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Total Training Presents: Adobe Encore DVD Essentials

COW Library : Adobe Encore DVD : Alex Alexzander : Total Training Presents: Adobe Encore DVD Essentials
CreativeCOW presents Total Training Presents: Adobe Encore DVD Essentials -- Adobe Encore DVD Review


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In this article, CreativeCOW leader Alex Alexzander reviews "Total Training Presents: Adobe Encore DVD Essentials hosted by Daniel Brown. Alex concludes his review by saying that this training "...is among the better lessons I have seen on the market today. The instructor has a very good style and sense of humor that makes these lessons very enjoyable."

Preface

Get more out of
Adobe Encore DVD
with Total Training DVDs.
Just the other day a good friend of mine sent me few questions from his discussion group regarding authoring DVDs. Once in a while DVD authoring questions can go unanswered. The reason for this is my good friend happens to run a discussion group that is best known for supporting users of a particular non-linear editing application. Many editors are discovering that DVDs are a great method for delivering their content, but the subject of authoring DVDs is still a new one for most. As editors they tend to ask questions they believe other editors have already faced, but because so many editors are for the first time evolving into this new space, many of the answers they seek are not as readily available.

Most editors are finding DVD authoring to be quite the challenge. Ask an editor a question about their editing software, and you will hear the most amazing of answers. Years of daily use has created an understanding between editor--the user, and editor--the software, that rivals most marriages. But until recently, the most common method of delivery was tape of one format or another.

DVD has replaced tape for a variety of reasons, and so it was only a matter of time before the non-linear editing applications of today would grow into a suite of tools designed to give editors the software they need to deliver to this new media. No matter which non-linear editor you choose, chances are, there is a joint DVD authoring application designed to work well with the editor by the same publisher in what is now known as “Application Suites”. As a result, more editors are authoring DVDs than ever before. As a result, the need for training has also grown exponentially.

Introduction

The folks at Total Training have come up with an interesting twist on video-based tutorials. They have created a series called “Essentials”, where these DVDs offer exactly that. This particular DVD, as part of that Essentials series, is the shortest video-based training DVD I have ever watched. It is just about 3 hours long and offers a stunning amount of information considering how little time it takes to watch.

This is a review of Total Training’s The Essentials of Adobe Encore DVD, hosted by Daniel Brown.

Lesson Overview

This video-based training arrives as two DVDs. A DVD-ROM holds seven lessons (lessons 1 and 2 are combined into one lesson) full of everything you need to follow the teacher through each progressive stage, as well as a DVD-Video designed to allow you to watch these lessons on any platform that supports playback of a standard DVD, including your set top DVD player and television.

These lessons correspond to each major section of the DVD, also in seven sections:

1. The Adobe Encore DVD interface (21 minutes)
2. Assembling Timelines (10 minutes)
3. Creating Subtitles (14 minutes)
4. Building Menus (64 minutes)
5. Previewing (15 minutes)
6. Transcoding and Building the DVD (32 minutes)
7. Beyond the Basics (21 minutes)


Lessons 1 and 2

The instructor does an excellent job kicking off this DVD with an overview of the basic interface and preferences here. I really like this section because it is so quick and to the point. For first-time users, you are immediately shown what matters. You see what happens when you start Encore DVD for the first time. You see how to set the preferences, how to start a project, and import assets. You will understand the heart of the interface, the project window, and how to quickly and easily use it to create timelines from imported media. Within that project window, you understand the inner workings quickly as you use the lesson material provided on the DVD-ROM to follow the instructor through importing assets and working through the DVD authoring process. This way, you not only see it and hear it, you learn it because you are doing it as well.

Both lessons 1 and 2 are completed from start to finish in just 31 minutes. In those 31 minutes you will have learned timelines, transcoding, setting poster frames for thumbnail menus, using multiple audio tracks, and so much more. If I didn't follow along with the lessons, I wouldn't believe it would have been possible to squeeze such lessons into such a short amount of time.

Lesson 3

In lesson 3 you learn about subtitles. For a 14-minute lesson, I am quite impressed with this. The instructor shows off every way of working with subtitles, from manual entry to importing bit-mapped graphics of text. All of the files you need are contained within the lesson 3 folder of the DVD-ROM.

