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DVD STUDIO PRO 3 - 8/4/2004 5:28:19 PM   

Posts: 12103
Joined: 7/4/2003
From: Melbourne, Victoria, AUS
Status: offline
Apple Computer Inc.,
$499 direct

Excellent templates and transitions. Fantastic playlist capabilities.
Preview is cumbersome. Limited error-checking. Slow performance.
Bottom Line:
If visual quality is your overarching concern in a pro-level DVD authoring package, DVD Studio Pro is hard to beat. It isn't perfect, but you may be willing to overlook its few faults to reap its advantages.


No other DVD authoring program in the $500 price class is capable of creating such stunning, highly creative DVDs as Apple's DVD Studio Pro 3. For video pros looking to take their productions to the next level, it's worth a serious look. That said, DVD Studio still needs work in several key areas—namely its preview and error-checking capabilities.

From a design perspective, three areas really distinguish DVD Studio Pro from its competition. First is the sheer quality of the templates included with the application; they're more attractive and professional-looking than those offered by competitors like Adobe Encore and Ulead DVD Workshop. Although many graphics designers prefer to design their own menus, DVD Studio's templates provide a good starting point for the less artistically inclined and for designers who are in too much of a hurry to start from scratch.

Second, DVD Studio supports transitions, such as dissolves and fades, between menus and content, smoothing the shift from the button click to the appearance of video and slide shows. This offers a polish that DVD Workshop and Encore don't give.

Finally, DVD Studio has the most functional playlist capability in its class. Briefly, playlists (called stories in DVD Studio) let you piece together video sequences from content on disk, so different buttons can trigger different viewing experiences. One example would be a button that lets you watch a slightly shortened version of a movie that skips certain scenes. Encore and DVD Workshop both offer this feature, but the implementation in each produces a short delay between sequences. Apple's approach produces smoother playback.

Apple also offers a slideshow feature for synchronizing digital images with background music, with interslide transitions. This is an excellent feature for event videographers who work with both still photos and video footage. DVD Workshop offers similar capabilities, but Encore is much less usable in this area.

As impressive as DVD Studio's results are, Apple still needs to smooth the development process. For starters, it should integrate AC-3 encoding into the rendering process; currently, you do this as a separate step in a different program. It could also streamline preview functions. For example, to test an "end action" link (meaning where the content goes after video stops playing), you have to play the video from start to finish, which can be very time-consuming.

Error-checking is also limited. DVD Studio Pro doesn't even check if disc space is sufficient before starting to render. In addition, the application is much slower than its competitors. It completed our 15-minute test project in 41 minutes 49 seconds on a 2GHz Dual G5 Power Mac, compared with around 18 minutes for both DVD Workshop and Encore on an HP xw4100 workstation running a 3.2 GHz Pentium 4.

But if you can forgive these shortcomings, DVD Studio Pro will reward you with slick-looking DVD projects that others in its class can't match.

Source : PCM
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