While Apple’s iMovie has always been a fairly powerful piece of movie editing software, its main attraction is that it’s a free and simple way to start creating your own videos. But iMovie for iPhone and iPad offers surprisingly little in the way of orientation when opened – it’s up to the user to figure out how to organize their movie.
Apple is changing that dramatically today with iMovie 3.0 for iOS and iPadOS, a free download now available. The program features two new creation modes, Magic Movie and Storyboard, to help people create videos for the first time.
Magic Movie automates a lot of the video creation process while still leaving room for a lot of customization, assuming you want to dig into the details. Apple recommends that you start by choosing an album with related videos and photos, but you can also select photos and videos manually. From there, Magic Movie will analyze the content and search for things like faces, dialogue, and motion to select the best parts of the videos and create a movie from there, complete with transitions and music. The end result reminds me a lot of the Memories that the iOS Photos app builds automatically — and those memories also combine video and photo from the same day or event and add audio and transitions to them.
Once Magic Movie puts together a project for you, there are plenty of customizations you can make from there. Naturally, you can remove photos or videos that you don’t want in the project, and also quickly cut clips to show only the action you want. Instead of using the traditional horizontal timeline view, clips and photos are embedded in a vertically scrolled left side column (on iPhone, it appears below the video preview); You can easily drag and drop them to rearrange your video stream. Clicking on an item in the left column gives you a greater selection of editing controls.
Another great piece of iMovie 3.0’s customization tools is a feature called Styles. These apply to the entire video and include things like fonts, color palettes, filters, music, and transitions. There are a total of 20 to choose from, and while you can just set one and forget about it, you also have the option to go in and tweak those individual properties if you want a bit more control over the final product.
Storyboards has a lot in common with Magic Movie, but it’s a much more handy tool. Storyboards start by giving you more than 20 different video templates to choose from – the options include video themes like ‘DIY’, ‘A Day in the Life’, ‘How it works’, ‘Games’, ‘Q&A’, etc. When you select one of these options, the column on the left side is populated with an approximate structure for that video style, including broad categories and then examples of specific shots.
In a demo, Apple showed off a DIY project, which includes categories like Introduction, Overview, Supplies, etc. Each of these sections is then populated with suggestions for different types of shots (widescreen shot, close-up shot etc.). While you can obviously only import videos from your library directly into these suggestions, you can also shoot directly on your iPhone or iPad and insert that clip into the slot.
As with Magic Movie, you can rearrange and delete any suggestions from the left column, and clicking on them allows you to do more editing. The new styles that are part of Magic Movie can also be applied here. The basic idea behind Storyboards is to give aspiring creators a framework to use when trying to put together a video, and while I haven’t tried the app yet, it seems like a smart idea. As someone who’s done quite a bit of video editing in their time, I can definitely see using Storyboard as inspiration to start a video if I have an idea I’d like to pursue.
Once you’ve finished your creation, you can export it in a variety of video formats, with resolutions up to 4K; HDR content you may have filmed with is also preserved. You can also export your iMovie project and open it on your Mac. But before you do that, you should know that Storyboards and Magic Movie features are only available when using iMovie on your iPad or iPhone. Videos created with these tools will be exported in an iMovie-compatible format on your Mac, but you won’t be able to edit or change styles, for example.
If you want to try these new iMovie features, the updated app will arrive today and will work on any iPhone with iOS 15.2 or higher, and on any iPad with iPadOS 15.2 or higher.
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