iLife '08, iMovie for Free, and Watch those Tutorials!

Posted Thursday, August 09, 2007

Yes, iLife '08 is here! That guy in the blue jeans and black T-shirt introduced it, along with the slimmer, swifter iMacs, on Tuesday.

"So, Jim," you say, "where's the detailed First Look booklet that you've done in years past?"

Not this time, my iLife-loving friends.

I have indeed been working with the new iLife for some time now, but not to produce a booklet. This time around, I helped Apple develop the video tutorials that you'll find on the iLife web site.

So go and watch them! They'll give you a great overview of what iLife '08 can do.

iMovie New and Old
There's so much to love in the new iLife. iPhoto '08 brings a huge array of improvements. iWeb '08 addresses many of the most common things people have been asking for, and adds some great goodies, such as web widgets for adding YouTube movies, Google AdSense ads, and Google Maps. GarageBand '08 is more musical than ever, with the ability to record multiple takes of a performance and great new automation features. (And Magic GarageBand is more fun than trashing a hotel room after a concert.) And iDVD provides better video quality, lovely new design themes, and many user interface enhancements.

And then there's iMovie.

The new iMovie '08 couldn't be more different from its predecessor: a completely new look and feel, and a wonderfully responsive interface that makes throwing together movies easier than ever. I love the new interface, I'm crazy about the way the Ken Burns effect works in iMovie '08, and the new video adjustments provide a degree of control over color and exposure that previous iMovie versions couldn't touch.

But there are some things iMovie '08 can't do. It lacks a true timeline, and provides no bookmark features for precisely timing edits to music or narration. Nor does iMovie '08 let you add DVD chapter markers to specific spots in a movie, such as the beginning of each major scene (each day in your vacation, for example). And iMovie '08 lacks the glitzy motion-graphics themes that the previous version provided.

I suspect many people won't miss these features. If what you want to do is quickly assemble scenes into a polished-looking movie, iMovie '08 will do the job and do it with a simplicity and an elegance that the old iMovie lacked.

But what if you do want those missing capabilities? Apple has a video-editing program for you: it's called iMovie HD.

Yes, the old version of iMovie -- the one that accompanied iLife '06 -- is still available. In fact, it's a free download. So if you've just bought a brand-new iMac and it included iLife '08, you can still get the previous version of iMovie.

And you can combine the two programs. For example, you could use iMovie '08 to create your movie, then export it in full quality and bring it into iMovie HD to add chapter markers.

I'll be writing about these kinds of tricks a lot in the future -- and in the next edition of my book, which I'm working on now.

Watch this space! And in the meantime, watch those tutorials on Apple's site. And don't miss the 20-minute Guided Tour movie, starring Xander Soren, the iLife '08 product manager at Apple (and a wicked guitar player!).