To support CMB members during COVID, we are gathering resources in digital technologies that might be of particular use to our CMB members. 

This post focuses on editing videotaped presentations in iMovie. We have also created a new page on the FPR website as a depository for your suggestions.

Editing Your Video Lectures in iMovie

We have a lot of video of talks from CMB members FPR conferences and the 2018 and 2019 FPR-McGill Social and Cultural Neuroscience Workshops. In case any of this material is useful, we are posting an iMovie primer.

If you have other resources you’d like to share, please email me at email hidden; JavaScript is required

BUY AN EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE AND AN EXTERNAL MICROPHONE: The talks we filmed are measured in gigabytes, so the “How to” primer (see below) suggests that you purchase an external hard drive rather than use up space on your internal drive as well as an external microphone for your voiceovers. It is also suggested that you organize your folders (Footage, Images, Logo, Music).

Selecting an external microphone
Helpful resources
  1. READ this PennState primer:; Emory Center for Digital Scholarship provides links to several guides, including iMovie.
  2. WATCH “How to use iMovie – 2020 Beginner’s Guide” at;
  3. LEARN about more tips:

Getting started

  • Click on the plus sign and choose Create iMovie.
  • Press Import media to import the video (as well as figures, logos, etc.)  to the media panel (top left panel). The video also appears in the viewer panel (top right panel).
  • NB: clicking on the video in the media panel allows you to view length and quickly scan its contents. You can also select an inpoint and outpoint in the video by pressing I/O; then press E to send the clip you’ve created to the timeline (bottom panel). Otherwise, you can drag and drop the whole video into your timeline.
  • When you move your curser inside the timeline, the white vertical line that appears is the playhead, which indicates your position within the video.
  • Select the scroll bar at the very bottom of the timeline to scroll back and forth.
  • Press the spacebar to start and stop the video, which appears in the viewer.
  • You can fastforward or reverse on the timeline by pressing or J. 

 Splitting up your video into clips

  • You can use Command + B to split your video into clips. You can also use it to separate out and delete a section of the video you don’t want by splitting before and after the unwanted section. The immediately preceding clip seamlessly joins to the clip that follows the cut (“ripple delete,” which results in a straight cut).
  • The drag and drop function allows you to change the order of clips.
  • NB: You can trim clips by using right/left arrows at its inpoint or endpoint.
  • Selecting “Settings” (upper right in timeline) allows you to change theme, clip size, etc.
  • The scroll bar just to the left of Settings (or Command + / Command –) changes the size of the clips. Moving the scroll bar to the far left, for example, shows the entire video in a single screen in the timeline.

Adding figures

  • If you want to focus on a figure, rather than use freeze frame/detach audio, You can either import a new figure into your media panel, or put the video in the viewer panel into full-screen mode, take a screenshot from the video (Shift + Command + 4) and import it to your media panel.
  • Drag the figure down to the timeline so it rests on top of the point in the video where you want to insert it and use arrows at the inpoint or endpoint of the figure to extend the duration over the video you want to replace.

Adding transitions

  • You may want to add a transition between two clips, e.g., a speaker and a figure or text. Select “Transitions” from the horizontal menu above the media panel. The best transitions to use are (1) Cross Dissolve, (2) Cross Blur, (3) Fade to Black and (4)  Fade to White.
  • Double click on the inserted transition in the timeline to change the duration of the transition. 

Adding text

  • Some of our videos are quite long. It might be helpful to summarize certain sections with a paragraph of text as a slate between clips.
  • Select “Titles” from the horizontal menu above the media panel. Select “Standard” text and drag and drop it into the timeline at the transition point between two clips. (By default “Titles” uses a white font against a black background).
  • In the viewer panel, double click inside the text box to insert your text. You can also change font size, color, etc. using the text feature menu above the viewer.
  • You can also drag and drop a title to appear on top of the video or in front of a background in the timeline and adjust duration using the left/right arrows.
  • Select “Background” from the horizontal menu above the media panel and drag and drop it into your timeline between clips.
  • Select “Titles” from the horizontal menu above the media panel. Select “Standard” text and drag and drop it above the background in the timeline (or above the video clip).


  • Select the microphone icon at the bottom left of the viewer panel.
  • Approve access to microphone.
  • Select red button bottom middle of viewer panel to record.
  • It’s preferable to use an external microphone to ensure sound quality.

Exporting finished product

  • Click export icon (the up arrow) in upper right corner of screen. It is recommended to export as a file to your hardrive.
  • For export to your external hard drive, select 1080p resolution and High quality.

Exporting to YouTube

  • In general, recommendations for resolution are: For SD 4:3 video, use a resolution of 640×480. For SD 16:9 widescreen video use 854×480, and for HD video use either 1280×720 or 1920×1080.\
  • We suggest watching this video on best export settings from iMovie: