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What You Get

A DVD with the whole iLIfe suite. Numerous templates. A good electronic help section. Apple's web site there are also several excellent tutorials.

System Requirements

  • Mac computer with an Intel, PowerPC G5, or PowerPC G4 (867MHz or faster)†processor
  • 512MB of RAM; 1GB recommended.†High-definition video requires at least 1GB of RAM.
  • Approximately 4GB of available disk space
  • DVD drive required for installation
  • Mac OS X v10.5.6 or later
  • QuickTime 7.5.5 or later (included)
  • Burning DVDs requires an Apple SuperDrive or compatible third-party DVD burner.

iDVD 09

By Monte Ferguson

When 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 good program.

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.

Manual Overdrive
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 session.

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 support.

Posted: Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

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