DVDit Pro 6
Midrange DVD creation software.
This is simple, intuitive software for creating
professional quality DVDs. You can easily import video, audio, and
still images all in a wide variety of formats. For those of you with
Photoshop, DVDit uses those images seamlessly, even separating
layers for special effects.
Interestingly enough, a friend wanted me to
make her a DVD of Oprahís lessons with Echart Tolle, lessons from
his book, A New Earth. After Iíd downloaded the files, DVDit did not
recognize them, though I was told they were MPEG-4s.
So, I simply changed the file extension from
.m4v to .mp4 and bingo, DVDit brought them right in.
Left click on any part of this
picture to open a widow with more information.
As you can see from the default layout, you
have your project layout on the left at the top. Below that are your
media files, backgrounds, stills, etc. You simply drag them up to
the project to create the structure. The project layout section
allows you two views, the structure and thumbnails.
The Pallet section below the project (on the
left) contains your templates, media files, images, buttons, and
frames. For any one of these, you have the option to go to your disk
and search for more, however, if you open a folder containing your
media, you can simply click and drag your media into here.
Iíve never used a button (I create my own) and
I havenít a clue what ďFramesĒ are used for. We all use those things
we need, and we learn about new features by experimenting.
There are a lot of things going on in DVDit
that I havenít a clue about, but the nice thing is, you learn as you
You see, the great thing about this program is
you donít have to know a thing to create some great looking DVDs.
You simply learn by experimenting and playing. However, be careful
and remember to save your work. There is no autosave feature.
Below the Preview Screen is the timeline of
your movie or slide show. Here is where you can set alternate audio
and subtitles (you can even add your own subtitles to the video).
You can also set chapter points. The chapter points will then show
up in your project outline and you can then reference menu choices
to those chapter points.
On this particular video (Oprahís Classes), I
used the controls on the preview screen to cut out the initial
advertisement that came with this video.
The Preview Screen is very handy. You can
preview the movie (and edit the starting point and ending points as
Iíve stated above) and you can preview your menu.
You have to choose to preview the entire
project to get your moving menu to move and animated buttons. One
drawback is that to preview your moving menus, DVDit has to render
them first (and this can take some time).
Making a menu button of your movie is as simple
as click and drag. When you choose to preview the project, you can
see all your animated menu buttons in action.
Creating a motion menu is just as easy: click
and drag. On the right is the Attribute Window. If you click on the
menu, it has Menu Attributes. If you click on a movie or slide show,
it contains the Movie Attributes, and if you click on one of your
menu buttons or text, the window contains Button Attributes.
To create a motion button, drag the button into
the Preview screen, then choose in the Attribute window: Animate
Button. You can also drag your movie onto the menu, and a menu
button of your movie will appear. Choose to animate it and youíll
have an animated button of your movie.
On the status line at the bottom of DVDit,
youíll see information that you really need: how much space youíve
used/how much space you have left. You can set the type of DVD
youíre recording to and on the far right it tells you if your
project is NTSC or PAL (NTSC is a Japanese and American standard;
PAL is the European standard). Youíll also see when the last time
you saved your project.
Your Preview Screen is very helpful. You can
display the ďsafeĒ portions of your screen. Without these, youíll
find a lot of things you thought were visible on your TV are not.
Youíve got grids to align your text and buttons. Youíve a few
controls that help you align them, just play with them.
I love the ability to type text characters with
an outlined edge. So often no matter what color you choose for text,
somewhere in the background is that color and you canít read all
your text. With an outline of a different color, the letters stand
If you want to make a quick slide show and add
it to the CD, this program does it all. You can put 999 slides into
a show with multiple music tracks and chose from 65 different
DVDit is just one powerful and easy program for
making DVDs of your movies and slide shows. The learning curve is a
breeze and the outcome is great.
My favorite feature is the fact that you can
create a DVD without a menu. I take a movie off the TV, edit out the
commercials, add a cartoon to it, and la viola, youíve popcorn night
at the movies. You slip the DVD into your DVD player and you get a
cartoon and a movie. Readers under the age of 40 might not know what
the significance of this is, so let me fill you in. Before the days
of rampant commercialism, when you went to a movie, you saw a
cartoon (they were not made for kids) followed by a movie. In even
earlier days, you got to see a handful of newsreels too because
televisions had yet to be parked in every home in America.
Additionally, every movie you add is
automatically set up to play the next movie in the project. You can
create a ďplaylistĒ which you hook up to a Play All button, but if
every movie goes onto the next automatically, you can just choose to
play the first one and sit back. If youíre making a DVD on which you
want every video to return to the menu, thatís just as easy. The
ďdefaultĒ is go to the next movie.
Your menu buttons or menu choices you create
(using text) are numbered as you make them, 1, 2, 3, etc. So, make
sure you think out your menu before making it. If you put them out
of order, the routing will be off and youíll have to manually adjust
the routing (routing is where the highlight goes when the user
presses the arrows on his remote).
