The New iLife Lives Large on the Web

By Rob Pegoraro
Thursday, August 23, 2007

When you've created a photo album, a slideshow or a movie, the natural impulse is to find an audience to applaud your effort. But who should that audience be: a few people peering over your shoulder, several spectators in front of the television or the two-dozen people you e-mail all the time?

Apple's iLife '08 gives you another option: anybody on the Internet.

This set of picture, video, DVD, audio and Web page-editing programs -- called iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, GarageBand and iWeb -- comes free with new Macs and has become a core selling point for Apple's computers as well as a moving target that Windows developers struggle to keep up with.

The new version, a $79 upgrade for owners of old releases, is the biggest change in years. Far more than other releases, iLife '08 emphasizes public sharing over private enjoyment: uploading video to YouTube, not burning it to DVD.

Apple is following fashion in some respects -- look at how many photos show up on sites like Flickr, Photobucket and Picasa and how few wind up as prints. In other ways, though, iLife '08 constitutes an act of fortune-telling. Apple has axed good features of past iLife releases to focus on Web sharing in an apparent belief that its users want to be authors and publishers.

No iLife component shows this shift more than iMovie.

It barely resembles earlier versions and dumps so many editing tools that Apple gives iLife '08 users a free download of that prior version. It can't even open projects created with the old iMovie HD, but the new release makes it far easier to share your video online.

IMovie '08 can index any scrap of video, from fuzzy camera phone snippets to clips shot with a digital camera's video mode to high-definition camcorder footage, and place it all in a timeline format.

Quick drag-and-drop commands then allow you to trim clips, string them along into a short movie, add music from iTunes and mix in transitions. This new software makes it easier to get a movie done quickly, though harder to get it done well.

A few more clicks will park the video on YouTube or Apple's $99.95-a-year .Mac service, where you can choose various quality levels for better viewing on such devices as an iPod, iPhone or Apple TV.

Putting your work on a DVD, however, is not so easy. Without the old version's "Send to iDVD" command, you must pick some non-obvious file-export options. (IDVD itself has barely been altered in iLife '08.)

One consequence of this focus on online sharing: a program ill-suited for clips longer than a single song. IMovie '08 works best for short-attention-span theater.

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