Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Tips for putting videos on DVD

Home(made) movies

By Kim Komando
Gannett News Service

With some smart editing and the right software, you can turn raw camcorder footage into a Hollywood-style video. Once you've produced the video, you might want to save and share it on DVD.

If you want to create DVDs, consider these entry-level programs.

For Windows:

• Pinnacle Studio 9 (pinnaclesys.com; $99.99).

• Roxio Easy Media Creator 7 (roxio.com; $99.95).

• Ulead VideoStudio 8 (ulead.com; $99.95).

For Macintosh:

• iDVD (apple.com; $49.99 as part of the iLife suite).

• Roxio Toast 6 Titanium (roxio.com; $99.95).

You can combine several videos onto a DVD with an authoring program - software that lets you organize your movies into chapters and burn the resulting files onto a disc that can be played in just about any DVD player if you choose the correct format.

Here are three key steps in the DVD-authoring process:

• Build a menu. Most commercial DVDs include a menu. Using it, you can play the entire movie or select specific scenes.

The menu for your home movie won't be as elaborate, but it will help viewers jump around. You can do this by creating chapters.

Simplicity is key. If you have too many chapters, the menu will be several pages, and navigating it will be difficult. It's best to place chapter markers where there are natural breaks in the movie. For example, your vacation video might include time at the beach, a day at an amusement park and a trip to the zoo. You could easily make each a chapter.

• Understand authoring options. If you don't have a DVD player, you still can use authoring software to create special-format CDs that play back in many - but not all - standalone DVD players.

VCD (video compact disc) has a picture quality similar to a VHS tape. You can burn VCDs onto compact discs that each store about 80 minutes of video. SVCD (super video compact disc) delivers a better picture than VCD. SVCDs are burned onto compact discs and store about 60 minutes of video.

DVD has the best picture of the three formats, but you need a DVD burner to use it.

• Know the format. Not all stand-alone DVD players will play VCDs, SVCDs or DVDs. Check to see if your model will play one (or all) of these formats. Although your DVD player might be compatible with one or all formats, you can still run into problems. Some players have difficulty reading different brands of discs.


With reporting by Ted Rybka

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