Company: Apple Computers
I am not a rich man. This means several things. It means I canâ€™t just hop on a private jet and go to a MacWorld Expo when they happen. It means I canâ€™t just drop everything and sip pina coladas on a tropical beach with a warm beach breeze shooting up my bathing suit watching scantily clad girls with very little on frolic and, well never mind all that. What it mostly means is that I have responsibilities and bills to pay. With two kids and a mortgage, I donâ€™t have lots of spare cash, so when a bargain comes along; I try to take advantage of it. iLife 05 at $79 is such a bargain.
Yes, I hear the cries of multitudes wailing that iLife 04 was $49. Before that, the various pieces were free downloads (well except for iDVD). To all of you I say, tough noogies. Look around, smell the coffee. Try and find any other integrated multi-media software suite as fully featured as iLife at this price. Go ahead, Iâ€™ll wait. Hmmm hmmmm hmmmm. Oh youâ€™re back? What did you find? My guess is nothing for the Mac or any other platform that does everything to what iLife 05 does. At even twice the price if anything near exists. Yes there are suites that offer many of iLifeâ€™s functions, but they are unusually clumsy, not as fully featured, and not all the pieces work with each other. So lets push it out of the equation. This qualifies as a deal.
Iâ€™ve heard some complaints about installing iLife 05. Corruption of photo or music libraries has made the rounds in some Mac forums, but I didnâ€™t experience any problems myself. As with any installation of this type, back up your data in case of catastrophic failure.
No review would be complete without talking about some of the new features of the packages that make up iLife 05. Iâ€™ll take each in order and tell you what I like about it.
As a photo archiver, iPhoto was pretty good. Each download from your digital camera was in its own folder, easily found but year/month/day. It gave you a thumbnail view of each picture which made finding the exact one you wanted easy. Itâ€™s editing functions were sub par at best however. Brightness, contrast, retouch, red-eye removal, crop, yawn. If you were at all serious about photography, you had a copy of Adobeâ€™s Photoshop or Photoshop Elements or some other full-featured image editor. The new editing features of iPhoto 05 probably wonâ€™t make you sell your copy on eBay anytime soon, but itâ€™s a vast improvement over what was offered before. Besides the typical brightness and contrast, iPhoto now includes easy to use slide bars for exposure, saturation, sharpness, temperature, and tint. Is your photo slight off kilter? The straighten feature will put it right. Of course all your old favorites are still here as well. My only complaint about the new editing features is that to get to it isnâ€™t very intuitive. To get access to the editing features, first select a photo and hit the â€œEditâ€ button on the bottom palate. Once the edit window comes up, find the double right arrow next to the â€œDoneâ€ button. Single clicking it brings up a drop menu with two choices, Sepia and Adjust. Choosing â€œSepiaâ€ gives your photo that â€œWow! What an old photo!â€ look. Choosing â€œAdjustâ€, brings up the advanced editing window.
Still prefer Adobe? No problem. Specify that program in iPhotoâ€™s preferences and double-clicking an image starts it right up. In the past this was a mixed blessing if all you wanted to do was something simple. It was an all or nothing thing. Now, if all you need is iPhotoâ€™s tools instead, simply click the edit button. Double-click for your outside program, edit button for iPhoto. A nice touch.
Apple has made some improvements to the user interface as well. If youâ€™re in edit mode, a scroll bar on the top allows access to your entire library. Edit one photo and go on to the next without having to leave edit mode. The program now allows for direct importation of RAW files as well.
Last year according the Steve Jobs, was the â€œYear of the Laptopâ€. This year is the â€œYear of High-Definition.â€ OK, whatever Steve. Let me know when inexpensive HD DV camcorders are available. Of course inexpensive means different things to different people. To me it means I can buy one and not totally hack off my wife for spending a lot of cash. Which means I wonâ€™t be buying a HDV camcorder anytime soon. However, when I do, iMovie will be waiting. iMovie 05 now supports High Definition Video. The formats supported are; HDV (720p and 1080i), MPEG-4 and iSight (more later), DV, and DV widescreen.
What does this mean to most people? Probably not a lot. There are other changes in iMovie that will mean something. Like direct MPEG support. No more using QuickTime Pro to convert to DV. That alone will save me a lot of time. You can also now use your iSight camera to import live video and audio. Of course new transitions, titles, effects, and Skywalker sounds are included as well. Apple promises greater stability as well. I must say in varied light and heavy use, I did not experience a crash similar to what happened on occasion with iMovie 3 and 4.
One thing I noticed was that iMovie no longer performs renders on multiple clips at the same time. In previous versions, as you made changes to titles, effects, or transitions, each clip would show a black bar that would steadily turn red as the clip was rendered. As you changed more clips, the progress of each would slow and gradually speed up as each clip finished. I canâ€™t be sure, but this may have led to some of the instability of the previous versions. The new version of iMovie now only renders one clip at a time. As each finishes, the next one takes over and so on. I canâ€™t say whether this makes rendering faster, but if it doesnâ€™t crash, I wonâ€™t complain.
Another nice feature is added support for stills. Whether imported from iPhoto or another source, you can extend the length of time for the still using a slide bar right underneath the zoom slide bar instead of having to double-click it and manually change the time in a separate window. The â€œKen Burnsâ€ feature still works great like it always has.
