Falling Snow For iMovie Projects


With Christmas just two months away from today, I began working on a little holiday movie using Apple iMovie. In order to get that "falling snow" effect to portray the winter season, I needed a transparent snowfall movie to place in front of a number of stills and for an overlay on top of some live footage. I'm using iMovie version 9.0.4 which many people refer to as iMovie 11 but this is somewhat incorrect — iMovie 9 is included with iLife 11 which is where the version "11" confusion comes from.

I searched around the Internet for hours in an attempt to find a free falling snow movie but I was searching for one which contained an alpha channel for transparency. Other than royalty free video clips in all different price ranges with a variety of different licensing options, I couldn't find anything at all. SInce this is just a little home movie I'm working on for a web design client of ours, we didn't want to get the credit card out for something so subtle. You'd think that there would be hundreds of free movie effects like this all over the Internet but this wasn't the case for a simple, peaceful and serene little snowfall! Being a Final Cut Pro user, I ended up creating one myself using Apple Motion and after using it in the video, I decided to share it with everyone.

Here's a small animation of the video. In order to fit it onto this page, we had to use an animated gif since we couldn't see the snowflakes falling clearly enough after down-sizing the clip in a number of different formats:

Your snowfall will look similar to this (much smoother) without the black background when it is properly imported and then placed over top of your stills and videos

The full clip is a 72 MB, 1280 x 720 full HD QuickTime video with alpha transparency created at 23.98 frames per second. It's 10 seconds long with a total of 240 frames. You can import it into your movie project and loop it together or cut and paste portions of the clip in order to obtain whichever effect you're looking for. It's certainly no blizzard or snow storm — just a nice little video of falling snow and it's totally free. Download it and use it at your own leisure as many times as you wish with no credit or attribution required whatsoever:

This movie will more than likely work with other applications which are similar to iMovie but one very important note for iMovie users here. When you import the movie into your project using iMovie's File >> Import >> Movies... menu item, be sure that the Optimize Video checkbox is unchecked (see screenshot below) so that your imported movie retains the transparency. If you don't do this, your falling snow will be completely black. Once you've imported the movie, simply drag it to wherever you want it to go in your project area and choose Picture In Picture from the pop up menu which appears when you place the video into an existing clip.

We can't offer any technical support so if you need help with iMovie, check out Apple's excellent online tutorial. Note that this is actually an iLife 08 tutorial but almost all of it applies to iLife 11 as well (as we mentioned above, remember that iMovie 9 ships with iLife 11):

The finished video will be going on one of our client's websites around Christmas time. It's a bit too early to wish you a Merry Christmas so in the meantime, Happy Halloween. And enjoy the snow!

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