iMovie ’08 and iDVD ’08 Are Here!

It’s been a long wait, but Apple today finally announced the next version of iLife. And this time around, there’s more to look at than just a few new features.

iMovie ’08 is, quite literally, a completely new application. Apparently Apple has created a new video editor and replaced what we know to be iMovie. It sports an entirely new interface, and borrows the concept of a library from iPhoto: you can see all of your video in the main window, not just the video you’ve imported into a project. The emphasis here is on speed and polish: In today’s announcement, Steve Jobs said that an engineer wanted to create a movie in less than 20 minutes, and couldn’t easily do it. iMovie ’08 also supports AVCHD (though it’s unclear yet whether the footage is transcoded to AIC (Apple Intermediate Codec) the way HDV footage is), which many new cameras support.

My biggest question (I don’t have the software yet, but it’s shipping today and is available at Apple Stores) is: does this new application improve performance? The single biggest problem with iMovie since version 3, in my opinion, is that performance is hit or miss. On some systems it flies, while on others (even comparatively-configured systems) it’s a slow hog. Let’s hope this one screams.

However, according to a trusted source, there are a few things missing from this version. Themes are gone, as are bookmarks and DVD chapter markers. Are we back to 1.0 status in some ways? We’ll have to wait and see.

iDVD ’08 is also improved, but less so. Apple claims better performance, more themes, and more advanced menu customization with a drop zone editor. The iDVD ’08 Web page also mentions “pro-quality encoding,” but it’s not yet clear what that means.

Exciting days ahead! I’m not going to sleep for a month.

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