The editing screen is slightly wider to accommodate HDV, but other than that, the interface hasnâ€™t really changed all that much. There is better support of drag and drop between iMovie and itâ€™s siblings. Drag and drop a video to a pane in iDVD instead of having to go to that program and searching for it. Drag and drop also extends to iWorkâ€™s â€œKeynoteâ€ program for interactive presentations. All the integration between iMovie and the other iLife aps work the same as it ever was.
Another new aspect of iMovie 05 is something Apple calls â€œMagic iMovieâ€. In a nutshell, you hook up your camcorder, click â€œMagic iMovieâ€ and the program takes over from there. It sucks up the video, adds titles, transitions, chapter marks, and will even send it over to iDVD without you being there. I havenâ€™t tried it yet, so I wonâ€™t say how well this works. I canâ€™t imagine it would be all that great (How the heck does it know what titles to put in?), but Iâ€™ll reserve judgment until I try it.
The last word for now from me on iMovie 05 is not a positive. If you have purchased iMovie add-on programs from companies like Gee Three, be prepared for some of those features to no longer work. There are some compatibility issues with volumes 3,5,6, and 8. Gee Three has some work arounds (Click HERE for the page describing the problems and solutions in some cases), but if you rely on some of these add-ins for your day to day stuff, you may want to wait before buying iLife 05. According to their website, Gee Three now has a download that will correct some of the problems with their add-ins.
What can you say about this program that makes it better? As you might expect, Apple has included more themes and tighter integration with the other iApps. Thatâ€™s to be expected. But before you move on, lets see whatâ€™s under the hood. There are really some exciting changes that Apple made that will affect not only your decision to buy this software, but possibly what your future hardware requirements might be as well. A bold statement for sure, but bear with me.
Many of the themes now have what Apple calls â€œDrop Zonesâ€. These are areas where you can drop photos or movies from anywhere and iDVD will incorporate it into your theme. There are also improved editable maps (a screen that shows you the path of your videos). HDV is supported in iDVD as well and multiple formats (DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, and DVD+RW) can be used.
Kind of like iMovieâ€™s â€œMagic iMovieâ€, iDVD has â€œOneStep DVDâ€. Hook up your Camcorder and click a button. iDVD will suck up the video and put it on DVD. Great if all you want to do is archive some video. I wouldnâ€™t use it as a finished product, but itâ€™s a nice feature.
Whatâ€™s the REALLY big news? How about being able to burn DVDs from DVD burners OTHER than an Apple approved internal SuperDrive? Save your project as a disk image and burn it in any DVD burner with Apple drivers. Now you donâ€™t need a SuperDrive to use iDVD.
GarageBand has been a huge success for Apple. It has been such a success that I would be hard pressed to come up with any new features that it didnâ€™t already have. Good thing I donâ€™t work for Apple.
Most of the improvements will benefit real musicians as compared to loop meisters like me. How about multi-track recording (up to eight tracks at once if your hardware has the wherewithal), a built-in guitar/bass tuner, and on the fly music notation. Now you change the tempo and key of the loops you record. If your singer or guitarist was just a wee bit off on their playing, GarageBand 2 has timing and pitch adjustments that will work with any loop.
GarageBand 2 also now has instant music notation of any selected software instrument loop that you create. The music or loops you create are editable (in either notes or notation form) as well in case you make a mistake. They are not however printable.
GarageBand really is a separate application from the other members of the iLife family. There is no direct link to any of the iLife programs other than iTunes. Might have been nice if Apple could have allowed drag and drop .band files directly into iMovie or iDVD. In order to use a GarageBand composition within, say, iMovie, you must export it to iTunes and then it is available to all the other iApps. I wouldnâ€™t exactly call that integration.
iTunes is the last free download in the iLife stable. It hasnâ€™t really changes that much from the 04 version except to add iPod shuffle/USB connectivity and to break Real.comâ€™s Harmony program that allowed Real AAC files to play on an iPod.
If you downloaded the most recent update to iTunes, you already have this.
Are you ready for this? Stock Beige G3s are officially out in the cold with this release. Teardrop iMacs will be hard pressed to make the grade as well.
A Mac computer with at least a 400Mhz G3 processor (600 Mhz or faster required for GarageBand)
Mac OS X 10.3.4
G4 or G5 required for GarageBand software instruments and the advanced editing features of iPhoto.
733 MHz G4 required for iDVD
1 GHz required for the High Definition features of iMovie HD. I wouldnâ€™t worry too much about this one. If you have one of those expensive HD camcorders, you arenâ€™t using iMovie
256 Mb minimum RAM required (Apple recommends 512. File this under No excrement Sherlock)
A display capable of 1024 X 768 resolution
DVD drive required to install iDVD and GarageBand
A SuperDrive is required to install iDVD (Technically this is not true. You can install iDVD without a SuperDrive present by using installation options instead of default)
4.3 Gb of Hard Drive space.
Breaking it down, it comes out like this
733 Ghz or better G4/G5 processor
OS X 10.3.4
512 Mb of RAM or better
DVD drive (SuperDrive recommended)
4.5 Gb of Hard Drive space
A display capable of 1024 X 768 resolution
That leaves out a lot of pretty current hardware. If you have the hardware to use it, iLife 05 is incredible. Even having said all this, I still think iLife 05 is a bargain. If your hardware is up to the task, I would get it. Iâ€™m dinging 1 and 1/2 stars for high hardware requirements, some weird interface features of iPhoto, and iMovie breaking some third party add-ons. Iâ€™m adding 1/2 star for allowing DVD burners to use iDVD.