Monday, March 24, 2008

Making Movies is easy...Producing them is harder

by Ed Latham

Way back, almost a decade ago, I had the opportunity to attend a Mac Expo and it was great fun. Of particular interest at the Expo was a very early version of iMovie. They sat us down and showed us how to make a movie by simply clicking and dragging with none of that nasty time stop or frame rate issues other programs at the time may have had. It was so much fun and it seemed young and old alike could be cranking out their own home movies with ease.

I have heard all the banter about how the recent version of iMovie is less user friendly than the version that was on the image last year. Using my MacBook and some 6th grade students I thought I would take it for a ride to find out how easy/hard it could be. It did take us some time as the interface is not as easy as some other programs. In the end we had a decent public service announcement ready to go to the local channel except that the MacBook does not have a DVD burner installed? I frantically searched help files, played with different export settings, and even tried some meditation on top of a freezing hill in the middle of a snow storm ... nothing helped me figure out how to share with the world this production created so simply.

During the production, the students and I ran into frequent compatibility issues with sound and graphic files. iMovie would take jpg files but not gif. It would take some audio files but not others. To finally end the process without the ability to crank out a DVD with the MLTI shipped computers was very frustrating. Why is iDVD on there if you can't use it without subscribing to a service or buying new hardware? Maybe I just need someone more experienced to share with me how I messed up and what I might do differently in the future.

In the meantime, I copied all the pictures and audio files from our project and brought them over to my PC. Within an hour I had the entire production recreated and was even able to use the graphic and sounds we were not able to use in iMovie. I suppose it is always easier to go with what you know, but I ask those more experienced than I...."Given the high school teacher's MLTI Macbooks, how do teachers take a movie made in iMovie, mash it through iDVD somehow to get the movie to the public without having to subscribe to some pay service or buy new hardware?" I am anxious to learn new things so please share what you know. In the meantime, I will go share our finished DVD with the kids.


Tony Mourkas said...

Ed, you can export your iMovie in a multitude of formats. Look under the "Share" menu. You can post to an online service, produce a QuickTime file on a CD, etc......

If it is a DVD you seek you will need new hardware. I have an external firewire DVD burner in my lab that works seemlessly with any Mac I have thrown at it including our MLTI MacBooks.

I agree that the "new and improved" iMovie is anything but. In the retail version of iLife Apple chose to include the most recent prior version of iMovie (iMovie HD) alongside the current one.

It is also available from Apple as a free download for those that have the latest version of iMovie already installed. While I like it better and it is more capable, the current version represents the future and sooner or later we will have to accept it..........


Ed Latham said...

Thank you for your insight and suggestions. I had played with the quick time option, but the local television station had requested that it be in DVD format.

I had heard that there was free download of the previous version, but like you, I have debated going back to the old comfy version or fighting to learn the new clunky version. I wonder how much feedback Mac has received concerning iMovie. The fact that the older version comes bundled in the iLife package indicates that they may have heard there were "issues" : )