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What You Get

A DVD with the whole iLIfe suite. Numerous templates. A good electronic help section. Apple's web site there are also several excellent tutorials.

System Requirements

  • Mac computer with an Intel processor.
  • 1GB of RAM.
  • Approximately 5GB of available disk space.
  • DVD drive required for installation.
  • Display with at least 1280-by-768-pixel resolution.
  • Mac OS X v10.6.3 or later.
  • AVCHD video from supported video cameras requires a Mac with an Intel Core Duo processor or better.
  • Burning DVDs requires an Apple SuperDrive or compatible third-party DVD burner.

iLife 11: iMovie

By Monte Ferguson

iMovie 11 has a mixture of features with this release. They range from really cool to pretty slick. It is obvious that iPhoto gets the most attention, and the most features. But that doesn't mean iMovie is taking a backseat to iPhoto. Like iPhoto many of the changes and updates involve existing features. Also, like iPhoto, these improvements really beef up the existing feature set and make things work better.

The single biggest enhancement, and the most useful, is to audio editing in iMovie. You now have detailed audio waveforms for all of your clips. They are even color coded. You can adjust the level, think volume, by dragging on a slider control. Shortening, or extending, fades by dragging on the fade edges. Your waveforms will update immediately. This allows you to have hands on control and hear , and see, your changes in real time. You an also elect to adjust audio levels for part of a clip. The new audio controls extend to sound effects, voiceover, and music.

One pretty slick feature is called Movie Trailers. You pick a theme, from among 15 choices. It has all kinds of very professional cut scenes, opening graphics, music (played by the London Symphony Orchestra!), credits etc included in the theme. You then pick video clips and drop them into pre-defined drop zones. iMovie, using face detection technology brought over from iPhoto, can help you winnow out clips that fit the needed scenes in the trailer. It has Outline, Storyboard, and Shot List tabs in which you specify the titles and credits that appear in the trailer, as well as the shots and kinds of shots that make up each part of the trailer. The program trims your clips to fit and adds transitions, titles, and special effects. It is fun and makes the process a breeze to complete in about 30-40 min. Ready to be exported out to YouTube or some such.

A couple of new themes, Sports & News, look very promising. You can be skeptical about calling this a new feature. I know I was until I saw a demonstration. This is more than just a cute background and a few nice animated touches and transitions. The idea is that these themes turn your video into broadcast news segments. They come with sophisticated graphics and sleek transitions, complimented by your own hard hitting titles. When youíre done with the News themed story you can export it directly out of iMovie to CNN iReport. The sports theme , besides coming with animated titles like game score and stats, also includes a Sports Team Editor. It integrates your own players photos, rosters, statistics, and team logos into your movie. The end result looks like a local news cast segment. It is really cool.

There are a number of new effects. Apple calls them One-Step Effects. So named because you pretty much just add it to a clip or segment and it is live. No need to render. You can choose from slow motion, sped up video, instant replays, as well as add jump cuts and flip effects perfectly timed to music, as well as several others.

Once you have created your movie, the next challenge is sharing it with others. Apple has made that easier with each release. This update is no different. You even have more options on how to save out your movie. Your export options are: iTunes, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, CNN iReport, or Apple Podcast Producer. You can choose to save out to more than one destination at a time.

Pros
There is no doubt that iMovie '11 is an improvement over its predecessor. The program is more responsive. Yet it packs more features. Welcome features from the past, like the timeline viewer, make a reappearance. The major update to audio updates is a very useful tool. The real time effects, ok One-Step Effects, are just amazing. You just apply the effect and watch the video in real time. No need to wait for it to render out in the background. A useful feature that was brought over from iPhoto is dubbed People Finder. It is the face recognition engine in iMovie. What is unique about the iMovie implementation is that it scans clips for: the parts with people in them and tells you how many are in each scene. It also finds the close-ups, medium shots, or wide angles so it's easy to grab video clips as you need them.

Cons
There really is not much to nitpick in iMovie'11. That is if you get along with the interface choices. If you can't you'll need to get a different program. There is no way to modify the features, or interface of iMovie. There are no plug ins or addons. If you use a camera that shoots AVCHD video you're still out of luck. iMovie can't handle that video format natively, still. Any preprocessing work, like motion stabilization, still takes forever. Speaking of forever, transcoding video also takes a good long time.

Conclusion
It would be easy to say that there is not much to this update. Sure, it's lacking in big and showy new capabilities. What it does excel at is an improvement across the board. Almost all of the existing features are more powerful, or work more smoothly. If you were expecting a radically different program you will be disappointed. Although the sheer number of features may not rival iPhotos, there is a lot of depth to them. You'll have a lot of fun, and come up with some great results. I for one canít wait to sit down and play with this release of iMovie.

Posted: Saturday, May 7th, 2011


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