As with its predecessor, the new iBook is a great portable editing machine and is improved with its new 500MHz speed. For a laptop, this machine is quite small and inexpensive (ranging from $1,299 to $1,799 MSRP). Its integration with the FireWire technology, inclusion of QuickTime 4.12, and its latest version of iMovie 2.03 make it an easy-to-use and inexpensive video-editing solution.
It should be noted that iMovie2 is bundled free with all iBooks (and iMacs) and can be purchased to run on any G3 and G4 machine. On older machines, OS 9.1 and QT 4.12 are recommended. However, iMovie2 is not OSX ready yet.
The iMovie 2.03 GUI is a pleasure to use. (For an in-depth review, see Tony Gomez’s article in February 2001 C&CV.). It has four working areas: At top left is the Main Viewing window for viewing your edits; at top right, the Shelf Window for acquiring your Clips; there’s a row of buttons beneath the Shelf Window to work with Clips, Transitions, Titles, Effects and Audio; and the Timeline is at the lower part of the screen.
After connecting your DV camcorder to the iBook’s FireWire port, launch iMovie2 and create a New Project (under the File menu). The Main Viewing window changes to the Capture screen and automatically goes in to Capture mode. The blue slider button at the far left of the Capture screen puts you in Capture or Edit mode. Make sure the little slider is set to the DV position when you want to capture video. In order for the program to detect your camera automatically, it’s best to plug it in before you start the program.
Click on the Play button underneath the Capture screen and start playing your video. Because of the FireWire connection, the program will now control your camcorder. As soon as you see something you want to record, press the Import button. The iMovie program will automatically place captured clips in the Shelf window. Every time it detects a scene break, it will make a new Clip (Final Cut Pro, eat your heart out!).
As you pick up speed and your editing needs become more demanding, the iBook has enough horsepower to run Premiere 5.0 or even Final Cut Pro (depending on your budget). Just add more RAM in the additional SDRAM slot (for a total of 640MB RAM on the 128MB models). Both of these NLEs require at least 196MB of RAM on their own. With today’s RAM prices at their lowest (512MB of SDRAM recently advertised for $50), you can’t afford not to add more.
Publish Your Movies
You can now edit and arrange your clips into story lines (drag and drop into the Timeline), enhance them with transitions and animated on-screen titles, and even add music and stunning effects. Export your finished creation as a movie recorded back to your camera as DV footage. Or, select any of the other formats supported (File menu/ Export Movie/Formats). You can even save it as a small e-mail Movie format for posting on the Web.
Another Apple technology that goes hand in hand with the iBook’s digital-hub philosophy is iTools (www.apple. com/itools). You can sign up for your own free account and quickly create your own Web site using HomePage. Put your movies on your very own Web page and share them with friends and family.
There is a great online link on the iMovie Web site (www.apple.com/ imovie). It’s called Atomic Learning, and it has short QuickTime movies on: “How to Get Started,” “Installing the 2.03 Updater,” “How to import MP3 Sound Files into iMovie2,” “Making and Importing Stills,” and more!
Importing QT Movies
As long as you capture movies directly from your camcorder via FireWire, iMovie is happy and will record your footage, creating new clips automatically. But, what if you’d like to import an existing QuickTime movie into your project? This is a newly supported feature, but it will require QuickTime Pro, which is a $29.95 upgrade. Your current QuickTime software already has the capabilities; you just need a serial number to unlock it!
QuickTime Pro allows you to access many powerful features that most people don’t even know about (www. apple.com/quicktime). Prime among these, is the ability to export your DV footage to different formats. In order for iMovie2 to recognize a QuickTime file, it needs to be exported from QuickTime Pro as a Movie to DV Stream. It will change the QT movie’s extension from MOV to DV.
Open your QT movie with the QuickTime Player, and then go to Export under the File menu. Once the Export window opens, hold down on the pop-up menu across from Export, and you will see many different formats into which to export your QT movie. Select Movie to DV Stream.
Once you’ve done this, go back to iMovie. Under the File menu, select Import and navigate to the folder where you have saved your new QT DV movie, which iMovie will now recognize and will import into your project.
QuickTime Pro will also give you more options for compressing DV files. As with other compression software, this falls under the advanced feature set and requires some understanding of compression.
Apple calls iTunes the world’s best and easiest-to-use “digital jukebox” software. I don’t know about being the world’s best, but it’s very simple to use, and it comes with a great library of MP3 songs. I connected it to my Yamaha external speakers and was able to enjoy nonstop music, while being entertained by the wonderful light show that grooved with the music, created by its Visualizer.
MP3 (Moving Picture Experts Group Audio Layer 3) is the powerful industry-standard technology for encoding and compressing audio files. The iTunes software uses MP3 to compress CD-quality audio files to a fraction of their original size, with very little loss in audible quality.
Store 1,000s Of Songs
A typical five-minute song takes up about 44MB of space on a compact disc. Compress that song to MP3 format at 160 kilobits per second, and the file size shrinks to about 6MB. In other words, you can store many more song in your digital music library. Of course, this is assuming you don’t plan to do any other work on your iBook. You will quickly eat up disk space if you import all your favorite CDs into it, tempting though that may be.
The iTunes program gives you the freedom to play songs in the order you want (not the order they were arranged on the CD), to mix and match artists and musical categories as you wish, and the freedom to create your own music CDs, burning more than 100 MP3 songs onto a single CD!
