|DVD Workshop 2 Review by Nick Jushchyshyn|
As consumer acceptance of the DVD format continues to expand, the need for video professionals and artists to have access to advanced DVD authoring tools is becoming increasingly critical. After viewing hundreds of 'Hollywood' DVD titles, potential clients and audiences have grown accustomed to dynamic, animated menus, multiple audio and subtitle options, and extensive 'extra' content and copy protections. Ulead's DVD Workshop 2 seeks to empower its users with the tools needed to deliver the same high-end DVD experience.
Ulead's marketing efforts are aimed directly at creative and artistic professionals looking to create engaging and dynamic DVDs. DVD Workshop 2's low price, short learning curve and rich feature set, make it something that every video professional should consider having in his or her tool kit.
Having grown quite comfortable with Windows menus and timeline interfaces, I was initially surprised by this layout and it did take a minute or two to find my way around. There is no standard Windows menu bar. Instead, menus and commands are located 'within' graphical buttons. There is, however, a comprehensive list of hot-key combinations that allows most commands to be accessed directly from the keyboard.
Despite this deviation from familiar standards, the interface is very intuitive and easily learned. Within minutes of installing, my first project, (a nine-chapter event coverage video), was ready to burn. In fact, more time was spent picking out fonts and colors for the menu than finding the commands I needed to build the DVD. DVD Workshop 2 has a rich set of tools for creating textured and stylized menu text, as well as robust utilities for including motion buttons and backgrounds.
One of the most valuable tools in the authoring process was the automated scene detection feature, which scans a selected video file for scene changes based on frame content or breaks in DV time code. Detected scenes can be quickly merged and/or split as needed into DVD chapters. What could have been a tedious job, identifying chapters markers within a long event video, became a simple, nearly automated, point-and-click operation.
Creating a slide show DVD was equally intuitive. DVD Workshop 2 easily handled the 130 or so 3 Megapixel JPG images I imported into the project along with an audio track. One nice feature to mention here was the ability to include an 'extra folder to disc' in the project. This feature allows for the creation of an extra file folder on the finished DVD that can be browsed when the disc is used in a computer. This way, in addition to having the slide show video, the original, hi resolution JPG source images could be included right on the DVD. While handy for a slide show project, this feature is a fantastic opportunity to include additional, computer readable content, such as PDF documents, software, data files and more, for use in sales demos, training projects and entertainment DVDs.
A basic Playlist might simply contain a 'change audio track' command to activate a different language or commentary audio for a DVD 'setup menu'. A more complex Playlist could initiate a transition video to smoothly 'navigate' from the menu into a sequence of several titles, followed by a motion menu which, in turn, executes yet another Playlist if it times out.
The real treat for DVD Workshop 2 users is the fact that Playlists require no scripting, programming or coding at all. Playlists are constructed entirely with drag-and-drop operations and are displayed in a clear and concise list window.
Even with its few quirks, this software was extremely easy to learn and, most importantly, quickly put to work producing dynamic DVDs. Given its very competitive pricing, powerful feature set, and ability to create truly professional DVDs, this software gets a solid 4 1/2 cows.
- Nick Jushchyshyn