I shoot a lot of video and use my Mac to save the clips and edit into mini-movies for family, friends, and business. I use FinalCut Pro. And iMovie.
Both are good and have their place on a Mac. What about the new iMovie ‘08? Apple changed iMovie from the ground up. It’s better. It’s also worse.
My perspective comes from someone who’s used FinalCut Pro since early 2001, somewhere around version 1.2.5. The latest generation, FinalCut Studio is an awesome video and audio production suite.
For most people, FinalCut is overkill. Prior to the latest version, iLife’s iMovie was and is a very good, quick and dirty and somewhat simple to use video editing and production application. Seriously.
iMovie could do in minutes what FinalCut would do in hours. Add video clips, drag and drop to a timeline, add some extra audio, effects, transitions, and export the whole production.
FinalCut is more capable, but iMovie wasn’t shabby at all and seemingly rather easy to learn. At least, that’s what I thought. Apple, though, likes to Think Different.
iMovie ‘08, the latest version in iLife ‘08, is a huge change and something of a risk for Apple. If you’ve been reading the Mac sites or listening to friends who loved the old iMovie, you’d think Apple had a problem with iMovie ‘08.
Well, they do have a problem. But it won’t matter. Because the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
The new iMovie is not the old iMovie, so much so that installing the new iMovie doesn’t erase the old iMovie from your Mac. It’s obvious that Apple expected some surprise and disappointment.
The new iMovie is better in some ways, worse in others, when compared to the old iMovie. Gone is the wonderful timeline and time code from the old iMovie—two features which made it work well for semi-pros needing a quick and dirty video editing job.
New in the new iMovie is the Projects, Library, and Events sections, taking cues from iTunes and iMovie. These are wonderful additions to iMovie, and long over due.
So, why didn’t Apple just add those great new features to iMovie ‘06 and call it iMovie ‘08? That’s not how Apple works, is it? Someone at Apple figured out that the average Mac user was intimidated by iMovie’s editing and effects issues (not to mention bugs that lasted for years).
They also figured out that many new Mac users were not opting to use iMovie, despite it’s record as a stellar value in iLife. What to do? Apple started over.
The result is iMovie ‘08 and an editing process that’s actually easier, faster, simpler than the old iMovie—once you get over the shock and awe of the changes.
The skimming feature, where your mouse point rolls over clips in real time, is very handy and intuitive. Drag the mouse pointer across a clip and the editing process begins—much faster than in the old iMovie.
The yellow rubber-bed editing tool is very good, though not as precise as the old iMovie’s editing capability. It doesn’t matter. It’s close enough for the average Mac user, and that’s Apple’s target.
Select the part of a clip you want, drag it to the new timeline—which I don’t particularly like (I’m old, old school)—but which actually works OK. Dragging transitions, audio, photos, all works the same way. It’s easier.
I venture to say that creating a 10 minute mini-movie from the new iMovie can be about twice as fast for the average or new Mac iLife user than the older version of iMovie. As we say at Mac360, your mileage may vary.
Others, including bloggers and interviewees at PC World, have taken a longer look at iMovie ‘08 and realized that Apple is making a wholesale change in both the target of the user, and what the user needs to create a decent video in a hurry.
The result is the new iMovie ‘08. Better in many ways than the old iMovie. But some things are missing. There are no special effects. The transitions are limited. The old iMovie’s plugin effects and transitions don’t work on the new iMovie.
Even NYT’s David Pogue got it wrong about the new iMovie’s audio tracks. It’s actually an improvement in the new iMovie, even without the venerable timeline. You can add tracks of audio with ease, more than in the old iMovie, and each can be adjusted accordingly.
So, what is Apple really doing with this version of iMovie, dumbed down a bit, and aimed at new Mac users rather than the rest of us? As always, Apple is setting the stage.
Look for a price cut to FinalCut Express, a somewhat limited version of FinalCut Pro, though highly capable. If you were doing semi-pro work on iMovie, you should upgrade to FinalCut Express anyway. It’s better.
Something new. Aperture picks up where iPhoto ends. Logic Express and Logic pick up where Garageband ends. See the progression? Apple is catering to the masses with iMovie ‘08, but still gives the semi-pro in us a little migration room with the Express-type and Pro-type applications.
Of course, we pay more for the extra capability, but that’s the story of Apple from the beginning until now.
The last word on iMovie ‘08 isn’t even “it isn’t that bad.” It’s actually quite good, highly usable, especially for those without traditional video editing experience, even that from the old iMovie.