iMovie '09 Error – Audio Exporting Problem

Apple recently updated its iLife suite (including iMovie) from ’08 to ’09.  I haven’t done much with movie creation, but wanted to make a short video demonstration of my 3 dimensional breast augmentation simulator.  We shot some video at the office.  I easily imported the tape into iMovie ’08, but when I went to edit it, I noticed that iMovie ’09, which had just been released, had two features I wanted: precision trimming, and the ability to slow down a clip.  So, I ordered the upgrade.  It came quickly, and installed easily. About reports that it is version 8.0 (717). Check for Updates reports that it is the current version.

I edited my video until I was happy with it.  iMovie crashed a couple of times, but did not lose any of my work.  I went to export the video into a format I could post.  That’s when my problems began!

On many of the clips, I had set the audio to zero, so I could use voiceover to explain them.  I also adjusted the speed so that I would have more time for my voiceover than the length of the clip.  In a  couple of places I added some simple transitions.

However, on the exported video, in one of the clips I could still hear the audio that had been recorded with the video, even though the volume was set to zero!  (Now, of course, the audio was very slow and sounded like a growling monster).  And on one of the other clips where I had not adjusted either the speed or the volume, I could not hear the audio at all!

A search of the Apple Support forum quickly determined that I was not the only one having this problem.  For example, see http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1888183&tstart=0 and http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1896387&tstart=0

Apparently, if you set the speed to other than the Apple Defaults (e.g., 50%, 25%, 12.5%), sometimes the audio volume adjustment is not respected in export, although it works fine when previewed in iMovie.  And sometimes later clips AFTER A TRANSITION do not have their audio if there is an earlier clip somewhere in the movie with one of these non-standard speed adjustments EVEN IF THE AFFECTED CLIP ITSELF DOES NOT HAVE ANY SPEED ADJUSTMENT.  And this occurs on export EVEN IF THE MOVIE PREVIEWS CORRECTLY IN iMOVIE!

This problem appears to occur in all exports, to QuickTime and not to QuickTime, at all speeds, and even to DVD (although I did not test that).

In my case, I was able to workaround the problem by changing the speed of the clip whose audio was still audible to the standard 12.5% (it had the problem when set to 19%), and by deleting two transitions.

Any ideas on how to get Apple to fix its broken iMovie ’09?