Some Initial iMovie HD & iDVD 5 Notes

I’m back from Macworld Expo, my head swimming from the announcements at the show and the work I now have coming up. As we wait for iLife ’05 to be released on January 22, I wanted to jot down some notes on what’s new in iMovie HD and iDVD 5 that are worth mentioning.

iMovie HD:

  • Obviously, the addition of HDV support is the feature that appears in neon lights, though I’m not yet convinced that it will be useful to most users. Sony’s new HDR-FX1 HD camcorder that was featured by Apple at the show is exceedingly cool, but it’s also $3,500! Will someone using iMovie be willing to spend that much money? Or is a camera in that range going to be used by people who have already moved on to Final Cut?
  • You can finally open the Trash in iMovie HD and pull clips out that you’d thrown away. It’s always frustrated me that a Trash can existed that couldn’t be opened… what am I, an alley cat?
  • iMovie HD offers near-unlimited Undos, which is nice. I can’t tell yet if it depends on the amount of memory in your machine, or whether the Undos only apply while the project is open (probably not). But it’s better to have more than 10 Undos now.
  • You can rearrange clips in the Timeline Viewer, not just the Clip Viewer.
  • You can import MPEG-4 video such as that found in some digital still cameras; I don’t know yet if that means you can import it directly from the camera, or if you’re importing it from the Finder after you’ve grabbed it from the camera’s memory card.
  • In addition to the HD capability, it appears that iMovie HD will properly handle DV footage that you’ve shot in a camera’s 16:9 mode.

iDVD 5:

  • Steve Jobs made a big deal about the new themes, which is the heart of the improvements. But also notable in those themes is Dynamic Drop Zones, which are animated areas that you can drop photos or video onto. As part of this feature, you can use a scrubber bar at the bottom of the screen to move the animation manually (instead of it playing normally when Motion is enabled).
  • This is potentially huge: you can save an iDVD project to a disc image, which means you can burn your project to a third-party DVD even if you don’t have an Apple SuperDrive installed in your Mac.
  • iDVD cannot burn an HD-DVD, but it will take any HD footage you’ve put into iMovie HD and display it in letterbox format.
  • OneStep DVD lets you grab footage from a camcorder directly and burn a DVD of it.
  • You can burn to DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, and DVD+RW. And, some Macs can burn to DVD±RW and DVD±R.

Update: Apple’s page on DVD media compatibility linked above was confusing; DVD±RW isn’t a new format, it’s a shorthand way of saying “DVD-RW and DVD+RW” (same with ±R).

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