idvd-logoI recently transfered all of my family's home movies onto one DVD using iMovie and iDVD. The problem was this involved years of film which added up to 60GB of DV footage in iMovie. Even when edited, the final edited footage came to almost 8GB - way too much to fit on a normal DVD.

Blank Single Layer (SL) DVDs can only hold 4.7GB of data so I had a big problem. To split the film in iMovie and re-export it to iDVD would have taken absolutely ages. My only option was to buy a blank Double Layer (DL) DVD which annoyingly, are only sold in packs around where I live. So I ended up paying almost $20 just to use one disc. The problems didn't stop there either. In fact, they only just began so here's a few tips that I hope might be able to help you if you've found yourself in the same situation.

DVD DL logoCheck DVD Player compatibility - For some strange reason, many DVD players can't even play DVD Double Layer disks and this includes new players too. If you're burning your project as a gift like I was, make sure you find out whether the recipients DVD player can play DL discs.

Hard DriveClear some hard drive space - To export a project such as mine to iDVD required around 15GB of free hard drive space to work. In addition, iDVD required another 15GB to burn the movie. When you do finally come to the point where you burn your movie, iDVD will warn you how much disk space it needs to burn.

burn-logoBurn at a slow speed - After about 7 hours of rendering the project for burning, iDVD informed me that there had been a "Multiplexer Error" during formatting and the project was unable to burn. A Google search revealed that many other users had experienced the same problem but explanations varied from lack of hard disk space to dodgy DVDs.

I finally discovered that the problem is solved simply by burning at a slower speed. in iDVDs advanced preferences, de-select the option "Burn at maximum speed" and select one of the lower ones (4x speed worked for me).

iDVD Burn Preferences

encoding.pngLower the encoding quality in iDVD - There are three rather confusing encoding settings in iDVD's "Project Info" settings - Best Performance, High Quality and Professional Quality. It seems that Best Performance takes up the most disk space, while High Quality and Professional Quality take up a few gigabytes less. By changing to High Quality or Professional, you may be able to fit a large movie onto a Single Layer disk.

The colored bar indicates the final output quality - the more green the better basically. If the bar is coloured red towards the end, it may mean that the quality of your movie is degraded.

idvd-encoding in iDVD

cup-of-teaGo make a big cup of tea - Or make that several cups because your project is going to take a lot of time to render and burn. Mine took around 9 hours and that was just under 8GB. This consumes a huge amount of processing power too so it's best not use your Mac during this time if you can help it.


  • HansJacob |

    hmm. doesn't help . it still says:

    Multiplexer Error There was an error during formatting.

    I am burning on a DVD+R DL 8.5GB. tried to slow down the speed but no use. I have two slideshows, one containing 32 img and the other around 50. one movie that is about 154min. and 5 chapters. made in iMovie.

    it contains around 4.8 GB altogether. fits the DVD to about 7.7GB checked it for errors, but I cant find any.

    is there ever a solution to this &/%"#&%"! error ???. I need it for a newly weed couple, that wants to send it to the bride's parents. SOON.

    sorry for the anti comment here. but this is really annoying...

  • Nicholas Mead |
    Nicholas Mead

    I´m afraid it sounds like your only option is to reduce the file size. Although your 7.7GB file should fit on an 8.5GB disc, for various reasons iDVD doesn't really handle anything over a certain size very well.

    My advice is to try reducing it to 6.5GB somehow - even if that means removing lots of precious footage and then see what happens. Also, make sure you have plenty of free space on your hard drive and I mean, at least 20GB for burning a project like this.

    One other thing - beware that DVD+R DL discs don't work on all DVD players. I would advise you to either check if the model number of the bride's parents supports them or send them a test film burnt on one to see if it works first.

    Good luck!

  • HansJacob |

    Hi again. thanks a lot. it turned out that I just had to remove stuff. deleted one slideshow and used something called "smart delete" for the chapters, which made them just pop up on the main menu :) and it worked !!! no formatting error.

    thanks again. really helpful!

    best regards HansJacob

  • Nicholas Mead |
    Nicholas Mead

    Ok glad it helped :)

    These iDVD burning bugs are really frustrating and they are so random that I don't think Apple are even aware of them.

