iMovie '09 image stabilization

iLife ’09 has arrived, and with it, new versions of iPhoto and iMovie.

We’ve been playing with iLife ’09 around the office today and we’ll have much more on iPhoto in a little while. But I wanted to present a brief sample video of the new image-stabilization features in iLife ’09.

Here’s what I did: I imported a few sample clips (I happened to have video of my Thanksgiving floating around, so I used those), and waited as iMovie cranked for quite a while on them, preparing them for image-stabilization. (Advice: import your videos before going to bed or going out of the house for a while—it’s a long process.)

Then I found a few clips that I’d consider representative of hand-held consumer video—namely, me trying to carve the turkey (Alton Brown’s Good Eats Turkey, by the way) with a dull knife, and a long zoom pull-back shot of the dinner table from above. These were taken with a Sony HDR-SR11 camcorder with built-in image stabilization, and yet there's still noticeable improvement with iMovie's stabilization.

In the video player below you’ll see both clips, first without any image stabilization, then with image stabilization applied.

By the way, here’s how image stabilization works: it zooms in on your video a little bit, then pans and zooms the video as necessary in order to exactly counteract the camera shake. Sometimes the zooms can be a bit extreme, but iMovie ’09 is pretty smart about it: first, it adjusts the zoom based on the portion of your clip you choose to use. Import a very long clip, and you might see that it’s dramatically zoomed in—but if you trim the clip to a smaller, less shaky portion, you may find that it’s automatically zoomed further out. And you can also force iMovie to zoom further out by using the Maximum Zoom slider in the Clip Inspector palette.

We’ll have much more about iLife ’09 in the coming days, including tips and tricks and full reviews. Stay tuned. In the meantime, if you have any questions about iMovie ’09, I’d be happy to attempt to answer them in the Macworld.com comment thread attached to this story.

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