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High-definition video is everywhere. Every modern camcorder records at that resolution and even phones possess amazing lenses, such as the iPhone 4S. This means you’re never really without a camera – so you can end up recording even more footage. But there is a downside to this amazing quality: storage. Even the highly compressed videos taken with an iPhone take up more space than you’d think: 30 seconds from an iPhone 4 uses up a little over 40MB, whereas the same length on an iPhone 4S requires around 96MB due to its better resolution. Cameras shooting in AVCHD usually rake up 500MB for the same duration. At that rate, you don’t need to take a lot of video before you run out of room.
Thankfully, external storage is readily available, but you can’t just expand your iMovie collection onto multiple drives. Each event must be on a single drive. If you run out of room, you could create another event on a new drive and carry on from there, but this isn’t very elegant and can make it harder to find the shot you want. Thankfully, Apple’s engineers have thought of that and it’s possible to transfer both your events and your projects onto new drives from within iMovie, as we’ll show you in this tutorial.
There’s also an added advantage to storing your footage on a separate drive: with both your events and projects saved outside of your main computer, you’re actually free to edit anywhere. You could start cutting on a MacBook Air for instance, then sit at a more powerful Mac to work on the final touches. Alternatively, you could take your external drive with you and connect to your friend’s Mac to show them your progress.
You definitely have a lot more freedom when working with external media when your files aren’t locked into a single computer. If you decide to go down that path, there’s just one matter you need to be aware of: any music or photos you add to your project would usually come from either iTunes or iPhoto. Instead, you’ll have to add a copy of the relevant file to your external drive and drag them onto your project from there, in order to not be faced with missing media when you do connect to another Mac.