  • Rick |

    I wasted about 6 months of my life dealing with this very issue. I tried your solution and it worked when I changed to 4x burn speed. Thank you very much for your advice.

  • Nicholas Mead |
    Nicholas Mead

    Glad it finally helped you Rick :)

  • Teach |

    Do you have specific instructions for changing the speed? I really need this to work yesterday. I changed the encoding and it says it has 3 hours and 53 minutes left. But I'm not sure how to change the speed. What is smart delete and how do I know if I have unnecessary chapters?

    Thanks so much for any help!!!

  • Nicholas Mead |
    Nicholas Mead

    Just before you start burning the project, you will be asked at what speed you want to burn at. By default, it will probably be set at the maximum possible speed for your drive but try lowering that if you're having problems.

    Smart Delete simply means that if you remove items from your DVD menu, iDVD will automatically rearrange the other elements in your menu to work as well - otherwise you would have a breakage or gap in your DVD menu and it wouldn't work properly. You can see if you have any unnecessary chapters by going to the layout map of your iDVD menu.

  • Tej |

    Hi guys Please help. I used a 4.7GB DVD disc and iDVD prompted that there are insufficient disc space therefore I got a 8.5 DL disc and it still says the same message. All data is around 6GB. Please help.

  • Nicholas Mead |
    Nicholas Mead

    Tej, It sounds like the problem is with the hard drive space available on your Mac NOT on the DVDs you are using. iDVD needs a lot of free hard drive space in order to buffer and burn a DVD. Remove absolutely all non essential data and files from your Mac so that you free-up some hard drive space. If that doesn't work, reduce the burning speed to 2x and if you're still having problems after that, you'll have to simply reduce the size of your iDVD project which may mean having to go into iMovie and re-edit it. 6GB is quite a large project to try and burn.

    Hope this helps.

  • kevin |

    iDVD. I have a huge project that is being dragged down by.. Stalling, locking up... Not burning the correct file or files... I have a time table past up by days..

    Fitting 7.5 space on DL DVD.. have ruined 5 DVD so far... out 5 DVD'S I have completed 2 projects.. As of the blog....I lowered the speed to the slowest setting.. 1X What can I do.... learn how to use DVD Studio Pro instead? Other problem. I shoot everything in HD.. own HDV Canon Professional.. However the DVD's always r grained and not as clear..as even the DVDS I buy... How can I improve that?

  • Nicholas Mead |
    Nicholas Mead

    Kevin, If I understand you right, you're trying to burn 7.5GB of data which is a huge amount. You should definitely try to reduce it significantly, even if it means going back into iMovie, rediting it and splitting into two projects that you burn on two separate DVDs.

    As regards the quality problem, iDVD down samples image quality. The only way to burn an HD movie is with a Blu-Ray or HD burner with a program such as DVD Studio Pro or Toast.

  • Amanda |


    I am reading all with interest I just edited a movie in Imovie which is 69GB. Mmmm seems like I would have to split it to get it on to DVDs. It is about 2hrs with lots of effects. This is because I was giving a day workshop with translation and I had to cut the translator out after every time a spoke, and then us cross dissolve to smooth these a bit.

    Anyone know the maximum file space a project can be to fit on a DVD when it is compressed?

    If you have Final Cut pro do you not have these problems

    Thanks, Amanda

  • Keogh |

    i am burning a movie using DL 8.5 GB DVDs its 7.7GB but always get error during formatting. There are a lot of posts why haven't apple fixed this?

  • Jane |

    Is there a way to divide a full length feature film (90 minutes) on 3 or 4 dvd's, then take them to a computer guru and have them mastered into one? My project files handle about 25 minutes of footage (edited) before it gets sluggish or crashes.

  • Nicholas Mead |
    Nicholas Mead

    @Amanda, there is no way you will be able to burn a project that is 69GB in size.

    You'll need to reduce it to at least 4.7GB so it can burn on one DVD which means a hell of a lot of editing for you! You might want to get some professional help for such a big project.

