Chapter 14. Burn the DVD

Chapter 14. Burn the DVD

In Hollywood, shooting and editing a film is only the first half of the process. No matter how good the movie may be, without distribution it's going to sit anonymous on a shelf.

You're probably not aiming for a screening at the Sundance Film Festival, but currently your movie exists only on your hard disk. Now is the time to put that iDVD editing to work and burn your project to disc.

Before jumping in, I need to cover a few DVD basics.

Several flavors of blank DVDs are on the market, and iDVD 5 now supports them all: DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD+RW, and DVD-RW). The RW (rewriteable) variants are especially attractive because you can reuse them to burn copies of your project for testing.

DVD discs come in 1x, 2x, 4x, and 8x speeds. This is a measurement of how fast the SuperDrive's laser can carve data into a disc's surface. Check the specifications of your Mac at Apple's support site to determine your Super-Drive's speed:

Also, before you burn any DVD disc, make sure your SuperDrive's firmware has been updatedon some models, using 4x-speed DVD-R media can damage the drive! Read more about it at

(You can find the URLs above, along with other related information, at this book's companion Web site:

If your Mac doesn't have a SuperDrive, iDVD 5 can also "burn" the project to a disc image for burning to a disc later using an external DVD burner.

Lastly, remember that a DVD disc can store roughly 4.7 GB of data (compare that to CD-Rs, which hold about 700 MB). That means you'll need to have plenty of free hard disk space available when it comes time to encode (prepare) the data and burn it.

Preview the DVD

Use iDVD's Preview mode to see how the DVD will operate when played back on a DVD player.

A virtual remote control device appears so you can test how the menu items will work.

A slideshow or video footage plays back in iDVD's window.

Set Encoding Options

Before a project is burned to disc, iDVD encodes the data into a format that DVD players will recognize. This process also compresses your movie's gigabytes of video footage into a size that will fit on the disc. iDVD offers two types of encoding options, which you access from iDVD's preferences.

For projects of up to 2 hours in length, choose Best Quality. At burn time, iDVD analyzes the movie to determine the best level of compression while retaining image and sound quality.

This means Best Quality offers no background encoding, but you gain an extra 60 minutes' worth of footage on disc.

Best Performance

Best Quality

Burn the DVD


Finally, time to burn! Click the Burn button to start the disc burning process.


When prompted, insert a blank DVD disc in your Mac's SuperDrive.


Wait. Get some coffee. Go to bed. Depending on your project's size, iDVD can take hours to encode and burn the disc. If you're curious, you can watch the burn process in the Creating Your DVD dialog that appears.

Prepare iDVD checks that it has the pieces it needs to continue the burning process.

Process Menus. Buttons, motion menus, and other interface elements are rendered and encoded.

Process Slideshows. Slide-show photos and transitions are processed here.

Process Movies. The heavy liftingif you're using Best Quality, the entire movie is scanned to determine the best compression quality, then the footage is rendered.

Burn. The audio and video data are combined, or "multiplexed," into a single stream that DVD players can read. The data is then etched into the disc's surface by the SuperDrive's laser.

After the Burn stage, the disc ejects and you're done!