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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Mac News > Pointers: Yes, you can still burn a movie DVD on a Mac in 2016

Pointers: Yes, you can still burn a movie DVD on a Mac in 2016
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Feb 10, 2016, 05:23 PM
 
There's a funny meme floating around where someone asks someone else if they can fax something for them, and the answer is "no, because of where I live." "Where do you live," the confused asker asks. "In the 21st century," is the reply. These days, that question (which, fair warning, will likely be the subject of a future Pointers) could just as easily be asked by people who want you to "burn" something for them, which in computer vernacular means to create or copy an optical disc of media.

We already wrote a detailed tutorial for Pointers about how to do this when it comes to making a conventional Audio CD out of songs from, say, iTunes, and really only one thing has changed from last year enough to mention, so go back and read that if you want to create audio CDs, and here's the thing that has changed: Apple Music exists now, so to answer the inevitable question quickly: no, you can't burn any music from that service (even if you chose to save for offline listening) to an Audio CD. Your own ripped tracks, yes; your iTunes purchased music, yes; the music you get from Apple Music, no.



This time, we'll focus on making DVDs in the year 2016 on a Mac running a recent version of OS X: because that's so retro and "aughts" it's a wonder the hipsters haven't picked up on it yet (ironically of course). So let's fire up the telegraph, hop in the horse and buggy, and dig out our typewriters to explain that yes, you can still do this -- even without a built-in optical drive, and possibly even without Apple's former built-in tools for doing this. Sometimes, despite the hassle, burning a DVD is the best option.

Who still does this?

Sometimes, as with Audio CDs, it is wise to make a backup of movie projects you've created in iMovie, sometimes it's just easier to create a DVD of your college film project for Aunt Livinia and her DVD player than it is to bring her into the 21st century, and sometimes you burn DVDs of videos you have because you need to clear space on your hard drive or flash storage. Even in these days of Apple TVs and such, or posting things on Vimeo and such, DVDs can still be convenient to have, even if they are not (and never have been) convenient to create.

Apple had their best solution for the problem of creating movie DVDs: a fairly-complex (for Apple) but powerful program called iDVD that could take iMovie projects and (pre-converted) video files and, after much time, spit you out a beautiful movie DVD with menus, submenus, full controls, chapter markers, bonus photo content, and more. This naturally worked hand-in-glove with both iMovie and your built-in optical burner, the SuperDrive.



Then Apple basically killed off the concept of the internal DVD burner, and also discontinued iDVD (we talked about this in one installment of The Feature Thief). Here's the thing, though: iDVD still works. Well, it has issues with Retina Display Macs, but on non-Retina Macs it still works in El Capitan. You can even still share an iMovie project to iDVD in a way (not directly as you once could). If you ever owned iDVD on your machine, or transferred all your stuff over to your new machine, iDVD is probably still in your Applications folder.

Other hardware and software options

If you don't have it, that's not too much of an issue -- depending on exactly what you need to work with, you can use some third-party alternatives: there's the free but no-longer-developed Burn (does the job, but doesn't offer any menu options, and does not support Blu-ray), there's the Mac App Store movie burning-only version of Toast for $20 (which does offer menu options), there's the full Roxio Toast Titanium that often goes on sale (and supports full, proper DVD authoring for about $100), and there are others beyond that.



Basic software to convert movie files from various formats to DVD -- or even Blu-ray discs capable of preserving your high-resolution HD movie footage -- exists, is cheap, and generally pretty easy to use (you can even burn downloaded Video_TS folders directly to DVD using Disk Utility). The problem is that you may not have anything to burn to, that is to say a burner. Apple has stopped including them in all but one model (the non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro still has a built-in SuperDrive).

Still possible to burn CD/DVD masters from Disk Utility
Still possible to burn CD/DVD masters from Disk Utility


This again is not a big deal. All modern Macs (by this we mean 2012 and later) have USB 3.0 ports, but even if you only have USB 2.0 ports on your particular machine, attaching an external DVD burner is easy and quick (slower, obviously, on USB 2.0). Conventional (ie DVD) burners are pretty inexpensive, generally under $50, and Burn or Toast or one of the alternatives will convert your video files into the proper format and burn them to a standard DVD.

