iMovie Grows Up

iMovie is growing up -- and I have to admit, version 2.0 is looking really good. Although it feels a bit awkward at times and its look is not quite pulled together, iMovie 2.0 shows lots of promise. iMovie has taken some tips from its older sibling, QuickTime Pro, and its features are moving in the right direction. It's also clear that iMovie developers are paying attention to what users want.

In this first look at iMovie 2.0, we'll touch on the changes and additions that we were most happy to see. Watch this space for more in-depth, How-to coverage of everything hot in iMovie 2.0.

A New Look

iMovie's changes pop out at you in living color. Lavender and blue Aqua-like screen components lend a snazzy, friendly new look. iMovie 2.0 gives us a hint of what's to come by employing new navigation components like sliders and buttons from Aqua (the new OS X user interface). And the best part is that long-awaited new functions have been woven into existing features without added clutter.

Full Screen v1 Full Screen v2
iMovie interface: version 1 (left) and version 2 (right).

The Clip Shelf

Shelf v1 Shelf v2
Clip shelf in version 1 (left) and version 2 (right).

iMovie provides the Clip Shelf to temporarily store clips that you have imported from your camera and plan to use in your iMovie. iMovie 2.0 leaps over the annoying 1.0 restriction that limited the Clip Shelf to the number of clips that your screen resolution could bear. On an iMac, that means 12 clips at a time, tops. The Shelf now expands as needed, limiting you only by the amount of hard-disk space you can spare.

Full Screen v1

Clip Info In addition to a new, brighter look, the clips hold the Clip Info window. Here, together for the first time, are the lovely and talented Clip and Media File names. At last, no more playing every clip in your Media folder to identify the one you want! Double-click on any clip to display the clip name, the (very handy) file name, file size, and the (previously hidden) duration of any Audio Fade In or Audio Fade Out.

Effects

The rising panel that used to take you to the Titles, Transitions, Effects, and Audio features has been condensed into to a single row of buttons that open feature areas with a lean and clean new look.

More on Titles and Transitions later -- for now, we'll cut to the most exciting stuff: the new video effects. The new effects look terrific and hauntingly familiar. Can you say "QuickTime Pro?"

Effect Window The Brightness and Contrast Effect At last there is some salvation for those of us with poorly lit footage. The Brightness/Contrast Effect (A) makes it easy to brighten and increase the contrast of a clip. Use the slider bars (B) sparingly to put the pop back into your flat, washed-out footage.
Effect Before Effect After
Before (left) and after (right) using the Brightness/Contrast effect.

Timeline Viewer

Audio Viewer

The newly named and greatly enhanced Timeline Viewer in iMovie 2.0 (below), formerly known as the Audio Viewer in version 1.0 (above).

Timeline Viewer

As you can see, the Timeline Viewer is packed with new features. You can see proportionately sized thumbnails of your clips while you edit, and the new colors make your audio clips easier to identify. The Timeline Viewer also sports some of the most useful improvements in iMovie 2.0:

  • Insert Edits allows you to replace video clips without loosing the original audio content.
  • The speed at which each clip plays can be increased or decreased.
  • You can make your clips play backward.
  • When you move clips apart, the space between them is measured for you and filled with frames of black. This makes it easier to cut and paste your replacement clips to size.
  • A tiny first frame of each clip now replaces those anonymous blue bars. This allows you to view each clip you edit as a sizable thumbnail.
  • You now have the ability to lock audio clips to video clips so that they stay synched no matter how much you move them around.
  • You can extract the audio track from your video clips and cut, copy, move, and improve them (crop out unwanted noise, etc).
  • You can now split audio clips and completely remove the unwanted sections instead of hiding them and layering other audio clips on top of each other. This makes your clips much easier to manage. You don't need to have the same clip throughout the entire movie.
  • Easier audio-clip placement through the use of a second "ghost" playhead.
  • For those times when you've mangled your clip beyond recognition, you can restore a clip to its original length and content.
  • Playback Controls

    The Apple folks also improved the Playback Controls in Edit mode by adding a Home button that takes you quickly to the beginning of your movie, adding a Play Full Screen button to create a cinema-like experience, replacing the separate buttons that took you between Edit and Camera mode with a toggle at the bottom left, and replacing the much-maligned thumbwheel volume control on the right with an Aqua-like slider control.

    1.0 player

    Old iMovie playback controls (above) and the new 2.0 controls (below).

    2.0 player

    iMovie 1.0 users will have to adjust to the new Playback Controls but it's a new trick worth learning. In iMovie 2.0's Edit mode, the second button from the left is now the Home button. The second button from the right is now the Play Full Screen button.

    This brings us to the end of our first look at iMovie 2.0, but there is so much more beneath the surface. Keep watching Macworld's iMovie section for the thrills, drills, and in-depth dirt of iMovie-making.

    Jill Baird is an independent writer. She co-wrote My iMac , published by IDG Books. In previous lives she was a Web QA Engineer and Technical Writer for Intuit.

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