Using Consumer Programs as Supplements

Last month I did something I haven’t done in, well at least 6 years:  I editing a piece in iMovie.  The last time I had used iMovie previously to this was in my junior year of high school – back in 2001 -2002.  What I used it for was to create a fun, playful little promo to help raise money for the web series I’m working with.  It was the perfect supplement to Final Cut Pro 5, which is what I used to edit the show proper.  Why?

1.) I shot the promo on my Canon Vixia HF-10, which records to AVCHD.  Final Cut 5 isn’t really set up for AVCHD, so iMovie is a great way to capture and store the footage.

2.) Themes.  iMovie ’09 has a few playful little themes that you can apply to your movie.  My series is shot in and centers around a comic book shop.  So the promo is made to look like a comic book.  Transitions slide from panel to panel, and generally make the promo more lighthearted than it would have been.

3.) Priorities.  I was still working on the episodes at this time, and didn’t want to derail FCP, which spent the last 8 months being set up for the series.  I cut and exported the promo in the span of about an hour.  And exported to full quality.

4.)  Features.  Many consumer programs have features previously only found in the pro-level programs.  iMovie ’09 offers image stabilization, and is faster about it than FCP 6, which, let’s not forget, I don’t currently own anyway.  I’ve exported clips to iMovie and sent them back to FCP in stabilized form.  Works like a charm.

5.) Price.  I was able to upgrade to iLife because it only costs $80.  I haven’t been able to upgrade to FCS 2 yet because I lack the $650 to invest in it.  Besides, I’m waiting for the NAB conference like everyone else to see if Apple somehow unveils FCS 3.

I also use a combination of Aperture and iPhoto in dealing with stills from the show.  Aperture is great for quickly sorting the best photos and offers greater tools for really tweaking them before publishing them to the web site.  But iPhoto ’09 has Faces, which has made it incredibly easy for me to start creating albums for each actor, so they can all have their stills to do what they will with.  None of these consumer applications could ever replace my pro-apps.  The difference in functionality is simply too great.  However, they are very useful when incorporated alongside the pro-apps.  Especially since they can help you survive the larger gaps between updates to the professional applications for a reasonably small price.

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