04-27-2004, 10:35 AM
myron myron is offline
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I find myself getting a little impatient with this forum's responsiveness so I'm going to skip a lot of details that I was hoping to learn and cut to the chase.

Having read the "How To Do Video the DigitalFAQ Way" guide I am wanting to basically follow the 'straight conversion' processes. I have captured with ATI MMC and have edited MPEG-2 with Womble's MPEG Video Wizard (as opposed to their MPEG-VCR). This has gone fairly well (although I would like to ask a few very specific questions about the editing capabilities/process).

If, for now, I am willing to accept a DVD with PCM audio (as opposed to AC3) can I just start using either TMPGEnc DVD Author or DVDit! as authoring programs and create DVDs.

TMPGEnc DVD Author seems to have the following PROs: handles multiple title sets, supports "moving video" as a DVD menu, has burning capabilities.

DVDit! seems to have the following CONs: doesn't support "moving video" as a DVD menu, doesn't have burning capabilities.

Would you, I'm assuming having used both, give your oppinion/comparison on these two programs (and please remember that you are responding to people that are not very experienced in this whole process yet)?
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04-28-2004, 02:56 AM
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The site got knocked down for a few days, so I spent more time on the phone with a host over the weekend than I had wanted. Some new stupid virus... those people do nothing for this world. The past 3-4 months have been plagued by virii online, more than I've ever seen in all my years online (since 1993). I'm playing catch-up today. This server here hosts several small sites that are important (which is why they have a special host), so all were affected. I hope they find the virus-writers and let them rot in jail. Two of the site supporters are offline for a short time too, so it's left me alone. Ask the details, and I'm sure to answer, no need to hold anything back.

On to your authoring questions.....

General overview: AUTHORING is simply the process of turning your edited video/audio files into the DVD, which includes all the non-video stuff we see on screen and stuff we do with the remote to make it play. Essentially, menus and navigation (those are the two only real technical terms in the process).


== 1. It's an easy program to learn and use (easier than others, at least). Most newbies fall in love with this program and never look for anything else. Big mistake. Most other authoring-only applications are better.

== 2. It's not too fussy about what you give it. I've sometime encoded videos improperly that TMPGENC eats like candy, while DVDit! chokes and dies (like setting 352x240 SIF MPEG2 as "interlace" instead or "progressive", which is not proper). Things like open GOPs and bad GOP length are accepted. It's a great program for using with unknown or improper source. It's perfect for converting VCD to DVD, as again, it's not too fussy about out-of-spec MPEG attributes.

== 3. It's dirt-cheap.

== 4. The program is HORRIBLE at font control, and output image quality on fonts. You get this blocky-looking letter on screeen. This is the #1 reason I don't like to use it.

... This stems from the resizing facts of authoring. All images are 4:3 aspect AFTER the authoring, not before. This means 720x540 images should be designed in Photoshop, but "squished" to 720x480 with an image resizing in Photoshop prior to saving as a final bitmap (BMP) image for authoring use as the menu background asset. They will look best like this. Otherwise, images are improperly resized twice by the authoring application, and can look funky.

... If you're thinking to yourself "wow, I never saw this covered, you're right" ... it sails over most people's heads, so I tend to skip it to make the guides easier.

... Anyway, back to resizing, TMPGENV DVD AUTHOR does this twice-resizing of fonts, so they look horrid on screen.

== 5. The highlighting effects are HORRIBLE (you know, when you select on item on the menu, and it changes colors or lightens up?). It's a big blocky, chunky highlight that's not true to the image below it. It's really ugly. The is the #2 reason I don't like to use it.

== 6. The program is HORRIBLE as far as accurate navigation goes. I've made menus with 10-15 items before, and one of the item refuses to link. The is the #3 reason I don't like to use it.

== 7. The layouts are simpleton-like. I have layout and design in my career background. I compare the quality of the layout options to that of a high school yearbook template. Not very advanced, and not all that perfect, especially considering the poor handling of fonts and highlights.

== 8. Don't let the built-in burning engine fool you. It's not always up-to-spec in all versions. I've found improperly burned DVDs recently, so I've altogether begun to boycott the burning engine for this flaw. It normally works fine, but any burning flaw makes it useless to me. I'll stick to the tried-and-true Nero 5.5.10.x series for burning, as it's never failed.

== 9. Multiple VTS is nice, but honestly, I only use that when I use oddball sources that I didn't make myself or when I was forced to mix source. If given the option, I'd just assume re-encode all the files to the same specs and use DVDit!

