iPad 2: Quick iMovie App Demo and Tips

The iPad 2 and the new iMovie app are supposed to make it incredibly easy to shoot, edit and share videos on the go. We’ve seen what professionals can do with the iPad 2, but it’s what video editing newbies can do with the iPad 2 in a few minutes that’s really exciting to me. Here’s an example of how iPad 2 users can quickly splice together a few clips to create a video that tells a story. It doesn’t take much effort and I think your family will enjoy these sorts of short videos a few years from now rather than still photos. After trying this workflow myself,  I can say that shooting and editing video on the iPad 2 is the most painless video editing solution I’ve ever tried.

I went to lunch with my parents and brought my iPad 2 along to try out iMovie. Using the camera app, I grabbed several short video clips.

iMovie on the iPad 2 isn’t nearly as flexible as the Mac version of the app, but there are enough choices to satisfy most casual videographers. I simply dragged a few clips into the timeline and trimmed them down a bit. I tried out different iMovie themes until I found one I liked. After less than five minutes of tinkering around I was able to produce the above movie. I emailed both of my parents copies of the finished video on the ride home.

The above is certainly not my best work, but I think it’s typical of what iPad 2 owners can achieve when out and about. Obviously, you can get more complex, but here are a few quick tips for creating family videos that your family members will actually want to watch and that tell a story.

  1. Think of the end Product: In this case, I just wanted a video to remember lunch. So one minute or less seemed appropriate. If you’re shooting a vacation or something more spectacular, you may want to aim for 5-10 minutes. That might not sound like a lot, but it is. Anything longer and your family will probably never watch it again.
  2. Short Clips: Shoot for a few seconds at a time, not several minutes. Long video clips generally make for very boring videos that few people enjoy watching repeatedly. Try trimming your clips down to 2 to 10 seconds each. This will make your video feel more lively. It will also hide any camera/iPad 2 shake.
  3. Shoot moving objects: This might seem obvious, but there’s a whole lot of home movies out there that have almost no motion. In the above video I shot a couple of clips while we were heading towards downtown San Francisco. When we parked, I wanted to capture the neighborhood, but a clip of a row of houses would be boring, so I waited until the bicyclist was close enough to be in the shot. Instead of just shooting the front of the restaurant, I waited until my dad opened the door. Instead of taking a static shot of my Thai iced tea, I swirled the condensed milk into it while I recorded.
  4. Take a variety of shots: Take closeups of people, especially when they’re doing something. Establish where you are by shooting clips before you get to where you’re going. If you’re going on a family vacation, take some shots of everyone packing and boarding the flight. Once you arrive, take a few shots of the surrounding environment so you can actually tell where you are. In a lot of cases, all amateur videographers show is a few people around an anonymous dinner table. Take a few detail shots, such as the food you eat and the wine you drink.
  5. Stabilize Shots: One of the worst things about home movies is camera shake. One thing I like about the iPad 2 as a video camera is that it’s relatively easy to get steady shots since you can use two hands to steady it. You can also put it on a stable surface, like a table, or use your iPad 2’s case to steady the shot.
  6. Play around: Video editing is generally very laborious. The iPad 2 makes it easy to experiment and get creative.

What really surprised me was that when I was how fast iMovie exported the finished project when I was all done. This is typically the most frustrating part of editing movies. As soon as you’re all done and ready to share it with friends and family, you  have to sit and wait for your computer to chug along and encode the video. iMovie on the iPad 2 took almost the exact amount of time to export the HD clip as its runtime. This is really important if you want to export different versions or find a mistake in your finished project and want to go back and fix it.

You can read our full iPad 2 review here.

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