Like everyone else on the internet, I covered Apple's release of new MacBook Airs the other day. And while they showed a number of other products at the same event, one development that specifically concerns filmmakers is the new version of iMovie. iMovie '11 is not going to replace Final Cut, but it does include an interesting new feature called Movie Trailers. Most of us are not going to be interested in the template-driven tool for our own uses, but I wonder what this could mean for the real movie trailer scene, which already seems template-driven.

Briefly, Movie Trailers is a tool designed to create clichéd movie trailers in record time, with different pre-made graphics and scores ready to drag-and-drop. In the excellent Filmmaker Magazine newsletter, editor Scott Macaulay explores the issue of the new iMovie templates, wondering:

What happens when, a year from now, an audience full of people who have auto-trailered their last trip to the beach sit in a theater and watch a generically cut promo for the latest swords-and-sandals epic? Or couples who gave themselves silly Valentine’s Day trailer cards with the “Romance” template see a similarly cut spot for the latest Katherine Heigl flick? There will be snickers and, later at home, mash-ups. Movie marketers will notice and realize they are being laughed at. The clichés that Apple is cleverly making money with will be put out to pasture and maybe trailers will start getting creative again.

I certainly hope so. Here's the interface in action:

As someone who is currently putting together a trailer for my forthcoming Kickstarter campaign, this is kind of scary. In Hollywood, they hire trailer houses to go through hundreds of revisions of a trailer in order to (theoretically) find just the right audience (though they've scaled this back a bit with the economic downturn). No one's saying iMovie's movie trailer presets are going to show up in the theater, but I've been dissecting the timings of Hollywood trailers and scripting my own, with a beginning, middle, and end. Now Apple is simplifying the process and making it template-driven. This is what it must've felt like for people who used to do painstaking chemical photo retouching, as M. Emmet Walsh's character did in the Coen brothers' Blood Simple (adding bullet holes to otherwise peacefully-sleeping figures). And then Photoshop came out, and any jackass with a mouse (present company included) could get the same effect in a fraction of the time. Ain't technology grand?

A couple example trailers, showing just how formulaic is the whole enterprise:

In other news, Apple also showed a sneak peak at OS X 8, a.k.a Lion, set for a Summer 2011 release. Part of Lion is the new app store, which works similarly to the iOS app store. This allows developers to sell apps without having to set up their own storefront on the web, a service for which Apple to take a 30% cut. Unlike the OS upgrade, however, this feature will be released "within 90 days." If you're a developer, they'll be accepting app submissions in November.


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