With iMovie on the iPad 2, Video Editing Is Fun Again

As much as I loved the original Apple iPad, there was one thing about the device that stuck in my craw: the missing cameras. It was an easy guess when the original product debuted 12 months ago that Apple would rectify the omission in a near-future version. What annoyed me was the certainty that at some point in 2011, I’d be obliged to drop another $500 to $800 on a new iPad. (I really have no choice in the matter, you see. I’m an iAddict.)

Well, I finally snagged an iPad 2 about 10 days ago, after five trips to the Apple Store (which is a story in itself). And, despite my high expectations, I have to report that it was worth the wait and the money. My intuition that the iPad would be a natural platform for shooting and editing video—if only it came with cameras and the proper software—has proved absolutely true.

I’m not saying that news crews, documentarians, and professional vloggers are about to drop their expensive videocams, their Avid suites, or their copies of Final Cut Pro in favor of the iPad 2 (although some might). But after shooting a fair bit of video with the device and authoring three video projects in Apple’s iMovie app for the iPad 2, I’ve concluded that this puppy clears the crucial good enough bar for anyone doing amateur or even semi-serious videography. The high-definition video produced by the device looks great. And iMovie, even though it was designed to be easy for novices to figure out, is surprisingly flexible and powerful.

But beyond all that, shooting and editing video on the new iPad is just fun. It turns out that when you’re capturing raw video clips and then trying to splice them together into something presentable, having a giant glass touchscreen makes all the difference. Something that used to feel like work now feels like play. Which, if you ask me, is exactly what’s so magical about the iPad in general.

I wanted to write about a few of the specifics that make video projects on the iPad 2 such a pleasure.

The screen. For years, makers of consumer videocams and digital cameras like Canon, Sony, and Nikon have vied with each other on two main features. First, it’s about the size of their devices’ liquid crystal displays, measured in diagonal inches. These days, 3-inch LCDs are common. And second, cameramakers have long differentiated themselves on  the resolution of their imaging chips, measured in megapixels: most new cameras these days can capture 10 to 16 megapixels in a still image (less for video).

In the screen size battle, the traditional camera makers can all go home now: Apple has leapfrogged them, perhaps permanently. Shooting still or video images using the iPad 2’s huge 10-inch screen as your viewfinder is an amazing experience—it’s more like holding up a window pane than a camera. (There’s potential here for some very cool augmented reality apps in the future.) And when it comes to editing, the big screen means you have plenty of real estate to browse your clip library, move clips around in your timeline, and view your evolving project.

Megapixels are a different story, though. Both of the iPad’s cameras are under 1 megapixel, which means they’re not great for still photographs. I guess we’ll have to wait for the iPad 3 for that.

The camera app. Shooting video on the iPad 2 is exceedingly simple—you just tap the red button to record and tap it again to stop. You can also adjust exposure by … Next Page »

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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7 responses to “With iMovie on the iPad 2, Video Editing Is Fun Again”

  1. Great information I have found on this blog, please keep us posted, we hope to get future updates soon.

  2. Andy says:

    I have iPad2 but did not use any video editor yet. I shall give a try. Thanks for your post.