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DVD Authoring: An Introduction

DVD Authoring is the process of collecting various content assets such as video, audio, photographs, subtitles, and menus, connecting them together and burning them to a master dvd disc.

The assets themselves are generated in a variety of applications such as video editing, post-production, image editing and subtitling. They are then compiled in a DVD authoring application such as Ulead DVD Movie Factory on the PC or DVD Studio Pro on the Mac. The process of authoring is very much like building a website. The menu screen on a DVD is analgous to the homepage of a website in that it contains links to all the content on the DVD.

Menu screens usually link to the main feature, chapters within the feature, additional scenes not contained in the feature, photographic slideshows, and additional audio content. The main menu screen can also contain links to sub- menus, which helps avoid cluttering the main menu with too many options.

In addition to setting up menu selections on the main menu, the DVD authoring application allows the producer to set-up additional features such as subtitles. Within the authoring application, each item is given the metaphor of a container. A container can hold any type of supported content and is linked to a menu selection, either on the main menu or a sub-menu.

DVD authoring applications also usually support the creation of multi-angle content (where viewers can decide to watch a different passage of video with the same soundtrack and subtitles) and Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound

Using this method it is very easy for even a comparitive novice to create a fairly sophisticated DVD disc with most of the features found on a commercial disc. Indeed the biggest challenge for the prospective DVD author is the aesthetic design itself. Getting all the bits to work properly is one thing, but making it look good and intuitive to use is another.

Once the content of the disc has been laid out in the authoring application, it is then previewed to make sure everything works properly. It is then 'multiplexed' (the content is linked together) and the master disc can be burned.

It's worth noting that the affordable DVD writers and authoring applications only support writing to DVD for General media which doesn't have the necessary lead-in tracks required by mass duplicators. Therefore this type os solution is not really suitable for producing DVDs which need to be mass-duplicated.

Robert Armstrong is a contributor to The HDTV Tuner - a guide to the kit, the content and the issues related to HDTV.

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