I've just barely dabbled with iMovie '11, but I'm already comfortable saying this: The new "Trailers" templates are going to be this years newest meme fodder.
They're so dumb. So simple. But the output - at least from the one I made in literally 15 minutes - is so incongruously hilarious compared to the low quality input I shot in my backyard in five minutes that I can already see a million kids with Flips and iPod touches running out into the backyard to perfect their shots.
When you select a movie template - I used "Adventure" - the first thing you see is the Outline tab. There are blanks spaces for credits, as well the studio name that will be overlaid at the beginning. Plenty of opportunities for inside jokes and references to Famous Mortimer.
But the trailers templates really kick into gear in the "Storyboard" and "Shot List" tabs, both of which show the same blank clips with suggestions of what sort of video clips should fill them.
I went to the Shot List tab and shot from there, trying to shoot something vaguely unique for each one, but not really knowing how'd they all go together. It probably would have been easier to just shoot directly for the Storyboard.
But I still like the Shot List for one reason: it's a good lesson for beginning shooters to learn. By showing the need for multiple shots of the same type, it can help them look at the narrative structure of the shooting in a different, more practical way. Rather than trying to build out a story just in the Storyboard, iMovie is encouraging you to look at the whole trailer as simply a collection of shots.
There's something about the trailers templates that makes me wonder if they're going to spark the imagination of a lot of amateurs - especially kids. Back when Apple was still talking to us, I was working on a feature on the differences between iMovie and Final Cut, specifically when it was time to "move up" to the professional program. In my discussions with a couple of Apple's executives heading up the video show, it was clear this is something they think about a lot as well. It's one thing to use filters on cameraphone shots to emulate more technical looks, but there's a lot you can't fake when it comes to video. At least not yet.
iMovie '11 fakes it in lots of useful ways. The music, for one, is as good as anything out there. The titles are very nice, if not terribly innovative. (They aren't supposed to be, in some ways; they're trying to emulate certain stereotypical styles of trailers.) And although you can't move around the Storyboard frames, there's nothing stopping you from using a clip that doesn't match the Storyboard's suggested shot.
All this structure gives even the crappiest video some very nice bones to hang on, allowing shooters who actually want to learn and improve a great platform to build on. Most of the trailers are a minute to a minute-and-a-half, which may not sound like much, but is a great length for a starter project.
I know video templates for consumer video editors aren't anything new - they aren't even new to iMovie - but something in my gut tells me these trailers templates are going to be a big hit. Not a "everybody gets letterpress Christmas cards this year because Apple added it to iPhoto, then forgets about it next year" sort of hit, but the kind of thing that will unfurl a wave or two of memes and remixes, abate in time like everything else thematic, but leave in its wake a handful of new filmmakers with skills they can apply to their first wholly original creations.
Bonus: With a single click, you can now turn iMovie '11's timeline back into a traditional linear one. I find myself using iMovie for quick and dirty video work more and more.