iLife 09 First Impressions

So far I’ve spent some time with GarageBand, iPhoto and iMovie. GarageBand is mostly a face-lift, iPhoto has two major new features, and iMovie has both new features and a face-lift.
You can finally start GarageBand without having to get rid of that Grand Piano track. The music loops have moved to the right side of the interface, and the whole interface seems to have taken a step toward iMovie and the other iLife applications. At the start of the iLife suite, GarageBand was certainly the odd one out in terms of looks, but now it fits in better.
I also found the interface to be a bit more solid. The guesswork of hitting the track segment corners to loop a track or trim it now seem a little more definite. You’ve also got more well-defined ringtones options when you start GarageBand. I didn’t get to try out the lessons yet.
iPhoto’s two new features are locations and faces. The locations feature is interesting. Of course, the only photos I have that have a location are the ones I’ve taken with my iPhone since upgrading to the iPhone 3G. But it was kinda fascinating. I zoomed in on my home city and saw pins everywhere, in places I didn’t recognize. But as I clicked on them I rediscovered photos: oh, yea, the trip to the zoo. And that’s the time we went to that restaurant, etc.
I did struggle for a bit with a photo that was misplaced. I had to go deep into the interface and create a custom location for that photo to correct it. Glad I didn’t have any more of those.
The faces features really impressed me. You start off by letting it process your entire library to prepare it for faces. It took about 30 minutes for my collection. Then you select a photo and see the faces outlined in it. You pick a face and give it a name. Then you go to a screen where it tries to find that person in other photos. But it zeroes in on their faces, so a glance is all you need to decide. You just click once for yes, twice for no. Then when you complete the list, it gets an even better idea of who that person is. So you do it again. And again. In minutes you’ve tagged hundreds of photos. And it’s fun! In the end, you’ve tagged all your photos quickly and easily.
iMovie is a big one for me. I use iMovie to make the MacMost video podcast. So any major changes could have a drastic effect on my work.
But I’m happy to say that everything from iMovie 08 seems to work in iMovie 09. So no harm done. It does take a few extra clicks to change projects, which I do a lot to copy and paste pieces, but not a big deal.
The new precision editor is nice, though only a slight improvement over the clip trimmer that was already there. The video effects is a big new feature, though I hope there is some way to add new effects, or third-party effects. The image stabilization feature is very nice, and the perfect complement to owning a simple camera like the Flip that doesn’t have built-in image stabilization.
The maps feature is a curious one. You can pick a style of globe or flat map and then one or two locations. It will then animate a line drawn between the locations, also rotating the globe. It is interesting, but there are only a few styles so pretty soon these will be recognizable as “iMovie maps” and only useful in home video DVDs, and not presentations or anything semi-professional.
In general I like the changes in iMovie and I’m glad to see it getting better without being totally remade like last time.

Comments: 3 Responses to “iLife 09 First Impressions”

    Daniel
    1/29/09 @ 12:57 pm

    Very good review, thank you!
    I hope you’ll also be reviewing iWorks. I use that on the job all the time.

    Sjon
    4/2/09 @ 9:06 am

    I have one question about imovie 09. Where are all the video/sound effects in 09 that we had in 06? I really want to know where you can change the pitch of the voice and the speed of the clip. That has been a big problem and a cut back on short movies i make.

      4/2/09 @ 9:14 am

      It has been so long since I have used iMovie 06 that I can’t remember what you mean. But I do know that after you export a movie you can import it into GarageBand and do all sorts of things to the soundtrack. Also in iMovie 09 you can alter the speed of the clip easily.

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