we’ll be doing most of the editing ourselves.

Next you’ll want to find the music you want for your video. Remember that if you’re trying to sync with the beats of the song, it’s best to choose a song with a relatively easy pattern to follow. For this tutorial, I was ambitious and chose “Moth’s Wings” by Passion Pit from my iTunes library (accessible via the right pane). Simply drag the song of your choice to the project pane.

Now that you have the music, it’s time to set up the beat markers. You’ll want to hover over your music file and click on the tiny gear to select Clip Trimmer. This will bring up a waveform display of your audio file.



Now that you have the Clip Trimmer open for your file, you’ll want to add the beat markers. This can be done in a number of ways. One way is to bring the scrubber to the point in the song where a marker should go and right-click to Add Beat Marker. However, if you have a lot to add this can be time consuming. Another way to add beat markers is to drag and drop the beat markers from the toolbar on the top right (the small note icon).








But if you have a sense of rhythm, the most fun way is to add the beats on the fly as the song is playing. This is where it really makes sense to choose either a song you know really well and/or one whose beats are distinctive. In order to add beats as the song plays, simply press the “m” key on your keyboard.




After you’ve done this part, you’re ready to add your media. I used photos in this tutorial but video should work the same way (video clips that are longer than the time between beats will be trimmed to fit). Simply drag the photos to your project pane and  iMovie will automatically sync your photos to the beat markers as long as View -> Snap to Beats is checked. As you can see the beats are marked by a grey dot along the waveform of your project audio. If at any time you no don’t want media to snap to the beats, just uncheck this option.


Now it’s time to add some neat transitions and get your project to the public! I used the first couple of beat markers as reference points for the title screens. After you finish your project you can export to a number of file formats by using Share. It’s as simple as that! I’ve included my file below so you can check it out.

(Update: actually has a wonderful tutorial on editing to the beat that can be accessed via the link above. Look for iMovie ‘11 Essential Training: Section 7).


This entry was posted in iMovie, Tutorial, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

One Comment

  1. Michael Gauthier
    Posted March 17, 2012 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Thanks a lot for the tutorial!

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

  • What is the MPS?

    The Multimedia Project Studios are a series of high-end computer labs located at Duke University. We feature cutting edge equipment and industry standard software and are staffed by a corps of student Multimedia Consultants who are available to help you out with your project on a one-on-one basis, but are not able to do production work on your behalf.
    MPS Lab Locations & Hours
    MPS East
    115 Lilly Library
    The MPS in Lilly is open whenever the library is open. Check their site for hours, which can change during holidays and academic breaks.

    MPS West
    006 Bostock
    The MPS in Bostock is open whenever the library is open. Check their site for hours, which can change during holidays and academic breaks.

    Staffed Hours for Both Locations

    Winter, summer, and other break hours will vary, according to student consultant availability. To check consultants' availability, view our Live Schedule.

    Sunday - Thursday: noon to midnight
    Friday: noon to six
    Be sure to check our Live Schedule to see who will be on staff and our staff page to meet our talented consultants.