The new Movie Trailer feature of iMovie '11 is a great way to demo the program because it packs all the strengths of the video editor into a compact, visually arresting package. But like a real movie, there is more to iMovie '11 than the trailer and thankfully all of the best scenes aren't given away in the teaser.

iMovie '11 is an interesting mix of old and new. Audio editing is an old feature from iMovie HD 6 that's finally making its appearance in the new version, but with a new, easy approach. There are features such as One Step Effects, which build upon the editing foundation of iMovie '08 and '09. But Apple is also putting serious effort into iMovie's development with a new fix for rolling shutter artifacts and a People Finder feature which can help immensely when you're trying to locate clips of family members or friends amid hours of raw footage.

Movie trailers

Although not the most important addition to iMovie '11, the Movie Trailers feature gets top billing because it's fun. Even if you don't know what a medium shot is, the placeholder animatics provided in the Storyboard tab of the Project browser make it easy to determine which kind of clip to add. (If anything, it reminds me that I need to vary the types of shots I capture, so I'm interspersing closeups with lots of wide shots or groups.)

The trailers are also somewhat editable, with controls in each thumbnail for un-muting the clip, removing it and choosing which section of the overall clip to use. Also, you can apply effects and other controls within iMovie's inspectors (such as adjusting the colour or making footage look weathered).

The big question about trailers is whether people will continue to create them after the novelty wears off. Or, will users create trailers and then never get around to cutting together a longer movie? Fortunately, the Movie Trailer is a gateway to other features.

iMovie

After building a trailer, it can be converted to a regular project. (Be sure to duplicate the trailer project first, or you'll lose it as a trailer.) All the edits that went into the trailer are exposed and can be changed at will.

Or, if you're planning an upcoming video shoot, create a new Movie Trailer project, click the Shot List tab and build a list of scenes you need using the animatic placeholders found in the Maps, Backgrounds and Animatics panel. Then, print the shot list (or save it as a PDF that you can take on location on an iPad, iPod or laptop).

I did run into one behaviour that seems like a bug, but isn't, according to Apple: When editing the title text, it's not possible to leave a text field blank to delete it. If I wanted to write "This Christmas" instead of "This Holiday Season" in the Holiday trailer, deleting the word "Season" or replacing it with a space reverts back to the default, therefore reading "This Christmas Season". It may be a feature but it's certainly clunky.

Audio editing

I'm happy to see that, after three years of Apple insisting that editing audio within a clip isn't important to casual users, iMovie's designers have finally added the capability in this edition. Clicking a button in the Project browser makes audio waveforms visible at the bottom of every clip.

Adjusting audio levels takes a very iMovie-like approach: select a range of audio you'd like to edit, then drag the volume bar up or down to change the level. You don't need to first add keyframe markers, they appear automatically and can be fine tuned (if, say, you want the audio to drop off sharply and then fade back in slowly).

iMovie

The new collection of audio effects does a fine job of applying broad filters. I can't remember the last time I wanted a clip to sound like it came from a robot, but I could anticipate using the Telephone effect on a voiceover or the room size simulators to make a space feel larger or smaller.

The Multi-Tune effect (Apple's name for the auto-tune effect overused in a lot of pop music) is amusing but offers no fine control. Similarly, the pitch effects offer increases or decreases in four large steps. If you want more control over adjustments like these, as opposed to just having fun, use GarageBand to process the audio separately.