By Monte FergusonWhen the DVD first came out that was an awesome moment. In one tiny,
easy to transport, package you had a full length movie. On top of that
it offered a crisper, higher quality, viewing experience. It also
offered all of these neat new features weíd never had before.
The trouble was it was darn arcane trying to make one of these things
yourself. The initial tools were not for the non-technical. Those tools
also came with t professional price. Thatís why the release of iDVD was
such a big deal. It allowed anyone to easily create a polished DVD. It
was also offered at an unheard of low, low price.
Apple has continued to include the program with the iLife suite. But
there are signs that they no longer consider DVD burning to be a selling
point. The version of iDVD included with iLife í09 remains relatively
unchanged. Apple didnít even increment itís version number. Itís still a
Automatic For the People
iDVD has two different modes, or way of working, with your video. There
is an automated way of making a DVD. It is geared for those who just
want to make a quick DVD. Or simply transfer video from their camcorder
direct to disk.
You canít get any easier than Magic iDVD. You just click on the Magic
iDVD button, pick a theme, and select movies and photos. iDVD does the
rest. After it builds the menus, slideshows, and buttons you burn the
DVD. All done.
A OneStep DVD lets you pull video directly off your camcorder. Just plug
in the camcorder, hit the OneStep DVD button. iDVD directly imports the
video from the camcorder and burns it direct to disk. iDVD gives you
progress indicators to let you know how things are going. It even gives
you live video thumbnails.
The real power of the program is revealed when you dive in and manually
create a DVD. Donít worry. Youíre not left on your own. iDVD does a lot
of the work for you. You just get to customize your DVD in many ways. I
prefer this mode. There is just much more you can do than a Magic iDVD
Your first chance to customize your DVD is by picking a theme. Themeís
are professionally designed templates. You can just drag and drop your
video and picture files onto the place holder points, Apple calls drop
zones. Text in the themes can be modified as you wish. Apple includes
over 150 themes, in both wide screen and standard format. If you need to
add a section, letís say for deleted scenes, you can later add it from
the Map view. Themes get you started but are not limiting. Rather they
free you up to put the whole project together without fussing with
creating buttons and menus. iDVD even has built in alignment guides. I
find them very handy when Iím moving theme elements around to get just
the right look.
A feature Iíve long loved has finally made a comeback, chapter markers.
It was a feature missing in iMovie í08 and just added back in the í09
edition. With this feature you can designate chapter markers in iMovie.
iMovie adds a thumbnail of the scene and an editable chapter title.
iDVD automatically imports the markers and uses them to create scene
selections. Just like you see in professional DVDís. iDVD also adds a
scene selection menu to your project. This makes the work of creating a
DVD from your video extremely easy. A one click operation from iMovie
copies the video and chapter markers over to iDVD.
Video isnít the only things you can have on your DVDís. You can also add
photos. Better yet iDVD makes it easy to add photo slideshows. You can
choose to add photos individually or use albums, iPhoto books, or
slideshows from the iLife Media Browser. The built in slide show editor
lets you rearrange photos, delete slides or add more pictures. You can
also set slide duration, assign transitions, and add a soundtrack from
your iTunes library. You can have up to 99 pictures in a slide show. But
you can also have a whole bunch of slideshows on a DVD.
From Hardware Ye Came To Hardware Ye Go
Sharing a finished project is as easy as inserting a disc and hitting
the burn button. You can use either single or dual layer DVD discs. You
can use a built in Apple SuperDrive to burn your disc or a number of
third party drives. The ability to use a third party DVD burner is
relatively new and very welcome. As often external units are rated to
run at higher burn speeds than internal units. The folks you send them
to can view them on any regular DVD player and TV, or on a computer with
a DVD drive.
iDVD has a couple of quality settings that it uses. In general the
higher the quality setting the longer the burn. These quality settings
can allow you to trade off a fast burn time for a lower quality video.
Something to keep in mind if youíre looking to share a quick comp or
review footage shot on site that day.
iDVD shares the same philosophy that shapes all of Appleís consumer
applications. It is super easy to use. It includes just the right
balance of features and simplicity. Although itís not a feature added
with this release, the ability to use an external burner is very handy.
I also love the chapter marker import option. It gives you a welcome
feature found in professional DVDís. I also love the option to include
DVD ROM content. This feature, which I use when including photo slide
shows on my DVDís, copies high quality versions of the images direct to
the DVD. If viewed on a computer the recipient can copy them to their
computerís hard drive, or print them out.
If you were hoping Apple would include full HD support you will be
disappointed. iDVD does not include native Blu-Ray burning support. Nor
does it include support for video sizes in the 1080p range. The other
disappointment is that Apple is currently not updating this product. Oh
sure it gained some more templates and fixes but nothing new was added
to the product. It could use a speed boost for itís burn times. Maybe an
option to support multiple concurrent burn sessions.
I have, and continue to enjoy, using iDVD. It has been rock solid and
has performed admirably for me. Even with the rise of video sharing
sites like You Tube and high speed internet connections I see a place
for the humble DVD. There are uses for video that looks professional and
lasts longer than a minute or two. There are also uses for archiving and
sharing precious moments in our lives. This version is still a good
program. Hereís hoping Apple sees fit to do more than keep it on life
Posted: Tuesday, December 29th, 2009