Working with HD files and keeping them in HD is a bit trickier, since this requires a Blu-ray DVD burner and software that will work with it. You can of course, use iMovie, Final Cut Pro X, or other high-end video editors to edit the footage -- but then you have to make a disc out of that without converting the footage down to standard definition (720x480), the format used by conventional DVDs. Typically, an external Blu-ray burner will run around $100, and the disks are often found at any electronics outfit.

The full version of Toast Titanium has a bit of a cheat, in that it includes a way to write up to 30 minutes of HD footage on a "conventional" DVD, but that content can only be played on Blu-ray players. Roxio also sells a $20 plug-in for Toast Titanium 11 and later that allows authoring of HD footage onto Blu-ray discs with an external BR burner. A stripped-down version without the advanced authoring features, but which will still make Blu-ray DVDs, is available as Toast Burn from the Mac App Store, also for $20 (note that this is not the same program as Toast DVD).



With AirPlay and similar services, burning a DVD has become passé; for individual videos, it is easier to pop them into YouTube or Vimeo and use the "smart" TV to locate them, or "push" the video from our devices to the TV wirelessly. It's only when we have projects that work best as DVDs or Blu-rays (multiple short movies, a chaptered presentation, or other presentations that work best with the structure of a DVD project) -- or when we want a copy of a video that isn't tied to a computer in some way -- that we need to employ the now largely-archival DVD or Blu-ray format.

Even as the now more-powerful processors and super-fast GPUs and storage make transcoding or converting video formats easier than ever, the method of making them permanent (or as permanent as can be reasonably expected; perhaps a better word would be preservable) has gotten a bit trickier. Fortunately, and with the help of third-party software and hardware, it is just as doable as it was 10 years ago, with the regrettable loss of iDVD's beautifully-designed menus as the only casualty for most people.

If you're looking to simply archive and preserve video files you've accumulated from hither and yon to get them off your hard drive, a data DVD is still a good option: it doesn't offer menus, or auto-playing, or any sort of presentation -- just the videos themselves. Some DVD players can handle these files burned directly on a data DVD and show them in a no-frills manner; check your DVD player's manual for details on what formats it supports.

There's a plethora of great conversion tools around, and several can simply accept a variety of video files, convert them, and either present you with the Video_TS finished folder for you to burn with Disk Utility, or can just handle the burning for you as well to a conventional DVD. Advanced authoring and Blu-ray authoring is a bit more complex, but within the realm of consumer-friendly with a bit of instruction and practice. As we recently said on The MacNN Podcast, "think of the archeologists" or, perhaps more importantly, your family -- and preserve those truly valuable videos for future use by making playable archival "hard copies" to DVD.
     
coffeetime
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Feb 10, 2016, 06:14 PM
 
DVD-R blank disks are impossible to find in brick stores these days. Cloud storages on the rise makes DVD-R a slow-selling item.
     
goodmaj
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Feb 10, 2016, 06:29 PM
 
I have no trouble finding DVD-R at my MicroCenter.
     
fds
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Feb 10, 2016, 07:06 PM
 
It's worth mentioning that the longevity and reliability of burned discs is rather questionable. It really should not be considered as a true archival or preservation method. You are very likely to find yourself with a nice shiny disc that's long been rendered unreadable in part or whole, rather than the treasured memories you meant to keep. And you don't need to scratch or in any way mistreat it for that to happen. Just the passage of time will do that.
     
Stuke
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Feb 10, 2016, 08:32 PM
 
fds, what then do you suggest for today's (2016's) archival medium?
--
Stuke
     
Charles Martin
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Feb 10, 2016, 09:00 PM
 
fds: your point is entirely valid, but I have 20-year-old DVDs (burned and commercial) that are holding up fine (they are stored in cool/dry conditions away from sunlight), so that's a viable enough medium for many. Doesn't hold up to truly "archival" standards though, as you say.
Charles Martin
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Mike Wuerthele
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Feb 10, 2016, 09:17 PM
 
We've also spoken about the need to "modernize" your data. Migrate data to new apps, and new media, as they become available so you don't have the "this data is on 5.25 inch floppy, and I need it on my Mac Pro" like Gene Roddenberry's estate had with CP/M.
     
bobolicious
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Feb 10, 2016, 11:56 PM
 
You open with fax...?

