MARCH 26, 2004
Macromedia Director MX 2004
The deposed King of Interactive Authoring Applications returns from the wilderness
Kevin Schmitt
Page 2 of 4

DVD-Video
The "much-needed shot of extra relevancy" I alluded to earlier certainly applies to one of the biggest new features in DMX04—the ability to play and interact with DVD-Video. At first glance, I was a little skeptical that DVD-Video was anything worth crowing about, but the more I think about it, the more excited I get about where Director is headed. Let me paint a picture here: you've just brought home [insert name big-studio movie here] on DVD, and noticed that it has enhanced content on the DVD ROM portion of the disc. You pop it into your computer, and if you're on the Mac, you'll probably get miffed because you can't get at the stuff you just bought since it's not Mac-compatible. Or, if you're on Windows, maybe you're not real keen about having to install some custom DVD player that may or may not wreak havoc on your system. DMX04's DVD-Video feature has the potential to change all of that, provided developers choose to author their DVD ROM content for cross-platform playback with Director. Titles could conceivably be "equally abled" on both Mac and Windows boxes, and Projectors can be launched directly from the DVD without requiring a separate install. I'm hoping DVD authors out there are paying attention.

Here's how DVD-Video works in DMX04: first, you either pop in a DVD or mount a DVD image stored on your hard drive, which enables DVD asset additions into your movie (fig. 5). Director uses its own embedded DVD player, and you can navigate around the DVD the way you would in your usual player. Give the asset a name, and your DVD-Video shows up in the Cast as a regular ol' Member, which you can place in your movie and manipulate as you would anything else.

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Fig. 5: Your very own DVD player, right in Director.

Of course, having DVD-Video in your movie isn't much good without a way to add interactivity (which is what Director is around to do in the first place, after all). From the included, full-featured DVD Controller component (fig. 6), to a slew of Lingo commands just for DVD (fig. 7), you've got plenty of options for coders and non-coders alike. Macromedia has even included an Xtra called the DVD Event Manager, which is an interactive tool that allows you to set overall DVD playback options (fig. 8) as well as define trigger points and assign actions such as loading HTML pages and executing Lingo code to those triggers (fig. 9).


Fig. 6: The DVD Controller is actually a Flash Component that you can drag and drop into movies along with your DVD-Video Castmember.


Fig. 7: There's no shortage of DVD-specific Lingo.


Fig. 8: Step one of the DVD Event Manager—general DVD playback options.


Fig. 9: Step two of the DVD Event Manager—defining triggers and actions.

As far as publishing goes, at the end of the process you can output to a Projector or a Shockwave movie that you can include on the DVD ROM portion of a hybrid DVD. Again, the potential is there for an identical experience for DVD ROM content for Mac and Windows users alike, and I'll again offer my hope that more DVD publishers will take note of what DMX04 can do in the DVD area.



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