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New iPhone 4 lets users shoot, edit and transmit HD video

Apple’s new iPhone 4, revealed last week, boasts HD video recording and a suite of multimedia editing features that could transform how video footage is obtained by news operations.

The key new feature on the iPhone 4 is a five-megapixel autofocus camera that can capture video at 720p HD resolution. The phone also features a backside illumination sensor that improves video in low-light environments and an LED light to illuminate shots. As for editing, the iPhone includes a much faster processor that allows for more advanced editing software.

Apple said it would release a new iMovie video editing application for the iPhone, priced at $4.99. The app will allow users to edit video clips, polish videos with dynamic themes and transitions, add voice, music beds and still photos and then share the video to the outside world. All of this is done from the phone itself.

Finished video can be transmitted via MMS, or published on Apple’s MobileMe gallery or YouTube. A new feature called Facetime allows users to establish instant two-way conversations over WiFi networks. The phone has a second camera facing the user for this purpose.

Alfred Hermida, a professor of journalism at the University of British Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, said the new iPhone has the potential to put multimedia production in the hands of all journalists. He said his students had been experimenting with several software applications for the iPhone, and he was impressed with the flexibility.

“One of the main limitations has been the quality of the video that the iPhone 3GS could record. At best, it was 640 by 480 resolution,” Hermida said on his blog.

“The new camera addresses this limitation. The ability to shoot video in 720p HD and the more powerful A4 processor and the new screen resolution will also make it easier and faster to edit video on the go,” Hermida said.

Third-party applications like UStream can capture the iPhone video for broadcast and Web use. The company’s Watershed technology will enable audience members to capture and send breaking news, thoughts and opinions in real time to news organizations. It can also provide in-the-field reporters with the ability to broadcast live with a laptop and an Internet connection.

UStream said its technology can also be monetized in the broadcast stream with sponsor logos as well as video advertising and overlays. Pricing ranges from 500 hours of viewer-provided video each month for $49 up to 11,000 hours for $879. Pay-as-you-go pricing begins at $1 per hour of video.

The new iPhone will be available on June 24 for $199 for the 16GB model and $299 for the 32GB model. iMovie for iPhone will be available for download on Apple’s App Store.