The New York Times’ Pogue on iMovie ’08: What was Apple thinking?

“Last week, Apple released a new version of its iLife suite — its $80 package containing iPhoto, iMovie, iWeb and GarageBand. The suite also comes preinstalled on every new Mac,” David Pogue reports for The New York Times.

“The enhancements in iPhone, iWeb and GarageBand are great. But iMovie ’08 is an utter bafflement,” Pogue reports. “To rephrase (and sanitize) the wailing on the discussion boards: What the [bleep]! What was Apple thinking?”

“The new iMovie, for example, is probably the only video-editing program on the market with no timeline—no horizontal, scrolling strip that displays your clips laid end to end, with their lengths representing their durations. You have no indication of how many minutes into your movie you are,” Pogue reports.

“All the old audio effects are gone, too. No pitch changing, high-pass and low-pass filters, or reverb… Bookmarks are gone. ‘Themes’ are gone. You can no longer export only part of a movie. All visual effects are gone—even basic options like slow motion, reverse motion, fast motion, and black-and-white.The new iMovie doesn’t accept plug-ins, either. For years, I’ve relied on’s iMovie plug-ins to achieve effects like picture-in-picture, bluescreen and subtitles. That’s all over now,” Pogue reports.

“To be sure, the new version has some cool features. You can send a completed video to YouTube with one menu command; the color-correction and frame-cropping tools are unprecedented in a consumer program; and you can really, truly delete unwanted pieces of your clips, thus reclaiming hard drive space,” Pogue reports.

“It’s also worth pointing out that iMovie ’08 creates titles, crossfades and color adjustments instantly. There’s no ‘rendering’ time, as there is in Final Cut or the old iMovie. So you gain an exhilarating freedom to play, to fiddle with the timing and placement of things,” Pogue reports.

“I’ve used the real iMovie to edit my Times videos for three years now. The results are perfectly convincing as professional video blog work. But the new version is totally unusable for that purpose. It’s unusable, in fact, for anyone doing professional work that requires any degree of precision,” Pogue reports.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: iMovie shouldn’t be about doing any level of “professional” work. Apple had pushed iMovie way, way too far ahead of its original intent. Let’s face facts: iMovie is part of a US$79 suite of five products (also includes iPhoto, GarageBand, iWeb, and iDVD). For one-fifth of $79, or $15.80, you shouldn’t be able to edit feature films on it (which people were), or Apple isn’t doing a very good job of running their business of differentiating and selling software.

iMovie ’08 lets consumers quickly edit clips to create good-looking movies. If you want more, then you want Apple’s Final Cut Express HD or Final Cut Pro 6 (included in Final Cut Studio 2). If you loved iMovie before (as former professional Avid and Final Cut Pro editors, we didn’t – iMovie 08 is much better for beginning editors), Apple has offered iMovie HD 6 for free to iLife ‘08 owners, while they reel iMovie back in and reposition it correctly.

This isn’t about some nameless “genius Apple engineer” who wanted to edit his vacation videos, this is about what Apple should be offering for $15.80 and how they can make editing as easily-accessible as possible for consumers.

Things to keep in mind before screaming about iMovie ’08:
• You paid $15.80 for it
• You got pretty advanced features for many years
• iMovie is supposed to be entry-level and very easy-to-use
• Different does not mean worse and change can be for the better
• Apple will add features to the new iMovie
• iMovie ’08 is pretty amazing, if you approach it without previous iMovie baggage.
• Paradigm shifts often face vehement resistance.
• Apple is offering iMovie HD 6 for free to iLife ‘08 owners (you’ve lost nothing, only gained another new way of editing video)
• Apple is a business, not a provider of basically free editing tools for professionals

iMovie users, Filmmakers and NY Times video bloggers: Apple is ending your free ride so gently (by continuing your free ride, no less), that you ought to be making iMovies thanking them.

Apple’s iMovie ’08: Completely redesigned to help consumers make movies in minutes:


  1. I actually like the new iMovie. I’ve already posted a movie to YouTube and a movie to my .Mac. Way easier. While small, there was indeed a learning curve to iMovie HD 6. There should be no learning curve for iLife products.

  2. MDN? What happened to you? Even I have trouble defending Apple on this one. Losing ‘THEMES’? That feature alone helped me sell the Mac to friends! Losing the audio/fx? Chapters (after all, it is supposed to work with iDVD)?

