Review: iMovie for iOS

June 4th, 2013

iMovie for iOS App Review
The home screen on iMovie.

For the trip to Omaha, I downloaded a couple new apps to play with in the car. One of those that I've always been intrigued with trying was the iMovie app for iPod, iPhone, and iPad. I knew it wouldn't be nearly as advanced as the iMovie for Mac, but I've always wanted to try it. So, for $5, I took a chance and just bought it.

Upon opening the app, you find yourself staring at a big movie theater sign with all of your options below. As you make movies, they appear as little "posters" in the middle of the screen for you to scroll through. You have the option here to get help, create a new project, watch a movie in optimized full screen, share, download, and delete a movie. When you go to make your first movie, you have the option to create a movie or create a trailer. These are basically your two options for creating movies.

iMovie for iOS App Trailers section
The trailer theme selection - with 12 different themes!

The trailer section is extremely neat, as you have a list of different themes for your trailer, ranging from "fairy tale" to "swashbuckler" to "Bollywood". Once you select the theme for your movie, it gives you a list of default titles and captions that you can replace with your own text. You can change the title of the movie, all the title slides, and even the credits in the end of the movie! Then, you go over to the storyboard and it shows you all of the different shots you need to capture. Once you capture all of these shots, it puts the whole trailer together for you, giving you a very professional looking trailer!

iMovie for iOS App Movie Timeline Screen
The timeline where you can insert media.

The movie section allows much more customization, though it does not contain the range of preset effects found in the trailers section. Here you can add pictures and videos into one layer, sound effects into another layer, and background music in the bottom layer. It does contain a few neat effects, such as crossfades, a preset (yet customizable) Ken Burns effect, and it automatically mixes the audio to become quieter on videos with sound. It also allows you to record video or audio to be put directly into the video, without the need to go over to the camera app to record. It has some neat features, such as when you swipe down on a video clip it automatically splits it into two clips, but I found others somewhat difficult to figure out without the help of a Youtube tutorial.

All is not perfect in this iMovie app as it really does lack some extremely basic features found in even very simple movie programs. You cannot do any color correction to your footage, you can't slow down or speed up clips, you can't move around when the background music begins (it has to start at the very beginning) and even the titles can't be moved around. This app has been around for a while now, so I would have liked to have seen more features put into it by now. I was amazed, however, at how fast this app is. I'm running an almost 3 year old Windows 7, and I have to wait several seconds for each video clip to load when editing on it. My iPod 5th Generation had absolutely no problem keeping up with footage and in all my use of it, it only crashed once.

Basically, iMovie is a terrific app that is well worth a miniscule $5 with lots of fun tools to create simple movies. If you're in the car or stuck in a hotel with nothing to do (like me this past week) it is a terrific app to make very fun, simple movies or trailers. It allows you to do everything from shoot the content to upload it to Youtube, so for a beginning filmmaker it's fun to mess around with. However, if you want to make a really good movie that is several minutes long, or even a full-length movie, this is not the app for you. The amount of lacking features can really limit your creativity, and it would be wise to consider something else. But, the app is a lot of fun to play around with, and I'm sure I will get much use out of it over the years. My advice to anyone would be to get this app, but don't use it for any extremely big projects.

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