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Review of iLife '06


It comes in a small box.  But that is about the only thing that is "small"about iLife '06, except perhaps one other important feature:  The Price. ($79 on Apple's site and cheaper at other stores).  iLife '06 is actually a suite of applications designed to work together.  It contains all the basic software you need to do a number of creative things on your Mac.  On the front of the box is says "Music, Photos, Movies, Blogs".  But its actually more than that.  Lots of applications can do those, and certainly on your computer (no matter which computer you have) you have the rudiments of doing all those things somewhere.  But for this amount of money, anywhere else, you aren't going to get

Apple MacBook Notebook Computer with Intel Core (2.0GHz, 13.3 in.)
MacBook delivers the power of the Intel Core 2 Duo -- the latest generation of Intel processors -- and a slew of innovative features, including: a built-in iSight camera for video chatting on the go; iLife '06; Front Row; a glossy 13-inch widescreen display; even dual-display support.
Apple MacBook Notebook Computer with Intel Core (2.16GHz, 13.3 in.)
The MacBook by Apple delivers the power of the Intel Core 2 Duo, the latest generation of Intel processors, and a slew of innovative features, including: a built-in iSight camera for video chatting on the go; iLife '06; Front Row; a glossy 13.3-inch widescreen display; even dual-display support.
  • 1. A full fledged multi track recorder/sequencer complete with loops, audio instruments and effects processors (GarageBand3)
  • 2. An easy to use non-linear video editor capable of high definition video to small web streaming clips.  (iMovieHD)
  • 3. Easy to use DVD recording software capable of professional looking menus (iDVD)
  • 4. Web publishing application that can make web sites, blogsites, and can upload podcasts, complete with great looking templates (iWeb)
  • 5. A photo editor and organizer (iPhoto).

Five applications. Enough?  No, there's more to it than this.  Its the way all of these work together that is the true magic of the iLife '06 package.  It is so good that people that have the Apple Pro Apps (Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio Pro, Sound Track Pro, Logic Pro) will find that iLife's integration greatly simplifies the process of getting audio, video and DVD working together and it takes it one step further.  It makes all your creative work uploadable in new popular formats.  Want to make Podcasts?  Everything you need to make your own radio show is in GarageBand 3.  Even radio ready sound effects you can drop onto tracks, music beds for intros and outros, canned audience applause, cartoon FX, booms, traffic noise for faking "on the street " interviews.  But heck, use the rest of GarageBand to score your own music, as original as you want it to be using software instruments (plenty of synthesizers and sampler instruments to choose from) or just use the included audio loops to assemble a song like building blocks.

But why stop at just an audio podcast?  Got a video camera with firewire? Connect it to your Mac, capture your clips and assemble them in iMovie.  When finished, toss it into GarageBand and add you audio, FX, Music.  Run out of video?  Ok drag in some photos too.  Not feeling creative today musically?  Drag in any song from your iTunes library.  Got it all cookin' now.  Cool.  Upload it with iWeb.  You just made a podcast video.  Pretty soon you'll be able to download these to your cell.

Right inside of GarageBand 3 you have a utility to access audio, photos and movies.  When its done in GarageBand, save it.  In iWeb you can just choose the podcast template.  When it opens up you'll know what to do, drop the movie here, type some text there.  Make a title.  Add a Blog. Save. Publish.  Done.

The screenshot above is of GarageBand 3, showing audio, video and music creation integration. If you want to read more details about iLife '06, head over to Apple's page on it.


Done? Sounds simple huh? Well, it is pretty simple.  The applications do a lot of the work behind the scenes.  So you are not mired in reading manuals about which video format, audio format, etc. (its the H.264 video with 44.1 AAC stereo, for those who want to look it up), you just click the iPod icon. Of course all the other popular resolutions are there too (email, Web streaming, web download, DVD, and Full quality.

Apple Logic Studio Express Music Production Software (Macintosh)
Logic Express 8 makes it easier than ever to translate musical inspiration into professional recordings. A redesigned interface and a range of powerful, easy-to-use features put sophisticated tools at your fingertips.


