Apple has upgraded its iMovie consumer digital-video editing software. iMovie 2 features a refined user interface with Mac OS X-like Aqua design elements; dramatically improved audio-editing capabilities; enhanced controls for titling and transitions; and powerful new special effects. iMovie 2 is bundled on all FireWire-enabled Macs, including the new iMac, Power Mac G4 Cube and Power Mac G4 systems.

"Since its release last October, Apple’s amazing iMovie software has been an immediate hit with our customers worldwide, ushering in the era of desktop movies," said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, during his keynote speech at Macworld Expo New York. "iMovie 2 makes it even easier for consumers to create professional-quality desktop movies right on their Mac and share them with friends, family and classmates," he added.

New-look video iMovie 2 features a richer, more-intuitive user interface that provides visual feedback during the editing process so beginners can create Hollywood style movies complete with voice-overs, musical scores, transitions, titles and credits.

An added effects panel allows users to change the characteristics of their video clips so they can, for example, make them look like old films using a sepia tone or black-&-white, give them a soft focus or a water ripple effect.

New and improved capabilities give users more control over audio in the editing process. With iMovie 2, users can, for example, now overlay one or more secondary video clips over a primary video clip, while preserving the continuous audio track from the primary clip.

With iMovie, users can import video from a digital video camcorder directly into their FireWire-enabled iMac DV, iMac DV+, iMac DV Special Edition, Power Mac G4 Cube, Power Mac G4 or PowerBook. They can then rearrange clips and add special effects like cross dissolves and scrolling titles.

Finished iMovies can be: stored on the computer; transferred back to a camcorder for viewing on a standard TV or VHS videotape; or shared with friends and family via a personal Web site built using Apple’s new, improved HomePage iTool.

Free for new users iMovie 2 is preinstalled on Apple’s new iMac DV, Power Mac G4 Cube and Power Mac G4 systems. iMovie 2 will also be available through the Apple Store at the end of August for US$49. No UK pricing has been announced yet.

Minimum iMovie 2 system requirements include 300MHz PowerPC G3 processor or later, built-in FireWire port, 64MB of memory, 200MB of available hard-disk space, Mac OS 9.0.4 or later, QuickTime 4.1 or later, and a monitor that supports at least 800-x-600-pixel resolutions and thousands of colours.