Posted Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Sounding Bad: iDVD Hangs When Encoding Audio

A friend writes with a question: I have created a movie (a little over an hour in iMovie) and have sent it to iDVD. There is no problem with the encoding of the movie—until iDVD attempts to encode the audio soundtrack. I have NOT included any additional audio tracks in the project—just the ambient sound from the movie. The iDVD program quits (the "burn" wheel stops spinning at that point), and ultimately I have to "force quit." Any suggestions?

Well, the good news is, you aren't alone. The bad news is, there doesn't seem to be any definitive answer for this problem.

I poked around on Apple's iDVD discussion boards and came across this series of posts describing exactly the same problem.

And the possible fixes are all over the map.

Some users reported success by simply walking away and letting the Spinning Beach Ball of Doom do its thing for several hours. Other users deleted the iDVD preferences file. (It's named com.Apple.iDVD.plist, and you'll find it in Home > Library > Preferences.)

Other users blame flakey memory chips, and report success after yanking non-Apple RAM from their Macs.

Other users just sit and weep quietly.

My take? Start by making sure you've downloaded the latest versions of iMovie HD and iDVD. Then try deleting the iDVD preferences file. If you have non-Apple RAM, consider pulling it. (There's good information about Mac RAM here and on Macintouch.)

Also look into whether your original video was shot with your camera in 12-bit audio mode. (Never a good idea—always use 16-bit mode.) Try saving your DVD as a disc image instead of burning directly from iDVD. (See page 280 of my book.) Make sure you have at least 20GB free on your hard drive.

And have some tissues nearby to daub away the tears.

When it comes to reliable encoding and burning, iDVD 5 is a big improvement over its predecessors. But it's clear there's still room for improvement.