Using iMovie 1.2 for iOS on an iPad 1

18 March, 2011 10:17PM ยท 5 minute read

While Apple will tell you iMovie is only allowed to run on an iPad 2, iPhone 4 or iPod Touch 4th generation, the fact is by using the iPhone Configuration Utility (no jailbreaking required) it is possible to install iMovie 1.2 on your iPad 1. Google it to find out the gory details if you like. Why anyone would want to do this is simple: iPad 2’s are in short supply in North America and they haven’t been released yet elsewhere in the world and it’s unlikely they will launch worldwide on schedule given the shortages in North America. It may sound surprising to some that iMovie does work well enough on an iPad 1. Apple clearly wanted the faster processor speed and larger memory (that’s RAM not flash) on the iPad 2 for iMovie as it clearly is laggy on the iPad 1 (that and they’d appreciate your money spent on a new iPad 2 as well). It is however, perfectly functional and quite usable if you don’t mind the lag in the user interface and if you don’t mind the annoying error message that pops up every time you plug it in to iTunes to sync (just hit cancel and it works fine - Oh dear it doesn’t - see my Update below). This is not going to be a blow by blow this is how you do x, y and z but more a summary of my opinions having used it now for a few days on the train to and from work to cut together over 2 hours of video. First of all, the biggest gotcha: unless you convert your raw camera video into an acceptable format (more on that another post) it only works with video shot on an iPhone, an iPod Touch or an iPad 2. That’s fine for me right now as I’ve been going through 15 months worth of iPhone 3GS video but next in line is my Panasonic Lumix 720p camera video that I’m working on converting to try editing it on the iPad. Next gotcha: make sure you have enough free space on your iPad for the converted file. I have a 32Gb iPad and converting an hour of footage with by iPad reporting 3.3Gb to spare made it to 90% and died. Give yourself plenty of headroom if you’re editing longer videos like me. What not to expect: accurate cuts between scenes - I say this because there’s no audio when you scrub and this means you need to really concentrate on the exact moment visually in the scene you want to cut into or out of. I found it especially hard when the subjects in the video weren’t moving much and I needed to hear the audio at the right moment to cut in. Clearly real-time audio scrubbing was put in the too hard basket for this release. With the iPad 2 it shouldn’t be too taxing on top of the video scrubbing that works just fine. What not to expect: Chapter markers. This is a real pain for me as I often break my 2+ hour family movies with key moments highlighted as chapters and easy to search for on an Apple TV. It’s not a deal-breaker but I’m really hoping they add it in future updates. What not to expect: A good choice of transitions. There is only a cross-dissolve and the transition of the theme chosen (and it doesn’t tell you what that transition is on the selector it’s listed as “Theme”). If you want to mix it up a bit then forget it, you just can’t. I hope you like cross-dissolves. When using the application Landscape mode is the obvious choice. The amount of screen real-estate wasted on the timeline when in portrait mode is criminal. The Landscape layout feels about right with the timeline, media chooser and preview windows getting good relative screen proportions. Having said all of the above we need to take a reality check: it’s not desktop software and it’s being run on an ARM core mobile chip. It’s meant for cobbling together a few scenes from clips you take on a holiday or around the house - not really intended for 2 hour long sagas. Having said that it did make a 2 hour saga just fine. I enjoyed using it and it allowed me to edit videos efficiently on the train I spend 7-1/2 hours on every week turning that time into something more productive. Editing on a laptop with a trackpad is a nightmare whereas this is a pleasant and intuitive experience with a good result. In summary I liked it, but be aware of its limitations and if you have an iPad 1 like I do, don’t buy an iPad 2 just to use it.

Update: After trying to free up more space to make my bigger movies I hit another snag if you need to sync your iPad 1 for any reason. Once iMovie is on your iPad 1 the “Cancel”, “Don’t Authorize” and “Authorize” buttons appear. Following the original instructions I found using Google selecting Cancel seemed to let everything sync okay but it doesn’t - in fact the cancel stops the sync dead in its tracks. Which means you need to clear off free space on your iPad 1 before you install iMovie and start editing. If you realise you’ve run out of space halfway through you’re doomed. The problem is that if you try to export your movie to iTunes, then save the project in iTunes under Apps->File Sharing->iMovie you can do that but you need to sync to get it back on again which you can’t do once iMovie in installed. If you do click “Don’t Authorize” because you really need to sync you will lose all of your iMovie projects and will need to reinstall iMovie manually again afterwards. It’s not ideal but then Apple wants you to buy an iPad 2 for the privilege of using iMovie remember?