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Ever since Apple completely redesigned iMovie back in 2007 to make it more approachable for novice home-movie editors, it’s received a lot of flak from all those who were using the previous version for more pro-level work. But iMovie was never meant for professionals, and that version (iMovie ’08) was ideal for anyone who didn’t know a thing about video editing. As iMovie ’09 came and went, the howling continued, but with the return of audio editing and more to iMovie ’11, the outcry should subside at last.
For starters, iMovie ’11’s new audio editing is incredibly elegant: click on the waveform button to display audio directly beneath the video thumbnails. You can alter audio levels for either an entire clip or merely a section of it. When part of the waveform turns yellow or red, your audio is peaking, meaning you need to lower it to avoid distortion in your final video. Altering part of a clip’s sound makes the volume gradually change to the new level, something you can also control.
It's now incredibly easy to edit your project's audio. You can even add effects to your tracks.
In addition, iMovie ’11 offers 19 audio filters. Like the video filters, only one audio filter can be applied to a clip at a time—selecting another merely replaces the original. Despite this limitation, filters are a lot of fun to use. You can make a voice sound more robotic, give the illusion that a shot was recorded in a different location, like a cathedral for instance, or even try to enhance your own singing voice with Multi-Tune (just don’t expect miracles). You also have access to an equalizer, which is fully customizable to suit your exact needs.
If you’re looking for new video effects, you may be disappointed. Sure, you’ll find four new transitions…but no extra titles or even video filters. At least a series of new One-Step Effects lets you instantly apply a certain effect. That’s a great time-saver if all you want is to slow down a clip, turn it gradually to black and white, and so on. You can even customize the effects further once they’ve been applied.
Many other improvements throughout iMovie ’11 make this upgrade even more impressive. For example, Single Row View re-introduces the timeline to iMovie so you can see all your project’s clips in an unending line from left to right, instead of the default top-to-bottom configuration. This more traditional setup will delight experienced editors. You can also export your movies in 1080p (although they won’t be compatible with Apple’s iOS devices) and upload them to Facebook and Vimeo from within the app.
Finally, you can work with 15 new themes, designed to mimic the look and feel of big-budget movie trailers. Each has its own orchestral backing track, and you even have a choice of five beautiful studio logos. The Movie Trailer feature works hand in hand with the new People finder—by analyzing your footage, iMovie not only determines which parts of your clips contain people, it also differentiates between close ups, medium, and wide shots. These enhancements make finding the appropriate shot for your trailer child’s play: Apple’s themes tell you exactly what type of shot is needed at any given time, and will even limit what you can see in the Event window to only match what is required.
The bottom line. iMovie ’11’s advanced audio-editing capabilities and numerous other improvements have finally left the ghost of iMovie ’08 behind. This is an excellent update, and anyone serious about iMovie shouldn’t hesitate to upgrade.
Intel Core Duo processor, Mac OS 10.6.3 or later
Improved audio editing. One-step effects. Movie Trailers feature makes easy, dynamic home videos.
Can't edit AVCHD footage natively. No new titles or video filters.