iMovie ’11 sucks. It really, truly, sincerely is the worst editing program I’ve ever used. I had heard, obliquely, that iMovie ’11 was terrible. But it had its fans as well. I just carried on, oblivious, because my ancient Macbook is running iMovie ’08 (before my hard drive crashed I was rocking ’06, arguably the best version), and I have zero plans to upgrade my computer or operating system in the near future.
Enter my mom’s friend Kathleen. Kathleen is awesome. Kathleen also has roughly 20 Walgreens DVD disks and around 30 MiniDVD disks of home videos. Being the awesome mom that she is, Kathleen wanted to edit parts of the home videos featuring her daughter into a personalized home video. She also recently purchased a shiny new MacBook Pro running Lion and iLife ’11. My mom told her I was Apple proficient, and she hired me on to teach her the ways of the force. I easily taught Kathleen the basics of iMovie. I also introduced her to MPEG Streamclip (which is AWESOME), and downloaded the completely unnecessary waste of $20 QuickTime MPEG-2 Playback Component to allow Streamclip to preview video. (To my understanding, this plugin comes standard on PC computers…but costs $20 to install on a Mac. Not Streamclip’s fault…) Streamclip worked great. For a free program, it’s pretty frickin spiffy. It does many things, but we used it to import video from the Walgreens DVD’s, and exported it into a DV format that would be fairly good quality and easily importable into iMovie.
Enter iMovie. It worked like a charm…until it decided that it was handling too much footage, and completely shit out. The edited project running time was 1hr 20mins, and the total amount of footage was over 10 hrs. Yes, 10 hours of footage is a lot. But the workflow is SO SIMPLE that I don’t see how it could possibly matter if the footage is 5 minutes or 50 hours long! As long as you have ample storage space, it SHOULD be fine. 2 main issues sprang up:
1. The video in the Project window would not play.
2. The video in the Event window would play, but had no sound.
3. Within the Project Library, I was unable to choose the project to edit it.
The video imported from the DVD’s plays back fine, but the minute it is imported into iMovie, the shit hits the fan. (Yes, the audio on the computer was turned up. The audio settings on the Mac are correct. The audio settings in iMovie are correct. I tried all the “DUH!” solutions.) Now, if this was Final Cut, I would make sure it was accessing the video from the right location. I would double check to make sure the workflow made sense, and there weren’t any goofed up settings. I would manually save the project, and restart the program. I could easily go online, search for the specific problem I’m having, and have a clear and direct solution within minutes.
NOT SO for iMOVIE!
It’s been so “simplified” that you literally can’t work “inside” it to fix what is wrong. iMovie has NO manual save option. It only saves automatically. You can’t select where you want the project to save, outside of either “Main Hard Drive” or “External Hard Drive.” iMovie ’11 has NO official manual. You can find other people experiencing the same problem online, but there are NO official solutions!! The only surefire way I can find to fix ANY problem in iMovie ’11 is to REINSTALL THE ENTIRE OS!!
I did find a half-assed solution to the “No Audio in the Event” and “Can’t Select the Project in the Library” issues. Basically, every single time you want to edit or access either of them, you need to arbitrarily re-name the event/project, double click it so it does some mysterious “optimizing” operation, AND IT’S MAGICALLY FIXED. But you need to re-name it every. single. time.
Okay, something is obviously wrong in iMovie. I figured, lets see if we can export it to iDVD, and maybe it’ll work properly there. (SIDE RANT: iDVD isn’t included with iLife ’11!!! WTF? They give you iMovie to edit videos, but you have no included way of burning it to a disk!?!?! Grandma and Grandpa don’t want to dick around on YouTube or some shit to see a home video! They want a DVD they can stick into their DVD player and watch on their TV! Grrrrrrr. END SIDE RANT) I wait an hour for it to export…and now the VIDEO works but the AUDIO doesn’t!!
Honestly, if you are working on a 3-5 minute YouTube video, iMovie ’11 is fine. Editing is easy, just select, drag, and drop. One small improvement in iMovie ’11 is that you can actually EDIT YOUR AUDIO separately from the video. Yep. iMovie ’09 didn’t have that capability. But if you have an hour or more of footage, or are planning on editing a video any longer than 10 minutes, STAY AWAY. Save your sanity, obtain Final Cut 7, spend an extra 30 minutes learning it, and be on your merry way.
I’ve loved Apple since I bought the original MacBook way back in 2006. My sister and mother each bought a Mac after I did, and I’ve been expounding on the awesomeness of Apple for many years. But in all honesty, after the bullcrap I’ve put up with from iMovie ’11, the inanity of not including iDVD in iLife ’11, and the ridiculousness of Final Cut X, my faith has been greatly shaken. I would never consider going back to a PC, but I probably won’t promote Apple with my previous zeal. More and more, it seems Apple is going after the quick $$ (iPhone & iPad) and ignoring the products that build true loyalty (Apple OS, Software, Mac Computers.)
A system that is built for simplicity IS NOT the same as a system built for stupidity.