iDVD 5’s Burning Secret

The updated applications in the iLife ’05 suite bring with them a host of great new features. For iDVD 5, one of the least talked about—but perhaps most important—additions is one that Apple tap dances around on its Web site:

iDVD even has a new option for those occasions when you’re between media (i.e., you haven’t made it to the store) or you’re authoring a DVD on a system without a SuperDrive. The solution? Save your project as a fully-encoded Disk Image. Not only can you burn finished projects to disc more quickly once you’re back at your SuperDrive-equipped system (after all, they’ve already been encoded, so you just have to drag the Image to a blank DVD), but Disk Images make great read-only archives.

Reading this you’d think that, just as with all earlier versions of the program, iDVD 5 can only burn to a SuperDrive (or, unofficially, an internal DVD burner on the ATA bus). But what Apple doesn’t say—and for good reason, from Apple’s perspective, since it also wants to sell new SuperDrive-equipped Macs—is that the new Save As Disc Image command in iDVD’s File menu creates a standard .img file. That means that, as Jeff Carlson mentions in his first look at iDVD 5, you can now burn your finished iDVD creations to external DVD burners as well.

We’ve received reader feedback asking if this is more than just mere speculation, since Apple makes no mention of it. So Macworld Lab Director James Galbraith created a movie in iDVD 5, saved it as a disc image, and then used Toast 6 to successfully burn the image to a blank DVD using a LaCie FireWire DVD burner (one of many such drives we’ve got in the Lab for an upcoming dual-layer DVD burner round-up in the pages of Macworld ).

So, the verdict is in—you can save your iDVD projects as disc images on any Mac that meets the iDVD 5 requirements, then burn it to any DVD burner supported by Apple’s Disc Utility or your burning software of choice. This should come as welcome news to anyone without a SuperDrive who wants to burn DVDs without the added cost and time investment of learning DVD Studio Pro.

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