The Great iMovie ’08 Crash Fiasco

One of the reasons I bought my MacBook Pro was to get back to digitizing some home video and experimenting with video podcasts for Nuketown. Unfortunately, Apple’s iMovie ’08 video editing app isn’t cooperating.

Every time I hook up my Canon ZR70 up to the MacBook Pro and try to import audio via iMovie ’08 (version 7.01, build 506), it crashes after importing one or two minutes of digital video.

This was disappointing to say the least, and I immediately started searching for an answer. I found a bunch of people having the same problem:

After reading through a few dozen posts, I’ve come to the conclusion that:

  1. The problem isn’t limited to a particular kind of camera
  2. The problem is specific to MacBook Pros. It doesn’t appear anyone else is reporting the crashes.
  3. The problem is likely limited to the 7.1 release of iMovie ’08; the original 7.0 version didn’t have the problem, and those who’ve deleted the current version and re-installed the original can import video without a problem.

The other option is to import the video using the older iMovie HD, which is available as a download for those who’ve bought iLife ’08. I’ve tried this approach and it works fine; my Mac’s able to pull the video into iMovie HD without any problems.

And why is Apple offering iMovie HD as a download? Well, it turns out that there’s a vocal minority that hates the new release and views it as a huge step backward.

Prominent blogger, author and technologist David Pogue (whose written all those “Missing Manuals” for Apple’s products) slammed the new version in his review “Apple Takes a Step Back With iMovie ’08”.

He makes a number of good points. While the new iMovie is probably easier for amateurs, the things they’ve stripped out — the timeline, plug-ins video-effects, chapters — really dumbs down the application. Some of the commenters on Pogue’s post suggest that everyone who used to use iMovie HD should simply upgrade to Final Cut Express, but I’ve used FCE and while it’s a good tool, iMovie (the old iMovie) was still a lot easier to use for quick-but-good looking movies.