I'm a fan of video and video editing! Admittedly I don't have a need to do a lot of video editing on my iPhone 🙂 So when I saw that Apple had released a version of iMovie for the iPhone at the iPhone 4 launch, I kinda shrugged my shoulders and kept right on doing whatever it was I was doing at the time. After I got my iPhone 4, I decided to give the App a try. I downloaded it and had the perfect opportunity to use it. I was out at an event for my daughter's volunteer organization and the only camera I had with me was my iPhone 4. I captured a few stills and then I captured some video of her presenting her work. Normally I would have waited till I got home and fired up Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 to do the edit the iPhone 4 footage natively, but I decided to give this new App a try for the sake of a review. I got the video edited, but it wasn't without much frustration. There were two things that were deal breakers and as a result I never used that version of the App again. The first deal breaker and I'm still stunned to this day that there was no way to split a clip! Splitting a clip is "video editing 101." There isn't a video editing program on the planet that can't split a clip. It's the most basic feature. I wouldn't have had so much of an issue with this limitation except for the fact that if you use any titles they are applied to the entire clip. So an intro title in my case would be applied to the entire movie instead of just the first few seconds. The painstaking workaround was to trim the clip down, apply the title and then bring the same clip in again and trim the front and hope you got it right. Had I known about this limitation up front I would have shot several shorter clips instead of one or two long ones. The second limitation wasn't so much of a limitation of iMovie as it was the iOS itself. You couldn't share an HD clip/movie directly from the iPhone 4 in HD! Not even over WiFi. In order to share the HD version you'd have to transfer it to your computer first (smacking hand on forehead). My feeling was if I have to transfer the final product to the computer just to share it at full size then I might as well edit it on the computer too! These are the reasons why I held off reviewing iMovie until now. It just wasn't a "Best App".
iMovie 1.1 is now usable
For the reasons I stated above 1.0 was pretty much unusable for me. When iOS 4.1 was introduced along with the NEW 4th gen iPod touch Apple also updated iMovie to version 1.1 and with this version they added a clip splitting feature, automatic music looping, the ability to scrub to preview clips in the browser and more. Also with iOS 4.1 HD clips can now be shared over WiFi. Now it's time for a review. 🙂 Let's start with what it is and what it's not: iMovie for iPhone is a "BASIC" video editor that allows you to trim clips, assemble multiple clips together, add audio, add titles, add transitions, add photos and export out a final movie. That's it! There are no special effects, color correction, or other high end features.
The interface is very basic as well with 4 primary buttons: View Projects, Play, add Media, and Capture Stills/Video. All trimming and splitting is done on the timeline with your finger. You can add titles to any clip and you can choose an overall theme complete with optional theme music or you can use audio/songs from your device's iPod app. Your transition choices are None, Cross Dissolve or a Theme based one. You have a choice of 5 optional themes: Modern, Bright, Travel, Fun or News. These theme can't be modified nor is there currently a way to add more. Your videos are geotagged automatically when you shoot them (unless you've turned that feature off) and that location information can be automatically incorporated into the theme if it is supports it. ie. the Travel theme. When you add stills they do have the "Ken Burns" effect on them and you tap on any photo and choose where the zoom starts and ends in the photo itself.
Splitting is here, Finally! There is no menu command for splitting a clip and nor is there a tool. You select the clip and drag down with your finger to split it. iMovie will automatically insert a transition between the two clips. Once your masterpiece is finished you can export out the finished movie at one of 3 resolutions 360p, 540p, or 720p HD. The exported movie will then be on your camera roll for sharing via email, MMS, YouTube, MobileMe or importing back into your computer.
When would you use iMovie? You just shot a video and some stills. You want to edit together a quick/cute movie and share it right from your device. For that purpose this is your App.
Here's a quick sample movie I did for this review:
The Bottom Line
While I'm still not going to be doing a whole lot of video editing on my iPhone, if I ever have the need iMovie 1.1 would probably do the trick. Keep in mind that this App is only $4.99. So don't expect a full blown video editing tool with special effects. It's aimed at people that most likely would never edit a video on their computer and want to share a video that they just shot with the world, but also have it look nice. Think soccer moms and dads, teens, non techies and geeks 🙂 While this update performs as advertised, I would like to see a couple minor additions. The first one is that titles can't be applied to photos. So if your ending the movie with stills and you want the last one to have an ending title you have to use a video clip to do it instead. Theme music is nice, I just wish there were controls over having it fade in and out on the timeline when I want to hear the audio easier from the actual clip.