Apple’s iMovie: Poor User Experience

Yesterday I had to record a 2-hour long webinar. The resulting .mov file was about 1Gb in size. Then I needed to cut out a 40-minute fragment from this movie and save it as a separate file. Doesn’t look like an overly complicated task, does it? Started iMac on my MacBook Pro, which is not a super powerful but decent machine: a quad-code Intel i7 CPU, 8Gb RAM, 100GB of free space on my HD, Snow Leopard MAC OS.

Take 1. Started iMovie, then menu File, New Project, Import. The process immediately grabbed all my system resources and After spending 30 minutes iMove’s little panel with a progress bar displayed a message stating that now it’s importing the next long movie I worked with in the past (a.k.a. event). This gave me goose bumps. Where is the close or cancel button? That little panel with the progress bar had none. The iMovie’s menu became unresponsive, but even if it was available, there was no cancel option on the menu. Googling for how to stop the import returned a suggestion that I knew without Google: Force Quit the program. Than you very much, Apple! So much for the great user experience.

What did I do wrong to trigger this multi-movie import process? Got it! Stupid me! In the Import menu I had to uncheck the option “Add to existing events”. Cool. Let’s do it again.

Take 2. This time, after enjoying the progress bar for about 25 minutes the iMovie showed me a message that I needed to free some disk space cause my HD was full. This can’t be true, I had 100GB of free disk space in the morning!

Sidebar. Last week I spent about $13 for a very nice little program called WhatSize. If you need to quickly find the largest files sitting on your hard drive – get this program. You’ll be surprised to find lots of junk files taking space on your disk. After killing iMovie it left 50Gb of junk on my disk. Apple, please pick after your dogs applications!


OK, I cleaned up after Apple and deleted some other useless files. Now I got 120Gb of free space. Let’s try one more time.

Take 3. Importing the 1Gb file into iMovie as a new event. It started yet another thirty-minute import process. Since iMovie works in the mode “Occupy MacBook” I went to have a breakfast. Thirty minutes later I’m back getting ready to edit my movie. Oops…Here we go again. That little modal dialog window gives a new message – generating thumbnails for your movie. This process should have been completed in 40 minutes, which I didn’t have – my computer was almost dead, but I had to run a meeting. Force quit again. This time the iTunes has quietly stolen 55Gb of my hard disk.

This is probably the first time when I hate the user experience offered by an Apple program. Poor design and poor performance. If iMovie was created as a toy program intended to “Hi, Mom! This is my Webcam” kind of videos it should be marked as such. Can anyone recommend me a decent program that could take a 1Gb .mov file and let me cut it into smaller pieces without frustration?

Thanks in Advance.

Update. My thanks go to Boris Yurkevich, who  suggested to use QuickPlayer v.10. Selecting Edit | Trim allowed me to cut out and save a fragment of this 1Gb movie in less than 2 minutes!


5 thoughts on “Apple’s iMovie: Poor User Experience

  1. Now you know why I keep Mac Pro handy – with 10s of GB of RAM and 10s of TB of storage. You can offload such tasks to Lab servers/do it at night – nobody will notice

    1. Poor programmers tend to occupy all available disk space. In no time iMovie may occupy 10s of TB of storage.

  2. Geeky way:
    mencoder -ovc copy -oac copy -ss 00:10:00 -endpos 00:40:00 -of lavf -o cut.mp4
    If the audio stream is in AAC or PCM, then it’s better to transcode it into mp3 (buggy AAC support in free libs in the 1st case, saved disk space in the 2nd)
    mencoder -ovc copy -oac mp3lame -lameopts q=5 -ss 00:10:00 -endpos 00:40:00 -of lavf -o cut.mp4
    The video is not re-encoded in this case, saving both your time and video quality.
    Less geeky way:
    Open the file in -> File -> Streaming/Exporting Wizard… -> Transcode/Save to file -> Existing playlist item -> Partial extract Enable -> enter start and end seconds -> skip checkboxes on Transcode -> MPEG TS -> path to save -> Finish

      1. Read OmniGroup License agreement. It is collecting your data and web access stats. You a getting a free utility that also happens to be a spyware application. No thanks!

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