Apple iLife 08
- In iPhoto, Events organises photos for you; GarageBand gives you the ability to record multiple takes within a specific marked section of a song; iWeb '08 has the ability to add 'widgets' to your Web pages; iWeb '08 is both versatile and impressively easy to use
- iMovie looks more crowded and complicated than before; iMovie isn't user-friendly; there is nothing genuinely new about iDVD
On the whole, we have very few criticisms of iLife. As ever, it represents superb value for money and the new versions of iPhoto, GarageBand and even iWeb are impressive (barring a few iWeb glitches of which you need to be aware). Even the minor upgrade to iDVD is worth having. iMovie '08, however, sticks out like a sore thumb. It may indeed offer a new approach to video-editing, but that doesn't alter the fact that -- in its current form, at least -- it simply isn't ready to act as a replacement for iMovie '06. Hopefully future iterations of this program will bring it up to scratch -- and at least it doesn't erase the old version when you install it.
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Going to the movies
"This one's really interesting..." said Steve Jobs when he introduced iMovie '08. "What happened is that one of Apple's video engineers went on holiday and when he returned home he decided that he wanted to knock up a holiday movie in just half an hour or so. After a few hours of working with the previous version of iMovie he decided it simply couldn't be done. So he wrote an entirely new program that offered a completely new way of editing video."
Well, there's nothing wrong with that, but it does mean that instead of iMovie '08, what we've got here is more like NewMovie 1.0 -- and like any 1.0 product it has a few rough edges. More than a few, in fact.
The first thing you'll notice is that the interface actually looks more crowded and complicated than before, with the workspace divided into about half a dozen different panels rather than the three simple panels of previous versions. The Timeline panel has been replaced by a new Library panel that -- like the Library in the new iPhoto -- allows you to view all the video clips on your Mac at once, and also to organise them into 'Events'.
The most impressive feature here is the ability to 'scrub' through individual clips -- just glide the mouse across any clip and you can instantly preview the entire clip to locate the scene you want. And, rather than laboriously trimming individual clips in the Monitor window, you can now just click-and-drag on a clip to quickly select a specific section of the clip. Once that's done you simply drag your selected clips up into the Project panel, which acts as a kind of Storyboard where you organise clips into the required sequence.
These particular new features do work well, but in other ways the new iMovie actually feels quite clumsy. We spent ages trying to figure out how to simply select a single clip in its entirety (it turns out there's an option for this tucked away in the program's Preferences panel). We were also frustrated by the inability to quickly select multiple clips simply by using C-Click.
The lack of the traditional iMovie Timeline makes it harder to zoom in on specific editing points, or to edit elements such as the audio waveform track, and the number of transitions and special effects available is really quite paltry. No wonder the Internet forums are buzzing with complaints from iMovie users who see this as a 'downgrade'.
To be fair, features such as the scrubbing preview and click-and-drag trimming are genuinely innovative. Yet we can't help thinking that Apple has thrown the baby out with the bathwater by abandoning many of the features that made the original iMovie so easy to use.
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