Unlocking iMovie '09 & '11
iLife '06 had the impressive and easy ability to send projects back and forth between the different iApps, so easy in fact it was like playing ping-pong with your project. Adding a custom score? Pop. Send to GarageBand. Dropping it into your blog? Pow. Send to iWeb. Burning it to a DVD?... Sigh. You get the idea.
Among all of the new concepts in iMovie '08, the new Media Browser is one of the most pivotal. iMovie now not only listens to, but talks to other iLife applications through the Media Browser. (For brevity and to sound like an expert, I will be referring to it as the "MB" from now on.) This post covers how the MB works and how to get a movie there.
The Grand Central Station for iLife
The MB operates a lot like its older version. It is used to share media between iLife apps without having to browse through folders to find files. The new MB is much like the old one, with the difference that there is a new iMovie source listed. More importantly, you must export from iMovie to get a movie listed here. Not a big deal, but good to know.
Adding a movie to the Media Browser
Getting a movie into the MB is quite easy. There are only a few things to understand. First, in iMovie go to the Share menu and select "Media Browser..."
Selecting it will bring up this window (Click for larger view):
You will notice that this movie has four different size options available. This is because my source material here is 720p HD. (Pretty high quality.) If your source material is of a lower quality, some of the size options will not be made available. This is because iMovie will not export at a size or resolution greater than your source material. Also notice that the window indicates for which devices a given size is appropriate. One glaring omission here is DVD quality. So you know what size works, standard DVDs can be authored up to 480p quality. Don't worry about this too much, however, since iDVD will scale the video so it fits. Unless hard drive space is too tight, just make sure to always choose the highest quality.
Export may take a long time
Exporting to the MB may take a lot of time, depending on the speed of your computer, the length of the movie, and the quality of the source material and of the export settings. If it doesn't take a long time, it might take a long time. On my older iMac G5, a 16 second movie of 720p video took about five minutes to export to all qualities. That is pretty slow, but my computer is on the slow side too.
Using the MB in other iLife apps
Once you have exported your movie to the MB, you will be able to find it in the MB of iDVD, iWeb, and GarageBand. Your list will look something like this:
Notice that your Event Library is also available. This means unedited footage is already in the MB. No export required. Also notice that once you select a movie in the list, all of the available sizes will be listed below it.
As mentioned above, you generally want to select the highest quality version to work with for iDVD. For iWeb, you may want a lower size version depending on how big of a file you want to put on your site. (Note: Publishing to iWeb and publishing to your .Mac web gallery are different things. The .Mac Web Gallery will upload all available sizes and let the viewer choose his or her desired quality.)
Now that your movie is in the MB, what happens if you make a change to it? Like an ever vigilant guardian of the MB, iMovie will swoop in at the first change to your movie and give you this:
If you decide to make a change anyway, you will need to re-export your movie to the MB. As long as you don't make changes to your movie, the Share menu will also keep track of it. If you have already sent a movie to the MB, the option to do it again is greyed out. Instead of that, the option to remove it becomes available.
I hope this helps you understand the MB, iMovie, and iLife better. As usual, if you have any comments or questions, please fire away in the comments below.