...the real estate regulators in this area only just legally allowed eDocs late last year, and I'm guessing many have yet to workflow such... Fax is also still used by many in construction - simple, hard copy, copper wires, good to go...

Big dollars. Substantial work. Lost sales?
Not everyone runs at the pace of the '21st Century'...
     
Charles Martin
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Feb 11, 2016, 03:16 AM
 
My relatives in construction got rid of their fax machine years ago -- lawyers still use them, as do banks and some government agencies, but increasingly it is easier to handle such things with PDFs and email. Even Preview, a very basic PDF tool, can do signatures -- eliminating the biggest need for faxing. The place I see them most often is the post office or office supply store that will fax things for you for a fee.

"Not everyone runs at the pace of the 21st century" is true, but it is also true that "most people aren't living in the 20th century" anymore, either ...
Charles Martin
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bobolicious
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Feb 11, 2016, 08:23 AM
 
If Apple eliminates fax (as I recall after Snow, for the sake of a driver?) and the 20,000+ realtors in this little town can no longer legally function on a new mac, has the decision to buy a Windows computer been made for them, by design...?

Roughly 85% of the computer sales still seem non-Mac. Is that an obvious option for Apple growth beyond iOS saturation ?

If Apple decided (by design) to support a stable, reliable, predictable & legally compatible MacOS that retains workflow investments for business (and not the other way around), would business be more able or even want to buy new Macs?

Even the latest Windows 10 I am testing now has an OEM fax driver...
     
coffeetime
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Feb 11, 2016, 09:07 AM
 
My current EPSON printer comes with Fax software that works with Mac. Even Mac OS is no longer carries the driver, but the third party's all-in-one printers always come with it. I use it only once for the last 2 years since I purchased it.
     
bobolicious
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Feb 11, 2016, 12:09 PM
 
Indeed my HP has it too, and I can't remember the last time I used fax, yet if I had a workflow, office templates, contact lists all worked out from within a laptop for MOBILE on the road real estate use (with an apple fax modem, or FaxSTF), and had to RETRAIN a sales force to some other or in office printer based, possibly buggy dependency, risk of errors, etc. I'd likely stay in the 85% PC investment crowd as well.

Is it but one reiterated example of 'Feature Thief Grief' that may be preventing mac adoption?

How much additional sales revenue would it take to simply support legacy OS & hardware with new hardware?

When I asked an accountant if she had upgraded to the free W10 yet her response was 'are you kidding, W7 works great' - is she just focussing on getting billable work done rather than reinventing her computer workflow every year or two...?
     
RalphM
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Feb 11, 2016, 02:50 PM
 
Yeah, the Epson printer works if you don't use Bonjour. When I first purchased my WF-7620, the printer worked flawlessly using Bonjour including scanning into Preview. Six months after I had the printer, the print engine died and Epson sent a new replacement which I received in about 5 days. I figured no problem, just plug it in and away I go. WRONG, it did not work. I called Epson and we performed a new setup. Guess what, the printer no longer will work with Bonjour. I can no longer scan into Preview. The weird thing is, just prior to replacing the printer I scanned in a 10-page document into Preview. Epson claims it's Apple's problem. Now I can only scan documents using Epson's funky scan program or Acrobat Pro. If I had to do it over again, I would not have purchased the Epson printer.
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Feb 11, 2016, 03:47 PM
 
Hey gang, while I appreciate that Charles led with a parable that not every vertical market agrees with, lets move things back in line with the topic of the story -- burning and archiving with DVDs. RalphM, if you ever come back to the thread, email [email protected] with more details, and we'll make some calls.
     
Michael K.
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Feb 11, 2016, 04:39 PM
 
Reading through the comments I find that a lot of people still fax and burn or use dvds and cds. I have to fax reports back to the main office and I use free efax web sites. Many things can now be done on the internet. For long term storage I would use an ssd or thumb drive and transfer the information over to a new one every few years just for peace of mind, also put it in the cloud and hope the business stays in business.

I still use cds for long term storage, but if they fade away after 20 years not big since they are just business records. The moral of the story is if it works for you keep using it, at least for now.
     
   
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