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iMovie for iPad Review: Great for Casual Filmmaking

Is anyone still debating about whether or not the iPad is a consumption-only device? It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about blogging, photo editing, or movie making—it seems that the App Store is now chock full of software that makes the iPad a powerful tool for accomplishing work and completing creative projects… Today’s case in point is iPad for iMovie iMovie - Apple, an app that has been around for awhile and received several valuable updates. It now stands as one of the most impressive and intuitive apps geared towards the casual creatives out there. You’re not going to win an Oscar or break any new ground with fancy editing techniques, but it’s the way to go if you’re looking to polish up some home movies or just have some fun.

There was a time when it seemed questionable if the iPad’s touch interface was suitable for real work, but as I mentioned earlier, I think we’ve moved on… Once you launch your first project in iMovie, you’re met with a screen that’s segmented into three parts (in landscape mode, anyway). You’ve got your iPad video clips in the upper left, with the “My Project” viewing pane positioned right beside that. Below is where you’ll drag video clips, photos, and songs as you arrange the final product… And working with these materials has been made incredibly simple by Apple. Adjusting video length is accomplished by sliding on the ends of the clip, and it can be done either before you’ve sent the content to the timeline or after. The rest of the processes are a combination of drag-and-drop and multi-touch gestures. One thing is for sure, you won’t find yourself in many situations where the solution to your problem can’t be easily figured out through some experimentation.

A couple of the special new features added through recent updates are the ability to swipe down on the playhead to split a clip, or swipe up to freeze a frame. These missing features were on my list of “cons” until I visited the app’s iTunes page and saw them advertised in the description. Such “advanced” features would be worth mentioning in a tutorial, but none is made available inside the iMovie app. Other things you might not figure out on your own would be pinching horizontally to zoom the timeline, or pinching vertically to open the precision editor… Cool tricks, but not very well explained unless you do the research.

With any $4.99 mobile video editor, you have to expect that there will be some things you can’t do, and that’s certainly the case with iMovie. As much of an amateur as I am, I occasionally come up with ideas that seem to be out of the reach of the simple software. So if you’ve got any experience whatsoever (that freshman year video production class counts, as I discovered), you’d do well to limit your expectations with iMovie, or maybe look elsewhere. The themes and trailers (which are fun for a few minutes, and entertaining for the kids) are all heavily pre-formatted, meaning that you’ll have to be willing to fit your creativity into Apple’s presets to find satisfaction.

Another annoyance to mention—which could easily be stripped from the app in an update—is iMovie’s insistence on adding a cross-fade transition after each clip you drop into the timeline. If you want to avoid the soft look that goes along with 40 cross-fades in a five-minute movie, you’ve got to tap-and-hold and delete each one.

… But again, when you consider the market for iMovie and what’s it’s supposed to accomplish, there’s no denying that Apple hit the mark. Not only is it incredibly easy to throw together a handful of clips and then post the product online, there’s even enough here to improve your skills and get more out of the app as you go… Professional tool this is not, but for all other purposes, its worth five bucks.

Our Score: 4 Out of 5

iMovie - Apple

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