iOS Development Journal

Tips and Tricks Learned the Hard Way

MPMoviePlayerController Going Fullscreen Creates a Blackout

The Problem:

(Solution found via StackOverflow)

You’ve added an MPMoviePlayerController to one of your view controller’s child views. You hit play, it starts playing the video. Then you hit the fullscreen button. It fills the screen, and suddenly everything goes black, you can’t get any controls, and all that happens is the audio keeps playing.

So what went wrong?

What Happened

So my best guess is that the view that contains the MPMoviePlayerController view is a temporary one in your view controller. Something that you get rid of when the view controller’s view stops being displayed. So what you decided was to remove the view from the view controller (removeFromSuperview) when the view controller is no long displayed.

The obvious place to do that is in viewWillDisappear:, right? It consolidates all these actions into one place, and happens automatically.

The problem? When the movie goes fullscreen, your view disappears and viewWillDisappear: is called.1 MPMovePlayerController doesn’t work well when its view gets removed from the view hierarchy. Whoops.

The Solution

I solved this by moving my view destroying code into a new method and out of viewWillDisappear:. In my case all the times I wanted the view to be removed are times when I’m triggering viewWillDisappear: manually with a call to pushViewController:animated: to the navigationController. So right above that call, I added a call to my new method.

If you have situations where you don’t control the transition that causes your view to be destroyed, you might want to add a BOOL to safegaurd the view from being destroyed if video playback is happening.


  1. You might run into this problem transitioning from iOS 5 to iOS 6. Apple fixed a bug where viewWillDisappear: wasn’t being called for the fullscreen transition. So this doesn’t happen in iOS 5, but does in iOS 6.