Just the simple act of writing about shooting and editing movies on a mobile phone still sounds like something out of the future. But, if you’ve got one of the newest iPhone 4 models, plus the $5.99 iMovie app from the App Store, the future is now a reality.
I’ve just spent a weekend with the new iPhone 4 and iMovie, and am pleased to report that shooting and editing an HD movie is now possible from a device that comfortably fits in your jeans pocket. (You can check out the movie I made using iMovie for iPhone at the bottom of this article.)
When you launch iMovie for the first time you’ll be offered the chance to start your first project. The app lets you choose from a number of different themes, each with distinct theme music (that you can also choose not to add) and transitions.
Once you have created your project, you add media to your movie by tapping either the Add From Library icon or the Record From Camera icon. Typically, you’ll choose to add media from your library, and this will reveal a media browser that lets you toggle between your available movies, music and photos.
You have various editing choices depending on the media you insert. If you insert a video (either HD video from the iPhone 4’s camera or older video from a previous iPhone) you can shorten the clip by tapping once and dragging one of the yellow dots. You can also double tap on a clip to bring up the Clip Settings menu.
Clip Settings lets you add a title to your clip, add a location marker (from GPS or manually entered) and toggle audio. If you do choose to add a title there are only three options to choose from; Opening, Middle and Ending. Opening includes an extra line for the location. Unfortunately, text remains for the entire length of the clip, so if you want a shorter title sequence either select a shorter clip or drag the same clip in twice and trim it. You can’t add a title sequence to an image.
You add an image from your photo library to your project in the same manner. Images automatically get the ‘Ken Burns’ treatment, but tapping once on an image in your timeline lets you edit the start and end points.
Adding an audio clip is the least flexible. You can choose to use the included theme audio or select your own audio track from your iPod library. Whichever you choose you can’t edit or add more than one audio track. Thankfully, iMovie will auto-duck the level of your theme or music track, meaning that you will be able to hear any audio present in your video clips.
You can reorder clips by tapping and holding, and then dragging to anywhere else in the timeline. You can delete clips by tapping, holding and dragging out of the timeline and then letting go.
Once your movie is finished you can go back to the main menu by tapping the iMovie icon in the top left hand corner and then tapping the share icon in the bottom left hand corner. Your export options are Medium (360p), Large (540p) or HD (720p).
Remember, iMovie for iPhone is still a Version 1 product. It doesn’t have some of the advanced features of its desktop cousin, but the power of being able to edit a movie on the go is seriously cool.
This article originally appeared in the October issue of Australian Macworld magazine.