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iLife '04: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

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Transitions: The iMovie Catalog

Here, for your reference, is a quick list of the built-in transitions, and what editing circumstances might call for it. In each example, “first clip” refers to the clip that comes before the transition, and “second clip” is the clip that follows.

Circle Closing

This effect, called iris close or iris in in professional editing programs, is a holdover from the silent film days, when, in the days before zoom lenses, directors used the effect to highlight a detail in a scene.

It creates an ever-closing circle with the first clip inside and the second clip outside. It’s useful at the end of the movie, when the second clip is solid black and the subject of the first clip is centered in the frame. In that setup, the movie ends with an ever-shrinking picture that fades away to a little dot. (If the subject in the center waves goodbye just before being blinked out of view, this trick is especially effective.)

Circle Opening

This effect is much like Circle Closing, except it’s been turned inside out. Now the circle grows from the center of the first clip, with the second clip playing inside it, and expands until it fills the frame. (This effect is also called iris open or iris out.)

Cross Dissolve

The crossfade, or dissolve, is the world’s most popular and effective transition. The first clip gradually disappears, superimposed on the beginning of the second clip, which fades in. If you must use a transition at all, you can’t go wrong with this one.

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