Way back in January 2001, Steve Jobs spoke about Apple leading the way into the "era of the digital lifestyle," and said that the Mac is the "digital hub" that allows you not only to enjoy digital content, but also to create it yourself in the comfort of your own home. At the time, I was somewhat skeptical; it sounded like yet another flavor of the infamous Cupertino Kool-Aid to me.
But hey, it's my sworn duty to check this stuff out for you, gentle reader. So, as I did before writing The Little iTunes Book (also from Peachpit), I've been doing a lot of research.
In the name of research, I've made movies and DVDs using iMovie 3 and iDVD 3, and their pro-quality brethren Final Cut Pro and DVD Studio Pro. (You'll hear more about both in Appendix A, "The Pit You Throw Your Money Into.") Anyway, today, with those igloo-lookin', flat-screen-swivelin', DVD burnin' iMacs going for less than $2,000, and DVD burnin' eMacs starting at $1,299, I'm happy to admit that I was way wrong and Steve was way right. The Mac has become the ultimate digital hub, just as he proclaimed it would.
Allow me to digress, just for a moment. In my previous life, before I became a full-time geek/raconteur (and before the phrase "desktop video" was even invented), I worked for an advertising agency in Los Angeles where one of my responsibilities was to produce television commercials. At that time, if you wanted to create video good enough to be shown on television, with transitions, synchronized sounds, multiple tracks, and special effects, you needed a pocket full of cash. Just renting a "broadcast-quality" video-editing suite could easily cost from $100 to more than $1,000 an hour.
Building an editing suite in those days would set you back hundreds of thousands of dollars. Today, I can do almost anything I could do in that million-dollar studio right here in my home office, for a fraction of the price. It used to cost me (actually, my client) $5,000 or $10,000 just to edit a single 30-second commercial; today, for less than $3,000 I can buy everything I need to make real broadcast-quality video a SuperDrive-equipped Macintosh, Apple's iMovie 3 (or even Final Cut Pro), and an inexpensive digital video camcorder.
The guts of my studio are a Power Macintosh G4 dual gigahertz tower with SuperDrive, a 22-inch Apple Cinema Display, a 17-inch Sony monitor, a small NTSC monitor (in other words, a TV set with video-in), an extra gigabyte of RAM, Apple's iMovie, Final Cut Pro, iDVD, and DVD Studio Pro, a Canon ZR 25 MC digital camcorder, and a bunch of other stuff. For around $8,000 I've built a video studio capable of producing honest-to-goodness broadcast-quality video even the major networks would be happy to transmit. And I can deliver it on a DVD to anyone with a recent-vintage set-top DVD player (or DVD-playing computer), for less than $3 a copy! What's not to love?
I've made a handful of short films and DVDs and I'm pretty darn proud of what I've accomplished so far.
I'm not saying that $8,000 worth of video-editing gear is going to turn you into a world-famous auteur. But it will give you the chance to try your hand at filmmaking without selling your soul or hocking your home.
Mark my words: Desktop video (DTV) is going to be the next big thing bigger even than desktop publishing (DTP). And, like DTP, DTV is so much better on a Mac.
But you know that. You bought this book, didn't you?