Alfred’s Blog Has A New Home

I have recently migrated my blog to WordPress.  Please update your browser bookmark or blog reader subscription with the new address for my blog:

In the next couple months, I will continue to re-post most of my blog entries on my account to give you (my audience) a chance to complete the transition.




My Corrupt iMovie Project

Last week, I started a new iMovie 09 project to organize and produce a home movie from the videos and the pictures that I took at my Father’s 70th Birthday.  It was the perfect opportunity to get hands-on with iMovie, so I can also evaluate it for my Digital Library Project.  After working on iMovie for about 4 or 5 hours straight, I noticed an odd behavior.  When I played back my nearly complete project, iMovie’s preview screen froze up despite the sound track playing in the background.  The preview screen was working until the last set of edits.  Undoing the edits didn’t work.  I tried rebooting my Mac and restarting iMovie, but the problem persisted.  Upon opening another iMovie project, I realized the problem was affecting all iMovie projects.  At first, I thought I had accidentally toggled on an application level configuration.  After searching to no avail, I decided it was time to call Apple.

Although I’m never thrilled by the need (since something really bad happened) to call Apple’s technical support, I have always found the experience to be pleasant and educational.  After submitting a support request online,  I received a callback and was connected to an Apple Expert (his name was Frank) within minutes.  He walked me through a number of steps to isolate the root cause.  Along the way, we removed a number of files from the “Home/Library/Preferences” and “Home/Library/Caches” directory.  Finally, we determined that my latest iMovie project was corrupt.  Upon removing it from the “Home/Movies/iMovie Projects” folder, iMovie’s preview screen started to work again.  Unfortunately, I lost 5 hours worth of editing.  Frank mentioned that Apple cannot assist in the recovery of a corrupt iMovie project.  They recommend running Time Machine, so it’s possible to retrieve prior edits in case this happens again.

A couple days later, I started a new iMovie project and was successful in producing a home movie of my Father’s 70th Birthday.  Aside from the corrupt project setbacks, I have found iMovie to be a proficient tool for achieving common video editing tasks.  I intend to use iMovie for my future home video productions.  In applying the learning from this incident, I have setup Time Machine to backup my Mac regularly (hourly, daily, etc.).  While working on an iMovie project or anything that’s labor intensive, I now also trigger Time Machine manually whenever I reach a significant milestone so an extra backup is captured.   Finally, this experience has reaffirmed my recognition and intention to setup a comprehensive solution for backing up and archiving my digital library.  Stay tuned for a future blog on that topic.

For those of you, looking for the gory details on the steps that we went through to identify the root cause, here you go.  Although I recommend calling Apple first with your issues, as they definitely know their own products well.

  1. Ran Software Updates from System Preferences to make sure the Mac has the latest software updates and bug fixes.
  2. Removed the following application preferences file from “Home/Library/Preferences” and restarted iMovie.  (that didn’t work for me)
  3. Created a Guest account on the Mac and created a new iMovie project using the new account.  Since the iMovie preview screen worked just fine on another account, we ruled out binary corruption and the need to re-install iMovie.
  4. Returned to my account, removed the “Home/Library/Caches” folder and restarted iMovie.  The iMovie preview screen worked for other projects.  Upon opening my latest project, it froze again.  This suggested that my iMovie project was the culprit.
  5. Removed the corrupt iMovie project file from the “Home/Movies/iMovie Projects” folder and restarted iMovie.  It worked!

I’m sure there’s a bug in iMovie that led to the corruption of my iMovie project.  Until Apple fixes the bug, I at least have a known work-around for recovering from future incidents.  My fingers are crossed that it doesn’t happen again.