DVD = Development Very Difficult...
It has been a little while since I have had to get involved with DVD authoring directly at work, and to be honest I am truly surprised that it is still the same frustrating, infuriating process it was before.
The two suspects I am referring to are Adobe Encore and Apple’s DVD Studio Pro.
Encore (now at CS5) has not changed a single element (to my eye) since CS3, and DVD Studio Pro still feels strangely detached from the rest of the Final Cut Studio suite.
I am always keen on trying to keep the workflows as simple as possible (aren’t we all?) so ideally would come out of Final Cut Pro and straight into the authoring program with minimum of fuss (and transcoding time). When dealing with a recent DVD for a client, DVD Studio Pro did not properly recognise a menu asset imported, which stopped us in our tracks, so it meant over to Encore, which had no problem with the same asset.
With more clients requesting Blu Ray discs, Encore seems like the natural solution, as you can set every new project as a Blu Ray project and then target either a DVD or Blu Ray disc in the Build stage - this also means you can import H.264 high quality files in, and let Encore handle the transcoding to MPEG2 for the DVD version.
However this elegant solution crashes and burns when you try to burn the DVD version, as for some unknown reason, the pixel aspect ratio is not right (the video shows black lines on each side of the video). It seems it is to do with new pixel aspect ratios introduced in CS4. Works fine for Blu Ray but all comes apart for a DVD burn. It’s only a few pixels at either side, and most flat screen TV’s won’t even show them, but it just does not look right.
Creating buttons and overlays in both DVD Studio Pro and Encore is a exercise in sheer frustration as well - I actually have to take about six steps per button in Encore to get the overlay to highlight a layer, as well as having the text of the button included.
Perhaps it is user error, and I should be reading up on better and easier ways to do all this - but why should it be that way? Encore is a mess of panels and hidden tabs when working, DVD Studio is better but still no clear way of doing simple navigational tasks, and has plenty of hidden tabs and settings on its own.
Some will say that DVDs are becoming extinct and everything will be streamed online - but clients still want DVDs and in some cases Blu Ray discs, so this is going to continue to be a daily frustration.
The ironic thing is that the easiest package to use and works exactly as it should is iDVD which has not been updated properly in quite a while. Go figure...