Do I ever have my work cut out for me

Last week, Apple dropped a bomb I knew was going to arrive at the most inconvenient time: the release of iLife ’08. For the last few years, the peak event for my professional life has been Macworld Expo in January, where Apple typically announces new hardware and software. One of my major book projects has been my iMovie & iDVD Visual QuickStart Guide, and in general Apple has revved the software each year.

But not this time around. Apple threw all of its focus onto the iPhone last January, without a peep about iLife. I was still plenty busy with projects, but suddenly my iMovie/iDVD book became a moving target. Months passed, and I heard rumors that perhaps iLife contained features that were specific to Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, but then Leopard was delayed until October. A few weeks ago, a rumor site named August 7 as the introduction of new iMacs and iLife, which incredibly turned out to be true.

Normally, I’d be happy (and I am, really – when you’re a freelance writer, having work is good). The timing isn’t so great in terms of other projects I’m working on now, but okay. It wasn’t until I was following along with online coverage of Apple’s special media event last Tuesday that I started hyperventilating.

iMovie ’08 is a completely new application. Not just we’ve-cleaned-up-the-code new. No, the old iMovie HD has been shelved in favor of this new version, which sports a completely different interface, a few completely different ways of working (some good, some bad), and lots of features missing from its predecessor. I wrote about it in TidBITS last week (see “New iLife ’08 Revealed, .Mac Upgraded,” 2007-08-13), and also wrote the First Look article for Macworld, which starts out:

Take what you know about iMovie, put it into an imaginary box, and store that box in a corner of your brain for now. When Steve Jobs unveiled iLife ’08 (Best Current Price: $69.98) and mentioned that Apple is “completely replacing one of the key apps with something that takes it to a whole new level,” he wasn’t exaggerating. iMovie ’08 is a completely new video editing program that just happens to have inherited the iMovie name.

I’ve also written the First Look for iDVD ’08, which was posted today:

If you watch Apple’s webcast of its August 7 product announcements for news of iDVD ’08, it may take you longer to jump ahead to that point in Steve Jobs’ presentation (the 54-minute mark or so) than the 33 seconds Jobs spends on the DVD-authoring component of iLife ’08 (Best Current Price: $69.98). That gives you a clue to how important DVD creation has become at Apple.

What all this means is that I need to basically rewrite a huge chunk of my iMovie book (it also affects a couple of the other projects on my plate). I was scheduled to write the full review of iMovie ’08 for Macworld, but had to beg off when I realized that the laws of time and space wouldn’t provide enough time to do it.

Now that I’ve stopped hyperventilating, I’m not really complaining (much), because this also represents a good challenge to create new material. That’s exciting. But it also means that me and 2 a.m. get to become close friends again for the next month or two.

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