Movies on CD & DVD 4 - Box

Movies on CD & DVD 4
Ages: All

Everybody has a video camcorder these days (well, it seems like nearly everybody does). You take your camcorder along on vacations, or to special events like parties, weddings, parades. You point it at really interesting stuff and hold the button down. When you get home, you may have several tapes filled up. But, do you ever look at them????

While looking at old videotapes often seemed tedious, videos on CDs or DVDs feel seem to be more managable. It is very easy to start, stop, freezeframe, run fast (or backup) and even skip ahead or back in big chunks. Getting your taped video onto a DVD might solve part of the problem of making it watchable.

Making a DVD is, unfortunately, much more complicated than making an audio CD. An audio CD has very little structure - it is much like an old record - sequential 'tracks' carrying the recorded material in order. A DVD has a great deal of structure, partly just because it could. The video you get out of your camcorder has to be specially 'coded' and combined with the audio before being put on the DVD. This process can be done in hardware using a DVD recorder which can write DVDs directly, or else you can do it in your computer, using software designed for this purpose - DVD Authoring software.

These Authoring packages all can do more than just convert camcorder video to the correct form and 'burn' it onto a disk. You would expect any package to at least have the following functions:

  1. Capture the video output from your camcorder and input it onto the computer's hard drive in a form suitable for later manipulation.
  2. Simple editing capabilities - removal of segments you don't want (you know, like the time the camera was actually on when you thought it was off and were walking back to your car) as well as trimming of segments. You should also be able to rearrange segments - not all stories are told in strict chronological order.
  3. Creation of titles for the video and possibly for subsections.
  4. The DVD format is designed to allow for a menu-type interface with little images and captions. Selecting one of these by using the arrow keys on the ubiquitous remote allows you to start viewing at any of the 'chapters' on the disk. You should be able to create these chapter divisions for your disk along with suitable captions according to your desires.
  5. There are extra frills, like adding background music, altering the brightness and contrast of the video, transition effects between scene, and even funky stuff like turning the image upside down or making it into a negative that you might want.
  6. Finally, you need to create the set of files needed for the DVD in the correct format, and "burn" them on a DVD (or CD) disk.

"Movies on CD & DVD 4" by MAGIX is a relatively basic program which was designed to do that. It does have other capabilities, which will be mentioned later.

To try this product out, I used tapes which had been made of a child's birthday celebration. The recordings were on two Mini DV (Digital Video) tapes (the end of tape 1 and the beginning of tape 2). The import function worked smoothly; getting the material into the computer was just a matter of starting the transfer and letting the tape run. Stopping the recording was another matter, though, as the control panel seemed to have gone completely inert when the tape hit its end. I did eventually find the button to click on to get the program out of record mode and into edit mode.

Addition of scrolling titles and setup of the final DVD indexing was reasonably straightforward - there are a collection of pre-arranged styles for titles and for formats of index pages, and for selecting an image out of a scene which is shown in the little frame on the index page was simple. Choosing and setting up transitions between scenes was also easy.

Cutting out sections I didn't want and inserting a few still photos turned out to be trickier, as the online tutorial videos played more like feature commercials than HOW-TOs. When it was all done, the DVD burn process was started. This can take quite some time, as the original footage has to be transformed into the correct format for the DVD, before the actual burning occurred.

For an inexpensive program, this product has lots of capabilities, but takes a while to get used to. I strongly recommend finding the the full manual (in PDF format) on the program CD and reading it over - it is a bit better than the tutorial videos. Since creating a DVD is always a time-consuming effort, I also advise starting out with a tiny task - maybe two or three short scenes - and a couple of re-writable DVD platters. Practice for a while on somthing that doesn't take too much time for the computer to process, and verify that the final DVD looks the way you want it to before actually investing the time (and platters) on the whole enchillada.

Among the advanced features of "Movies on CD & DVD 4" are the ability to improve the color balance, brightness and contrast of the scenes, edit the audio portion, add soundtracks and create special visual effects. You can also set up your computer to record directly to DVD from your camera, or from a TV tuner. There is a trial version which you can download from the MAGIX website. The CD version also comes with a Photo Manager and a Music Manager (not reviewed).

Reviewed by: Lou Katz - 12/05

  • Movies on CD & DVD 4
  • © MAGIX AG $34.99
  • W98SE Me XP 2000
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