Corrections or additions?

This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the November 20, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Desktop DVD Authoring

Doug Dixon’s new book, Desktop DVD Authoring, speaks

to both the neophyte and the pro. It covers the basics of buying and

installing a home DVD player — complete with helpful diagrams

— and provides an update on the newest technology available for

recording and storing television programs, and for saving them permanently

to disc. Desktop DVD Authoring contains all the information movie

and TV fans could want on viewing and exerting some degree of control

over these media, but Dixon’s book goes far beyond a discussion of

watching movies and recording TV shows on DVD, whether at home or

on the road.

Dixon leads readers — step by step — through the whole range

of possibilities DVDs provide. There are sections on importing, organizing,

editing, and creating books from photos — and on creating titles,

menus, and even background music for personal or professional slideshows.

There is also extensive information on shooting and editing movies,

including detailed advice on working on both the Windows and the Apple

platform. Here is an excerpt:

The future of DVD seems to look bright and shiny. As

a consumer product, DVD player sales continue to set new records.

As a computer peripheral, DVD-ROM readers are becoming standard on

new computers — and even DVD burners are becoming more common

options. The history of consumer electronics and the computer industry

tell us that prices will continue to decline, as they have with CD-based


On the compatibility front, newer players are designed to read a wider

range of formats, and to do so more reliably. You should be confident

that your investment in making permanent recording on Recordable (R)

discs will not be obsolete, but for the immediate future you will

still need to check the compatibility of specific burners, players,

and disc media just in case.

The situation with the competing ReWritable (RW, RAM) formats is less

clear. You can certainly use this type of media for specific applications,

such as daily data backups, video check discs, and set-top video recorders.

However, you need to be more aware of compatibility issues if you

want to use these discs in other systems and at other sites.

Meanwhile, technology continues to improve, and the 4.7GB capacity

of a DVD begins to seem smaller, just as floppy disks and now CD discs

seem to no longer be big enough for our needs.

Several new technical approaches are being pursued to increase DVD

capacity for the future, especially for recording and storing material

in high-definition (HD) video format.

In early 2002, the DVD Forum decided to pursue the use of more aggressive,

low bit-rate compression for storing high-definition material. The

intent is to stay within the existing DVD technology by using a newer

compression format, such as MPEG-4.

At the same time a second consortium of nine companies, who are also

members of the DVD Forum, announced a new large-capacity optical disc

video-recording format called Blu-Ray Disc. Blu-Ray can store up to

up to 27GB per single-sided disc, or up two hours of high-definition

video, or more than 13 hours of standard definition video (at 3.8Mbps).

The Blu-Ray format replaces the red laser used for DVD with a shorter

wavelength blue laser, squeezing the tracking pitch in half and permitting

higher-density recording. With the increased capacity, Blu-Ray can

continue to use the same MPEG-2 format used in DVD and HD television.

This group also aims to develop even larger capacity formats, such

as over 30GB on a single-sided disc and over 50GB on a single-sided

double-layer disc.

The desire for these new formats is being driven by the development

of high-definition television around the world. The DVD Forum approach

provides the capability to use more advanced compression to squeeze

HD programs onto red-laser DVDs — at least for premastered videos.

The Blu-Ray approach sticks with MPEG2 to provide the possibility

of real-time home recording of HD material, but this requires new

technology and increased costs for new equipment.

The pace of new technology development, and the corresponding threat

of quick obsolescence, can make buying into a new technology a sometimes

uncomfortable prospect. But the tremendous success of DVD says that

it is here to stay, with its widespread adoption within the consumer

electronics and computers industries, and across the consumer and

professional markets.

Although set-top DVD players have already become a blowout success

as a consumer electronics product, 2001 was a watershed year for DVD

on the desktop, with the convergence of lower hardware prices and

consumer-friendly DVD authoring tools. DVD became accessible as the

final link for desktop digital video processing.

These days, on a standard desktop machine, you can now process full-quality

video end to end: capture from DV camcorder, process with video editors

and DVD authoring tools, and then burned to DVD disc, to play not

only on other computers, but also on set-top DVD players.

As the result of the tremendous activity and competition in DVD software,

you can get started with DVD authoring for under $150. Some of these

all-in-one tools can work fine for both simple editing and automated

DVD authoring, and the basic DVD tools are great for quickly banging

out a collection of clips or a copy of a videotape onto DVD. But as

you get familiar with these tools, you will probably want to step

up to some of the more professional dedicated DVD authoring tools,

to give you more flexibility and control to make a more polished and

customized presentation.

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