Apple Training Series: iLife 06
Posted: 20-Jul-2006

Mac Guild Grade

Publisher: Peachpit Press


Reviewer: Tom Hughston $34.99

Apple Training Series: iLife 06
by Michael Rubin
Book & CD-Rom, April 25, 2006
ISBN 0-321-42164-7
Price: $34.99

What the Book is About
iLife 06 provides an overview of all of the iLife applications (iTunes, iWeb, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, and GarageBand) with training exercises provided via the CD-Rom that comes with the book. The book delves into the basics of each application, providing step by step examples of how to use capabilities and access options that may not be intuitively obvious to the casual user. Additionally, exercises are provided to help reinforce what is provided in the book via specific examples so the user can see what actions or steps to take, and more importantly, exactly what should happen when those actions are taken.

Target Audience
This book is intended more for the beginner or the experienced Mac user who may not have a lot of experience with the iLife applications. The book provides the initial catalyst to start and understand the framework of the applications. Additional information is provided allowing the user to effectively navigate iLife and get a feel for the user interfaces and nuances of each application; however, it is not a detailed exploration into the full capabilities of all of the applications.

For those well-versed in prior versions of iLife applications and are looking to take your skill to the next level, this book is not for you.

What to Expect
iLife 06 is broken out into 14 lessons or chapters, each providing specific information about the applications through examples and exercises, while also showing how to use information and data across the different applications to produce finished products.

Lesson 1 addresses iTunes and is very straight forward - most users of iTunes will not find anything new, but again, I do not believe this book is geared for the experienced user. The lesson addresses ripping CDs, how to select individual songs, creating playlists, burning CDs, as well as editing information about the songs.

Lesson 2 provides some basic information regarding digital cameras and iPhoto, but also provides some good tips for constructing and taking great photographs. There are some basic guidelines such as framing subjects in the photo, including foreground images to create depth, and creating contrast with primary images in the shot. It's a good refresher on basic photography that helps create better and more enjoyable pictures.

Lessons 3 through 5 work with iPhoto and iMovie to address how to manage photos (both storage and touchup) as well as sharing them and creating slideshows that have a bit more of a professional feel. One of the exercises shows how to add one or more key words to photos which allows you to find specific kinds of photos within your collection. This can be very helpful in locating pictures if you have a large photo collection. Additional exercises provide instruction on cropping photos, automated and manual picture adjustments, red eye removal, etc. The exercises also provide good examples of how to create bound books from your photos, providing information on how to deal with different image quality, different picture sizes, etc. One of the exercises in chapter 5 provides a good overview of how to use the Ken Burns effect (the iPhoto feature that moves your photos around the screen), providing step by step instruction on how to override the automatic effect and allow the user to pick starting points, duration of panning, amount of zoom, and the ending point.

Chapters 6 through 14 address movies and time lapse videos, tips for shooting video, assembling movies (with both stills and video), and editing clips via iMovie to generate professional looking movies. Lessons show how to use GarageBand to add unique audio to the movies, as well as using iWeb and iDVD to share your videos and movie with others. Chapter 8 provides an excellent exercise showing how to remove audio recorded with video clips, and add back in narration and music. Chapter 11 has a good exercise to introduce the user to GarageBand. It shows how to lay down a simple beat, and then incorporate other instruments to complement the original track. The exercises in chapter 12 also provides examples using GarageBand, but in the context of Podcasts. All in all, I found these chapters 6 through 14 of most interest mainly because of my lack of experience with videos.

The lessons move at a good pace and provide a logical introduction to how to use the applications and more importantly, how to use them together. Ideas and concepts are provided in a logical flow that makes sense and shows the power of the applications both individually and when used together. The included exercises are good in helping you to become familiar with the applications.

I believe the best part of this book is the introduction it provides to all of the applications. A user may be very familiar with one or more of the applications, but may not be well versed in others. The book provides a good set of examples on how to use the applications as well as exercises showing how to effectively use them together to produce quality products.

Mac Guild Grade
B (Really Good)

Final Words
If you are just moving to Mac from a long line of PCs, or have little or no experience with previous versions of iLife, this book will help get you up and running quickly. The lessons and exercises provide simple straight forward examples of how to use each application and have fun, achieve quick success, and form a foundation on which you can build.