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Archived - iDVD: Troubleshooting issues with burning discs

Here are some tips if you are having difficulty burning a DVD in iDVD. If you are having difficulty playing back a burned DVD, see this article instead. Also see "Factors that affect writing to or reading from optical media" for more information.

This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.

Note: To avoid using multiple DVD discs during testing, consider using DVD rewriteable discs that can be erased and reused. If you are using iDVD 5 or higher, you can also burn to a disk image instead and use this to test and isolate in some cases (see step 10 below for example).

  1. Make sure your software is up to date, including QuickTime, Mac OS X, and iDVD. Click here for information on updating software.
  2. Make sure you have enough free space on your drive to create a DVD. You need approximately 4.8 GB of free space on your startup volume to burn a DVD. If you are creating a disc image, you'll need approximately twice that amount. If you receive the error message "The recording device reported a media error" during disc burning, this may indicate a lack of disk space.
  3. Temporarily disable any non-Apple QuickTime plugins by removing them from /Library/QuickTime/ and ~/Library/QuickTime/ and try burning again. Note: The tilde character "~" represents your home folder.
  4. If you are using a third-party theme in iDVD, try selecting a theme which was included with iDVD instead. You will need to do this on all menu pages belonging to this project. Try burning the project again.
  5. If the burn failure resulted in a partially burned but unreadable disc, try burning a large amount of data from the Finder or another application to a DVD to see if the issue is isolated to iDVD. For example, try burning a copy of /Library/Fonts/ to a DVD from the Finder.
  6. If the issue is not isolated to iDVD, run Apple Hardware Test to ensure there are no issues with RAM, processor, etc. If Apple Hardware Test passes, test burning from another user account on the same computer (this document has steps to create a new user if you don't have one already). If this fails, consider an Archive and Install installation of the operating system, preserving users. Run software update again, and then see if your burning issues from multiple applications persist.
  7. If the issue is isolated to iDVD, make note of what was being displayed in the burn progress dialog when the burn progress stopped. iDVD 5 and later will show you the exact frame that was being processed at the time during the process when your movies are converted to MPEG format for the DVD (Multiplexing or Encoding).
  8. If the burn stops during Multiplexing or Encoding, and the progress has not reached the burning stage, chances are good that the issue is not with your SuperDrive or DVD media.

    Keep in mind that if a project has failed to burn to disc at either of these stages, the disc may still be blank and can be used again. Insert the disc and see if the Finder indicates that the disc is blank or unformatted.

  9. If the burn fails during Multiplexing or Encoding, try deleting any existing encoded assets from your project.

    Then, quit iDVD and check to see if there are any third-party (non-Apple) plug-ins in /Library/QuickTime/ and ~/Library/QuickTime/ (the tilde "~" character represents your Home folder). If so, try temporarily disabling these items by moving them to another folder. Open iDVD and try burning your project again.

  10. If you are still unable to burn your project, and you are only experiencing issues burning discs in iDVD, try burning a different project to see if it has the same issue. Consider creating a test project, or using a different theme to see if this burns correctly.
    To create a test project:
    1. Open iMovie.
    2. Import some Desktop Pictures from /Library/Desktop Pictures/.
    3. Apply the Ken Burns effect to the imported still images to create DV clips.
    4. Send the iMovie project to iDVD (click the iDVD tab and then click the Create iDVD Project button).
    5. Select a different theme than your original project (be sure to select one which came with iDVD).
    6. Try burning this project.

    If another project burns correctly, there may be an issue with your original project.

    With the original project:

    • Try selecting a different theme.
    • Try selecting different background or drop zone images/movies.
    • Try rebuilding the original project from scratch.
    • If your project contains iMovie content, try exporting your iMovie projects to QuickTime. See if the resulting QuickTime files play correctly in QuickTime Player. Consider exporting the files to DV files (choose Full Quality preset), and import the resulting DV file into your iDVD project instead.

    If you are using iDVD 5 or later, you may be able to identify the actual frame of footage that is being encoded at the time of failure by looking at the preview thumbnail in the progress dialog. This can help you to isolate the issue to a specific file within your iDVD project that may be introducing the issue.

  11. If you are using iDVD 5 or later and you suspect an issue with the brand or type of media you are using, or an issue with the SuperDrive, you may want to try burning the DVD to a disc image instead of an actual DVD. Simply choose Save as Disk Image from the File menu. If the disk image has the same issue when you open it and play it back in DVD Player, chances are, the issue is not with your media or SuperDrive.

    If the DVD burns fine to an image, but not to an actual DVD, try another brand or type of media and see if the burn still fails. Try burning the image to DVD using Disk Utility.

If you suspect an issue with the hardware on this computer, and you have access to another Mac with a G4 processor or better, consider creating a project archive of the project in iDVD. Transfer the archive to a second computer and see if you can burn this same project to disk image on the secondary computer. It is not necessary to have a SuperDrive installed in the secondary computer to perform this test.

If the project only fails on only the original computer, consider an Archive and Install installation of the operating system, preserving users. Then, run software update to re-update your software.

If the issues seem specific to the SuperDrive (it happens in other applications, and you ruled out software by doing an Archive and Install, replacing the SuperDrive may resolve the issues. Note that a partial failure of the SuperDrive is possible — certain aspects (i.e. reading/writing to a CD-R, reading a DVD) may work fine, yet others (writing to a DVD, erasing a DVD) may not work.

Additional Information

See this article for more information:

iDVD 6: Exceeding motion menu duration prevents burning

Last Modified: Feb 28, 2012
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  • Last Modified: Feb 28, 2012
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