iDVD, you wascally wabbit

Monday was fairly uneventful. I resolved to get the NYE DVD done… it’s been sitting in an almost finished state for something like a year now, the whole while sucking up nearly 10 gig of precious disk space on my Powerbook, so the situation’s a bit silly at this point. Unfortunately I decided not to go the full hog and use DVD Studio Pro – since I’d already decided to just use iMovie rather than Final Cut, which quickly proved itself – and instead tried out iDVD. I’ve used iDVD before, usually for quick camera-to-DVD runs, which typically involve little more than importing the video, slapping on whatever basic menu template seems appropriate, and burning.

Unfortunately, beyond that, iDVD and I have issues. Serious ones. The we’re-not-speaking-this-year kind of issues. It’s hard to say they’re bugs in iDVD, that I keep having problems with… more just, I think, I’m not following the prescribed usage pattern. I’ve had to restart the iDVD project from scratch four times now. I think we’re even less compatible than Core Data and I… Anyway, it drove me nuts most of Monday… in the end I actually had a breakthrough with one problem – twice, in fact, so I’m overloaded with solutions for that one now – which gave me a good buzz. I then figured it was probably close-enough’s-good-enough, and burnt a test DVD. Unfortunately, it showed up some problems with arrowed navigation that I hadn’t caught on computer, since of course there I just use the mouse. D’oh. I really don’t want to burn 25 copies of a DVD which makes your hair fall out just trying to pick a scene, but at the same time I don’t want my hair falling out trying to figure out how to fix the damn thing.

And my dad’s TV and his parents’ both display exactly and only the “tv-safe” area, which is such a crock. I had thought, when I was testing it on my computer prior to burning, that I should perhaps make sure everything fits in the “tv-safe” area… but then I thought, nah, if your tv’s that old and crap that it can’t display the full picture, that’s your problem.

Anyway, I’ll probably get back at it later.

That problem I mentioned, by the way, arises when you change the chapter markers in iMovie. When I first did it, iDVD didn’t pick up the changes at all, so I figured it couldn’t. It took me a while, but I figured out how to get iDVD to import the movie again in a parallel menu subtree, and then replace the old chapters with the new ones. It’s actually intelligent enough, when you import a movie already on the DVD, to not produce two copies.

The next problem, the one I discovered on Monday, was that two of the chapter markers in iDVD pointed to the wrong places in the movie. This was the case in the iMovie project as well. I have no idea why – I’m sure I didn’t do that, as where they ended up made absolutely no sense… bizarre… so, I corrected them in iMovie. iDVD didn’t notice. Through a lot of trial and error, I discovered that iDVD won’t notice chapters moving unless they have exactly the same name in iMovie as in iDVD. And of course when I’d first imported them into iDVD, I’d had to shorten all the names because the template I was using was too cramped. D’oh. Renaming the chapters in iMovie fixed the problem – for all but one chapter. It stubbornly refused to fix itself.

And that’s what I spent half of Monday trying to figure out. Why this one chapter just would not budge. At one point I got fed up enough to try to edit the project file directly – since I noticed iMovie saves it’s data in a straightforward plist. Alas, iDVD uses some binary format – possibly binary plist for all I know, but it deterred me nonetheless.

Anyway, I eventually thought to employ the aforementioned second-import trick once more, and that worked. Such a simple workaround, it made me cringe at all the wasted time trying to find a “proper” solution.

Still, it frustrates me no end that what should have been automatic – updating the chapters in iDVD if they’re changed in iMovie – turned into a full-day saga. I really want to like iDVD, I really do, but it just seems to hate me.

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