Using iMovie

If you prefer to use iMovie (it’s free for Mac users) for contributing to the blog, here’s how. Once your file is in a digital format, you can extract both clips and screenshots in iMovie. All of the clips will be stored in events and projects in iMovie regardless of whether or not you export the files for use elsewhere.

First, import the video into iMovie

  1. Create a new library in iMovie by going to File > Open Library > New from the main menu. Name the library and save.
  2. A new event should have been automatically created. To rename it, double-click on the name. (Since I’m doing a TV series, I named the event “eps” for episodes.)
  3. Once the event has been renamed, either select the option to “Import” into the new event or drag and drop the film into the box from the Finder.
  4. The screen should look something like this when the movie has finished importing.
  5. Select File > New Movie  from the top menu bar.
  6. The library should automatically be set to the one you’re working with.
  7. The screen should look like this with a blank timeline at the bottom.
  8. Select the filmstrip (or strips if it’s a TV show), then drag it down to the timeline.
  9. You can adjust the zoom of the filmstrip with the slider.
    You can scrub just by hovering over the filmstrip with your mouse.
  10. You’ll want to save the movie you just created as a project. To do this, select the Projects button in the top option bar.
  11. Be sure to name the project something clear that you’ll be able to quickly refer to as you start editing and scrubbing for interface footage. For example, since this project will be the master of all of the footage where I do all of the slicing, I’ll name it “eps cut”.

To slice the filmstrip…

Before you can extract video clips, you first need to slice the filmstrip.

  1. Click on the timeline where you want to slice and type Cmd+B. Continue to slice the beginning and end of each of your clips. All the way through the footage.
  2. When you’re done, it should look something like this.

To snag a screenshot…

To snag a screenshot, just click on the timeline to pick the frame. You’ll see a preview in the viewer. Then select Share > Image from the top menu bar and save as usual.


Then to organize all of those clips by tech…

Grouping all of your clips together by each piece of tech can be a real time saver when you need to refer back to all of the clips during your analysis.

For iMovie, this is where the process begins to fall apart. iMovie is great for assembling movies, but not necessarily for disassembling them like we do for the blog.

You’ll need to create a new project for each piece of tech under the library you created previously. The easiest way I’ve found to do this in the latest iteration of iMovie, is to…

  1. Go to the Projects view and duplicate the project with all the sliced footage by either using the contextual menu, or by selecting the project and using the keyboard shortcut Cmd+D.
  2. It will be automatically named, so rename it by tech type or interface. You can do this by either double-clicking on the project name, or selecting the option from the contextual menu.
  3. Double click on the new project thumbnail to open it, and delete all of the sliced clips that are not part of that specified tech.

    This is an odd way of doing it, but after Apple’s “improvements” to iMovie, the drag and drop feature doesn’t work the way it did before.
  4. Do this for each type of tech. In the end, your project library should look something like this.

And extract a clip for animated gifs…

This will be similar to how you organize the clips by tech. You’ll start by duplicating projects and deleting the clips you don’t want.

  1. Go to the Projects view and duplicate the project that has the clip you want to extract by either using the contextual menu, or by selecting the project and using the keyboard shortcut Cmd+D.
  2. Rename the project something that describes the clip. You can do this by either double-clicking on the project name, or selecting the option from the contextual menu.

    Since you can’t create subfolders to keep everything organized by type, it’s best to name the clips so that like stay together with like.
  3. Delete all of the slices you don’t want in the extracted clip.
  4. Export the clip by selecting Share > File from the top menu bar.
  5. In the settings window that pops up, select the quality settings you want to use. I usually pick no more than 720 for the quality. Anything bigger will create a ginormous file.
  6. The file will save as an mp4, so you’ll still need to take it into Photoshop or your preferred image editing tool for converting it to an animated gif.

And that’s it. If you know of better ways to use iMovie to organize your clips for contributing to the blog, feel free to let me know in the comments and I’ll update the article.

