Manipulating video has become about as easy as photo editing in recent years, thanks largely to the Mac platform and the user-friendly software it offers right out of the box. Filmmakers also find that the more advanced software available for Macs is easy and powerful.
Movie making and editing are now within everyone's reach. All you have to do is check out YouTube to witness this new age of movie making, in which anyone with a digital video camera and a story to tell can enter the fray.
"People-powered video is an opportunity to get a glimpse into someone else's life," Albuquerque-based filmmaker and multimedia specialist Dickie Cox told MacNewsWorld.
And thanks to Apple, editing these movies is becoming just about as simple as taking snapshots. From iMovie to Final Cut Pro, Mac users have a range of digital movie editing options.
If you want to make a movie, the first thing you need to do is decide what kind of movie you want to make, and why. If you're just wanting to make home videos or clips to post on YouTube, iMovie might be all you need. If you want to do more complex, professional editing or make a full-length feature film, however, you might want to go with Final Cut Pro or another software package, such as Avid.
"You have to be aware of your own expectations, and your budget," Cox told MacNewsWorld. "Do your research upfront. What is it you want to accomplish?"
Out of the Box
You get a new Mac, you power it up, and right there in the iLife suite, along with iPhoto, iTunes and GarageBand, is your very own movie editing software: iMovie. It's a powerful, user-friendly tool for making and editing movies, and best of all, it's free once you've purchased your Mac.
"What's so great about the iLife suite is that you have it right out of the box," Cox told MacNewsWorld. "Apple's done a good job developing a strong visual interface for the end user."
iMovie is a drag-and-drop, intuitive program that allows you to plug in your digital camcorder, download your footage, shape and edit it so that you have something of near-professional quality.
iMovie is all that most basic film and video makers need, said Jesse Feiler, author of Making Movies, Photos, Music & DVDs on Your Mac: Using Apple's Digital Hub and the forthcoming The Bento Book: Beauty and Simplicity in Digital Organization.
"iMovie lets you work on the desktop and produce movies that are of extraordinary quality," Feiler told MacNewsWorld. "The idea that video is peculiar and out there is being beaten down by Apple."
He likens the movies that people can make now on their computers to the still snapshots of a previous era, and he thinks digital movies will become an even more ubiquitous part of our daily lives. He sees the field opening up to everyone, including everyday, banal applications like sending a video memo to a coworker. In fact, he says, much of the video that's being made by people now isn't edited at all.
"A lot of people are pointing and capturing, and there's nothing wrong with that," Feiler told MacNewsWorld. "You don't have to make "Gone With the Wind." In a world with YouTube, video isn't really a big deal now."
And if you do want to begin editing -- splicing clips, adding titles and music -- iMovie is good enough for basic users, he said.
"If you want to go the next step, the iLife tools are more than satisfactory for most people," Feiler told MacNewsWorld. "iMovie provides a phenomenal amount of power."
At some point, though, you might decide that you want more power and capability from your movie making software, and at that point you might consider graduating to Final Cut Pro.
Filmmaker Stephen Kopels, cofounder and president of the, San Francisco School of Digital Filmmaking uses Final Cut Pro and Macs in the digital editing labs at his school.
"The thing that I love about the G5 and Final Cut Pro is its stability," Kopels told MacNewsWorld. "It's so reliable. It's a solid program that's extremely intuitive. The students just pick it up."
Final Cut Pro allows for more complex, professional editing, such as blending video and audio layers, synching and timing multiple cameras.
"With Final Cut, the final control over time is really essential to project management," Cox told MacNewsWorld.
Unlike iMovie -- which has what is called "destructive editing," meaning that clips are permanently altered when they're edited -- Final Cut Pro also lets filmmakers edit clips without first having to make backups of them.
There are many other software systems that Mac filmmakers might look into, such as Adobe Premiere and Avid.
"For folks who do motion graphics, [Premiere is] a good complement," Cox told MacNewsWorld.
Avid is a longstanding, well-respected brand that, while losing some market share to Final Cut Pro, is still a standard software in the film and video editing industry.
"It's platform-agnostic," Cox told MacNewsWorld. "It's good for people switching over from PC."
Just Doing It
The fact is, all of these new technologies and editing methods have simply put moviemaking within the reach of everyday people.
"What had happened for audio in the mid-1990s happened to video a few years ago," Cox told MacNewsWorld. "For me, it's very exciting."
Whether you choose iMovie, Final Cut Pro, or another editing software, the spirit of documenting the world and telling stories is what's important.
"People have a story they want to tell, and for a long time the only way you could tell the story was through writing and photography," Kopels told MacNewsWorld. "The advent of these new platforms made filmmaking available to everyone."