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Review of iLife '06
in a small box. But that is about the
only thing that is "small"about iLife '06,
except perhaps one other important feature: The Price. ($79 on Apple's site
and cheaper at other stores). iLife '06 is actually a suite of applications
designed to work together. It contains all the basic software you need
to do a number of creative things on your Mac. On the front of the box is
says "Music, Photos, Movies, Blogs". But its actually more than that.
Lots of applications can do those, and certainly on your computer (no matter which
computer you have) you have the rudiments of doing all those things somewhere.
But for this amount of money, anywhere else, you aren't going to get
Five applications. Enough? No, there's
more to it than this. Its the way all of these work together that
is the true magic of the iLife '06 package. It is so good that people
that have the Apple Pro Apps (Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio Pro, Sound Track Pro,
Logic Pro) will find that iLife's integration greatly simplifies the process
of getting audio, video and DVD working together and it takes it one step further.
It makes all your creative work uploadable in new popular formats. Want
to make Podcasts? Everything you need to make your own radio show
is in GarageBand 3. Even radio ready sound effects you can drop onto tracks,
music beds for intros and outros, canned audience applause, cartoon FX, booms,
traffic noise for faking "on the street " interviews. But heck, use the
rest of GarageBand to score your own music, as original as you want it to be
using software instruments (plenty of synthesizers and sampler instruments to
choose from) or just use the included audio loops to assemble a song like building
But why stop at just an audio podcast?
Got a video camera with firewire? Connect it to your Mac, capture your clips
and assemble them in iMovie. When finished, toss it into GarageBand and
add you audio, FX, Music. Run out of video? Ok drag in some photos
too. Not feeling creative today musically? Drag in any song from
your iTunes library. Got it all cookin' now. Cool. Upload
it with iWeb. You just made a podcast video. Pretty soon you'll
be able to download these to your cell.
Right inside of GarageBand 3 you have a utility
to access audio, photos and movies. When its done in GarageBand, save
it. In iWeb you can just choose the podcast template. When it opens
up you'll know what to do, drop the movie here, type some text there.
Make a title. Add a Blog. Save. Publish. Done.
The screenshot above is of GarageBand 3, showing audio, video and music creation integration. If you want to read more details about iLife '06, head over to Apple's page on it.
Done? Sounds simple huh? Well, it
pretty simple. The applications do a lot of the work behind the scenes.
So you are not mired in reading manuals about which video format, audio format,
etc. (its the H.264 video with 44.1 AAC stereo, for those who want to look it
up), you just click the iPod icon. Of course all the other popular resolutions
are there too (email, Web streaming, web download, DVD, and Full quality.
Sending a video to GarageBand is the ultimate
in ease of use. Just choose "export", click GarageBand, and the Garage
opens up, automatically imports the video, imports the audio on a separate track,
then you can add tracks, music, photos, sound FX. Guess what? The
pros can't do this as easily in Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro and there is no
publishing option in the pro apps for podcasting. Of course you can do
it if you know what formats to select, and have a professional website creator
like Dreamweaver, or an ftp utility, but its not going to be as fast, as seamless,
and you'll have to so quite a bit of figuring things out before you see or hear
anything on your websites.
This, my friends, is the true magic
in iLife '06. Its the complete creative production package that
truly is easy to use. You can't do this hip stuff so easily
with Creative Suite, MX Studio, and certainly not with Microsoft Office or even
Final Cut Studio. Of course those are fine applications capable of many
more things, but in terms of the finished, uploaded project, all of these are
missing one part or another, and the novice might be severely hampered or distracted
by all of the super powerful pro features. iLife '06 is Apple's trump
card, the winning hand, and its cards are down on the table as we gasp in awe.
Five applications. Five aces. Less than 1/10th the price of other
"creative suites", and it requires no special training and is easy to use.
Are things 100% perfect? No. A
minor issue perhaps. To make publishing an easy, "one-click" operation,
you have to publish to a .Mac site, which of course they offer a free trial
to. If there is a "catch", that is it. Otherwise, you can
to a folder on your hard drive then upload it via ftp to your website.
That's not too hard. But I noticed the directory structure is very complex,
with sometimes a long string of numbers as folder names. There's no way
to edit these paths in iWeb, and to me it does not make sense. I think
they could have made that a little easier. It's also not possible to edit
your site once online with iWeb, so you have to upload the whole thing again.
This means if you do alter it with another web application, those changes will
have to be downloaded and placed in this rather cryptic directory structure
on your hard drive. But iWeb is new this time around. Maybe there
are improvements coming. So if you want the ultimate in simplicity, budget
for a .Mac website.
A few notes on GarageBand 3 before I
go. Great stuff is that it works much better than GB v1 did (I skipped
2 so I have little to say about that). Its integration with Logic Pro
is now very good. All of the GarageBand instruments and loops show up
in Logic, and in the 5 small projects I've done since getting '06, they all
sounded exactly the same in logic as they did in GarageBand. Another interesting
point is that GB will access all the audio unit plugins you have available in
Logic (though it does not have all of Logic's audio instruments.
It will load your stuff, even if you have some of the "heavies" like the East
West RA, Symphonic Choir and the whole Native instruments "Komplete" family
of synths and samplers. Naturally GarageBand does not give you all the
editing finesse of Logic Pro, but there are some things that are small innovations
in GB that Logic does not have as of this writing. The score display in
GarageBand lets you easily see the length of not only quarter, half and whole
notes, but of all the dotted notes as well. Its highlighted when you click
on the note. Brings a new level of joy to score editing for the Notationally
challenged. I also love how simple it is to drag a loop with MIDI data
attached right into a MIDI track, with the instrument pre-assigned.
I find it hard to believe you can get such power, so cheap. You could spend a thousand on music, video and other software and not get this kind of ease of use. Hey, that's more than the price of a Mac Mini. Or pick up a new iMac and get the iLife package included. iLife '06 runs natively on the new iMacs and MacBook Pro with the new Intel Core Duo Processor. As I have mentioned in other articles, podcasting audio and video feeds is a major wave in our collective future. If you want to get in on the excitement of being a modern creative artist, you should have an idea of the tools you need. Happily, and perhaps for the first time in the history of production, the tools are so easy to deal with they no longer are the main focus. Its back to you, your talent, and what you will create.
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