The Museum of One Film

Years ago in grad school I heard a speaker tell of a possibly-imaginary museum called the Museum of One Painting. In that telling, the museum was a long hall. The current One Painting (they were occasionally switched out) was hung at the far end from the entrance. As you walked the length of it, to your left you would see paintings and exhibits of the things that had influenced the One Painting. Then at the end you would spend time with the One Painting. On your way out, to your left you could see paintings and other artworks that were influenced by the One Painting.


Ah yes, I believe this was made during Henry Hillinick’s Robbie the Robot phase.
Hat tip to the awesome Matte Shot.

I loved this museum concept. It was about depth of understanding. It provided context. It focused visits on building a shared understanding that you could discuss with other visitors, even if they’d gone a week before you. My kind of art museum. I fell in love with this concept pretty hard and began to believe in the intervening decades that it was just a fable, constructed by wishful museum theorists.

Nope. Today I searched for it, and found it. It’s real. It’s housed in a small building in Penza, Russia. The reality is a little different than how I had it described (or, rather, how I wrote it to memory), and I think it’s only in Russian (mine is a pittance), and given recent politics I’m not sure I’d be welcome there; but its beautiful core concept is intact. A deep dive into a single painting at a time.


Just a quick 9-hour drive from Moscow.

The whole reason I bring this up on the blog is because the awesome American cinema chain Alamo Drafthouse is doing something like this, but for film. And not just any film, but for the upcoming Blade Runner 2049. Their Road to Nowhere series examines dystopian films that influenced or were influenced by Blade Runner. Some you probably know and love. (Metropolis! Logan’s Run! The Fifth Element!) Some I’d never heard of but now want to. (1990: The Bronx Warriors! Hardware! Prayer of the Rollerboys!)

Road to Nowhere.png

I try not to be a gushing fanboy for anything on this blog, but I gotta hand it to the Drafthouse for this. This is my kind of film nerdery. If I was to run a film series, it would be just like this, only with some sci-fi interface analysis and redesign meetups thrown in for good measure. Just thrilled that it’s happening, and there’s a Drafthouse near me in San Francisco. (Sorry if there’s not one near you, but maybe there’s something similar?)

Anyway, I was not paid by anyone to write this. Just…just happy and nerding out. Hope to see you there.

Back on

Apologies for the long absence from the blog. I’m working on a book, a white paper, some freelance work, a workshop, some presentations, working on that award idea, being a Dad, trying to edit more blog posts that guest writers have submitted, and having careful conversations with smart people about Next Things.

But, as mentioned previously, this blog is not forgotten. And, per some recent conversations (as well as getting excited about Civil War), I did have some content I wanted to get up to restart the content engine here.

Yes, I still intend to finish The Star Wars Holiday Special. Yes, I need to finish The Avengers. In the meantime, let me post these next super-meta thoughts about Why Study Sci-Fi Interfaces? Then I’ll try and get back to the regular stuff.


A little radio silence

Apologies for the brief radio silence, readers. I’ve moved on from my prior day-job employer, and between talking to folks about a next opportunity, working on a seekrit sci-fi interfaces project in the works, and preparing for some upcoming presentations, I’ve been very strapped for time. Wrapping up SWHS as soon as I’m able, and excited about some upcoming posts from two additional contributors. Stay tuned.

Welcome…to Jurassic Park

So…guess what opens up this week? That’s right, it’s Jurassic World, the fourth in the series of epic action dinoflicks that all began with the one that shares the name of the original novel by Michael Crichton: Jurassic Park. Well, since I haven’t yet figured out how to get my hands on screeners of the new pics, we’re going to review the original movie and all of it’s Dawn-of-the-Internet glory. And yes, even that interface.


And looking at the trailer for Jurassic World, it looks like there will be plenty of interfaces to review when it finally comes out to be reviewed.


And Marvel fans can relax, I’ll still be publishing the ongoing reviews of The Avengers. It’s going to be a busy week here on the blog, but at least it culminates with giant dinosaurs and deadly, deadly museum kiosk interfaces. See you in the cinema.