IMovie is mostly a 'canned' software, I am limited to presets for the most part. I understand that there are a few workarounds to adding custom effects (creating 2d video with green background, or images with opacity etc.); however, I would like to create custom transitions/titles/filters that are recognized by iMovie and treated the same as built-in effects. I am exploring a few options:

Option A: design & import There might be a way to import my designs to iMovie in a way that I am currently unaware of. If such options exist, please let me know what file type I need to do such.

Essentially, I want to see if iMovie can function like Final Cut Pro does with Motion 5 as I am working on a budget and can't spend money for this function.

  • I'm going to edit out the programming portion of this. Stack Overflow is where you would ask about programming your own plug in or modifying the code in iMovie. Also - I'm going to edit the requirements. We're not about shopping - so it's fine for you to prefer a solution that's not paid - but if other people can find out that they simply buy Motion, make their transition and then copy the files from where motion stores them for Final Cut Pro and then iMovie can read them - that's still a legitimate answer to your question despite your not preferring it. Cheers and welcome to Ask Different
    – bmike
    Jul 16, 2016 at 18:53
  • Also - if Apple has publicly posted the video explaining how plug in work - you might get a good answer on that with more detail than my overview of where the stock PlugIn files are stored.
    – bmike
    Jul 16, 2016 at 18:59

1 Answer 1


Your best bet is reverse engineering the existing Transitions if you investment in time costs less than the $50 for Motion which is the official tool for making custom transition effects.

Look in /Applications/iMovie.app/Contents/PlugIns/MediaProviders/MotionEffect.fxp/Contents/Resources/Templates.localized/Transitions.localized and the transition file is simply an xml file with the .motr file extension:

$ head Pan\ Down\ Slow.motr 
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE ozxmlscene>
<ozml version="5.5">


<factory id="1" uuid="046e7c74fd734809885d35e99ac9eeb2">

Also, you could hire someone that has paid for Motion to make a trivial transition and test that it works for your needs. That wouldn't help if your true goal is to engineer how it works and understand the tool, though.

  • Thank you. To be honest, I am not against motion. But I am taking a video production class this year, and I don't want to purchase something that might be provided. Regarding the xml files: can you give me any links/references about manually writing the .motr file type?
    – Michael
    Jul 16, 2016 at 19:20
  • I use vi to write xml files, by you could use Xcode or text edit. I haven't reverse engineered the details but the tags are in English so if you printed one out and got a pencil and hilighter, you might be able to identify what the important sections do, @MichaelAustin
    – bmike
    Jul 16, 2016 at 20:01

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