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Video Editing Meets DVD Authoring (3/2002)
(Ulead VideoStudio 6 & DVD Movie Factory)
by Douglas Dixon
The market for DVD authoring software is developing rapidly, blurring the lines between traditional video editing tools and DVD authoring tools: Traditional video editing tools are beginning to have the ability to export to DVD, and DVD authoring tools are adding more editing capabilities. Some of the most exciting developments are occurring with the lower-priced consumer tools, since they are updated more rapidly and therefore can adopt new technology more quickly than the more professional tools.
Two new releases from Ulead Systems (www.ulead.com) demonstrate this trend. Ulead DVD MovieFactory, released in October 2001 ($49.95 MSRP), is a new automated DVD authoring tool to assemble a DVD with navigational menus using a wizard-style process and predefined design templates. Ulead VideoStudio 6, due to be released in February 2002 ($99.95 MSRP), is the latest release of this consumer video editing tool that combines ease of use with sophisticated features including batch capture, scene cut detection, real-time previews, DV and MPEG support, and fully integrated DVD authoring.
Traditionally, video editing tools involved importing and capturing video and audio clips and organizing multiple tracks into a production on a storyboard or timeline. The sophistication of the editors came in the ability to control multiple tracks in a timeline, and in the variety and flexibility of the available tools to add interest and advance the story, including transitions between clips, overlays of multiple tracks and logos, video and audio effects, keyframed animations, and text titles.
Consumer video editing tools have traditionally emphasized ease of use by constraining the user interface, simplifying the layout process (i.e., using a storyboard instead of a timeline), restricting the number of parallel tracks, and providing a step-by-step process for adding effects.
At the same time, dueling new releases of consumer video editors were quick to adopt and support new technological developments, adding support for DV digital camcorders and IEEE 1394 / FireWire import and export, the ability to import and export MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 formats, and export capability for streaming Web media formats including Apple QuickTime, Microsoft Windows Media, and RealNetworks RealVideo. Other more professional features often lacking in these products in the past have included batch capture, scene cut detection, real-time previews, and support for very large files under Windows.
Meanwhile, DVD Authoring tools have been traditionally focused on designing the navigational menus to provide interactive access to the DVD content, and assumed the content was already assembled and edited. For a compilation DVD, this involved importing a collection of clips, and then laying out menus with thumbnails of each clips as buttons to jump to the associated clip. For a long production (like movies on DVD), this involved marking chapter points in the production and then building menus to provide direct access to each chapter. But you need some editing capability even in a DVD authoring tool, at least to combine and split clips, and to trim the ends of clips. And it is so easy to add even more capabilities from traditional video editors, such as transitions between clips, titles and overlays, audio soundtracks, and even video enhancement filters and effects.
Again with DVD tools, the consumer products have driven technology innovation, particularly by introducing real-time MPEG compression, and even real-time DV to MPEG-2 transcoding, so you can capture DV video live over a 1394 / FireWire cable, convert it to MPEG-2, package it in DVD format, and simultaneously burn the video to DVD, all in real time. All this is now possible with consumer PCs running at over 1 GHz, with faster throughput and hard disks. In addition, the ability to use the same tools to author productions to CD as VideoCD (VCD) and Super VideoCD (SVCD) meant that DVD authoring tools were useful to a much larger market, even when the cost of DVD burner drives was exorbitantly high.
So as even inexpensive video editing and DVD authoring tools get more technically sophisticated, and as DVD recordable drives get less expensive, it becomes natural to not only offer a range of different software tools for different uses, but also to combine these features into an all-in-one tool.
For example, Pinnacle Studio 7 from Pinnacle Systems (www.pinnaclesys.com), released in the summer of 2001 ($129), is an impressive video editor with quite sophisticated capabilities. In September 2001 Pinnacle released the separate Pinnacle Express DVD authoring tool ($49). Express includes DV capture, automatic menu creation, and extensive editing capabilities, including transitions, music, narration, and special effects. (Pinnacle also released the higher-end Impression DVD-Pro for $999.)
Meanwhile, Sonic Solutions (www.sonic.com) continues to develop its broad line of DVD authoring tools. Sonic MyDVD 3, released at the end of 2001 ($99) provides real-time DV capture, automated DVD menu layout, and basic trimming editing. The Sonic DVDit! product line provides more sophisticated control for designing DVD navigation. DVDit! 2.5 was released in November 2001, with lower prices for DVDit! SE (Standard Edition) at $299 and DVDit! PE (Professional Edition) at $599.
Then MGI Software (www.mgisoft.com) added DVD authoring capabilities to its VideoWave consumer video editor. VideoWave 5, released in September 2001 ($129), includes scene detection, video mixing, text animation, transition and effects filters, time warp fast or slow motion, as well as the built-in DVD authoring.
The two new products from Ulead offer you DVD authoring in whatever way you want: stand-alone automated authoring with DVD MovieFactory, or video editing with DVD authoring export with Ulead VideoStudio 6.
Ulead DVD MovieFactory ($49.95) is a new DVD authoring tool that provides a simple three-step collect - author - burn process for quickly creating video on DVD and CD. DVD MovieFactory consists of three separate modules for these steps. Ulead Video Toolbox is used to capture, trim, and convert video. DVD MovieFactory, the main application, is used to create the DVD menu structure and burn directly to disc. Ulead Disc Image Burner then can be used to burn saved projects to CD or DVD.