    @Jane, There would be no problem just burning raw footage onto 4 separate DVDs and then taking it all to a professional for editing.

  • Rebekah |

    Hopefully you can help me. I am not having trouble burning from iDVD, but the quality is really really bad!! I ahve tried several things. Basically, I imported a slideshow from quicknote into iMovie, looped it several times to lots of different songs, then exported it to iDVD. At this stage it looks fine, crisp, lovely. When I burn it it looks terrible! Pixelated, nasty like I have blown up a tiny youtube video or something. ANy tips on what I can do to fix/minimise this would be much appreciated!

  • Chris |

    I have the same problem that Rebekah has! I have a HD Canon Camera and after all is said and done, I got a crap looking video!

    Any suggestions would help. Thank you.

  • Nicholas Mead |
    Nicholas Mead

    @Rebekah and Chris, I suspect it is something to do with the original resolutions of your images and video which are simply too high for iDVD to process properly. The only thing I can suggest is try burning with Roxio Toast instead:


  • tariankhka |

    I just completed a gi-normous project in imovie which I had to overcome many complexities and stumbling blocks to complete.1st of all, to give U some background. In the 1990's I was designing NLE's using Windows XP and SCSI RAID systems w/dual processors motherboards & 10,000 rpm drives. I had great success in all projects. Fast forward to 2010 & although I have FCP, I decided to try to implement a two hour HD project with lots of special effects including some with 3d modeling. One section of a 3-part composite I exported to QT, ended up being 16gb. The other 2 were also over 6gb each. After much thought about overall quality, I decided to convert the QT's .mov files to h.264 .mp4 codec (all files were initially 1280 by 720). To my surprise, all 3 files combined, were slightly under 7gb after conversion. The resultant quality was surprisingly good. I re-imported the .mp4 into imovie, combining everything into one file - then exported to media browser for idvd. During all the foregoing processes, I was initially using an external 2TB, 5400 rpm which occasionally would stop in the middle of rendering with error -108. Rembering my 1990's days, I shifted the rendering location to a 7200 2TB external drive (firewire 800), and all the problems I was having disappeared. So perhaps everyone should be cognizant of the HD speed when rendering massive project, along with the DVD burning speed. There's more however, this explanation is getting too long to continue.

  • Gabriel |

    iDVD only burns -r discs.

  • Dan |

    Nicholas; I am just starting to work with iDVD, and i am encountering problems that has led me to your post. I am impressed by the clarity and quality of your post, I wish they were all like that. You should be a teacher!

  • Nicholas Mead |
    Nicholas Mead

    Thanks for the complement Dan. I tried to make it as useful as possible although I'd rather that iDVD worked better with large projects than have to write such posts! :)

  • Leomar |

    When I played the DVD I created using iDVD, the picture just turned green, though I can hear the audio. what do you think happened and how can this be corrected. the file is only 3.5g and I used a dvd -r.

  • Nicholas Mead |
    Nicholas Mead

    @Leomar, I'm not sure but this thread here may help as it's along the same lines as your problem:


  • Jamie |

    I've been reading everyone's posts and was hoping I could get some help here also. I too am having a problem with pixilated pictures after I've burned my movie with iDVD. In the preview it looks great, but after I burn it and play it in a dvd player, I get the pixilation. I thought at first it could be that my pictures are too high quality, but after I tried burning another copy of the same movie and it came out fine, I got really confused. If it's a resolution issue, then the burned dvd should come out pixilated all of the time and not be random right? Anyone have any ideas??

  • Amanda |

    I have been burning my HD home videos via imovie but the quality has been poor. I just upgraded to iLife 11 and have re done the project as HD and at 1080. However only once it was published (which took ages) did I realise it's 10+ GB. I don't mind cutting it in half but I don't really want to end up with half hour DVDs. Is there a way to burn at best possible HD quality through iMovie/iDVD but fit more. I'm not sure if the above suggestions compromise the quality.


