AAPL Stock: 112.12 ( + 2.62 )

Printed from

First Look: iMovie 09, video editor

updated 03:50 pm EST, Tue February 17, 2009

iMovie 09, video editor

Two versions ago, iMovie HD 6 offered powerful video editing for novices. For iMovie '08, Apple completely rewrote the program to focus on making video editing simpler, but at the sacrifice of its more sophisticated editing features. When users howled their disapproval, Apple quickly made the original iMovie HD app available as a free download. Now with iMovie '09, Apple has combined the simplicity of iMovie '08 with the powerful editing capabilities of iMovie HD.

One appealing feature for spicing up any home video is themes, which provide a colorful frame for displaying your movie. Such frames give your videos instant Hollywood effects without any editing at all. Apple provides five different themes with plenty of variations of each theme to choose from, so you can easily experiment with different ways to present your video, from appearing in a slightly cockeyed photograph in an album to looking like an image printed in a comic book.

For those editing vacation footage, the program offers animated maps that mimic old Hollywood movies that display animated arrows showing the starting point and ending destination. While appealing directly to anyone editing home footage of their latest vacation, this map feature can also be used creatively by aspiring film makers to identify "exotic" locations that were actually just shot in your backyard.

For more flexibility, you can modify the map's appearance using different visual effects that make the map appear grainier, darker or lighter. Such effects help insure that you can customize a map so it won't have a "cookie-cutter" appearance that labels it as just another iMovie special effect.

To complete your movie, you can add titles to the beginning, end, or individual frames of a video. The available title effects range from mimicking the "Star Wars" scrolling text that disappears off the top of the screen, to the more traditional text that simply appears at the bottom of the screen. The latter effect is similar to the presentation commonly seen on news footage that identifies the TV station name plus a short description of what the video displays.

Adding titles, themes and animated maps simply make a video look fancier, but the software offers two major correction features as well. One important feature is video stabilization.

If you capture video while moving, the footage will likely appear shaky. The final product can be difficult to watch, much less enjoy. Through a simple stabilization feature, the program can analyze the separate frames of your video and stitch together the separate images so they appear as one fluid video.

This stabilization feature works amazingly well, but does take an extraordinary amount of time to process. Depending on how shaky your original footage may be, you can expect to wait several minutes or more for each minute of footage you want the program to correct.

Of course, the program cannot perform miracles and sometimes identifies footage as too shaky to use. If your video bounces up and down too drastically, the program may not be able to stabilize more than a few frames.

While the program offers simple editing tools to cut, move, and copy footage, it also provides a new precision editor. The feature lets you focus on two film clips so you can see exactly where each one ends and begins. Besides letting you slice and dice video, you can also move and edit the audio from each clip. This gives you more exact control over both the appearance and sound of your movie, which amateur filmmakers will likely enjoy. For the typical user who just wants to slap together a home video in a hurry, this precision editor will likely be more work than necessary and can be safely ignored.

When you're done editing, you can save your video in a variety of file formats such as QuickTime, burn it to a DVD through the included iDVD program, or just upload it directly to your MobileMe account or YouTube.

Novice filmmakers will appreciate the simple features that can perk up any home video while more dedicated filmmakers can master its video editing techniques before graduating to Apple's Final Cut Express. As part of the $79 iLife suite, iMovie '09 (along with iPhoto '09) represents one of the more compelling reasons to get this latest upgrade.

by MacNN Staff



  1. elroth

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I wonder if the reviewer ever actually used iMovie 06 or iMovie 09. I realize this is called a "first look," but casually saying you can edit audio and get "more exact control" over the sound of your movie is not correct. You can not fade a sound clip in or out - it's not possible in iMovie 09. In iMovie 06 you had total control over two channels of sound.

    The review spends so much time talking about candy effects (themes and maps) and the new image stabilization that it doesn't tell us anything useful - like how the precision editor compares to the editing in iMovie 06, or how it is to edit a movie without using a timeline (iMovie 09 doesn't use a timeline). Also, whether chapter markers are back in iMovie 09 (and whether you can share with iDVD - you couldn't in 08).

    It also doesn't mention that iMovie 09 apparently produces interlaced movies (lower quality) in order to speed up processing. I hope that whoever does the full review of iMovie 09 will be someone who has used iMovie 06 extensively and can tell us whether 09 is even half as useful now as 06 has been for years.

  1. MovieGuy08

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: what?

    Some additional info about iMovie '09:

    - iMovie '09 (like iMovie '08) does allow controlling the fade in/out of audio clips (it's done on the audio inspector for the clip).
    - The precision editor provides a much more visual way to see all of the content involved in an edit (you can see the content from both clips, before and after the edit, and simply drag or click to change the edit point). It's generally much faster than any other edit trimmer.
    - Chapter and comment markers are available.
    - Direct export to iDVD (in high quality iCodec format) is available from the Share menu.
    - iMovie '09 (like iMovie '08) produces progressive format output. (Output from DV source material will be of higher quality than in iMovie '08.)

    Hope that helps!

  1. vasic

    Joined: Dec 1969


    What about iDVD HD?

    How do we export iMovie onto HD optical media? Blu-ray won a year ago. 2007 was "The Year of the HD"; yet, there is absolutely no way for me to give a HD version of my home movie to my in-laws who don't care much about the internet, but have Blu-ray and HDTV.

    It is delusional to expect everyone to have AppleTVs and share/watch home videos in HD on YouTube. I don't want the whole world to watch my daughter's violin recital. It's private and I wanna keep it. People who I'd share it with have no way of seeing it in HD, and I have no way of sharing it in HD from iLife.

    Apple, PLEASE, give us iDVD Blu-Ray soon!

  1. elroth

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re; movieguy08

    Thanks for the info. About the sound, I guess you can fade a clip out at the beginning and end, but not in the middle. You apparently can't lower the volume on part of a clip, or easily take out an extraneous sound. I've heard you have to transfer it to GarageBand to do anything like that.

    But it's good to know they've improved a lot of things. I'm still confused about the video quality - I read in another story that it's interlaced, not progressive.

  1. elroth

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: interlaced

    I guess I misunderstood the other review - there's a possible problem with how iMovie 09 handles interlaced video input, but it doesn't turn progressive input into interlaced output.

  1. chas_m




    The comment that Apple made iMovie 6 HD available for download in response to anything is completely false.

    I had the iMovie 08 installed on my machine before it was widely available (we were working on an iLife 08 book) and before ANY reviews of it came out. Not only did the installer NOT remove iMovie 6 HD in the first place, the download was available (for registered owners) from day one. Apple knew that previous users would want to keep iMovie HD around from the start, so they never moved in any way shape or form to remove it.

    You really should retract that line, as it's patently and provably false.

  1. David Esrati

    Joined: Dec 1969


    not impressed

    As an occasional editor in Final Cut Pro- and having used many of the previous versions, this version is aggravating.
    Trying to do a split edit was almost impossible. The titles can't be shifted from clip to clip easily. There doesn't seem to be any kind of copy paste of clips-
    Give us a real timeline please- it's logical.

Login Here

Not a member of the MacNN forums? Register now for free.


Network Headlines

Follow us on Facebook


Most Popular


Recent Reviews

Polk Hinge Wireless headphones

Polk, a company well-established in the audio market, recently released a new set of headphones aimed at the lifestyle market. The Hin ...

Blue Yeti Studio

Despite being very familiar with Blue Microphones' lower-end products -- we've long recommended the company's Snowball line of mics ...

ZTE Spro 2 Smart Projector

Home theaters are becoming more and more accessible these days, but maybe you've been a bit wary about buying a home projector. And h ...


Most Commented