iMovie ’09: Improved Editing, Maps & Stabilization

iMovie ’09 adds powerful, yet easy-to-use new features to let you create a movie quickly, or add refinements and special effects to your project if you have more time. There are a whole host of new features, each of which can aid in the quest to have family and friends gasping in awe at your home movie.

Advanced Drag and Drop

iMovie ’08 introduced drag and drop editing, and the latest version takes the facility to new heights. When you drag and drop one clip on top of another, you reveal new advanced editing options, including replace, insert, audio only, and even picture-in-picture or green screen. These new features allow you to make visually stunning movies, while retaining the simple drag and drop interface iMovie is renowned for.

Precision Editor

Drag and drop isn’t perfect for every scenario, and you may often require a more advanced interface to perfect the links between different video clips. With the new Precision Editor, you can skim and click on a magnified filmstrip to view clips up close and fine tune any editing or cuts to be performed.

Audio and video can be edited independently, so you can use the sound from one clip with the video from another. In addition to editing the video itself, you are able to reposition and adjust the duration of titles and transitions (an editing feature I always struggled with in previous versions).

Themes and Maps

iMovie is renowned for the visually stunning themes it comes bundled with — themes which have improved with every release. iMovie ’09 is no exception, introducing new dynamic themes. New themes include Bulletin Board, Filmstrip, or Comic Book, and it would appear that editing themes has been made easier.

Themes have a new friend in the latest version, with the ability to add eye-catching, animated travel maps. You can choose from four different 3D globe or flat map styles and select your location (or locations) — from country to city to points of interest. The software will automatically build an animated map that flies from one country to another, really adding an interactive element to your holiday video.

Video Stabilization

Even the steadiest camera operator has a wobble from time to time and, for owners of cameras without any stabilization built-in (read: almost all consumer video cameras), iMovie now provides the ability to remedy your shaky hand. The software analyzes how much your camera was moving while you were recording, then automatically reduces camera shake. You can stabilize on a clip-by-clip basis or analyze all your video for stabilization (the latter may take a while, but it’s worth it). The demonstration in the Keynote would appear to show that this feature works surprisingly well.

Of course, some shaky footage is so bad that even Apple’s best engineers can’t figure out how to correct it. Such clips are marked by iMovie with a squiggly red line, so you can choose to hide them.

Titles, Transitions & Effects

The icing on the cake of any home movie is adding the titles, transitions between clips and the comedy effects. iMovie ’09 introduces 18 new animated titles, and the simple browser makes previewing each a simple task. Animated backgrounds can also be added to titles, and examples of adding and manipulating titles are available in video form.

The new release features eight new transitions, and 19 new one-click video effects, including Aged Film, Dream, Sci-Fi, and Cartoon. Whether you’re going for sexy or spooky, there’ll be something to fit the bill.

Pricing & Availability

iLife ’09 will be available by the end of this month for a suggested retail price of $79, and will require OS X Leopard. Discounts are available when purchasing the software with a new Mac, or if you have only recently upgraded your hardware.

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