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Mike Gondek takes a look at Adobe Encore

COW Library : Adobe Encore DVD : Mike Gondek : Mike Gondek takes a look at Adobe Encore
Mike Gondek takes a look at Adobe Encore
A Creative COW "Real World" Product Review

Mike Gondek Mike Gondek
mikegondek.com
Orland Park, Illinois USA

©2003 by CreativeCOW.net. All rights are reserved.

Article Focus:
One of the biggest attractions at NAB 2003 in Las Vegas was Adobe Encore, which took top honors in many awards races. Many attendees were pleased to learn Adobe's maiden voyage into the DVD authoring market was a well thought out meeting ground for Adobe's many tools, with Encore DVD the logical hub for DVD authoring. How well does the shipping product meet user expectations? Read on to find out Mike Gondek's reaction to Adobe's new offering...




One of the biggest attractions at last April's NAB 2003 was Adobe Encore, which took top honors in many awards races. Drawing this kind of attention in Las Vegas is tough to accomplish but first peeks at Encore DVD made it clear that Adobe wanted attention for its newest offering. It was clear to everyone I spoke to, that Adobe was in the DVD Authoring market in a big way, at last. Hats, bags and t-shirts with the Adobe Digital Video Solutions and Encore DVD logo were everywhere. And in a pleasant surprise, many attendees were pleased to learn that Adobe's maiden voyage into the DVD authoring market was a well thought out meeting ground for Adobe's many graphics tools, with Encore DVD the logical hub for DVD authoring. Encore is a true Adobe tool and as such, enjoys special hooks and abilities to draw on Adobe's other graphics powerhouse tools. With Photoshop being the world's most used image editing program, it's a safe bet that Encore DVD is a ship that really cannot be sunk -- especially with the integration between Encore and Photoshop.

Adobe is only releasing Encore for the PC platform at this time and many other cross-platform enthusiasts as myself hope to see a Mac version. But we'll have to wait and see...

Who is Encore DVD For?
Encore DVD targets Photoshop users and professional DVD designers. You can design beautiful quality interactive menus with Encore DVD, and you get the kinds of features that will enable you to produce professional quality DVDs.

  • AC3 file compatible
  • Multiple Audio & Subtitle Tracks
  • Import Timecoded Subtitles
  • Copy Protection & DLT Replication
  • Region Codes
  • Precision Navigation Controls
  • Double-Sided Disks
  • Add Data files to DVDs
  • Interactive Custom Menus


Encore DVD competes most directly with Sonic ReelDVD and as such, everyone from the home video user to professional users can benefit from Encore DVD. One audience, I would guess, are Sonic ReelDVD users who would be very interested in it, especially if a competitive upgrade is offered. If you are just entering the DVD authoring market and want professional quality results, you would do well to go with Encore DVD.



Integration with Adobe Products
Should you need to edit a Premiere Pro project from Encore, just select the movie file in your properties and the choose edit >> edit original. Note: This short-cut does not work for After Effects 6 at this time, though.

The real story here is that you can import a layered Photoshop document into Encore DVD and edit it later using Photoshop again. There are a few naming conventions you will want to learn to use in Photoshop.




How It Actually Works with Photoshop
You can either pull the menu down or just right click and choose import as menu. Choose a psd file and Encore will embed the psd into your ncor file. Later, should you need to make a change, just select the menu in your properties palette and then choose menu >> edit in Photoshop.



Many users will like this, as they will not have to worry about losing the Photoshop file or the link to it. There will probably be others such as myself who are accustomed to editing the same file in Photoshop and not a temp.psd (the print background years are hard to shake). Just remember to not delete your Encore DVD file -- or else you will lose the artwork for future projects.

Photoshop gurus will love Encore's adjustment layers, layer masks, vector shapes and layer effects, as they all carry over from Photoshop into Encore DVD with no problem.


Subtitles
You only need to right click on a timeline and choose import subtitles and the file format you have. The copy pours into your timeline with the timecodes set in your Non Linear Editor. I have been not able to edit titles, once they are imported, or ones that I have created.



You can modify the typeface, size, stroke width and even set the type vertically.


Tools & Windows
Working in Encore DVD, you rarely have to even use the menus -- the pickwick tool and contextual menus usually do the job. There are only 4 tools and with Ctrl + and – you really do not need a magnifying glass. Many of the standard keyboard shortcuts work in Encore -- such as alt dragging to make copies -- but they really need one to switch between the selection tools.

Select an avi and choose new timeline, Encore automatically inserts the avi into the newly created timeline. The person who thought of that should get a bonus from Adobe, or we should take up a little collection at the Cow.

Your windows seem to get messy in Encore and you have to continually adjust them. It would have been nice if the default size would be 50% when you open a menu. Get rid of the windows in Encore DVD, but join them together as in the Dreamweaver MX workspace or the very fun to use Ulead DVD Workshop. I usually like floating windows, but DVD authoring is really a small program and does better without floaters.


Usability
The Adobe interface make this easy to learn. AE users love the pickwick tool, and it made is in encore also. It can get a little messy with all the end actions and overrides in separate windows rather that there being a one-stop shopping. A DVD map showing you everything from first play to end, would be appreciated as a future addition to Encore. They do have a check links to help you avoid burning a bad DVD.

Would also like to see a toggle pixel aspect ratio command in the preview window.

Hopefully a .01 update will include such things as a set poster frame button, condensing and organization of menus and some missing contextual menus. Slightly unstable at times, unexpectedly quits, and bugs if you take an alternate route to get somewhere. I expect this to be a good market for Adobe and they will probably support the product strongly, and correct bugs reported. They should have an easier time out of the shipyard selling Encore than with InDesign or Live Motion.

I cannot wait to see what others will say on the Encore DVD Cow forum and how well 1.0 works on different configurations. So far, I've been impressed here in my studio.

Conclusion:
I give 4 cows to Adobe for Encore DVD (pretty well done for a 1.0 app). Improvements to usability and stabilization when building the final project would make this a 5 Cow de facto standard tool. I recommend it as the best choice to anyone choosing a new tool to professionally author DVDs.

Currently priced at $549, it is just conveniently below Sonic ReelDVD $629 and tears of joy come to my eyes when I compare it to yet another Sonic product Scenarist. With the great deal on the Adobe Video Collection at $799 -- which seems to be like giving away Encore for free -- many will be jumping to Encore DVD.




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