Apple announced iLife ’11, am updated suite of multimedia apps today. A lot of people criticize these apps as being too simplistic, but iLife is just what the doctor ordered and is a big part of why people enjoy using their macs. I use iLife apps quite a bit on my MacBook Pro, even though I have Adobe’s Creative Suite 5 Master Collection as well. Why? Because they’re easy to use and I can often do stuff with iMovie several times faster than using more complex applications.
Earlier this year I attended a wedding of two of our close friends. On the drive down to Pebble Beach I got a call from one of the bride’s friends asking if I happened to have my camera with me and if I could take some photos of the rehearsal dinner and wedding ceremony. She wanted to include them in a a slideshow that would be shown during the reception. I don’t go many places without my Nikon D700 and I happily obliged.
I shot a bunch of photos as she requested, imported them using Aperture, which is basically a Pro version of iPhoto and made some adjustments between the ceremony and reception. Within about 20 or 30 minutes she had a couple of dozen pics to add to the reception slideshow, which also included childhood, family and engagement photos. I snapped some more photos as the guests danced to a bunch of Bollywood songs.
When we headed back to the hotel I thought that it’d be cool to put together a slideshow of the festivities so that the family members who couldn’t make the trip from India could see what was going on. Indian weddings are exhausting enough and after three days of partying the last thing I wanted to do was grab a drink with our friends. I also didn’t want to pull an all nighter making a video. My wife headed down to the pool and I stayed behind to relax and make the video.
I decided to use a few of Apple’s applications to throw something together. The most popular song of the wedding weekend was Desi Girls, so I bought it for a buck from iTunes. I then used Aperture to quickly sort through the photos and rate my favorites, including series that I thought would work well together. I set a couple of adjustments and cloned them across most of the ceremony photos. I could’ve just as easily used iPhoto, but I don’t use it very often since my photo library is simply too vast to fit on a single hard drive.
In iMovie, you can browse your albums from iPhoto and Aperture. I simply dragged and dropped them into the iMovie’s project timeline. A single click in iMovie brings up the iTunes library pane and I dragged in the Song I’d just bought. I then customized the panning/zooming on a few key photos and adjusted the timing so a few sequences would flow with the music.
By the time my wife returned from grabbing one last drink and chatting with her friends I was done with the video. The bride and groom needed a ride back to their hotel suite and I was able to share the slideshow with them. A few hours later it was time for brunch and the families were able to enjoy it less than 10 hours after the festivities ended. I gave a couple of copies of it on a USB drive and shared it on Facebook so their relatives could view it as well.
There are plenty of fancier apps for both Windows and OSX, but the iLife suite’s workflow just makes sense. Obviously, this was done on Apple’s previous version of iLife and it looks like iLife ’11 will be even easier to use.
The reason iLife matters is because it allows just about anybody to produce a decent multimedia project without having to read a manual or buy any extras. It’s an experience that’s ready to roll the minute you unbox a Mac. Many Mac users rarely create multimedia projects, but when they do, the experience is painless.