iMovie v.8.0.3: More than meets the eye


We all know how secretive Apple is about unreleased products, but it's especially striking how quiet they can be with released products. As noted by myself, and others, iMovie updates often have a lot more to them than Apple lets on.

Since the update went out yesterday, I've learned about a huge new list of fixes and features in this version. Here is the detailed rundown:

Ken Burns now works with video clips.
How cool is this? Instead of simply zooming in on part of a clip, you can now dynamically pan and zoom within a clip while it plays. Of course, because of the way the feature works, you can only move the effect in one direction within a clip. If you want to move in then out, just split the clip into two pieces and apply a different Ken Burns effect on the second bit. Whatever you do with it, this will make your pans and zooms look like you did them with professional film equipment. Here's a little sample.

Manual audio fades can now last up to 5 seconds long.
This is a huge deal because the previous limit was only two seconds.

Editing to the beat works with automatic transitions.
Again, a really big deal. Because of the way beat markers worked (a.k.a. didn't work) with transitions, editing a project to the beat meant you had to either go without transitions or spend forever adjusting your timings. Now iMovie can add automatic transitions and keep the cuts to the beat. Because of the way that transitions shorten clips, if you plan on removing automatically added transitions, keep an eye on the effect it has on your cut timings.

One other oddity about this feature is that with automatic transitions turned on, selecting too much footage will cause iMovie to skip over beat markers. It appears that you need to be sure to select less footage than there is time between beats. This is not the case with automatic transitions turned off. In that case, any size selection will downsize to the next beat marker.

You can optimize processor-intensive video clips.
Scrubbing video clips in processor-heavy formats like h.264 can really bog down your Mac, defeating the purpose of scrubbing altogether. (Flip HD cameras shoot in just such a format.) Now you can optimize these video clips with a new menu option (File->Optimize Video). Choosing this prompts iMovie to convert the selected clip(s) into Apple Intermediate Codec, which makes for bigger files, but ones that scrub and preview more smoothly. You can optimize either in full quality, preserving HD resolutions, or downgrade optimized clips to Apple's favorite HD alternative, 960x540.

Turning off automatic transitions maintains project duration.
This fixes a bug that otherwise wreaked havoc on your clip timings.

Overall stability and speed have improved.
You'll probably find improvements in theme and map rendering times, playback, and app launching time.

My understanding that other bugs have been squashed like screen sleep messing things up and free space estimates being incorrect. Altogether, this is a very impressive X.x.x update.


austinnate said...

once again you provide a valuable training, teaching, & learning service that I would otherwise be blind to.
PLEASE keep it up!!!

Ryan said...

Thanks for letting us know about these "hidden" updates. It seems like Apple intentionally leaves it up to the users to find them...

toder said...

Thanks for the useful information!
I use the Sanyo FH1, which also records in mp4, and having a way to avoid the aic conversion is great, since it now imports much quicker, and I dont have such a performance issue while editing.

One severe bug still exists - it downgrades all imported clips to 30 fps (my FH1 takes 60 progressive frames per second) - I wish they fix this soon.


Kenneth said...

Awesome, thanks for the feature review!

Ranjeet said...


After numerous Disk space issues on our Apple network, we have decided to upgrade our tiger 10.4 network over to 10.5 leopard with the latest version of iMovie.

As we are a school and had numerous students creating iMovie projects, we were finding students projects were taking huge amounts of disk space.

Our students were using JVC Hard Drive camcorders to get footage and import this into iMovie 06. We found that because iMovieHD works in 'raw' DV which is around 13GB per hour of video and quickly we found our 3.5tb of network storage was slowly running out.

Now we have upgraded to the new version, I want to ensure we dont make the same mistakes. As we are a school the highest quality of video is NOT needed, we just need viewable quality video and video sufficient enough to work with in iMovie for simple school projects.

Could other users tell me what best practises are when working with video in iMovie, I am particularly interested hearing from users who use iMovie on a network. On iMovieHD we would convert the raw DV file into mp4 using freeware tool such as ffmpeg but this is time consuming and its not possible for us to teach students to do this as they have limited time in lesson anyway.

I am worried that using these hard drive camcorders we may have similar issues when importing footage into iMovie 09. Is there a way we can tell iMovie that when a movie is imported that it can automatically compresses it or it uses a different compression method to ensure project,movie files dont increase dramatically in size?

We have been testing a flip camera ( and these dont require a firewire cable, just simply plug into USB and are very easy for students to get video to use in iMovie. They are also adequate quality for a school environment and files sizes are smaller. This is a solution but is this the only one?

Any suggestions and advice on this would be appreciated.

Brandon said...

Thanks for the info.

When you optimize video (so it previews better) does that "optimized" video get used when you export? In other words, does iMovie go back and use the original video when it comes time to publish the video?

Feureau said...

Yeah, I was wondering the same thing with Brandon. If I opimize an 1080 HD vid with 960x540 does it mean I can only export at that size or will it use the original source on export, preserving full resolution?