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DVD 101- A Complete How-To Guide

By Paulo de Andrade
DVD production is finally becoming affordable enough so that it can be offered not only by established small to medium-sized production facilities but also by individuals just starting their own businesses. Demand for DVD is growing very fast and there's good money to be made. Yet, DVD creation is not necessarily a straightforward process and it is still relatively hard to find good information on the topic. Fortunately, the DVD medium itself now carries one of the best introductory guides to DVD authoring: DVD 101 - A Complete How-To Guide.

This video presentation takes advantage of DVD's interactivity to give the viewer a very good overview of the format in general. The DVD is divided into the following segments:

Types of DVD
Creating a DVD
DVD Association
Encode Rate Samples

It is always a pleasure to watch a well-produced presentation. Many times you purchase a video that offers great content but poor production values. In my opinion there's no excuse for this nowadays, specially when quality production equipment is so affordable. I also believe that if one doesn't have the necessary production skills to put together a commercial presentation, then a professional production team should be hired. After all, if anyone expects the viewer to pay for the presentation, they should at least have the courtesy of providing decent looking and sounding material. This is particularly important when it comes to presentations on DVD due to the medium's high quality potential. The folks at Infinite Solutions and Bruce Sturgill Productions definitely kept that in mind and did a great job with DVD 101. It is well shot, well lit and sounds good. It's also professionally edited.

The DVD is hosted by Matt Dragon, who delivers the information in a very clear and professional way. There are also interviews with leading industry professionals who share their expertise with the viewer.

DVD 101 is meant to give you an understanding of the complete DVD production process. It is not a product-specific how-to and it doesn't walk you through the whole process step-by-step. If you are looking for that kind of video, you could be disappointed. However, I doubt that you would be because this DVD contains a ton of useful information and advice that can make you a better DVD author in addition to saving you time and money.

The 'Types of DVD' segment starts by utilizing 3D microscopic data to visually illustrate the higher density of the format compared to CDs. It then explains the difference between the different layer formats and sizes such as DVD-5, DVD-9, DVD-10, DVD-14 and DVD-18. The next topic covered in this segment is the difference between the various DVD types such as DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM, DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, DVD-R and DVD-R/W. In each of these topics, as well as in the rest of the DVD, the host walks us through every possible option in detail. Still under this segment we are shown different types of DVD recording drives, different types of recording media, compatibility issues and copy protection.

'Creating a DVD', the next segment, gives the viewer an overview of the DVD production process. Here industry professionals give some good advice on preparing your material for DVD, dealing with clients and more. This segment also covers the different video formats that can be used for shooting the video, nonlinear editing compression, software and hardware encoding, audio and video levels, MPEG-2, authoring elements creation and replication. The time it takes to complete DVD projects is another topic discussed here

The 'Compression' segment covers in greater detail this very important part of DVD creation. It covers MPEG-1 and MPEG-2, encoding versus transcoding, bit rates, picture quality and more. Once again, industry experts give very useful information on these topics.

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