Will 4K iPhones and iPads come with iMovie Pro?

Thursday, 27 August 2015

I’m holding out for foldable phone screens, until they can delver what I want, Apple need to come up with a main marketing point for the new generations iPhone every September.

According to Apple tipster Mark Gurman this year’s seems to be a big leap in camera abilities:

In addition to a much-upgraded rear still camera, Apple has decided to make a significant addition to the iPhone’s video recording capabilities: 4K video recording support. The iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus will be the first iPhones capable of recording video in full 4K resolution and among the first phones on the market with such capabilities, though Samsung’s Galaxy S5 launched with 4K video recording support in early 2014.

This kind of hardware update is good news for those interested in iMovie for iOS and OS X developments. 

As iMovie is the default video editor for iOS, it will need to be able to handle 4K video - likely to be 3840x2160. A doubling of linear dimensions means each frame shot will have four times as many pixels. 

Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere have been able to handle resolutions larger than this over 10 years. In 2013 Apple stopped development of the old iMovie for OS X application and based iMovie (2013) on Final Cut Pro X 10.1. That meant that iMovie for OS X could then on handle 4K video internally (and transfer 4K to Final Cut for export). The catch was that iMovie for iOS and iMovie for OS X were no longer so well integrated.

Serenity Caldwell writing in Macworld in October 2013:

While you can still send your projects to iTunes, you can’t open a mobile iMovie project in the new iMovie for Mac—nor will it open in iMovie ’11. Try to do so, and you’ll get the following error message: “iMovie can’t import projects created with iMovie for iOS version 1.4.1 or earlier.”

Serenity did report some good news:

After reaching out about the missing option, Apple has confirmed that the feature will be reintroduced in a future update.

As such, it looks like its removal is merely temporary—a small setback, caused by the large revamping of all iLife and iWork apps—but it’s still odd to me that the feature didn’t make the final cut. Apple has made a strong effort to unify the look and feel of its iOS and Mac apps in both the iLife and iWork suites; to prevent iMovie projects from transferring seems completely antithetical to the company’s mission. Fingers crossed, we'll see an update soon that will rectify this situation

If the iMovies were more tightly integrated, iMovie(2015) for iOS could act as a useful post production collaboration tool that would easily fit into Final Cut workflows.

It would certainly be a great demo for an Apple keynote presentation launching an iPad Pro.

iMovie for iCloud?

It’s been almost two years since the ‘Final Cut’ version of iMovie for OS X was launched. What could Apple do to make the two iMovies get on better? 

Despite many setbacks Apple’s cloud services have been improving in recent years.

How about iMovie/Final Cut Pro X for iCloud?

At the moment Final Cut Pro X has an editing mode that allows less powerful computers to playback media and for media to be stored on smaller storage devices. ‘Proxy Mode’ converts footage to a much smaller size and less power- and storage-hungry format.

Proxy mode is very useful for collaboration. Final Cut can convert large video files stored on workgroup servers and store proxy versions of media on a MacBook internal storage.

What if Proxy Mode had an iCloud option? Recent versions of iMovie for iOS offer iMovie Theater, a way of sharing finished films via iCloud. Modifying this feature a little would allow proxy versions of footage shot an iOS device to be made available for iMovie users running on OS X or even in the browser.

The databases that iMovie and Final Cut use to manage footage compress very well, so sharing them via iCloud shouldn’t be a problem. For example a recent project of a Final Cut library that was used to edit multiple versions of multiple short films had hours of AVC-HD footage that took up 50GB of storage space. The editing database required to store the edits and metadata compressed down to 4.2MB. 

The trick would be a way for iMovie for OS X and iMovie to be able to deal with Final Cut timelines.

Cloud-based collaboration needs new encoding formats. You cannot keep hours of high-quality 4K footage on current iPhones. Modern editing also likes to use animated motion graphics with transparency that can be overlaid on video in different ways. Although pros have been talking about H.265 for a while now, not all the video formats that are needed for efficient cloud-based editing have been agreed upon. For example, put me down for a proxy flavour of ProRes that includes an alpha channel: ProRes 4224 (Proxy).

Higher-end editors think the battle of video editing software is between Adobe, Apple, Avid and Blackmagic Design. In the long run it is likely to be between Apple on devices and Google in the cloud. iMovie/Final Cut Pro X for iCloud would be a step in that direction.