Now I ran into a slight issue here. My reviewer’s copy doesn't exactly state if it is designed specifically for Encore DVD 1.0 or 1.5. One of the lessons on importing subtitles didn't exactly match what I see on my screen, so I will assume this is a version specific to Encore DVD 1.0. Even so, the locations of choices did match up perfectly, and the most simple of processes of elimination made obvious which choice I should select.

Subtitles in general I think can be a tricky subject for most people. The instructor does a perfect job of describing ever option and window you will encounter in your future subtitling adventures.

Lesson 4

This is the largest single section of the DVD. It is slightly over 1 hour and split into three sub-topics on the DVD-Video. It is my belief that menus are the DVD. Without menus, we have VHS tapes. The instructor, true to form, continues to tightly pack a lot of information in a short amount of time. You learn to fully exploit the capabilities of menu creation using both Encore DVD’s built-in tools and Photoshop through the integration between Encore DVD and Photoshop.

Beyond creating menus, you learn subpictures, highlight sets, end actions, and everything in between. There is a lot of great information here. If you ever had a question about how to create a menu with Encore DVD, this section will have you running in just 1 hour.

Lesson 5

In lesson 5, we continue with menus by understanding some of the more complex functions such as pixel aspect ratios, rendering Motion Menus, and properties associated with menus. We learn how to target buttons to assets, what an End Action is, and a very good description of some of the basic knowledge we should know about how DVDs work with assets in general.

Consider this section as the more elusive subjects you need to know, those that are not easily discovered on your own.

Lesson 6

In lesson 6, we learn Transcoding and Building. This is the second-largest single section of the DVD-Video. There are several ways to preview your DVD project. There are several ways to build the final output. The instructor covers all of them. You'll learn regional codes, the space indicator, CBR vs. VBR, and you'll understand what choices you have for output of the project.

By most publications standards, this is actually a very detailed section despite this being an essentials training program. You'll learn a few tips here that will save you time and money; especially first-time users that are not aware of the concept that building and formatting are two different processes.

Lesson 7

The last section the DVD-Video covers is lesson 7. Here the instructor covers a few items that might have clouded your learning in prior lessons. One of the topics that confuses a lot of first-time Encore DVD users is the override function. Here you see it, and use it. You will learn to create a Play All function by following these last lessons. You'll learn about how to manage the button routing. This also touches back on a preference you learned earlier. Button routing is a powerful feature, and is sometimes a tricky subject. The few minutes spent here will save you a lot of time later on.

A subject I myself wrote about is how to simulate rollovers in a DVD menu, which is not possible under the DVD-Spec, but the instructor here shows off the work-around. I find that to be a pretty nice touch, because it shows that this is not just a DVD covering features and functions. It goes a little beyond that to introduce how you can use the features that you have learned to think a little outside the box and create the function you want. The instructor explains the pitfalls inherent with this work-around as well.


In Conclusion

There are few things you should understand before buying this DVD training. It is not designed to be a full-blown training system for Encore DVD and its integrated functionality with its sister applications. This is an essentials package. It is designed to get you up and running quicker than just about anything else out there.

Many publishers do not like to put a product version number on their product. They fear you will not buy it if the version changes in the future. I believe all products should specifically state which version they cover. This one does not. That can lead to confusion, which does happen here, but only slightly.

Lastly, I find that DVD-Video for training offers portability, but at a price. That means you can watch this on your TV or DVD player on your Mac or PC. It also means we have to suffer with the low quality of NTSC television standards. I would much rather have seen this as a 1024 x 768 Windows Media-based clip inside a Macromedia Director style interface, as other competing products are now starting to do. It yields a greater work area for the instructor which translates into a better experience for you, the learner. I find using the DVD controls to backup and pause as needed during a lesson to be a clumsy interface at best.

These issues are not so important compared to what really matters. What really matters is the content and the capability of these lessons. They are short and packed with good information. If you are looking for an extremely fast way to get up and running in this alien environment of Adobe Encore DVD, this is that product.

The lessons included in the DVD-ROM are not to be underestimated. They are among the better lessons I have seen on the market today. The instructor has a very good style and sense of humor that makes these lessons very enjoyable. As a good instructor will do, he points out confusing topics and explains the not so obvious. His approach is as one of us, but one step ahead in that he has cracked the barriers of understanding and now will share his explanation of some of the more confusing aspects of Encore DVD.

4 cows.


©Copyright 2004 Alex Alexzander | Creative Cow
All Rights Reserved


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