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First Look at New Features in iLife '06

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Episode 53
February 10th, 2006

When last we spoke here (or at least when last I spoke here), we looked at some of the new features in GarageBand 3. This week I'll show you some of the sweetest new features in other iLife '06 apps, namely iMovie, iDVD, iPhoto, and iWeb.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words… If that's true, this column is worth nearly 20,000 words (and includes 18 pictures, too). :

iMovie HD '06

The first new feature you'll notice is that iMovie HD now has themes, which work a lot like themes in iDVD. You choose one and iMovie does the rest, as shown in Figure 1.


Figure 1: Applying the Reflections White theme to the opening segment of my movie.
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image)

The other themes are just as pretty as you can see in Figure 2.


Figure 2: More new iMovie themes.
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image)

Another nifty new feature is the ability to see effects, transitions, and titles you add to your movie in real time. If you've ever waited for a transition, effect, or title to render, you'll love this new feature.


Figure 3: Instant real-time preview of the Warp Out transition.
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image)

The preview shown in Figure 3 appeared instantly as soon as I clicked Warp Out in the list of transitions. That's very nice and it only gets better… In addition to instant previews of transitions and special effects, iMovie HD '06 also includes instant previews of titles as well, as shown in Figure 4.


Figure 4: Instant real-time preview of a Scrolling Block title.
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image)

Other nice new additions are the eight new audio tools including noise reducer, equalizer, reverb, delay, and more as shown in Figure 5


Figure 5: iMovie HD '06 has eight new audio tools.

There are two more new features I'd like to point out before we move along. The first is one I've wished and hoped for since time immemorial: iMovie HD '06 now lets you have more than one open project, which makes dragging and dropping video and audio between projects a lot faster and easier.

The second is a new Export sheet with several new options as shown in Figure 6.


Figure 6: iMovie HD '06 now offers a multitude of export options.
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image)

As you can see I chose to “share” this project with iDVD, so let's look…

iDVD '06

Perhaps the most interesting iDVD '06 feature is Magic iDVD, which works like iMovie '05's Magic Movie. To use it you choose a theme, movie(s), and/or photos, then iDVD does the rest. It customizes the main menu, creates scene selection buttons if your movie has chapter markers, and automatically populates the drop zones for your motion menus. When it's done doing its magic you can either tweak your project to perfection or just click the Burn button and be done with it.


Figure 7: Pick a theme, drag in some movies and/or pictures, then click the Create Project button and… (see Figure 8).
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image)


Figure 8: … presto-you have a professional-looking DVD, ready to burn.
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image)

Another nifty new feature, which you can see in Figure 8, is that you can now create widescreen DVDs (16:9) in addition to DVDs with the old television aspect ration (4:3). It's subtle but a nice touch.

There are also ten new themes as shown in Figure 9.


Figure 9: Ten new great looking (as always) iDVD themes.
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image)

Other new features include the ability to automatically fill all the drop zones in a theme with a single menu selection, more flexible DVD menu editing and map view editing, and improved slide shows that can now include widescreen photos.

Moving right along, we come to iPhoto '06...

iPhoto '06

iPhoto '06's biggest improvements are things I can't show you in a picture. The first is that it's much, MUCH faster than before. For example, scrolling through my roughly 4,000 photos used to be fraught with hiccups as my processor struggled to keep up with the scroll control. Now I can scroll through the same 4,000 photos and never wait even one second for the thumbnails to appear. Whatever they did, it worked. Working with my library before was unpleasant, but now it's a true pleasure. Way to go Apple!

With only 4,000 photos the next big improvement didn't do much for me but might do something for you. That improvement is that iPhoto '06 can contain up to 250,000 photos. If any of you have a quarter of a million digital photos and get a chance test this feature in iPhoto '06, let me know how it works 'cause there's little chance of my collecting another 246,000 pictures any time soon.

New on the menu is a Photocasting option, which Apple calls “a whole new way to share your digital photos with Mac and PC users.” You publish your photos to .Mac and anyone can subscribe to them for viewing in iPhoto '06 if they have it or any RSS reader on a Mac (such as Safari) or a PC.


