HowTo: Fix iDVD hanging at audio encoding

A few months ago, I set someone up with a 24″ iMac, to do music and video production. He imported a short movie he shot previously, and added sound effects, music, titles, etc using iMovie. All was well and the video turned out excellent, but he ran into a problem when sharing the movie to iDVD.

The disc would process and start to encode, then hang at audio encoding, with a spinning beach ball cursor, and the burn icon in iDVD stopped spinning. In addition, Force Quit and Activity Monitor showed the application as Not Responding. We tried everything. After multiple trips to the genius bar (which prompted him to tell one genius he didn’t deserve the title!) and multiple calls to Apple support, we finally found a tech at one of the call centers who actually knew exactly what was going on.

The problem is that he shot the video with the camcorder in 12bit audio mode, and iDVD likes 16bit audio. Shooting in 12bit allows you some flexibility to add more audio when editing without a computer, but since this is going through a computer, we can strictly use 16bit.

First off, if you’ll be doing all of your editing on a computer, permanently switch your camcorder to 16bit audio mode!!!! What to do with footage you’ve already shot in 12bit? Simple–import it to an iMovie project, then share that iMovie back to a blank, brand new miniDV tape on your camcorder (which has now been set to 16bit audio, remember?). Once it’s on your tape, you can re-import it again to a new iMovie project, and this time, the audio is coming over in 16bit. Both sending to the camera, and then back to iMovie happen in real time (i.e. your movie will play through to the end as if you’re sitting down to watch it), so this might take a while if you have a long movie.

You can then proceed to add your titles, music, effects, chapters, etc, and share to iDVD when you are finished. You should notice a pretty decent decrease in the time it takes to encode, as well as a resolution to any crashes or hangs you were experiencing before.

This issue came up today at work when a colleague tried to burn a two hour iMovie project, so hopefully this can save other from the time wasted and frustration associated with trying to figure this out. Good luck!

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  1. Reply Joel Cruickshank

    Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou….after 50 hours of editing, I was dreading having to do it again.

  2. Reply acletras

    You’re welcome Joel. Just a note, I wrote this last year working on iDVD ’06, so YMMV with iDVD/iMovie ’08.

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