  • Leomar |


    Thank you for your reply. I already solved the problem simply by following your advise about the burning speed as well as by lowering the encoding quality at iDVD. It did worked. I have another question though, after burning the movie to iDVD, I noticed two things: First, the DVD I burned only plays to some DVD Players (i.e. I have 3 different DVD Players, Toshiba, sony and Shinsonic) The DVD plays on the Sony and the Toshiba player, but it does not want to play on the Shinsonic Player, do you have any idea why? Second, I noticed that when I inserted the DVD to the machine, it plays automatically instead of going to the menu I created. Any idea why? Looking forward for your reply. Thanks a lot.

  • Nicholas Mead |
    Nicholas Mead

    Leomar, I had that exact same problem with a Double Layer (DL) DVD I made using iDVD. The reason is that some DVD players simply won't read them. There's no solution to it I'm afraid other than to simply use a DVD player that does read them. Lesser known brands (such as Shinsonic) are usually the worst for this kind of thing.

    I imagine that the second problem is because you've accidentally created an Autoplay DVD. One piece of advice is to open iDvd's map view and if you see the movie in the very first box, select the first box (one click) and then hit the delete key. You'll see a "puff" and the movie will vanish.

    This discussion may help you more:


  • BMan |

    hey i have been trying to burn a dvd in idvd for the last 3 days...

    put together in imovie...everything works well there... shared with idvd... customized my menus and art work..

    go to save as disc image; or video ts folder and it always gets to either the end of the asset encoding or right when it starts and says " error in encoding, cancelled "

    i have read up on this... a few other having the same issues... i changed themes..went back to mine... removed audio files and replaced ... tried all kinds of things..and still nothing

    a project due yesterday!

    it takes at least 2hrs for it to error out...and it ties up my computer while this is going on...very frustrated!

  • Stools |

    Thanks for explaining this, Nick. you saved my day

  • Nick Mead |
    Nick Mead

    Glad it helped!

  • Andre |

    THANKS MAN! You saved my day too! :D

  • Nick Mead |
    Nick Mead

    @Andre, You're welcome!

  • Mary Hanley |
    Mary Hanley

    Nick, This is my first project in imovie and I am worried now. I recorded my mom's home movies on dvd, got it into imovie, added music and ended up with 11 GB or 218 min. I would like to burn multiple single layer and just label them disc 1, disc 2, and likely disc 3 since each one will only allow 4.7 GB each (single layer). My issue is this. I have no idea how to split a project. I would like to duplicate it so I have a saved copy of exactly everything I have been working on up to now. It is perfect the way it is watching in 1imovie. Then I will feel better about trying to split up the duplicate project encase I really start screwing things up. How do you split a project up into separate projects? Is it hard? Thank you so much for your time. You seem to really be helping alot of people and I would be so grateful if you could help me too. Thanks, Mary

  • Nick Mead |
    Nick Mead

    @Mary Hanley, You'll have to split the movie in iMovie first before burning it in iDVD. The simplest instructions I've found are here. Let me know if you have any problems.

  • Michael Carney |
    Michael Carney

    I tried burning 3 .avi files (each under 900 MB) to a dvd using iDVD. When I clicked on the project info the bar was beet red. One by one I began deleting each of the .avi files. It finally got down to one, 556 MB file and it barely fit. What gives? Why is iDVD taking my 556 MB file and making it larger on the DVD?

    Good information though!

  • Jess Magdefrau |
    Jess Magdefrau

    this didn't really help my problem either. I am trying to improve the quality of the project when burnt to a DVD through iDVD. I had it at best performance and the images in my slideshow still turned out in horrible quality. HELP

  • Jim F |
    Jim F

    Hi. I just completed an imovie project and burned it to DVD using iDVD. The project uses a combination of digital still photos and video clips. It looks pretty good on my iMac screen, however when playing in the DVD player on my 50" plasma TV, the photos have a real 'squiggle' to them. Almost like the pixels are wiggling. It's quite distracting and I was obviously hoping for a crisper image. Disappointing!

    Not 100% sure but could it have something to do with using the 'Ken Burns' effect on the slides and my TV processor not keeping up to the moving image?