    Folks, Apple obviously realized their mistake when they offered iMovie 6 HD for free download.

    What a bummer. I would guess that Apple will be adding in most items missed in this version and hopefully be adding back an option for timeline viewing.

  3. I don’t have a Video Camera, my video is limited to stuff I can record on a phone or on my still camera, even if I did have one, I wouldn’t be wanting to create anything to in depth. iMovieHD was very good but previously I could never really be bothered with it as it was too involved and took too long to do. This new iMovie is great, it’s easy and fast. Even exporting seems quick. I’m not concerned about how far through I am since I’m only going to be doing something minutes long anyway.

    This is not to say that an app between this and Final Cut, more like the old iMovie wouldn’t fill a niche, but not at the price of iLife. If they spruced up iMovie HD, added in the best of the new iMovie and sold it for $79 (or more) on it’s own then I think it would make more sense.

  4. “iMovie shouldn’t be about doing any level of “professional” work. Apple had gotten iMovie way, way too far ahead of its original intent.”

    Are you freaking kidding me? I want to do simple screencasts/podcasts, iMovie did that really well. The new version doesn’t allow me to do that at all, so I should buy a “Pro” tool? Yeah, ok. You’re missing the entire middle of the market MDN.

  5. I agree with Shen.

    This is almost Machiavellian. This sort of thing would easily be interpreted as baiting (for Final Cut Express) had it been any other company’s behaviour. After all, iMovie must have been cannibalizing FCE sales.

    I actually think that this was just an honest miss. The new iMovie seemed so “revolutionary” in terms of ease of use and speed, that the functionality of the previous version wasn’t impressive enough for Jobs anymore.

  6. Not a big user of iMovie but when I did it was pretty tricky to master. What Jobs demo’d looked pretty darn clever to me.

    Why is selecting clips, dragging and dropping such a problem?

    Is the timeline really so crucial? After all this isn’t for a live TV studio environment is it?

    Somewhat of an over reaction to this is my thinking, and I am tempted to use iMovie more now than was before.

  7. MDN, things to keep in mind:

    1) iMovie 6 was a basic editing package. All the more impressive that professionals were also able to use it.

    2) Probably cost Apple a lot more to rebuild an entirely new iMovie than enhance the previous version so the $15.80 feature just doesn’t fly.

    3) iLife is a big selling feature. Themes were brilliant. Crippling one of the most impressive, easy to use and important apps was a mistake. Even Apple recognized it by releasing iMovie 6 HD. Because they released iMovie 6 HD so fast after the launch of iLife 8, it is apparent Apple realized possible issues prior to the launch of iLife 08. It also most likely speaks volumes that Apple will be adding enhancements to the new iMovie enabling it to surpass iMovie 6 in terms of use.

  8. I don’t see what the big fuss is about. If you have a previous version of iMovie, continue to use it. But if you’re new to the platform, the previous functions won’t be missed because it’s something the individual would have never used anyway. So, if this new person who just bought a new Mac with the new iMovie and wants something more powerful than drag and drop, then that person can buy something more robust from Apple. Sounds to me like a good way to make more money for Apple because they can up-sell their Express product.

    But if what Pogue says is true, that does kind of suck to not know how long your movie is considering that sites like YouTube are now imposing time limits and what is uploaded.

  9. MDN, your take on iMovie 8 might be the worst I have ever seen from you fanboys, and that’s saying a lot. Give it a rest.

    P.S. This coming from someone who has spent thousands of dollars on Apple gear the last 10 years.

    MW: “small” as in your credibility. Maybe you have been reduced to trolling for hits, ala Dvorak.

  10. MDN: Quit defending Apple on everything they do. You just lose your credability. No company is perfect, and Apple isn’t any different. Imovie in it’s current incarnation is a step backwards, an after-thought even. I’m not sure what they were doing for almost two years. I’d say that most of them were probably working on the iphone or Apple tv.

  11. Chiming in with most of the others. I really do no care for the new Movie. Was hoping for improvements and new features and more stability with the same look and feel as ’06. When I opened it for the first time I was stunned. Yeah – it’s easy to use – but seems limited. I do mostly home movie stuff and even I needed two channels of audio. Also had a lot of Gee Three plugins. I think Apple needs to rethink what they have wrought here.

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