If you're one of the many who bought my 37th book, The Little iTunes Book, you surely remember the Dad test:
One day (pre-iTunes) when I was visiting my father, an avid but rather unsophisticated iMac user, I played one of my homemade CDs for him. He loved it. He then asked if I could show him how to make his own audio CDs. I thought back on all the trouble I'd had getting my setup working, the multistep process, the two separate programs he'd need, and the several system extensions he'd have to install. I also thought about the cost of buying the software and hardware. And I was forced to reply, "I'm afraid not."
Then I saw iTunes, a single, elegant program that manages your music collection effortlessly, rips songs from CD to hard disk quickly and easily, burns custom audio CDs painlessly (and without taking over your entire Mac), and displays some of the coolest visual effects I've ever seen. It was the first MP3 program that could pass my "Dad test" with flying colors: I could teach Dad enough about it in half an hour to have him burning custom CDs to his heart's content.
Sadly, Dad's not around to test iDVD. He'd have loved it and it would have passed the Dad test easily. But…
I do have this neighbor with a Dell PC. When "Dave" (not his real name) saw my first iMovies several years ago, he asked if he could do that on his Dell, running some variation of Windows. Like any good doctor, my first response was, "Don't do dat!"
I tried to explain that while he probably could, he'd need some additional hardware and software, and that even then it probably wouldn't work as well as an inexpensive Mac. I told him that every single Mac includes everything you need to edit video computer, proper video card and drivers, FireWire ports, big fast hard drive. "Just add camcorder." He didn't want to abandon his beloved Dull (er Dell), so he bought a new one, with all the hardware and software they told him he needed to edit video "just like on a Mac." Later, I showed him some of the work I'd done in preparing to write the first edition of this book, then I asked how his video editing was going. He replied that he hadn't quite gotten it working yet and still hadn't made a single movie. Meanwhile, I'd made dozens of videos and DVDs.
Then, the new iMac came out, and the rest is history. With DVD-burning now available on a killer computer priced below $2,000…. Well, you know the rest.
Excerpt from "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid you can't do that (at least not on a Dell…)"
I lent him the new iMac for a few days and issued a challenge. Since he still, 18 months later, had not completed a single movie project on his Dell, I told him to try making a movie, an audio CD, and a DVD on this iMac. And to make things interesting, I offered him no assistance or support I told him to look in Mac Help if he had questions.
Three days later I interviewed "Dave."
On the first day, he unpacked the iMac, set it up in 5 minutes, and burned two audio CDs with iTunes. He said he never needed to refer to Mac Help and that this whole project was "no problem whatsoever."
On the second day, he used iDVD to create a pair of slide shows using existing digital photos and burned his first DVD. I watched it later and it didn't stink. In fact, most people would no doubt find it impressive. (I'm so jaded…)
On the third day, he borrowed my Canon ZR 25 camcorder and a tape of my son's last basketball game. I handed him the camera, manual, and FireWire cable and told him, "You're on your own." By the end of the day he had imported raw footage into iMovie, edited it, added music and titles, then burned it onto a DVD with iDVD.
As I scribbled furiously, Dave's long-suffering wife added, "He swore less at the Mac than he does at his Dell."
Dave then said he had created more multimedia in three days with the iMac than he had in 18 months with his Dell. He only opened the Help file a couple of times. He concluded, "the hardest part was getting the iMac back in the box."
Before departing, I asked if he'd consider a Mac next time. He replied, "Absolutely. In fact, if we hadn't wasted so much money trying to transform that Dell into a multimedia computer, I'd get one today."
It was music to my ears.
Copyright ©2002 Bob LeVitus. Used by permission.
This piece originally appeared in my "Dr. Mac" column in the Houston Chronicle on March 29, 2002. My point was this: The desktop video revolution is here and Apple is clearly leading the way. iMovie and Final Cut Pro make it easy and affordable to make movies with your Mac; iDVD and DVD Studio Pro make it easy and (more or less) affordable to create high-quality DVDs.
And it's all so easy, even a kid can do it. If that's not a revolution, I don't know what is.