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Apple Pro Training Series: DVD Studio Pro 3

COW Library : Apple DVD Studio Pro : Alex Alexzander : Apple Pro Training Series: DVD Studio Pro 3
CreativeCOW presents Apple Pro Training Series: DVD Studio Pro 3 -- Apple DVD Studio Pro Review


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CreativeCOW leader Alex Alexzander reviews Apple Pro Training Series: DVD Studio Pro 3, written by Adrian Ramseier and Martin Sitter, published by Peachpit Press, 736 pages, August 2004, ISBN: 0321256107, and concludes that "This book is quite possibly the only book you will need to master DVD authoring with DVD Studio Pro." Read on to find out why.....

DVD Studio Pro 3 by Adrian Ramseier and Martin SitterPreface

DVD Studio Pro is a unique application in its price range. It is the only application that offers so many features while remaining easy to use. It offers three modes of operation that allow users to gradually step up their authoring abilities with greater control and freedom to create DVDs that reflect their own ideas.

Within these modes there are so many tools that are easy to neglect while still authoring successful DVDs. As this happens you may be missing out on the best that DVD Studio Pro has to offer. But what are these features, and how do you use them?
In order to answer that, a book is needed that covers all the features. It must start small and grow, leaving no stone unturned. It must provide lots of hands-on lessons and yet be easy enough for the first-time user to pick up, understand, and remain excited about. Ideally this book should be the book you reach for when you need answers quickly, such as the way a reference book is used. That's a lot to ask of any one single book, and yet we ask that all the time.


Introduction

DVD Studio Pro 3: Authoring Professional DVDs, is the combination of two great authors. Adrian Ramseier, the author of Apple's Pro Training Series, DVD Studio Pro 2: Authoring Professional DVDs, and Martin Sitter, the author of DVD Studio Pro for Mac OS X: The Visual QuickPro Guide series.

These two authors offer instruction in their own unique way. Adrian Ramseier offers a strong lesson-based approach while Martin Sitter uses a more referenced style, making his books the choice for those who need quick answers to common questions while they are in the middle of authoring a DVD.

These two authors have come together to provide an updated Apple Pro Training Series book, which tackles all the new features DVD Studio Pro 3 has to offer. Its lesson-based approach takes on specific sets of features in groups, which makes referring to specific features later on simple and informative.


Tiger Basic Project: Lessons 1 and 2

This section begins with a brief description of some of the more common DVD specifications. These are the little things most people rarely pay attention to until the day they cannot add one more track, or they cannot add one more image to their slide show. It's a good idea to know what the limitations are of the software before you run into trouble. That being said, some may not completely understand these limitations in the beginning. This is perfectly okay. As you work through these lessons, these issues will become more and more reinforced, and you will understand them better as your understanding of the authoring process matures.

The instructor starts this lesson with a brief tour of the basic mode that DVD Studio Pro uses. This mode offers fewer options in the authoring process but is far less confusing for first-time user, and almost obvious to those coming from iDVD, making this an ideal starting point.

Immediately in this first lesson you will begin to recognize the style of teaching of this book. It is a step-by-step lesson-based approach to learning DVD authoring with DVD Studio Pro.

This first lesson is a complete basic tutorial, from importing assets to simulating and burning your first DVD. An especially nice touch is the “What You've Learned” page immediately following each of these tutorials. Reading this page is a good way to learn the terms associated with the software and reaffirm what exactly you have just covered. Another nice touch is the Keyboard shortcuts which follow this page. Learning the keyboard shortcuts will improve your speed in the authoring process.

Now that you have a poured a nice concrete foundation, its time build on what you have learned. Lesson 2 begins by opening up DVD Studio Pro in its Advanced Mode. You're introduced to the new interface, its associated windows and tabs, and what functions they provide.

Touring the interfaces while you learn to use it is an easy way to become familiar with the concepts DVD Studio Pro uses in the authoring process. As you dig deeper into these concepts, you will begin to understand the logic behind the many windows and tabs and start to grow on your own.


Swiss Project: Lessons 3 through 9

In this next section, you start with one of my favorite projects. You learn to create the most basic of DVDs possible: a single track DVD with no menu. Many believe this is the foundation every new DVD author should take part in. The book offers a little more depth to the commonly published, single-play DVD tutorials you'll find on the web as well.

