iMovie for iPad: It’s Fast, But Is it Functional? (Review)

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We recently began featuring cool accessories and cases on iSmashPhone. It began with daily accessory posts and we have also started putting together short video reviews for some of these accessories. When iMovie for iPad was announced, we immediately thought of how awesome it would be to use the tablet as part of our workflow for creating these video reviews. Along the way we learned some of the negatives of iMovie for iPad (from here on out simply iMovie, unless otherwise noted).

It Took a While to Get Used to the Workflow

Our biggest issue with the software was that importing video was a huge pain. We found out that this wasn’t only an issue we were having; several users on the Apple Discussion boards were also saying that they were unable to import video from their other cameras.

Another problem we had with iMovie was that the Project Name showed only 13 characters. Part of our workflow is that we like to have the project name be the same as the video title. This was quite annoying for us when working on various little projects.

There are also a few things the software could definitely benefit from. For instance, it needs timecode for when you are working on videos inside the project. We’d also like the addition of picture in picture or image overlay (this would be useful for adding watermarks to your videos).

We’d also like to see iMovie pre-fill our YouTube title with the project’s name, rather than just giving us a blank. Based on the project’s name we are sure iMovie can guess what we want to name our video. Another gripe while on the subject of YouTube is that video didn’t always export. It happens, but this was much more often than we’d like with regular use.

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Learning to Work Around Limitations

Once we understood the shortcomings of iMovie and figured out ways to work around them, we were able to begin the actual editing process.


First, lets talk about our video creation workflow:

1. Review videos shot in one take.

2. Download videos from camera to Mac via iMovie for Mac’s “Import” function.

3. Convert videos into iPad-compatible format with Quicktime (More on that process at bottom of linked page)

4. Sync iPad with iTunes with include video option turned on to get videos into iOS iMovie.

5. Create new iMovie project.

6. Edit Video: cut out parts of the video, insert titles at the beginning and the end of the video

7. Save it to Camera Roll (we are doing this because we had some problem with YouTube export so we decided to save the file to the Camera roll so later we can do anything we want with that video file)

8. Then publish to YouTube


Now we can review iMovie in the context of our workflow and limitations described above. Know that at this point we were extremely frustrated by the process of figuring out a way to make video shot on another camera open within the iPad in iMovie. The good news is that at this point we knew all the steps and just what we needed to do to get it all done.



We currently use Mac iMovie to create all of our video, and one thing we can say for sure is that the tablet version is much faster at editing video (Yes, the workflow above looks like a nightmare, but we are talking about the actual process of editing the footage) than using the OS X version of the software. Dropping videos into the project was easy, as was activating our audio waveform. It’s hard to edit video without having that waveform visible.

Finding areas of video that have to be cut and splicing them out was much faster on iOS when compared to iMovie for Mac. After finishing our cuts, we simply add the title, which was also quick and easy.

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Final Thoughts

To be honest, we spent a lot of time figuring out how to work around iMovie’s limitation of not importing video from many popular cameras. More time than anyone should have to, again, the Apple Discussion forums show that this wasn’t limited to just us. However, once we figured out those little workarounds, and got through those pains, the process of editing was faster and easier than we’ve experienced on our 15-inch MacBook Pro (And that computer is no pushover. We estimate that conversion was at least 30 percent faster on the iPad).

Was the end video perfect? It was not, but it gave us the pleasure of being able to edit five videos in less than 30 minutes while lying in bed watching TV. So if you are willing to accept these shortcomings, iMovie is for you. Otherwise, you may have to wait for when this little $5 video editing program gets more features.

Let’s put it this way: Same stuff. It’s simple, it’s easy. Unfortunately, it’s missing a lot of options, but it gets the job done.

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3 out of 5 stars

Because of the trouble we had getting the videos imported we are giving it a 3 rather than a 4. Many will give up in frustration. We spend a few hours perfecting the process for our workflow.

You Can Download iMovie for iPad Here – $4.99

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