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Hands-on: Using iMovie on the iPhone 4 to create, edit and post to YouTube

Every since Apple released iMovie for the iPhone 4 I had been wanting to make a video start-to-finish on the iPhone 4 for no other reason than to see how it worked.  I recently had that opportunity and the result is this Emerging Tech Talk interview with Phil Wolff from Skype Journal:

As other reviewers have noted (two examples: Ars Technica and MacLife), the iMovie app is very limited in terms of the kind of editing you can do and particularly in the types of titling and transitions. When you start a project you choose a "Theme" and that then establishes what titles and transitions you can use. I chose the "Modern" theme and the result is the titles you see.

It was rather frustrating in that I like to have "end credits" at the end of my videos that describe a bit about the video and also leave with a URL for people to go to. If you look at any of my other ETT episodes (like this one) you can see what I'm trying to do. With iMovie on the iPhone, as you'll see at the end I wound up using a bunch of half-screen credits to get the effect I wanted to do.

One other frustration was that I couldn't crop the video... and in my case part of my finger wound up being in the video.

While limited in editing, I will say that it was rather cool to do all of this on a mobile device:

  1. Shoot the video interview with Phil. Note that I used iMovie's ability to switch cameras to first get a clip of me talking and then switch to Phil.

  2. Edit the video to remove a couple of sections where we went off on tangents or just into content that didn't need to be in the video.

  3. Add opening and end credits.

  4. Add overlay titles for Phil's title and later his website.

  5. Export the video to a 720p video file.

  6. Upload and publish the video to YouTube. (Note that this upload/publish is not actually done by "iMovie" but rather from the other "Photos" application on the iPhone.)

Once I got the hang of using the controls on iMovie on the iPhone, it was pretty simple and easy to do. Apple does provide a FAQ with some helpful info.

I had to cut my ITEXPO trip short due to some family issues, but my intent had been to do the editing and publishing directly from the conference floor. Given the lack of good WiFi at the event, I'm not sure that I really could have done much uploading there... but I certainly could have done the editing - and even done that on the plane trip home.

Given the much greater power of iMovie on my regular Macs, I'm not sure how much I'll personally use this iMovie on the iPhone. For the work involved, I think it's much easier to transfer the movie over onto my iMac and do the editing right there. However, I can definitely see this as a way to do mobile video production and will probably wind up trying it out some more at future events.

If you want to try it yourself, iMovie is available from the App Store and costs $4.99 US.

If you have tried it out already, what did you think of it?

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