The Precision Editor opens up a new window that occupies the bottom half of the screen, showing the start of your selected clip and the end of the previous clip. You can now fine-tune the exact point of transition between the two clips.
At first glance you think the Precision Editor is going to be horrendously complicated to use, but really it's simplicity itself, and we felt at home with it in minutes. You can also click the Audio button inside the Precision Editor to adjust the audio of the clip separately, so the audio from the first clip can continue past the video cut-off point. You can also use the Precision Editor with transitions too.
We're impressed with this new tool, since it cures one of our biggest bugbears with iMovie '08 – the clumsy way we had to trim clips to achieve the same results. It's not quite multi-track video editing (for that you still need to step up to Final Cut Express), but it's the next best thing.
The rather slim selections of Titles in iMovie '08 has been increased in iMovie '09, and they now come with a selection of nicely animated backgrounds. There are also new options accessible via the new Actions menu for adjusting how fast a clip plays, and for playing it in reverse.
Finally, we come to perhaps the most impressive new feature of iMovie '09 – video stabilisation. When shooting video on the move we occasionally end up with footage that's ruined because the camera is bouncing around. Video stabilisation corrects this using special technology that compares each frame of the video to the previous frame and the subsequent frame to work out how best to remove the camera shake. In the examples we saw it worked well, but bear in mind that unlike the video effects you can't apply video stabilisation instantly. It will take four times the length of your shot to render the video stabilisation onto it.
You can also add video stabilisation as you are importing your footage from your camcorder, rather than afterwards.
GarageBand is perhaps the most powerful application in the iLife suite, and it's got an exciting new addition in the '09 version – Lessons. These come in two forms: Basic Lessons and Artists Lessons.
Basic Lessons offer 18 free videos that will teach you how to play guitar and piano, while the Artist Lessons cost $4.99 (UK price is still to be confirmed) each and can be downloaded from the iTunes Store.
The famous artists who will be on hand to help you include Sting, Sarah McLachlan, Fall Out Boy, Norah Jones, Colbie Cailllat, Sara Bareilles, John Fogerty, OneRepublic and Ben Folds.
We had a lot of fun playing around with the Artists Lessons – you can choose the view of the guitar they're holding and once you get to the stage of playing the whole song along with them (and their band) you can access a mixer to take different tracks out of the audio mix, so you can silence Sting's voice and just listen to his guitar if you really wanted to (something we're sure many readers will have wanted to do for years!).
There's also an intriguing Open in GarageBand button you can press, but in the Preview version we tried this wasn't functional, so it wasn't clear if you got access to the entire song in GarageBand, to re-mix, or not. Either way, it looks like it will be possible to record yourself playing along with the legends.
Finally, added to this latest version, are some new guitar effects, that recreate five classic guitar amplifiers. You'll also notice that the splash screen opener in GarageBand has also changed, making RingTone options for your iPhone much more accessible and easy to create.
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