[iBook] Video editing on an 2 year old iBook?

Larry Kollar kollar at alltel.net
Thu Dec 7 07:06:38 PST 2006

> I have a two year old iBook – 30gig HD, running 10.3.9 – and I want to
> do some video editing on it. Nothing flash, just cutting together a  
> two
> minute short.
> Obviously I’ll need to buy as big an external hard drive as I can
> afford, but apart from that, is my beloved iBook up to it? And if so,
> does anyone have any tips about how to go about it?

I'd say it's up to the job. I do occasional video editing on an older  
iBook (G3/900, will be four years old come summer), shorts running a  
little longer than two minutes. If you've upgraded iLife since you  
bought it, iMovie might be a bit slow but the version that came with  
the iBook should be well-matched to the hardware's capabilities.  
Ironically, iMovie seems to be less processor-intensive than GarageBand.

You mentioned an external hard drive -- I'd recommend one with a  
FireWire interface; it will be faster. Also get as much RAM into it  
as you can.

Tips... there are entire web sites devoted to video editing and you  
want me to explain it all in an email? :-)  No, seriously, there are  
only a handful of things you have to worry about:

1) Do things in this order: arrange your video (that is, put  
everything in the proper order) first, do transitions (fades,  
dissolves etc.) second, fiddle with audio (soundtracks & so on) last.  
Don't start the next step until you're sure you're finished with the  
current step. If you ignore this advice, you're going to make a ton  
of work for yourself going back and fixing things over & over.

2) Don't touch iMovie's "Empty Trash" button. That's the fast track  
to hosing your project, especially with pre-HD versions. If you have  
room on your external drive, make a "snapshot" copy of your project  
folder when you get to a good stopping point so you don't lose the  
whole shebang if something happens.

3) Audio is at least as important as video, so it's claimed. As the  
story goes, people will prefer a movie with mediocre video & good  
audio over the opposite. But if your project is basically a photo  
slideshow with background music, there isn't much to go wrong. For  
other projects, strive to eliminate (or at least minimize) extraneous  
noise sources while recording. If you already have the audio, iMovie  
can at least control the levels on each track. If you're willing, you  
can pull the sound out of the movie entirely, work on it with an  
external audio editor, and then import it back in -- that's probably  
too much for a first project though, unless the audio *really* needs  

4) Don't go berserk with transitions. A simple cut is usually the  
best transition -- as a side benefit, it's easy and requires no  
rendering time. Even in a short video, though, you'll have the  
equivalent of acts and scenes (consider the better TV commercials  
you've seen, they probably have all the elements of a full-length  
movie packed into one minute). A fairly common plan is to use cuts  
for all transitions within a scene, a dissolve to move to the next  
scene, and fade out/in between major parts (like chapters in a book).  
Whatever you do, keep it consistent.

5) If you're doing a slideshow, you'll want to use some transitions &  
Ken Burns to keep everyone's attention -- do them one or two at a  
time, though, so you don't bring your computer to its knees trying to  
render everything at once. Ask me how I know this!

Have fun & let the list know how it goes!

Larry Kollar     k  o  l  l  a  r  @  a  l  l  t  e  l  .  n  e  t
Unix Text Processing: "UTP Revival"

More information about the iBook mailing list