the iDVD nightmare continues

One benefit from this exercise is that I've been disabused of the idea that things would be systematically better were I to ditch Linux and switch to MacOSX. Macs seem to be approximately as finicky and fragile as real Unix systems, except that they like to fail silently instead of giving you obscure error messages. I've already developed a deep and abiding hate for that hidious little spinning rainbow disc that means "something has probably gone horribly wrong, but I'm going to protect you from knowing what."

E.g., I was using an external Firewire hard drive, and Firewire kept going away and taking all file access with it. Disk Utility would lose the ability to even see the internal drive! I was having flashbacks to trying to get USB working on Linux. I finally just gave up on using that disk at all.

I also find it infuriating that window-management is done in-process: that means that when a program is stuck, you can't drag its windows out of the way to wait for it to un-stick! You can raise other windows above it, but you can't drag it or (I think?) iconify it. Macs still seem to have this "users only ever want to run one program at a time" legacy that just doesn't work for me; I've always got 3-6 things going at once, and I switch between them while waiting for the computer/network to catch up. It had never occurred to me before that you really need window management in a separate process for that to work at all.

So anyway, here's some more things that suck about iDVD:

  • When you've exported from iMovie to iDVD, it saves pathnames to the raw DV clip files in iMovie: so you can't rename (or delete) the iMovie project until you never want to burn that DVD again.

  • When you burn a DVD, it first spend ~30 minutes creating the data (swelling the iDVD project to 4.7G, the disk image). You can write as many DVDs as you want in that session, but if you ever quit iDVD, it starts over from the iMovie files, even though the disk image is still there. I'd like to just keep the 4.7G files around to be able to write more copies later, but no, to do that, I'd need to keep the ~27G iMovie files around instead. I guess when I want more copies, I'll just use Toast or something to dup the already-written disc. But it's stupid that iDVD can't do this.

  • Disc-burning success rate is currently running at 22%:


    • Disc 1: for some reason, it ejected the disc while the dialog said "17 minutes left." iDVD was hung, had to Force-Quit it.
    • Disc 2: it wrote the whole disc; but when I put it in my PS2, it wasn't able to read it. I later discovered that this disc works fine -- after you've waited five to eight minutes for it to load.
    • Disc 3: works fine (loads immediately.)
    • Disc 4: (my second project) it ejected the disc while the dialog said "22 minutes left." I'm sensing a pattern here.
    • Disc 5: ejected at "4 minutes left."
    • Disc 6: wrote all the way; 5+ minutes to load.
    • Disc 7: "1 minute left."
    • Disc 8: works fine.
    • Disc 9: (third project) "9 minutes left."

    Maybe the media is bogus, but it's the Official Apple Media. This would be less irritating if DVD-R media was essentially free, like CD-R media is. But, well, it's not. Also: an average of over ten hours to get a good disc (at three tries each) is somewhat less than optimal performance.

And I'm not even going to try and list the plethora of hair-pulling bugs and stupidities in the iMovie UI, since I've learned to dance around most of those mines ("first select a different clip, then try to move the play head." "Always click-release-wait before trying to drag anything anywhere." etc.) But man. Bug level Smithsonian.

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14 Responses:

  1. malokai says:

    gah. making a dvd is the most horrible thing in the world. Especially if you do any custom menu scripting. It took one of our artists ( who had some experience doing dvd authoring ) about 3 weeks to get a demo dvd that would load up for a conference.

    It would've been easier to just play the movie files in full screen.

  2. "iDVD was hung"

    Must be very well hung for it to be fucking you over like this.

  3. grahams says:

    I have had most of the trouble you have had (all the nuisance stuff), except for the disc failure rate... I have a spindle generic media that I bought way-cheap when I got the drive (I think it was about $20 for 10 blanks). It's 1X media, which sucks, but I haven't coastered a disc yet....

    Apple released a firmware update for the SuperDrives, if you haven't tried it yet it might help...

    It's probably worth it to note that I don't technically have a SuperDrive, but instead a Pioneer DVR-105 (which is what Apple calls the SuperDrive). I got it from a computer store sold under the brand name Cendyne... I figure it shouldn't matter, but it's also worth mentioning.

    • vsync says:

      It's 1X media, which sucks, but I haven't coastered a disc yet....

      I've found that the slower you burn a disc (CD-Rs, anyway) the more reliable that disc is. I rarely get coasters on my machine, but I've noticed that I sometimes have problems reading CD-Rs on other machines even if they work fine on mine. (My iMac seems to dislike CD-Rs entirely. Of course, I didn't really notice this until quite a while had gone by. Yay for expired warranties.) Slowing the burn speed to ½–¾ of the lower of the speed rating of the drive and the disc seems to make it much more reliable.

      My fianceé's HP Pavilion seems to require even slower speeds than my AlphaPC did (which is, sadly, currently decommissioned due to, I think, power difficulties). This is with my drive swapped in. But it's a HorriblePieceofcrap, and it's hooked to what most be the most unreliable electric mains short of rural Nigeria.

      But, yeah, speed kills.

      • grahams says:

        Naw... I've also burned DVDs at 2x and 4x (both Apple media) and also never coastered a DVD. I also never burn CDs at anything less than the maximum of my drive (24x) and never coaster discs...

        I agree that the risk of buffer underruns is greater the higher the speed, I don't agree that speed kills.

        • vsync says:

          I also never burn CDs at anything less than the maximum of my drive (24x) and never coaster discs...

          What brand of media do you buy? I have a big spindle of Imation discs that I got for cheap. Like I said, coasters are rare but the faster I burn, the more difficult it is for dodgy drives to pull data off.

          I agree that the risk of buffer underruns is greater the higher the speed, I don't agree that speed kills.

          It was a Clever Tagline.

          Also, kids, don't forget to let the freshly-burnt CD-R cool off before trying to read it...

          • grahams says:

            What brand of media do you buy? I have a big spindle of Imation discs that I got for cheap.

            I use Memorex Spindles... The ones in the blue/purple wrapper ones...

            It was a Clever Tagline.

            I was giving you a Hard Time. :)

      • jwz says:

        Oh, well I'll just click down the "burn speed" control in iDVD to slow it down. OH WAIT, THERE ISN'T ONE.

        Oh, what's this I see? Another coaster.

  4. benzado says:

    I've been able to move, but not miniaturize, windows in blocked applications. You can click and drag the title bar even when the cursor is the spinning-rainbow-of-death. Perhaps this doesn't work in all applications, but it has worked in most places for me.

  5. xenofalcon says:

    You can't miniaturize windows that are frozen, but you can often hide the offending application by pressing command-h. If that doesn't work, you can always do a "Hide others" (command-option-h) which will get it to disappear.

  6. soul4rent says:

    I've certainly had my share of funky programs getting stuck, but I've never had a problem with hiding or moving the windows when they do. I usually just push them out of the way for a while to see if they fix themselves, and either force quit or kill them.

  7. eaterofhands says:

    Okay, I'm talking out my ass here. But if you already have the disk image of the DVD then why not just use the disk copy program to burn it directly to DVD? I don't have a DVD-R and I don't use iDVD so I could be overlooking something obvious.

    • jwz says:

      I don't have a disc image, I have an iDVD Project File. I assume (based on file size) that there's a disc image buried inside there somewhere, but I wouldn't assume that it's in a form that any other program will understand. I haven't checked.

      Also, there seems to be no way to get iDVD to generate that disk image without having it write a disc.