Sending a video to GarageBand is the ultimate in ease of use.  Just choose "export", click GarageBand, and the Garage opens up, automatically imports the video, imports the audio on a separate track, then you can add tracks, music, photos, sound FX.  Guess what?  The pros can't do this as easily in Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro and there is no publishing option in the pro apps for podcasting.  Of course you can do it if you know what formats to select, and have a professional website creator like Dreamweaver, or an ftp utility, but its not going to be as fast, as seamless, and you'll have to so quite a bit of figuring things out before you see or hear anything on your websites.

This, my friends, is the true magic in iLife '06.  Its the complete creative production package that truly is easy to use.  You can't do this hip stuff so easily with Creative Suite, MX Studio, and certainly not with Microsoft Office or even Final Cut Studio.  Of course those are fine applications capable of many more things, but in terms of the finished, uploaded project, all of these are missing one part or another, and the novice might be severely hampered or distracted by all of the super powerful pro features.  iLife '06 is Apple's trump card, the winning hand, and its cards are down on the table as we gasp in awe.  Five applications.  Five aces.  Less than 1/10th the price of other "creative suites", and it requires no special training and is easy to use. 

Are things 100% perfect?  No.  A minor issue perhaps.  To make publishing an easy, "one-click" operation, you have to publish to a .Mac site, which of course they offer a free trial to.  If there is a "catch", that is it.  Otherwise, you can publish to a folder on your hard drive then upload it via ftp to your website.  That's not too hard.  But I noticed the directory structure is very complex, with sometimes a long string of numbers as folder names.  There's no way to edit these paths in iWeb, and to me it does not make sense.  I think they could have made that a little easier.  It's also not possible to edit your site once online with iWeb, so you have to upload the whole thing again.  This means if you do alter it with another web application, those changes will have to be downloaded and placed in this rather cryptic directory structure on your hard drive.  But iWeb is new this time around.  Maybe there are improvements coming.  So if you want the ultimate in simplicity, budget for a .Mac website. 

Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster HSS Electric Guitar (Rosewood, with Case)
The American Deluxe Strat HSS delivers all the refined features found on the American Deluxe Strat, but brimming with beefy tone thanks to a Fender DH-1 humbucking pickup, the S-1 switching system, and an LSR Roller Nut with locking machine heads.


A few notes on GarageBand 3 before I go.  Great stuff is that it works much better than GB v1 did (I skipped 2 so I have little to say about that).  Its integration with Logic Pro is now very good.  All of the GarageBand instruments and loops show up in Logic, and in the 5 small projects I've done since getting '06, they all sounded exactly the same in logic as they did in GarageBand.  Another interesting point is that GB will access all the audio unit plugins you have available in Logic (though it does not have all of Logic's audio instruments.   It will load your stuff, even if you have some of the "heavies" like the East West RA, Symphonic Choir and the whole Native instruments "Komplete" family of synths and samplers.  Naturally GarageBand does not give you all the editing finesse of Logic Pro, but there are some things that are small innovations in GB that Logic does not have as of this writing.  The score display in GarageBand lets you easily see the length of not only quarter, half and whole notes, but of all the dotted notes as well.  Its highlighted when you click on the note.  Brings a new level of joy to score editing for the Notationally challenged.  I also love how simple it is to drag a loop with MIDI data attached right into a MIDI track, with the instrument pre-assigned.

I find it hard to believe you can get such power, so cheap.  You could spend a thousand on music, video and other software and not get this kind of ease of use.  Hey, that's more than the price of a Mac Mini.  Or pick up a new iMac and get the iLife package included.  iLife '06 runs natively on the new iMacs and MacBook Pro with the new Intel Core Duo Processor.  As I have mentioned in other articles, podcasting audio and video feeds is a major wave in our collective future.  If you want to get in on the excitement of being a modern creative artist, you should have an idea of the tools you need.  Happily, and perhaps for the first time in the history of production, the tools are so easy to deal with they no longer are the main focus.  Its back to you, your talent, and what you will create.

Want to discuss?  Go to the studio-central About your Mac DAW forum



Using a Mac pro as Your DAW
Using a G5 as your DAW
Using an Apple TV as an Audio Archiver
Audio Interfaces For your Mac
Is it Time to go Mac Yet?
MOTU 896MK3 Review
MOTU 828mk2 Review
History of Logic
Logic Studio 9 Review
Logic (Mackie) Control
Review iLife and GarageBand
iLife 6
Using SoundTrack Pro


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