Saturday, March 31, 2007

Pinnacle Studio 10

Pinnacle Studio 10 is an excellent video editing program. We especially like the ease of applying transitions to the video footage, and the fact that when video is imported through the program OR when video you've already stored is imported, it does an automatic scene detection which makes editing a breeze. The only time that the automatic scene detection becomes a problem is when a scene with many light changes takes place (such as a strobe light being used during a wedding reception).

Once the video transfer is done, you can add transitions, lots of special effects, cleanup effects, background music tracks, lots of audio cleanup, and titles.

It is HIGHLY recommended that you have a fairly new computer, and we have had no problems with 2GB of RAM (we tried it with a computer with 1GB of RAM--it was ok, but not nearly as responsive as with the higher RAM. Also, read the software description for minimum required video card options.

We have used Pinnacle Studio since version 9. Both are great programs and we highly recommend them. Easy to learn.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sonic MyDVD 6.1

Sonic MyDVD 6.1 is one of the best video to dvd transfer programs that we've used. One of the little known secrets of the program is that it has a "Fit to DVD" option, which in many cases can fit as much as 8.5GB of video footage on to a 4.7GB dvd-r or dvd+r disk. It does this by recoding the footage you add and the results are really good.

You can use Sonic MyDVD 6.1 to do you video to dvd transfer, then use the built in menus (we especially like the dvd motion menus) to burn your DVD. We should note that obviously the faster your PC and DVD burner, the better this program will work for you.

It has some basic editing features which let you trim the start and end of each video file, and also the ability to add chapter points. When you add chapter points to your DVD, make sure you choose "NO" when the program asks you if you want to create menus based on your chapter points. This saves disk space and you can easily skip through the chapters on your DVD without going back to a menu.

While Sonic MyDVD 6.1 may be hard to find (since Roxio took over Sonic a few years back), it's definitely worth finding to produce your video to dvd transfer project.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

DVD formats

Which dvd format should I use to make my own dvd?

From much experience and trial/error, I have found that DVD-R discs have the highest compatibility with the most number of consumer DVD players. In all the years that I have been making dvds for customers using the DVD-R format, only one customer had difficulty with the DVD-R disc. According to most reports, the DVD-R format is compatible with about 95% of all consumer dvd players. Understand that once a dvd has been burned in the DVD-R format, it is permanent. The disc cannot be erased and used again.

The second best format is the DVD+R format. Like the DVD-R discs, it is permanent. Once the disc has been burned it cannot be erased and used again. While similar to the DVD-R disc, the DVD+R format is compatible with about 89% of all consumer dvd players. If you use the DVD+R rather than the DVD-R format, you increase the chance that your dvd will not be compatible for the person you are making it for.

There are other formats, some rewritable and some dual layer which hold much higher capacities, but it's touch and go whether or not they will be compatible with the dvd player you are going to watch them on.

Best advice--stick with the DVD-R format.

Which should I use - .avi or .mpg?

Should I choose .avi or .mpeg?

.avi give you a much higher quality for your footage. However, it also takes up way more space (in megabytes) on your hard drive. It will also take up this amount of space on your dvd, so if you are using a 4.7GB DVD-R disc and you have a two hour video file, it will probably not fit on your dvd.

Choosing .mpeg is a much better option for most people. It still has good quality when you output your video file to .mpeg and will give you the ability to burn more than one file to a dvd.

For example, if you have five or six 20 minute video footage files, chances are good that if you use .mpeg you will be able to put each file on the main menu of you dvd, burn them all to the same dvd, and have all of the files in one single location. If you choose .avi, you may only get 2 or 3 of the video footage files to fit and will have to use multiple dvds to complete your video to dvd transfer project.

Video capture cards/video capture devices

What does the video capture card/video capture device do?

As we discussed before, you will need a capture card or device to capture your video to your computer before you can edit the footage and output it as a file so that you can author the video file to dvd. The capture card (or capture device) is what brings the video footage into your computer and turns it into a digital format so that you can work with it.

On some computers, the ability to capture is built directly into your computer through a firewire connection port. This will allow you to run a firewire cable from your video camera to the firewire port on your computer.

If your computer does not have this ability, then you will need an external video capture device. It is a small USB unit which usually has ports for firewire, USB, and RCA cables. The firewire capture port will give you the highest quality video in most cases.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Video importing

Hopefully, you've downloaded either the free tryout of Adobe Premiere Elements or Avid Free DV to try out. Here are some steps to help you get started.

1. ALWAYS connect either your video capture device or the video camera (with the firewire cable) to the computer, make sure everything is powered to "ON", then restart your computer. This will make sure that your computer will recognize the device that you are using.

2. After the computer has restarted, make sure you tape is playing, then open the program you are going to use for the capture. When you click on the "capture" tab you should see your video playing on the screen.

3. Rewind the tape using the onscreen buttons to the point where you want to start the capture, then click the pause button on the screen. Make sure the capture settings are ready for the output you desire (avi is best quality, mpeg is good and much smaller).

4. Click the capture button and begin your capture of the video file.

Adobe Premiere Elements training

Adobe has some good online tutorials for getting started doing your video to dvd transfer using Adobe Premiere Elements. You can many of these tutorials by searching on Youtube.

Adobe Premiere Elements

Adobe Premiere Elements is another good program for video to dvd transfer. At the link below, you can download the free tryout and see whether or not it will meet your video to dvd transfer needs. It's also a good way to practice importing video from your VCR or your video camera:

Avid Free DV - a good place to start

You can download a copy of Avid Free DV (a free version of their more popular professional program). It has lots of bells and whistles for a free program, and should be all you need to get started:

They have a great deal of online tutorials for your video to dvd transfer. We recommend downloading the entire package so you can view it offline, unless you have a broadband connection.

Importing video to the computer

Importing video to the computer can be one of the most difficult aspects of video to dvd transfer. In most cases, you will need a fast computer with lots of RAM and hard disk space. If you try using a slower computer, your audio and video may not match, making your new imported video look like a dubbed Japanese horror movie!

If you are importing a VHS tape, you will need to use an RCA cable (red, yellow and white connections). Next, you will need a connector between your computer and the VCR which will capture the video. While we don't recommend one device over another, if you do a google search for "video capture devices" you will get a good idea what's out there. Most of the capture devices will connect to your computer via a USB cable.

If you are importing an 8mm, Hi8, Digital8, or MiniDV tape, you will need a firewire cable that connects from your video camera to the capture device OR to the computer directly. If you are able to connect to the computer directly, you will get a much better video capture than if you have to go through the video capture device.