Book Review
iMovie 2 For Macintosh, Visual Quickstart Guide

iMovie 2 For Macintosh, Visual Quickstart Guide
Jeff Carlson

Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-201-78788-1
US $19.99 CA $29.95 UK £14.99
182 pages not including Index

iMovie is Apple Computer’s solution to nonlinear video editing for the rest of us. It’s currently at version 2 and runs natively on Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X. If you have purchased a computer from Apple in the past 2 years, you probably have this software. It’s part of the included software package on nearly every Mac sold.

It runs only on a Mac, and it is the overwhelming favorite among reviewers and users alike, causing some to actually switch platforms from the world of Windows just to experience the ease of use and power available in this incredible piece of software. It comes with no manual.

That’s right. It comes without a manual. None. Not in PDF. Not in HTML. Oh, pardon me, there’s help in Apple’s Help menu. There’s the web site. There are lists devoted to iMovie users discussing iMovie. There are web sites devoted to just this software. But no manual.

Some people think that software like this is so simple it doesn’t need a manual. They would be wrong. Those people don’t like manuals. People who insist on a manual will fork out good money (and well they should) for David Pogue’s classic iMovie 2, The Missing Manual. That book, which I own and have read most of the way through, is an excellent book for the manual-loving software user.

What about all those users who don’t think they need a manual? These courageous, perhaps reckless, individuals insist on opening the software, inserting the CD or downloading the Installer, ignore the ReadMe First!!! documents, and immediately start using the software just as soon as it’s installed. These are also the users that ask the questions on the various discussion lists that could easily be answered if they would just read the manual! To which they reply, “Hey, there IS no manual.” That’s where the Visual Quickstart Guide series comes in. There are no lengthy explanations, just lots of concise steps with clear pictures on every page.

Jeff Carlson, managing editor at Tidbits, noted author, and all around really smart guy, successfully anticipates the readers’ needs with this book. It’s THE problem-solving book for iMovie 2 users. Whether you use Mac OS 9 or Mac OS X, whether you are an “old video camera expert” or new to the whole field, there’s a lot here to get you quickly over any hurdles you chance to come upon. And you WILL come upon a hurdle or three the first time you try and create a decent movie from within the bowels of that videotape. In here are answers to iMovie video editing’s great questions:

  • Which of the zillion features on my camera are rally useful; which ones should I ignore?
  • What are all those numbers in the viewfinder there for?
  • How do I add narration, remove sounds, split and splice clips, import music, apply an effect to an effect to an effect?
  • What is iDVD and why would I care?
  • How can I make my movies look good on the big screen AND on my iTools web site?
  • How do I fix the clip I just screwed up? And what’s that trash can for, anyway?
  • Why is moving the camera bad? When is it ever good? Can I work around it in iMovie?
  • How can I use all the old analog video I’ve collected over the years?And so much more. You’ll find there’s more to iMovie than you thought possible, and you’ll find out about some great 3rd party tools as well. There’s a companion web site where you’ll find some links from the book and sample movies and images that help clarify some of the concepts where the book uses black and white to explain something best visualized in color.

    The book doesn’t stray much beyond iMovie 2. It doesn’t attempt to answer a lot of philosophical questions such as if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to film it… well you know what I mean. If you need that kind of book for iMovie, you probably want iMovie 2, The Missing Manual. If you want something less than half the size that covers about every possible feature and does it succinctly, with pictures, then this is the book for you. I find myself pulling it off the shelf beside me constantly when working on video projects.

    MacMice Rating: 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey McPheeters

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