    Is there something I can do to retain the clarity while still being able to view on my television? THANKS!

  • Nick Mead |
    Nick Mead

    @Jim F: Firstly, I would remove the Ken Burns effect. Also, try exporting from iMovie in HD. Go to "Share" and select the HD export. Then import the file again into iDVD. If this fails, the only other solution I'd suggest is using a higher end video editor such as Final Cut Pro X.

  • Alex |

    Hi really need help here.

    On my IDVD:It keep saying Multiplexer Error There was an error during formatting. I am burning on a DVD+R 4.7GB. tried to slow down the speed to 2X and plenty of space on the hard drive but no use. I have 7 Short Movie and need it for my presentation,it contains around 3.7 GB altogether,checked for errors, but I cant find any. is there a solution for this? this is really frustating...

  • Nick Mead |
    Nick Mead

    @Alex: Unfortunately, Multiplexing errors are very hard to diagnose. It could be several different factors and only trial and error will get to the bottom of it. It could be anything from the condition of your Superdrive to the way your project is constructed and the brand of DVD you are using. Sometimes its a case of removing a certain element (such as an audio track or title) and it will suddenly get rid of the problem. There is a more detailed discussion of possible Multiplexing fixes here - try them and eventually the problem will be solved.

  • gene |

    I have been using Final Cut pro for several years but now with the new updates, most everything is different. Don't those geniuses know us mortals do not learn that fast. I have several projects that need to go to media browser for IDVD. where does one go to send these files to media browser, its different then it used to be. Please KISS steps.

  • Laurie |

    I just transfer a shourt imovie to idvd and it transferred successfully not didn't trasnfer the sound. :( What did I do wrong?

  • Miranda |

    [I don't know if anyone is still looking here, but...] I'm trying to get a two-part movie onto DVDs. From iMovie, to iDVD. Act 1 is 1 hr and 15 min and Act 2 is 1 hr 10min. I only have two normal discs (though I suppose I can get more if I must). The file on one page says each act is only 4.7 GB, but the another file says it's near 19GB... How to I compress it to fit without majorly distorting the quality? It says it's too big to burn.

  • Keith |

    HI, I am having trouble burning my project to iDVD. This is new, since I had no difficulty doing this with my last Mac laptop (G4 powerbook). Now using a Macbook Pro and iMovie 11 I get way too many error messages about the movie being too long. When I burned movies on my old Mac, despite the length I used to get a message to insert another disc to keep burning the movie. The new version doesn't seem to be as user friendly. It has asked me to split the movie but when I follow the instructions for this available in the "HELP" files (and I use the term loosely), the option to split the project is greyed out. Please help if you can.

  • Sharon |

    Thank you -Thank you- Thank You. You are a true Genius...... All i had to do was reduce the burn speed to x2 and it started to burn.... So much better than re editing and losing footage that you really wanted in there... Thanks again

  • Kate |

    Hi, does anybody knows why my slideshows that I created on iMovie look very saturated red when i watch them on any TV ? is there any way to correct it?

  • Paul the Rower |
    Paul the Rower

    Hi. Can anyone answer this? I have a 4.7GB DVD disc full of old sports activities (recently converted from old 16mm film). Can I import this material into iMovie and then create a new movie with 10 chapters, each about 10 minutes long? Then export to iDVD? This project doesn't appear like it would overly tax the software. Are there any troublesome issues I might face? Does it help that I have a 500GB external storage drive?

  • beelady |

    Hi, my problem is similar to Jim F's on 06/11/12. When making movies of vacations, etc., they look fine on my computer and when working with them in iDVD. After burning though, the straight edges (buildings, ships, etc.) are very squiggly--like on the HD newscast when the news anchor's suit is shimmering. This also happens to a much lesser degree with the still photos, too. This just started happening--previous movies burned and played beautifully. Everything is the same, except we are using a Panasonic Lumix for the video instead of our JVC camcorder. The Lumix records in HD, just as the JVC did, but with more megapixels, I think. Not sure what to do. The DVDs are unwatchable in places. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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