iLife ‘08 sold out within hours of debuting at the local Apple Store, and for good reason.
Apple’s loaded the $79 suite with applications, each of which are worth the price of the upgrade.
There wasn’t much wrong with iMovie ‘06, so why did Apple scrap the old version and build a new iMovie from the ground up? Nothing improves without change.
iMovie, more than any application in the iLife suite, is loaded with change. Gone is the simple drag and drop timeline. In is a new interface that’s actually easier to use, though a bit cumbersome when changing from the old iMovie.
Besides the interface, the biggest change is that iMovie is now the tool of choice to store all of your video clips. Think of it as iPhoto for movies. Clips can be arranged just like digital photos in iPhoto.
While Apple evolved iPhoto ‘07 to include Events as an important feature, iMovie becomes the center for video storage and editing with its own Events feature.
When bringing in video (or updating video already captured in iMovie), the new Events function automatically groups video clips based on the day it was shot. Individual video clips can be labeled so they’re easier to find later.
Clips can be marked as favorites, too, which is handy when searching for specific scenes to incorporate into a movie or for export to iDVD.
This isn’t your father’s iMovie. Format problems are a thing of the past, as iMovie can bring in video from nearly anything—including the hot selling AVCHD video cameras. iMovie doesn’t care much about the source and handles flash based cameras as well as hard drive cameras as well as the standard miniDV cams.
Leave it to Apple to come up with a new feature that shows up not only in iMovie, but in Web Gallery and iPhoto. Skimming is the new buzz word. Drag your mouse pointer across a video clip and the clip runs, faster than real time, if needed.
Just as cool is how iMovie displays a clip. It’s not just the video from the first frame. Think of it as a stretched video clip, with all parts of the scene laid out as film strip. That’s sweet and makes finding video elements much faster and more intuitive.
It’s hard to believe there was that much wrong with the old iMovie that it needed a complete rewrite, but the effort appears worth it. iMovie is worth the price of admission to iLife, which, in itself is a steal at $79.
One thing I had a little trouble adjusting to was the lack of the standard iMovie timeline—drop in video clips, drop in audio, add transitions, and so on. The functions are still there but require less effort to build. The timeline becomes the project area and you have full access to all the video clips you’ve recorded, not just the most recent.
Transitions and titles are drop ins, too, so there’s not much savings there from the old iMovie, but the editing is done in place on screen, rather than in a framework. What’s also cool is the ability to drag and drop clips, then re-arrange them similar to the slide show in iPhoto.
That’s the basics. Making a movie look more professional is easier in iMovie ‘08, too. Photos from iPhoto drop in easier and you can add zoom and pans and motion much better than the old Ken Burns effect.
Nearly everything is real time in iMovie, including color manipulation, with sliders for saturation, contrast, and more.
Audio controls are no longer stuck in the timeline. They’re in floating palettes which you can move anywhere on the screen.
Taking a cue from the old Garageband, iMovie does voice over capability with enhancement effects and noise reduction, so you can narrate your videos and keep the soundtrack at a lower volume in the background.
Integration and sharing is key to Apple’s current product line with the Mac as the digital hub which produces content that can be used anywhere—and I mean anywhere. Videos can be exported to QuickTime movies, to YouTube, to the iPhone, to the iPod, to AppleTV, and to .Mac’s web gallery.
Yes, you can send video to iDVD, which is quickly becoming yesterday’s technology.
Apple didn’t surprise with the new iMac line, didn’t say much of anything about the Mac mini getting Core 2 Duo CPUs, but did surprise with iMovie, and the complete integration within and without of the ‘08 suite.
I’m hard pressed to find anything remotely resembling iMovie, at a comparable price, in the PC world. iMove alone is worth more than the cost of admission to iLife ‘08. Everything else is just icing on the cake.