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Apple iDVD 2

DVD authoring suite for Mac OS X By Paulo de Andrade
When Apple announced the Superdrive and iDVD a little more than a year ago, I wrote about the possibilities that this combination would offer to video producers. The original iDVD was a great idea, but it had some limitations and a few bugs that caused many to avoid it in a professional environment, often turning to Apple's more expensive and powerful DVD Studio Pro. But with the release of iDVD 2, things have certainly changed, and I can finally see professionals turning to this sweet application for their daily needs.

iDVD 2 is part of Apple's strategy of supplying easy to use yet powerful applications that turn Macs into even more desirable machines. I have always thought that it is software that dictates what kind of computer platform one should purchase and not the other way around, as many people seem to think. It's software that makes things possible, not hardware, no matter how fast a system may look on paper. It appears that Apple understands this, and they seem to be attracting a lot of new users to the Mac platform because of great software such as iDVD 2.

We receive lots of e-mails from frustrated readers who are trying to author basic DVD titles using Windows computers. The majority of problems result from poor software integration with the OS, within programs themselves and with lame, stripped-down versions of DVD authoring programs. On the other hand, we never receive complaints from Apple users. The reason is very simple: There's absolutely nothing to complain about. Mac users running OS X and iDVD 2 have all the work cut for them. They just concentrate on creating the content, and the software takes care of everything else, as if authoring DVDs were something that even a child could do. Well, with iDVD, it is. Even though DVD authoring can be very tricky, this amazing "little" application takes care of all the complicated things for you, behind the scenes. It's as if there's a crew of little DVD authoring elves busily working their magic while you simply drag and drop QuickTime movies onto the interface.

The combination of a Mac with SuperDrive and iDVD 2 is so perfect that I often tell Windows users who are shopping for a basic DVD authoring system that it makes a lot more sense to buy a Mac, even if it is just for this purpose alone. The ones who follow this advice not only end up with flawless DVDs but also discover Apple's other elegant and "simple" applications, such as iPhoto and iMovie. Networking Mac and Windows computers is pretty simple these days, and, for Windows users, adding a Mac to their network brings lots of benefits. Most of the ones who decide to stick to Windows end up facing hours of frustration. Not that all entry-level DVD authoring programs for Windows are bad. There are a few decent ones, but they still must reside in an archaic environment full of conflicts, driver issues and other well known problems. Time is money. The fact that with Macs you don't waste any time makes them a very smart investment for any professional level of DVD authoring, from simpler projects with iDVD 2 to more complex ones with DVD Studio Pro.

Even though iDVD 2 is simple enough for home users, it is a great tool for professionals, too. I, for one, have completely changed the way my clients receive dailies and review copies of projects. Before iDVD 2 I used to make them VHS viewing copies. It has always been a somewhat frustrating process because VHS suffers a high degree of quality loss compared with the broadcast quality video we have at the studio. So clients got to see a product that was inferior to the real one and that sometimes created misunderstandings. It was also a little frustrating for some not to be able to see at home or at the office the same high resolution and saturated colors that they experienced at the studio during edit sessions. With iDVD 2 I can drag a QuickTime file straight from Final Cut Pro, Combustion or any other application, and I end up with a professional-looking DVD in a matter of minutes.

Just recently I created two versions of a TV spot for an out of state client. I put both versions on a DVD using iDVD 2, each version with its own button. Both buttons were labeled accordingly, and the menu had a custom motion background. Within minutes the DVD was encoded and burned, and I sent it to the client, next morning delivery. The following day I received a phone call from a very satisfied client. The DVD presentation preserved the high quality of the originals, and it gave the client a very easy and direct way to watch the desired version of the spot at any time. And, besides the efficiency of the delivery medium, the "cool factor" was also very high. DVDs offer many advantages over tape, not only in terms of image quality and interactivity, but also in terms of durability, storage space requirements and shipping weight. And with the cost of Apple blank DVD media down to $5 per disc, it turns out to be just slightly more expensive than tape.

Other people are using iDVD 2 as the main tool in their businesses by offering tape to DVD transfer services to clients. iDVD 2 is so easy to use and efficient that it is perfect for something like this. They digitize the footage using iMovie and, without any DVD authoring knowledge, they can have a professional looking DVD with motion menus and buttons in no time--and make a good profit at it.

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