Extra Features in DVDit! SE and PE

I want to give you an idea of what DVDit! LE's more full-featured siblings have to offer when getting ready to burn a DVD. Figure 24.7 shows the small differences in DVDit! SE and PE's Project Settings dialog box:

  • Access to the Video tab to set encoder quality settings for AVI and QuickTime files (DVDit! LE does not work with these files).

  • Access the Audio tab to choose between PCM (standard with DVDit! LE and SE) or Dolby Digital with its user-set bitrate (PE only).

  • An option is available to add DVD-ROM data files.

Figure 24.7. DVDit! PE's Project Settings dialog box has an option to add DVD-ROM data files and gives you access to the Video and Audio tabs.

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If users use DVDit! SE or PE to add DVD-ROM files to their DVDs, then choosing filenaming conventions is critical to compatibility with older PCs.

All DVD discs contain at least two file systems: the Universal Disc Format (UDF) file system and the ISO 9660 file system. Among other things, these file systems define DVD-ROM filenaming conventions.

The UDF file system allows filenames of up to 255 characters. All modern computer operating systems read the UDF file system.

Older operating systems, such as Windows 95, read only the ISO 9660 filenaming convention, which limits filenames to 8+3 characters (like MS-DOS filenames). If you want your DVD-ROM files to be usable on older systems, you must limit the filenames to that 8+3 character set.

Both the Joliet and long filename systems let you get around some limitations of ISO 9660. Joliet works only with Windows 95. The long filename system does not work with DOS.

The simplest solution may be to rename all files to comply with the 8+3 filenaming convention of old and not use the Joliet or long filename system.


DVDit! PE offers a Build Disc feature not found in SE or LE?an option to create a DLT master for mass replication. That option no longer has the kind of cachet it once had because many mass replicators now accept DVD-R discs as masters.

As your DVD-authoring skills deepen, you may consider pursuing authoring as a business. This sidebar offers up some practical advice.

The Business of DVD Authoring

Jim Benz spent 20 years as executive vice president of Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, an internationally known firm specializing in audiophile remasterings of classic albums from the likes of Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, and Louis Armstrong.

In 1999 he saw that DVDs created a new opportunity to re-purpose other archival material?in this case, historic movie footage and older feature films. He formed Whirlwind Media, Inc., began releasing DVD products in May 2000, and within two years had released more than 40 DVD titles. The Timeline Series, illustrated in Figures 24.8 and 24.9, is one of several Whirlwind DVD series.

Figure 24.8. Whirlwind Media's Timeline Series is one of several DVD-only series the company produces.

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Figure 24.9. Whirlwind Media's Timeline DVD menu uses a very straight-forward approach, giving viewers direct access to its archival material.

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To jumpstart his new company he tapped the expertise of several Mobile Fidelity employees to handle sound mastering, graphics, the sourcing and cataloging of elements, and licensing. Where he lacked expertise was in DVD authoring.

For that Benz turned to commercial DVD-authoring studios.

Benz's experiences with DVD-authoring firms cover the full spectrum of quality. If you are considering turning your newly acquired DVD-authoring expertise into a business, take the following tips to the bank:

  • Educate your clients about DVD authoring. What it can and cannot do. As they learn more, their expectations will become more realistic. And your working relationship will improve.

  • The DVD authoring service business is highly competitive and fees are dropping rapidly. To succeed you need to make your work stand out from the crowd. One selling point is longevity. Clients will flock to you if they feel your company will be around for a while. Another is follow-through. Even if your clients handle mass replication on their own, make sure you are available to respond to last-minute issues so as not to delay a release schedule or production deadline.

  • Don't sell yourself short. Smart clients don't hire the cheapest authoring company. They are willing to pay more for quality and reliability.

  • Focus locally. Clients like to deal face to face with production studios.

  • Don't try to wrest creative control from your clients. At Whirlwind Media we go so far as to provide a detailed flow chart and hard copies of screens to the authoring technician to allow for as little margin of error as possible. Not all clients will take that extra step. Nevertheless, make sure you know what they want. Keep the lines of communication wide open.

  • Make sure you clearly state in writing what you will do for your clients. Will you charge by the hour or by the job? Will there be additional fees to correct mistakes? What about quick fixes: spelling errors or a video edit? What happens if you miss a deadline? Your clients may expect you to forfeit part of your fee.

  • Always make two copies of the DLT or DVD-R master. This will let your client send one to the replicator and keep the other in a safe place. If the duplication plant damages the DLT, your client will have a backup.

  • Relinquish all original elements to the client at a project's conclusion. You don't want to be responsible if something gets lost, misplaced, damaged, and so on.

  • Keep it simple. The DVD format allows for lots of intricate navigation channels, full-motion screens with sound, "hidden" chapters, Web site connections, and so on. Do these things make it easier for your audience to enjoy your client's project or are they lots of extra frosting on the cake?

  • If you plan to create a series using the same authoring style, then keep in mind that complex authoring with lots of bells and whistles is difficult to duplicate on later DVDs, especially when working with a different technician.

  • It's true that DVDs are a new technology. But it's the content that counts. Make your clients' content as accessible as possible without spending too much energy focusing on technological features. The DVD format is a means to an end, not an end in itself.



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