Naturally, once you have created a DVD with no menu, the next lesson ought to be how to create a basic menu, and that is exactly where these lessons continue. You'll learn about menus, button targets, and so on. More advanced menus such as chapter menus are part of this section and taught in great detail. You even learn to create a chapter index menu suitable for adding more items then will fit in any one chapter menu by using the “_PREV_”, “_UP_”, and “_NEXT_” fields.

Working with slideshows, adding subtitles, and adding DVD-ROM and DVD@ccess functions round out these sections. These are all popular features taught in a natural progression exactly when appropriate.


Tiger Project: Lessons 10 through 13

So what more can there be? Well, this book is not even half over yet. In lesson 10 we start with an introduction to encoding MPEG2 and AIFF, and of course, AC3. Bit budgeting and a real-world lesson on using Apple's compressor through the Final Cut Pro timeline are all provided here. I really appreciate this because the book doesn't just mention the other applications and how they interact, it actually provides a lesson with files for you to use inside Final Cut Pro. You learn to export to Compressor and prepare assets for use in DVD Studio Pro by doing it yourself. Even more, you learn all about using and creating Compressor presets and even droplets.

The lessons progress by teaching you the basics of motion menus. You'll begin to explore the property inspector to assign highlights with advanced overlays as well as use the connection tab. This section's final chapter ends by teaching a short scripted example of a random play script just to warm you up to the additional tutorials coming up later in Lesson 19.


Black Box: Lessons 14 through 18

Now it's time to learn about two kinds of menus: Standard menus and Layered menus. This starts with a good description of the proper aspect ratios when creating a standard menu with Adobe Photoshop. The author shows the components of the standard menu, those being the background and the overlay, and how they work together. Moreover, you learn to use the “Open in Editor” function to explore your overlay in Adobe Photoshop. You'll also explore the layers in Photoshop and the common way in which these layers work within DVD Studio Pro's property inspector. As you explore the overlay, you'll become an expert on key colors and the components of the 3-color advanced overlay.

Next you'll create a layered menu. These are useful when you wish to change the background of the DVD menu upon the selection of a button. Layered menus can be quite confusing, and their benefits are often dismissed due to their speed penalty. Layered menus do however have their place in authoring, and knowing this technique can prove to be quite valuable.

You'll be introduced to creating shape objects for use as drop zones using Adobe Photoshop, as well as creating your own templates for future use. These subjects were touched on earlier and now are reinforced as you work through step by step lessons.

This section also has an especially good chapter on Advanced MPEG encoding. This chapter is a must read and alone raises the value of this book. Speaking of advanced topics, one of the features that sets DVD Studio Pro apart from other authoring systems in its price range is the Multi-Angle / Mixed Angle capability. You'll learn both capabilities here, and how to stay out of trouble when you compress footage for use in multi / mixed angle DVD authoring. Best of all, you just finished the section on Compressor, so the topics raised here build on prior knowledge you have gained.


Audio Encoding: Lesson 19

Martin Sitter is the co-author of this book, and as you would expect, that means there is a great chapter just for audio encoding. Everything you ever wanted to know about using A.PACK is right here in this section, again raising the value of this book even more.


Scripting: Lesson 20

Rounding out this book is a good 50 additional pages on scripting. You'll be introduced to GPRMs and SPRMs, and using simple conditions to give your DVDs those extra features that really set it apart from lesser DVDs.

In Conclusion

This book is quite possibly the only book you will need to master DVD authoring with DVD Studio Pro. It includes 20 lessons, all step by step. Every topic and feature is covered well. A DVD is included with lesson files so you are active in learning what you are reading. The way these lessons breakdown also serves another purpose-each lesson is a detailed instruction on a small set of features, making this book ideal for both beginners and those who want instruction on specific topics. If there are features you are not sure how to use, just venturing into one of these lessons as needed provides excellent coverage.

This new edition is printed in full color. No more looking at shades of gray when learning about advanced overlays and highlight color sets; instead you see these properties as the truly are.

The scripting section is not a rehash of the Apple's user's manual either. If you are looking for additional help with scripting, this book provides more than 50 pages on the subject.

Buying Advice: For first-time users looking for a book that details all the features DVD Studio Pro 3 has to offer with a hands-on approach to learning, this book is it. Intermediate users who have not fully explored all that DVD Studio Pro has to offer, you'll find this book incredibly useful as well, especially if you have upgraded to version 3. This book happens to be only the second book on DVD Studio Pro I have ever recommended.

4 and a half cows


©Copyright 2004 Alex Alexzander | Creative Cow
All Rights Reserved


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