Thu, 12 Feb 2009 iMovie ’09 review
Apple’s new video editor surpasses all previous versions
- Manufacturer: Apple
- Pros: Image stabilization; better editing control with Precision Editor; return of long-lost iMovie HD features like slow motion and iDVD integration; archiving of tapeless source video without transcoding; ability to store project files on external drives; lots of new features such as picture-in-picture, green screen, motion maps, and themes/
- Cons: Still no precise audio editing; no support for writing back to tape; no third party plug-in support; single-field processing for interlaced video.
- Min specs: Mac OS X v10.5.6 Leopard or later, Mac computer with an Intel, PowerPC G5, or PowerPC G4 (867MHz or faster) processor, iMovie requires an Intel-based Mac, Power Mac G5 (dual 2.0GHz or faster), or iMac G5 (1.9GHz or faster), GarageBand Learn to Play requires an Intel-based Mac with a dual-core processor or better; 512MB of RAM; 1GB recommended. High-definition video requires at least 1GB of RAM; 4GB of available disk space.
- Price: £69.00, free with new Macs.
- Star rating:
Let’s get this out of the way up front: iMovie ’09 is the version Apple should have shipped when it decided a year and a half ago to start from scratch and build a new video editor for iLife.
Instead, the company released iMovie ’08, a rough draft of what Apple believed a consumer video editor should be. It offered several welcome feature improvements, especially for people new to video editing who were looking for an iPhoto-for-movies application.
However, for users who were already familiar with previous versions of iMovie, those advances were easily overshadowed by its disparity from the mature iMovie HD 6.
iMovie ’08 not only looked different - throwing away the traditional idea of a timeline running off the bottom of the screen, for instance - but it also lacked many features that had slowly filled out iMovie HD’s generous stable over the years.
A few of those capabilities have returned. iMovie ’09 can now slow down or speed up clips; export directly to iDVD with support for chapter markers; easily extract audio from video clips for editing separately; and provide a way to make cutaway shots (formerly known as the awkward Paste Over at Playhead command).
Themes have also reappeared, and are better implemented than in iMovie HD.
Other features, alas, are still missing. Precise audio editing is still hampered by the inability to control volume levels within a clip. (You can chop the clip into lots of pieces and set the volume for each one, a technique we did away with when iMovie 3 came along; Apple believes this style of audio editing is too advanced for average users.)
There’s no capability to write video back to tape in a MiniDV camera; tape is yesterday’s technology, so why support it? I’m guessing a significant number of people who own perfectly functional DV camcorders can offer reasons. And so far, third-party plug-in support remains a fond recollection of years past.
iMovie ’09 didn’t just move mostly up to par with iMovie HD, however. Apple has crammed enough new features and thoughtful improvements into this version that you might think they’d rebuilt iMovie from scratch again.