The routing of the buttons is handled
automatically. But you MUST debug them by constantly running the
preview. Most of the time youíll see that very often the program has
figured it all out for you and you donít have to do a thing. But
forget to check just one time, and youíll make a DVD that youíll
just have to do over because of this.
One more thing, you can tell DVDit to make your
movie without re-encoding the MPEG assets imported into the program.
This saves a lot of time.
However, now I have to tell you about a few
drawbacks and problems Iíve had with the program, or, I wouldnít be
completely honest with you. As a retired computer programmer, I can
tell you that all programs have their plusses and minuses. The
plusses of DVDit outweigh the minuses, but still, when things go
wrong, I have to use another DVD writing software package to get the
job done, and wouldnít it be really nice to have just one that works
all the time?
First off, as Iíve stated in our introduction
to this set of reviews, DVDit cannot transcode your movies at
different rates. You must choose one rate for the entire DVD,
8000kbps to 2000kbps. Why would you want to choose? Well, if your
movie is so large that you see on the status line that your project
will not fit on a DVD, well, then you have to shrink the transcoding
rate. The default is a CBR or Constant Bit Rate. I prefer VBR or
Variable Bit Rate, because this guarantees better quality playback.
Hereís what the documentation of DVDit says about this:
CBR encoding uses the same bit-rate for every second of video
regardless of the video's complexity, so quality worsens as the
video becomes more complex, and bits are wasted when there is not
In a VBR encode, the encoder uses higher bit-rates for
complex sections and lower rates for "easy" sections, constantly
adjusting to keep the overall bit-rate to a target value. VBR
encoding can provide the same quality as a CBR encode but at a lower
overall bit-rate (so you can fit more video on the disc), or better
quality than a CBR encode at the same overall bit-rate.
Adjusting your transcoding rate will allow you
to fit large movies on your DVD, however, I have learned to always
create a ďdisk imageĒ first, and then copy that to DVD using Clone
DVD2. Why? Well, once in a while DVDitís output is still larger than
a DVD. You have to keep in mind that the size listed on the status
bar is an estimate only.
Iíve also found that, with some movies, those
MPG-2 files that were created from AVI files that DVDit did not
like, lowering the transcoding rate does NOTHING to the size of the
output. This is a bug in DVDit. Iím going to talk to support about
this, but since I have a handful of programs to chose from I just go
and use another program.
Another slight bug is found in a
submenu or second menu. Normally the first choice highlighted
(during playback) is the first choice in the menu. DVDit pointed to
the third choice on playback, and I could not find a way to change
And DVDit does NOT have a fit to disk option.
This is really a drawback. So, when I canít bring down the size
using a different transcoding rate, then I just have to go to a
different program to make the DVD.
I originally ran across this when testing a
variety of file types. I had friends send me movies in different
formats to test. One format I tested was an avi format. DVDit
absorbed it with no problem. Then I tried to test the DVD and it
You should ALWAYS try to play back your project
before burning. When I find a file that crashes upon reviewing the
project, I take it into one of my other programs and convert it. So
I took the avi file and converted it to an MPEG-2 file using Roxio
Easy Media Creator. Then I brought it into DVDit and found out that
when I changed the transcoding rate, the size of the output didnít
drop one bit. That is a bug.
So, apparently DVDit does not accept some
formats, and even when modified, DVDit chokes on them.
Another gripe is that the menus and buttons
have a very high overhead. If it were possible to transcode these
thing at a different rate than the rest of the DVD youíd see a great
savings in output size.
If I had a wish list, it would include action
transitions: when you press a menu choice, you get a little video of
a page being ripped away or a page turning or some kind of short
action video leading into your choice. However, using a variety of
my video editors and slide show creators, Iíve been able to create
small videos that play before the chosen movie. This adds an even
more professional feel to the DVDs.
Iíd also want to control the volume of the
audio to the menu. You can control the volume to the movies and
slide shows, but not the menu. When I use a background audio, I
first bring it into Wave Studio (itís a neat program) and cut the
volume in half. Then when bring it into DVDit, it wonít blast me
every time the main menu pops up.
As far as support goes, itís pretty good. It
took me a while to get past a few problems, but if youíre in a
hurry, well, youíre going to be disappointed. When you have a
problem, you write to them and wait for them to write back. It can
take two or three letters to get everything right. Youíll be asked
to jump through a whole lot of hoops to get everything working
properly, but once it is up and running, itís a pretty darn good
program for the money.
DVDit also has an HD version that writes to
Blueray HD DVDs. As soon as the price of HD TVs come down to where
TVs should be (hey, itís a TV...itís not worth 5 to 10 thousand
dollars...itís a TV) Iíll probably get this.
There is also an additional program that comes
packaged with DVDit called eDVD. It allows you to add links to web
pages, and links to things on the disk, that can be reached when the
DVD is played on a computer, but not on your television. Iíve never
used this program as Iíve never had a need for anything like this.