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in Filmmaking
on Jan 8, 2009

Below I posted John August’s take on the new iMovie HD, introduced this week at Macworld Expo. Now, the New York TimesDavid Pogue weighs in. He’s mixed/positive on the update, saying that it fixes some of the previous version’s deficiencies while ignoring others. But while most filmmakers don’t use this consumer-level application, I can’t help but think that one new iMovie development may reshape some no-budget filmmakers’ creative arsenals:

Now, longtime readers may recall that I absolutely hated iMovie ’08. It wasn’t iMovie at all; Apple completely junked the beloved iMovie that had served it well for years, and replaced it with something completely unrecognizable, riddled with feature holes.
Some of those holes are filled in the new version (video effects, slow/fast motion, direct export to iDVD) and some aren’t (no export back to tape, no volume-level “rubber banding”). Overall, though, iMovie ’09 appears to be vastly more usable and complete than iMovie ’08 was. Especially when you consider its killer new feature: software stabilization.

This program can do an insanely great job of turning a bouncy, jerky handheld camcorder shot into something smooth and level (following a long period of analysis; let it run unattended while you go get lunch). I tried it on about five different clips, some of which were VERY unsteady. It works so well, a couple of observers complained that it looked unnatural; the floaty SteadiCam feeling is so noticeable, it doesn’t look like home movies anymore. No big deal; you can double-click a stabilized clip to open up an intensity slider that you can adjust to back off the effect.

In general, this feature could do wonders for the great majority of amateur videos.

Will we see the handheld wave that was launched by Jean de Segonzac’s lensing of Laws of Gravity morph into a generation of no-budget Kubricks with their gliding tracking and following shots?

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