Burn Your Own
By inserting your own pre-recorded music CD, you can quickly import the songs you want to add to the Library, to be played back whenever you are on the go. Or, you can create your own Playlist from the Library and just as easily bum your own CD to play in your car or home stereo. I burned a CD of 17 songs, and it took about an hour for the whole process. I then tested it on my stereo’s CD player, and it sounded great. I have to admit, I was a doubting Thomas, thinking that I would have to do more than I actually did. It really was that easy.
A Worthy Contender
I’m a firm believer that in order to learn and use computers they need to be fun. I mean, you have to have a reason for investing your sweat and tears, and what better reason than all the great technologies mentioned above. When you’re enjoying what you do, it doesn’t feel like work!
With its new look and powerful feature set, the Apple’s iBook is certainly a worthy contender to the high-end Titanium PowerBook as a portable solution, especially for someone who already has a G3 or G4 at home but wants portability at an affordable cost.
I predict that entry-level video producers are going to love the new iBook. Students and first-time users are also going to find it useful and very portable, and I bet they will enjoy learning all the other cool new features in this small, inexpensive package.
For more information about the new iBooks, contact Apple at (800) MY-APPLE or visit the Apple Store Web site at www.store.apple.com.
Apple Upgrade iBook Line
Apple announced its new iBook line in May of this year, the fourth major upgrade since it introduced the first iBook about two years ago. The new-generation iBook laptop has been trimmed down to 4.9 lbs., and with a slimmer chassis (9.1-inches deep by 11.2-inches wide and 1.35-inches thick) it’s the perfect size and shape to fit in a backpack or briefcase. Sleek and elegant, it has grown up from the candy-colored kid of last year to a new sophisticated dynamo that has made quite a hit, and understandably so.
It’s not just the new look and affordable price, but the flexibility and power under the hood that delivers the bang for your money, starting at only $1,299 MSRP.
Versatility: Ports Aplenty?
All four configurations in this new iBook line start with a fast PowerPC G3 processor running at 500MHz. The 12.1-inch active-matrix display is powered by the ATI Rage Mobility 128 graphics card with 8MB of RAM. This card supports an additional 1024×768 resolution. Compared to the previous models’ 800×600 resolution, the new display is sharp, and it supports millions of colors at these two resolutions. All but the entry-level iBook model (CD-ROM, 64MB) come with 128MB of SDRAM.
Also new in this iBook upgrade is RGB-Video Out (also known as VGA). Using a special monitor cable adapter, it mirrors the contents of the iBook’s built-in screen to an external computer monitor or projector (for classroom training). As with the previous models, it also outputs composite video through a different adapter cable that lets you watch your movies or presentations on a big-screen TV!
The same port also outputs audio. The built-in speakers are not capable of supporting the robust sounds that come out of these little machines, so using external speakers or headphones will greatly enhance your listening pleasure.
And, all configurations come with one FireWire and two USB ports, converting these portable machines into a digital hub that will support your DV camcorders, digital still cameras, scanners, printers, MP3 players, and PDAs.
All models also support the optional AirPort card and Base Station (shown above) for wireless Internet connection. Wireless technology is certainly a nice addition to the idea of the portable digital hub. You can work on the Internet within 150 feet of your Base Station, whether it’s your home, classroom or dorm room. Enjoy your digital lifestyle from the comfort of your couch or your backyard without cables or additional phone lines. With or without the supported AirPort wireless technology, you can access the Internet via the built-in 56K modem, or DSL speed networks using the 10/ 100 Ethernet port.
The new white polycarbonate plastic coating is warm and easy to grip–and appears to be designed for the roughest handling at the hands of students. Its shock- and scratch-resistant finish is stiffened by a magnesium frame.
The new plastic shell has rounded corners and no I/O doors, protruding latches or levers to break or snap off when tucking it into tight space, like a backpack or briefcase. The only hinge in this new chassis design is the one that connects the top and bottom of the case. This hinge allows you to swing the screen up and down smoothly. A full back tilt will lower the height and offers a better angle for non-glare viewing of the screen. And, of course, like its big brother, the Titanium PowerBook, it has a glowing crystal Apple logo on its cover.
Choose Your Optical Drive
Instead of a choice of eye-popping colors, the big choice you have now is the kind of optical drive you prefer. The new iBook offers the choice of a CD, CD-RW, DVD-ROM, or a combo DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive for both burning CDs and watching DVD movies.
The five-hour battery support can easily carry you through a day’s worth of school, study or on-the-go activities! The lithium-ion battery has a series of indicator LEDS on its bottom that will quickly let you know how much battery charge is left. It can easily let you do a fair amount of computing, as well as view a whole DVD movie on long airplane or car trips (on appropriate models).
All iBook models ship with OS 9.1/OS X (that’s the Roman numeral) pre-installed. Simply select your choice at boot-up. The 10MB Ultra ATA hard drive is very adequate, but can be upgraded to 20MB. Bundled software includes iMovie v2.03, iTunes v 1.1, Palm Desktop, FAXstf (lets you send and receive faxes), several children’s games, and Appleworks 6. The latter offers a complete suite of image-viewing, word-processing, spreadsheet-layout, database-creation, and draw/paint capabilities. Also included is Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Outlook Express, and Netscape Communicator for Web browsing and sending/receiving e-mail.
The entry-level CD-ROM iBook is $1,299 MSRP. The DVD-ROM version is $1,499. The CD-RW version is $1,599, and the combo DVD-ROM/CD-RW is priced at $1,799 MSRP. So, take your pick and you’re ready to go.