DVD MovieFactory also can be used as an export option with the Ulead video editing products, Ulead VideoStudio version 5.0 and above and Ulead MediaStudio Pro version 6 and above.
The Ulead Video Toolbox module is used to import and capture video, trim it to remove unwanted segments, and batch convert clips to DVD, VCD, and SCVD-compliant MPEG formats.
In the first Capture step, you import existing clip files and capture live video to assemble a collection of clips in the clip bin at the bottom of the window. You can click on the file folder button to import existing clip files, including video in AVI, QuickTime, MPEG-1, and MPEG-2 formats. You also can capture live video, and use the device controls below the preview window to search through your DV digital tape.
Video Toolbox provides the option to perform scene detection on the input video, using the information on the DV tape when recording was started and stopped. You can have each scene saved to individual AVI files, or save the entire clip in one big file, but retain the scene cut information to mark chapter points on the DVD. Video Toolbox also avoids the 4 GB file size limitation on older versions of Windows by automatically saving clips to multiple files when necessary.
In the second Edit step, you can preview and trim your clips, and then batch convert your video files to the necessary format for the DVD, VCD, or SVCD disc that you want to correct. On my 1 GHz test system, the conversion ran at around several frames per second.
In the final Export step, you select the converted clips that you want to author, and then click Create DVD Title to launch DVD MovieFactory. You also can export to DV, a Web page, E-mail, and Greeting Card formats.
The main DVD MovieFactory application provides a wizard-style interface to step through the process of organizing and designing your DVD navigation. In the Start step you can import additional MPEG clips, and then drag and drop your clips into the desired sequence order. In the Add Scenes step, you select frames from your clips to serve as chapter points on your DVD, which will then appear as thumbnail images on the DVD menu. You can also select an introduction video clip to be played automatically when the DVD is first played.
Once you have organized your clips and selected any additional chapter points in each clip, you use the Menu Template step to choose from one of the predefined menu designs. DVD MovieFactory automatically creates a linked series of menus for your clips, and nested menus for clips with multiple chapters. You can also enhance the menus by using your own background image, adding text titles for each menu thumbnail, choosing a different frame to use as the thumbnail (especially if the clip fades up from black), and adding background music.
Once your menu design is complete, you should save your project, and then use the Playback Simulation step to preview your DVD using the virtual remote control (which has different functions depending on whether you have designed a DVD or VCD/SVCD disc). Once you are ready to burn, use the Output Settings and Finish steps to burn your project to CD or DVD. You can also create the DVD files on your hard disc, so you can play them back later with a software DVD player, or you can create a disc image file of your project, ready to burn when you want to make a copy.
You also can use the third DVD MovieFactory module, Ulead Disc Image Burner, to burn copies of your disc image files. In this way, you can author projects even on computers that do not have a DVD burner, and then copy and burn them on a different machine.
With the new VideoStudio 6, released in February 2002 ($99.95), Ulead has integrated the DVD MovieFactory step-by-step authoring process in with the VideoStudio video editor.
Ulead VideoStudio 6 is the latest release of the Ulead consumer video editing tool, with a new more flexible user interface built around an eight-step workflow model to capture, edit, and share video productions. The interface includes both storyboard and timeline views, with a narration or soundtrack and an overlay track. VideoStudio 6 provides a full-resolution preview window with real-time previews, input batch capture, scene cut detection, DV and MPEG support, and "smart" rendering for AVI and MPEG files to speed up rendering by only processing the changed sections of a clip.
Once you have edited your video production in VideoStudio, you can then select Create DVD, VCD, or SVCD to render your production into the appropriate MPEG format and then launch the DVD authoring wizard. The wizard then moves through the authoring steps: start, add scenes, select menu template, preview, and finish and burn. As in DVD MovieFactory, you can burn a DVD directly, create DVD folders on the hard disk, or create a disc image file to burn to DVD or CD later.
Do The DVD
All-in-one tools like Ulead VideoStudio 6 can provide the best of both worlds, with extensive video editing capabilities, plus built-in automated DVD authoring. The more simple individual tools like DVD MovieFactory are great for quickly banging out a collection of clips or a copy of a videotape onto DVD with minimal fuss.
DVD MovieFactory provides very nice automated menu layout, and even multi-level menus, with predefined template designs, with the ability to customize the thumbnails, titles, image background, and even add a background audio theme. However, with its three modules, it does require you to manually convert and keep track of your clips in the necessary MPEG formats for your desired DVD or Video CD output formats.
Ulead provides 30-day free trials of its applications on its website, so download and experiment with them to see if they fit your needs. These applications are also built on significant external software components: The DVD MovieFactory application installer also installs Apple QuickTime, Windows Media, and Microsoft Direct X 8.
Most new DVD players can play DVD discs burned on a computer DVD-R drive, and VideoCDs burned on CD-R (and usually CD-RW) discs. SVCD provides higher quality on CD, but about half the recording time, and is less well supported. DVD format on CD, or miniCD, provides full DVD quality with even less recording time, and is not as widely supported.
VCD - Video CD
SVCD - Super Video CD
DVD on CD
Ulead Systems - VideoStudio 6 & DVD Movie Factory
Pinnacle Systems - Studio 7
Sonic Solutions - MyDVD & DVDit!
MGI Software - VideoWave