The edit suite is everywhere.

The new iPhone 4 was just announced and demoed at WWDC, and I feel the need to briefly blog about the video features because they are exciting to me: 720p video and video editing, and video conference (called “FaceTime”).

This stuff astounds me. Is this what it’s like to get old? Constantly amazed at technology, and how it keeps shrinking? I’m OK with that. 
First, the 720p video and editing with iMovie. When I started editing less than 10 years ago, I had a Hi8 camera with an analog signal and Premiere 1.0, and I could barely get anything of quality of out it. Hardly a editing veteran compared to the people who edited actual film that are still around, or even reel to reel, but still, very different than now. I liked instant gratification with video, and “instant” to me and my friends then was “online in a terribly low bitrate within 2 days”. And that was enough for us, we loved it! Then eventually came a small consumer level camera + laptop combo. When I went with my mom to Michigan Stadium for her first time there in late 2008, I took my camera and recorded the experience, edited it into a 7 minute video later that night in the hotel room using iMovie, and pushed it to YouTube immediately. It was done within hours, perfect. 

Now? I can record video on my phone as it happens, throw together some edits, and text it or YouTube it over 3G or WiFi? That is amazing to me. Going from a couple of days of editing in order to stream a teeny tiny 30 bits (yes BITS) per second video to capturing HD in the palm of my hand and emailing it to everyone I know so they can watch it on their phone, in just a few years. I don’t mean to be one of those crazy weirdos that gets completely excited about tech stuff, but I am completely excited. I could go on a trip to New York City, shoot random bits of my touristy day in Manhattan on my phone, edit it all together while I wait for my dinner to arrive in a restaurant, and upload it before the appetizer arrives. As someone who has always been a big fan of capturing and sharing experiences, this is a whole ‘nother level of sweet. 

And the other video aspect, the video conferencing. That is AWESOME. I’ve always thought video chatting was a very interesting communication medium, though we have always typically ended up in front of laptops chatting into a computer screen. Something about replacing that computer screen with a little iPhone that fits right in your hand seems right, so much more intimate. I’ve played around with the various video streaming apps available on the iPhone in the last 6 months, and I’ve been pretty happy with the Ustream app, but to have a front facing and rear facing camera that you can quickly switch between is amazing. I know people thought having the idea of 2 cameras was stupid, or having a front only and having to turn the phone was stupid…but seeing how Apple handled it, seamlessly switching from front to rear view with a little button tap..that is magic. It’ll be neat to see how video conferencing is worked into the next iPad.

Being able to be away without my laptop and still see someone face to face, or go on a trip and share an experience with someone half a world away, that is the kind of stuff 13 year old me always thought “Man, that’ll be cool if we can ever do that.” 

And it IS cool. 

I REALLY hope the frame rate for the video is truly 29.97 fps and not 30 fps. I hope Apple has been paying attention to the nightmare that was 30 fps with still cameras. Many of the editors I follow on Twitter are pretty cynical about the whole thing, mostly because they know they’re going to be brought client footage on a phone and be expected to ingest it and use it quickly. Others have said “You can’t make a movie on a PHONE” or “A PHONE will never replace what I do!” You’re missing the point if that’s all you have to say. No, you can’t make a Hollywood feature on a phone (yet), and you can’t replace an experienced editor with a soccer mom and her cell phone. Instead, the iPhone will continue to help you connect with those you love, whether it’s sharing an experience or recording it for your own memories. People will make films with this phone, and some of them will be outstanding, but nobody is going to send their corporate video work to their brother and his phone instead of a production house. I think for a little while, it might be tricky to deal with this footage, but eventually we’ll all work it out, and in the mean time, it’s job security.

Sidenote: Larry Jordan has great commentary about iMovie for iPhone on his blog, along with this great story that was sent to him:

I have been using for at least six months. It works great. With that as background, here’s my story.

I was flying from New York to San Francisco recently, and said, “why not try using LogMeIn  from an airplane at 35,000 feet and see how it behaves?”  I had purchased an internet connection on my flight — the cost was discounted since I was a first-time user.
I checked my email and read that my client had a revision to be made on a current Final Cut Pro project. So, I said, what the heck? Let’s see.

I logged into my edit system and discovered I had great response/control from the flight. As good as I had when I am connected on land. I was amazed!

I made the changes to the project and exported the file.  It went from Final Cut Pro to Squeeze, all controlled from my flight. Then, I opened up Transmit to send the newly compressed file to their FTP site for approval.

Now, here is where the story gets even funnier.  I sent an email to the client telling her I was making the changes right now — but NOT that I was on a plane.  She reviewed and approved the changes — all before I landed.

It was a VERY cool moment.