Figure 10: Publishing a Photocast really is this simple-click the Publish button and it's done.

Here's the Photocast I just created: If you're an iLife '06 user, it will open iPhoto (if it's not already open) and ask you if you wish to subscribe. If you're not an iLife '06 user I'm not sure what will happen… I couldn't force it to do anything but open iPhoto. I suspect it will display the pictures as a Web page or something. Let me know what happens when you try it. Thanks.

Another way to publish photos almost instantly is to send them to iWeb (which I'll tell you more about in a moment). It's really as easy as 1, 2, 3.

1. Choose Blog or Photo page from iPhoto's iWeb menu.


Figure 11: Putting photos on the Web is almost as easy as Photocasting.

2. Pick a theme in iWeb as shown in Figure 12.


Figure 12: I chose the Freestyle theme.
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image)

3. Choose Publish to .Mac in iWeb's File menu.

iWeb does its thing for a few minutes and the result is a Web site with the photos as shown in Figure 13.


Figure 13: The Web site I made in steps 1, 2, and 3...
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image)

To see the actual site...

The easy Web site building is pretty darned cool...but wait-there's more! iPhoto '06 now has full-screen editing and full-screen comparing as shown in Figure 14.


Figure 14: iPhoto '06's full-screen editing and comparing are freakin' awesome.
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image)

There are also eight new “one-click effects” that can be previewed in a floating palette with the original image in the middle as shown in Figure 15.


Figure 15: One-click effects are also very cool.
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Other new features in iPhoto '06 include new greeting cards and calendars in addition to improved custom photo books, borderless printing, and a scroll guide that tells you the roll name and date when you scroll through your library as shown in Figure 16.


Figure 16: iPhoto '06's new scroll guide.
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image)

There are probably more new features I haven't yet discovered, but that's all I can think of for now. So now let's take a look at the new kid on the block, iWeb.

iWeb '06

Last but definitely not least we have the newest member of the iLife '06 team, iWeb. In a nutshell, you use it to create beautiful Web pages and sites quickly and easily. It includes a dozen great-looking (IMHO) templates; you saw one-Freestyle-back in Figure 13.

The coolest thing is that you don't have to worry much about things like HTML, frames, tables, or any of the other aspects of Web design that drive most normal people insane.

If you've ever used Pages or Keynote the user interface, shown in Figure 17, will seem familiar with its Inspector window and resizing handles for images or text blocks. If you know how to use those two programs, it'll be a snap to learn to use iWeb.


Figure 17: iWeb's interface is reminiscent of Keynote or Pages.
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image)

Even if you don't use Pages or Keynote you'll find iWeb easy to use. Think of it as an easy-to-use page layout program that creates WYSIWYG Web pages with no coding whatsoever. Like a page layout program, you can drag and drop text blocks and pictures anywhere you like on the page-iWeb takes care of the rest.

There's also an integrated media browser, shown in Figure 18, that makes it easy to publish movies, songs, and photos to your Web site.


Figure 18: Adding music, movies, or photos to your Web site is a piece of cake.
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image)

If you want to create a podcast or blog, iWeb is probably the easiest way to do it. With its one-click publishing to .Mac and clean, easy-to-use interface, iWeb is very impressive for a 1.0 release.

By the way, that one-click publishing I just mentioned only works if you have a .Mac account. If you don't have a .Mac account you can publish your sites/pages on any host you choose. It's not quite as drop-dead simple as using .Mac but it's not rocket science either.

Conclusions:

If you use any of the iLife programs more than occasionally, you should run, not walk, to the Apple Store (or surf to the Apple online store) immediately and pick up a copy of iLife '06. Even if you only use one of the programs in the suite, upgrading to '06 should be a no-brainer.

iLife '06 sells for just $79 but would be a bargain even at twice the price.

And that's all he wrote...

Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus has been a Macintosh user for a long, long time and has written 49 computer books including Mac OS X Tiger For Dummies and GarageBand for Dummies. He also offers expert technical help and training to Mac users, in real time and at reasonable prices, via telephone, e-mail, and/or unique Internet-enabled remote control software. For more information on Bob and his services, visit www.boblevitus.com.

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