There seems to be a plethora of mid-range DVD authoring tools on the Windows platform at the moment, including Adobe’s Encore DVD. In terms of ease-of-use however, DVD Workshop 2 actually resembles Apple’s iDVD – offering a similar approach, motion menus, and drag-&-drop functionality.
The Start tab is where you choose to begin a project in VCD, SVCD or DVD format. The tools in the Capture tab then use Ulead’s MPEG-Direct codec to directly capture and translate any analogue or DV footage into MPEG in a one-step process. Device control is built into the application for DV cameras or other supported devices such as an analogue VCR or a TV tuner.
We successfully tested the new Automatic Scene Detection by letting the software automatically capture and arrange a whole series of clips. Clicking any of the titles stored in the Library and the Content window sends the application into Edit mode, where a set of basic controls are available to trim or cut clips, insert chapter points, and add background music. Up to 32 separate subtitle tracks can be created or imported, including timecode and text attributes.
DVD Workshop 2 provides three methods of menu creation. A wizard brings together footage and adds links, while creating menus from a template is simple, with everything already in place except the project text and links to the Playlist. Most professional users will opt to create a menu from scratch, and again it’s simple – select an image or short video clip (you can set duration and loop points for motion menus) as the base, then add and link the menu components.
To create buttons linked to the different elements in the menu, you drag-&-drop the item you want the object to link to to the object. There is a variety of button styles, behaviours, and text effects to customize any menu, and you can add your own pre-designed buttons and templates to the Library.
It lacks Encore DVD’s integrated Edit In Photoshop command and the Adobe software’s ability to convert objects on layers to buttons. However, DVD Workshop 2 does support Alpha channels on an RGB 32-bit image and transparency on a GIF image when used in menus.
Finally, the Finish tab allows a full preview of the project, including menus, subtitle track, and audio, before burning it to disc. In common with similar applications, DVD Workshop supports a save to DLT feature for delivery to professional replication firms, and provides the option of authoring the project to the DVD-9 format. It supports Macrovision and CSS copy protection as well as region coding.
If you want a tool that’s as professional as Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro, you’d be better off with the more expensive Encore DVD or DVD Studio Pro, but DVD Workshop 2 will quickly churn out basic but good-looking DVDs.