Jeff Carlson has an excellent first look at iMovie’08, over at Macworld. Worth a read.

Having now had a little chance to play with the package, here’s my present thinking:

  • It’s easier to lash a bunch of clips together in iMovie’08 than in iMovie’06. The new interface is very, very slick indeed.
  • You hit the limits of iMovie’08 much sooner than you do those of ’06, mostly because it simply does less.

The issue for me is that you can’t cut dialogue-driven, classic ‘drama continuity editing’ style films in iMovie’08. You just can’t do it. You can do it in ’06, but it’s a pain in the arse. What I was hoping for was a revision to iMovie that helped mere mortals cut such sequences, letting them keep an audio track intact while trimming an edit from the mid-shot to the detail close-up, and back again.

Evidently, the famous diving-holidaying Apple video engineer either didn’t get that at all, or decided it was Way Too Hard. So, what we have is a tool that makes crashing clips together really really simple. This is, quite likely, what the world has needed for the last three years.

But as more and more people discover the joys of video, they’re going to hit the limits. What’s really interesting isn’t what iMovie’08 does, it’s what it doesn’t do, and where they’re headed with it. There’s no obvious reason why they couldn’t add a conventional audio timeline to the project window, and show video timeline length as at present. If they’ve really thought it through, then by iLife ’09 we might – finally – have the video editor for the rest of us.

In the meantime, there’s Premiere Elements. If you’re on Windows.