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Sharing: Your Own Distribution Deal

Editing gets most of the ink when writing about iMovie, but I can't leave before mentioning the other side of creating a video: getting it out of iMovie, off your computer, and to the outside world. In addition to having the option to create a DVD of your project, iMovie offers a few methods of exporting the video.

Just as you imported footage from a camera via FireWire, you can export it back to the camera onto a blank MiniDV tape. The advantage is that you don't lose any video quality, and you can then hook the camcorder to a television for playback. For HD video, sending it back to the camera is currently the only way to play the high-definition version on an HDTV; there's still no accepted format for high-def DVDs.

You can also export the movie as a QuickTime file that can be played on any QuickTime-capable computer (Mac or Windows). iMovie has a handful of prefab settings for exporting to CDs, the web, and email, each of which is geared to the medium by employing different image sizes and compression levels (see Figure 7). Of course, you can also go in and configure the export settings if you know what you're doing.

Figure 7

Figure 7 The QuickTime Share dialog box.

One advantage to this approach is that you can take advantage of H.264, an emerging video compression standard that creates impressively high-quality video footage with relatively small file sizes. (H.264 is a key component of the two competing formats for high-definition DVDs.) H.264 is also very scalable, capable of running on HD televisions as well as cell phones.

If you don't care to become an expert in QuickTime encoding and just want to post your movies online for other people to see, that's fine, too. iMovie has sharing presets that will encode the video and automatically upload it to your .Mac HomePage (if you have a .Mac subscription) or generate email with the movie as an attachment. You can even create a version that's optimized for cell phones that support the 3GPP format, and iMovie will transfer it to a phone via Bluetooth wireless networking.

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