Testing out Apple’s iMovie 11

I had a few extra minutes (that’s a lie, it seems like I never have time anymore) and thought I’d give Apple’s iMovie 11 a try. Going on reviews, either iMovie 11 is “freaking amazing” or “Anything after iMovie 6 is absolute shit!”

I’ve been in the iMovie is awesome camp since iMovie 09 came out last year. Of course that probably has something to do with the fact that I never used iMovie 6 and that for the longest time, FinalCut Pro scared the living hell out of me. Not any more, now I lust for it, but still, iMovie 09 is pretty awesome considering what you get, for what price and at what skill-level is required to make great video.

So, yes, iMovie 11, what’s up? What’s new?

Better audio editing for voiceovers, music and audio from the video tracks. There are more and better sound effects, iMovie custom music tracks made especially for particular types of films, waveform editing and more. One of my favorite features is the ability to stretch out audio. Say you have a 1 minute clip of video, of which you must use every second, mixed with photos. You don’t want silence going on during your photo portions right? Either you put in a music bed or you spilt a video and audio track and copy the audio over. This works but is a little too obvious. With iMovie, you can just stretch the audio clip out and boom, great background audio for your photos! You can see that in the behind the scenes footage of a Drunk Driving public service announcement I’ve posted below.

The video was shot with my iPhone 4 with photos from my Nikon D700. I was capturing some behind the scenes stuff for the production crew making a drunk driving PSA. They were shooting with Red One Cinema cameras and then there I was with a freaking iPhone. Oh well. This video was really just a test of the audio features in iMovie, trying to get that NPR style.

There is also instant replay. Which is… instant replay. They add 12 special effects for these but nothing too crazy exciting. Well, except the “Jump Cut at Beat” effect. It’s basically the perfect effect for any garage band wanting to make a music video. Hmmm, garage bands… wonder if Apple makes a product for them. Oh yeah, GarageBand. How it works? Skips footage ahead to the beat of the music. Pretty fun effect.

Creepy, cool or revolutionary, you decide. The People Finder feature doesn’t really find or identify people like Faces does in iPhoto or Aperture, instead it does something that might actually be more helpful. It counts the number of people in a shot and can tell if the shot is a close up, wide shot or medium shot. Faces is already integrated into Aperture and iPhoto which are also integrated into iMovie so… best of both worlds? I’d wager so.

Themes. There are a lot of them. They are slick but also easily recognizable. Let’s leave it at that.

Distribution. This was surprising. Previously we had YouTube and MobileMe, now Apple has added Facebook, Vimeo and CNN iReport. The CNN integration is crazy. This is the future of journalism put into the hands of the people.

What is it they say?… Vox populi? This might be the biggest feature, if not the most under-represented.

But what feature will be the most overused of the bunch? Why the Trailer maker of course! In under 15 minutes I went through a gig or so of random footage and made a quick, mildly sardonic, trailer of my trip to Saudi Arabia last January.

I made this video to try out the trailers feature and to make some use of the video I shot last winter. It was incredibly easy, fast and surprisingly robust in features.

It’s easy, too easy really. I predict a flood of iMovie trailers flooding YouTube in 3…2…1…

Bottom line. iMovie 11 is solid, fast, surprisingly powerful and full of features, yet at a price that is honestly, laughably low. For $50 you get iLife 11 which includes a video editor that would otherwise be worth around $150, a photo library management software (iPhoto) that would be valued at around $50, a music creation and audio editing software suite easily worth $100-150 and iWeb (say $70), iDVD ($30) and this magical cohesion that brings them all together (priceless).

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