The iMovie ’08 Controversy

11 years ago in Contributors, Reviews by Brent | 21 Comments


August 7th was a day I won’t forget. It was pouring rain, but I excitedly took the bus to my local Apple store to purchase the new iLife suite- iLife ’08 – which Apple had released only a few hours earlier. I picked up the box, and I suddenly felt a great joy. It was a new Apple product. All the way home, I just stared at the iLife disc. Mesmerized by the simplicity and the excitement of sticking it into my computer for the first time. I finally got home, ran upstairs, grabbed my mac, and stuck the shiny new CD into the drive. The beautiful welcome screen came up, I quickly installed it, and then clicked the new iMovie icon in the dock. What? All this excitement for this??

Immediately I stared asking questions to myself. Where is the timeline? Where are the audio tracks? Where are the video effects? Where are all the features I know and love in the old iMovie? After hours of scouring the program for all these missing features, and doing countless Google searches, I realized that these features weren’t there. Apple had removed them.

Then I began to get angry at Apple. Why would Apple do this? Why would Apple remove all of these features? Why would Apple totally change the iMovie interface? Why would Apple totally rewrite this app from the ground up? I told myself that Apple had made a mistake. The rest of the iLife suite was perfect! Why did Apple have to mess up iMovie, one of the most useful apps in the whole suite. I decided to forget about iMovie ’08, and go back to using iMovie HD. That weekend I had a video project to do. It involved precise audio editing, and a timeline view, so I had no other choice but to use iMovie HD. I got the video done, and it looked spectacular. Why couldn’t Apple have kept the old iMovie interface?

Then, this morning, I came across an RSS feed quoting Apple on the subject of iMovie. From the article:

“Apple isn’t apologizing. It says it wants a new audience for iMovie and that the redesign had to happen. ‘The consumer video-editing industry is dying,’ says Rob Schoeben, Apple’s vice president of applications and product marketing. ‘It got crushed by digital photography,’”

“Most camcorder owners never bother with video editing. Yet they will use software programs such as Apple’s iPhoto to manage their pictures and growing collection of video clips from still cameras, Schoeben says. Apple was forced to do a ‘radical reinvention’ of iMovie to get its users to work with their video clips, he says. Schoeben believes video novices will find it easier to edit with iMovie and, thus, use the program more. ‘This may be controversial at first, but long term … we’ll be fine.’

As I read this I began to understand why Apple had made this decision to totally rewrite iMovie. I buy their explanation. I’ve seen it happen many times. People (teens especially) always carry their still cameras everywhere. Digital photography has been a big hit with ordinary people, but video taking has not. Apple is right. The consumer video market is dying. The only videos that most people have are from their still cameras, phones, or webcams. Why? Because it’s too much work for the average person to record to a tape, import to their computer and make a video. It’s a whole days work. It’s not a simple, fast process…even with the old iMovie.

Apple is changing the definition of video editing. Video editing doesn’t have to be a big project anymore. With the new iMovie, and the birth of new HD Flash-based cameras, video editing is fast and easy. You can record and import in stunning quality in a matter of seconds. Then you quickly skim through your clips, drag them to the timeline, click one button, and BOOM–your video is on Youtube for the world to see. It’s that easy. iMovie ’08 is Apple making an attempt to save the video industry by redefining what video editing is. Maybe now video editing will hit the mainstream.

As I look at iMovie through different eyes, I see Apple did a remarkable job at a 1.0 product. I look forward to the next iteration of the new iMovie, that is more refined, and maybe brings an advanced view with more features, while still keeping the simplicity of iMovie ’08. I think the reason that there is such a controversy, is because Apple made an entirely new product, but kept the old name. iMovie ’08 stands alone, as a new product from Apple, and as Apple’s attempt to save the dying consumer video-editing industry.

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