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And the band played on

by Remy Martin, December 15, 2002

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In my last article, I talked about an article comparing Apple’s iMovie with Microsoft’s Movie Maker 2. The second part of this article has been published, so I thought that now would be a good time to discuss the claims made in the new article and address some of the concerns readers had with my first critique.

“Windows Video Editing Pulls Ahead of the Mac, Part 2” further touts Movie Maker 2 as the new benchmark in consumer video editing. In this article, the author focuses on the “AutoMovie” feature of Movie Maker 2 along with the MyDVD 4 DVD authoring program from Sonic.

AutoMovie sounds like a great feature, and the article states that it “will satisfy most consumers’ editing needs.” From my experience with Windows Movie Maker, I have some thoughts to add. The author does not go into much detail about how AutoMovie works, but it is easy enough to understand. After importing your movie clips, sounds and pictures, you select several of them to be incorporated into a video. Next, you choose a “theme” for your video and let Movie Maker do the rest. You will be amazed at how the video, along with your transitions, seem to move in time with any music you select. For the beginning user, AutoMovie is useful because you get good results in a minimal amount of time. Of all the features listed in Movie Maker, AutoMovie is the one feature where Microsoft has advanced the home movie editing feature set. I once demoed Roxio’s Cinematic, which had a similar feature to AutoMovie, but it was not nearly as intuitive to use and harder to customize.

The hardest part of consumer video editing, or at least the one that keeps consumers from exploring it, has always been capturing video and sharing it with others. Once the confusion over capturing video is cleared up, home users absolutely love playing with transitions, titles and effects. AutoMovie will prevent the beginning user from overusing these visual effects, but it also leads to noticeable similarities in the movies it makes. I am going to guess that people will learn to re-edit their AutoMovies to produce results more tailored to their individual styles. Still, of all the things in Movie Maker, AutoMovie is the one where Apple can learn the most.

Going on to sharing, Connected Home reminds you of the great many ways you can use the latest Windows Media technologies to share your videos. If you have used Windows Media Encoder, you know that the bevy of bit-rate and format options is enough to make one dizzy, but there are plenty of preset choices depending on how the movie is to be transferred. While this is great for Movie Maker (the first version only allowed for ASF files in the end), iMovie users have been used to these choices for years. One quick look at the iMovie save dialog shows you that the audio and video format options are just as dizzying. In the end, the biggest difference is that you can’t save iMovie files in Windows Media 9 format and you can’t save Movie Maker files as QuickTime 6. Neither of them allow you to save in RealMedia format. The article further states the benefits of Sonic MyDVD 4, but since I have only seen it used twice, I can’t say too much about it. Again, perhaps this is an invitation for a full review of Movie Maker 2 and MyDVD.

As mentioned before, I wanted to address some concerns that my readers had about my first article. In particular, some people questioned the appearance of bias because I seemingly “glossed over” the disadvantage iMovie has in working with raw DV. I reconciled this limitation by stating that DV data is the highest quality and disk space is inexpensive. I guess I should have known people wouldn’t take my word for it, so I will refer them to the source. First, when picking a camera, Microsoft recommends MiniDV because “it stores the signal directly in digital format, [which] is capable of producing professional-quality video that is free of video noise and quality problems typical of other consumer formats.” Secondly, when recommending hardware for Movie Maker, Microsoft adds “If you have a digital video (DV) camera, you’ll need either a FireWire card (also known as IEEE 1394) or an analog video capture card. FireWire is recommended for the best quality results.”

Once again, I don’t believe Movie Maker has eclipsed iMovie in terms of the entire consumer movie editing experience. I believe Microsoft took a long look at what was available and developed Movie Maker into a top contender – one that I am sure will quickly gain market share among PC users. Apple, while not being knocked out of the top position, now has some serious competition. It will be interesting to see what Apple has planned for the next version of iMovie, but I’ll bet that .Mac integration equal to that of iPhoto is high on the list.

Questions and comments are always welcome.

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