== 10. The moving video is limited to thumbnails mostly. I've never seen it as a full background, and I don't think it's possible, though I've honestly never tried. I go to a friend's studio and use his Matrox/Apple G4 with DVD Studio Pro for the few times I needed a full-motion background.

== 11. The "safe areas" are not exact from session to session ... meaning the "safe" areas on the virtual tv screen of the DVD menu that will be on the tv at all times .. with "unsafe areas" being the areas that fall into the overscan. Software gives you access to the full screen including overscan areas, but the tv only shows the inner "safe" area. Putting objects and text outside the safe area will fall off the tv screen and be "cut off" from viewing. Most new users never figure this out, and even some "older" newbies still don't pay attention to this. Some version of TMPGENC mark this area, some don't, and some give options to mark it, but it's never really accurate. Also know all tv sets are different. So be extra-safe.

== 12. Software has no preview options. None. Be sure to SAVE the project yourself, as it'll never really ask you to do so, and it can crash easily while making chapter points or making the menu layout (especially if you go into the CUSTOM layout editing).

== OVERALL. This is a great beginner program, but a far cry from the other choices out there, including DVDit!, ReelDVD, DVD-LAB and a few others maybe ... it's even not as good as Encore (when that program cooperates and the bugs don't rear their ugly heads) .... it mostly resembles an update to the oldie-but-goodie SpruceUp DVD Author from years back.

Next post.... DVDit! authoring review....

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04-28-2004, 03:18 AM
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== 1. This is quite actually still "cheap" software, as it's no more than $400 for the PE version. There are several packages available, the LE that comes with computers and other items (Limited Edition), the SE that is the full package without AC3 (Standard Edition), and the PE that is the full package plus it has DLT ability (something I don't even use) and then the AC3 import (use all the time) and AC3 encoder for audio (again, something I use less and less). More info here:

== 2. The only real authoring "flaws" is the inability to do motion in the menu (although it can still do audio menus quite nicely), the inability to natively accept AC3 if already encoded (which is probably just a way to get $100 more for PE), the inability to do mutliple VTS (which is understandable), and the refusal to take imperfect assets (which again, is very understandable).

== 3. Never let this thing encode video. The encoder, quite frankly, sucks. Poor, poor quality, and it'll take ages to finish. Use it only for authoring.

== 4. Never let this thing burn your DVD. The burning engine is subpar, and has zero options (like controlling burn speed, etc). It tends to hang and has a flaw in some versions that can overburn the DVD past 4472MB. I author to a folder, and then let a real burning program do the burning of the disc. Doing this adds no time.

== 5. The PE AC3 encoder is SLOWWWWWWWW. Horribly slow. I have found almost no drawbacks from using BeSweet with AC3ENC.DLL to encode my files. Only rarely does some audio "crack" from AC3ENC.DLL, so I'll use SoftEncode or DVDit! PE for the AC3 encoding instead. The only players known to me to consistantly reject the AC3ENC.DLL files are the Pioneer DV-333 and DV-334 players (which are horrid players anyway for even commercial discs). This is an almost unused feature for me.

== 6. Perfect handling of the fonts, layout, and images. What I see on screen is the SAME QUALITY of what I get on my tv set. For this, it's the perfect medium-spectrum program, and one I use most often.

== 7. Be warned that the "safe areas" are unmarked. They are non-symmetric also. Here's a layout PSD file for use in Photoshop with the guides pre-marked. Click here to get it.

== 8. The preview function is buggy. Save your project OFTEN, and especially before trying a preview. On my WinME system, preview now crashes 100% of them time, but a reinstall would probably help me out. My own fault for not wanting to do it.

== 9. You MUST have elementary streams. This means you need an M2V/M1V and a WAV/AC3 file. It refuses MP2 audio in NTSC mode because it is not an official DVD audio format. This is easy to do with a demux of the MPEG/MPG files.

== OVERALL. This is a perfect program for 90% of my needs. Only when I need motion menus, or have imperfect sources do I stray to TMPGENC DVD AUTHOR or REELDVD or DVD STUDIO PRO. The more complex the software, the harder the learning curve. I've seen Maestro, Scenarist and other pro softwares ... and I'd be hard-pressed to learn them. For casual home needs, for making pro-quality discs, this is my #1 suggestion. The only other "competitor" is Ulead software's DVD WORKSHOP, but it's in the same price range, and not as user-friendly, and suffers from some of the same flaws. Plus it likes to crash a lot.

Anything else... let me know.

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