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Old February 23rd, 2007, 11:43 AM   #1
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Final DVD format?

I have five clips I am burning to dvd with Imove then exporting to IDVD.
Should be easy but of course I am having a small problem.
When Idvd burns the dvd the size format changes from 720X480 to a square format???
Also I added chapter markers and there are no chapters on the dvd? It just autoplays.
need a little help for the mac newbie. Also I am not happy with the compression as the five clips are close to 10gigs and only take half the DVD to burn.
Vince Halushka is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 23rd, 2007, 03:20 PM   #2
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Couple things, Vince (and let me say that everything I am talking about is in reference to standard definition, NOT HD):

1. Are you shooting wide screen and then it looks squeezed in iDVD? The reason I ask is that 720x480 is both the wide-screen resolution and the 4x3 resolution. The difference is in how the pixels are displayed. If you are shooting wide-screen and getting 4x3, then try changing the screen size setting in iDVD. It's under (in version 6 anyway) Project, and then "Switch to Widescreen (16:9)".

2. About not getting the chapter menu - in iDVD, click on iDVD on the menu bar, then Preferences. Then click on "Movies." Make sure that either "Create Chapter Submenus" or "Always Ask" is selected. Otherwise, you have to create them yourself and it is a bit of a pain. One way to test if your chapter markers are making it into iDVD is to "play" the "DVD" and then on the little remote hit the "Next Chapter" button.

3. About the compression, does the video look good when played? That's the most important aspect of the DVD when it's all done. Even a double layer DVD isn't going to be able to fit 10 gigs of info. They max out at about 8.5 (don't remember the exact number). The video when you export from iMovie is not compressed at all, but all DVDs are compressed as MPEG-2 files. What you're going to need to be looking at is the length of the video files. How long is your movie run time total. If your under about 105-110 minutes and your using single layered DVDs, and your menus aren't that fancy, you should be fine.
There's a bit of voodoo in how much room a video will take up on a DVD when burned with iMovie. iMovie sets the bit rate automatically for you. Bit rates can range from 2 to 8, i believe. The higher the number, the sharper the video. If you're under about 45 minutes, iDVD goes with 8 as the bit rate, which is the best you can get right now on standard def. If you run across an older DVD player, it may not even play a DVD compressed with a bit-rate of 8. If iMovie chooses to set the bit rate at 4 based on the length of your piece, and your piece is only about an hour and 15/20 minutes, then your DVD will look half empty when you look at underside. No worries, most all commercial DVDs are encoded with the bit rate around 4 (they use variable bit rate encoders to maximize each scene, but that's another story).

I know this is a long post, but I hope it helps. If anyone notices a place where I've said something wrong or unclear, please correct me.

Good luck, Vince,
"... the drama is on your doorstep..." - John Grierson
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Old February 23rd, 2007, 03:42 PM   #3
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Hi Vince,

Most of the Mac users in these threads are using the pro-apps, so the iLife Suite responses are going to be hard to find, and for my part it has been some time since I've really used them, but I will try to offer a little insight. My last version of iLife is also a little old, and they tend to change a few interface options for iMovie and iDVD from one version to the next, so I will have to generalize not being sure the exact nature of options available on the newest versions.

It sounds to me as if you are trying to create the disc through iDVD in a way that is possibly more complex than the simple method intended by the integration of the two applications. Either that or you are possibly using the OneStepDVD option or the Magic iMovie feature or whatever they call them.

If either of these is the case, that may be one of your problems in this scenario.

First, a few comments regarding iDVD specs. iDVD will allow you to burn up to about 2 hours of content to a single layer dvd. From its orginal form in iMovie, this will be approximtley 25 gigs of video data compressed in iDVD to fit apprx 4 gigs of space. (Yes, the single layer dvds are 4.7 gigs, but iDVD will not let you put more than 4 gigs of video into the compressed file.)

Your 50 minutes of footage will fit fine on the disc, and because it is slightly less than half of the max cap the app uses, it will naturally take up about half of the disc.

If you want alot more control over the bit rate and space constraints, you will need to look towards DVD Studio Pro - but it is a universe of difference over iDVD in terms of functionality and learning curve.

You do have a couple of options in iDVD. Start with the following:

By default, iDVD is set to "Best Performance" - enable background encoding (or something like that). These are found in your iDVD preferences.

This setting is designed to speed up the burn phase so your project is done more quickly. It also uses 1-pass CBR (Constant Bit Rate) and allows for no more than 90 minutes of content. It provides a non-complicated bit structure that is not data-sensitive, so it works okay, but for discerning viewers, it if often seen to provide 'crappy' quality video.

(I think it is set this way by default because it is a consumer app designed for folks who partially don't know what they are doing. The other option takes a very long time to process the video - so long that most folks will assume the app has crashed and cancel the burn.)

For better video, set your iDVD preferences to "Best Quality". This will allow for the apprx 2 hours content limit, but it also applies a 2-pass VBR burn to your data, which means that although it takes longer to process, it attempts to be more sensitive to your data by optimizing compression variably throughout the content.

As far as this 2 hours time limit - it depends upon the complexity of your menus , which can eat into that time limit if you have alot of moving menu background or button transitions. Typically, you can expect the time cap to be around 1 hour and 55 minutes.

Now, onto your authoring:

I am curious as to your comments about having no chapter marks. By this, I am assuming that you did not create any, and perhaps assumed that they would automatically be inserted at the start of each of your five clips. If this assumption is incorrect, I apologize, but if it is correct, let me quickly run through the recommended process for creating your chapters.

Chapter creation is done in iMovie. The method I will detail works with iLife '05 and earlier and may or may not be the same with iLife '06 and up.

With your iMovie project open, you should see a pane or button (somewhere) that says 'idvd'. Click on this and you should be presented with a control pane that allows you to type in chapter titles in the window provided. First you simply place your timeline arrow wherever in the timeline you wish a chapter to be. Then you click the button that says "Add Chapter". A chapter mark will be applied at that point and you will be prompted to name it in the control window. Follow this for each desired chapter for your movie.

When all your chapters are created and titled, click on the button that says "Send to iDVD". (This button may not be evident in iMovie 6. If not, the command will likely be found in the "Share" command from your top screen menu.

This will then open up iDVD and present you will a default stock menu (or the active menu background from your last project). Menu commands that will be present will be "Play Movie" which will start your video, and "Scene Selection" which will take you to a second menu that displays your chapter titles. The titles, chapter names, fonts, placements, background themes, etc, are all customizable so you can explore a little bit and have some fun with this. When everything looks and functions to your liking, you can click the burn icon. iDVD will prompt you to insert a blank dvd and after doing so, it will begin the process of encoding (which can take anywhere from 1 to 'very many' hours depending upon your system specs...proecessor, RAM, space, etc) after which it will burn the disc and spit out your completed DVD.

A couple of important notes regarding the encoding and burning process:

The last step of the encoding process is "encoding audio" during which time it appears as if your system is stalled and nothing is happening....for about an hour. Don't panic. This is fine. Let it be and it will eventually finish.

Next: It is believed by many that the slower the burn, the more stable the content. I believe this also, and have found that videos I burn at maximum speed seem to be more error prone. iDVD does not give you any control over the speed of the burn, instead depending upon the default max speed of your burner. Some folks, myself included rely on a different method of burning when using iDVD. Instead of clicking the 'burn' icon instead select "Save as Disc Image" (introduced in iMovie 4, I believe) found under the file menu, I think. This will then encode the project exactly as it would using the other method, but instead of burning a blank, it writes an image file to your hard drive. You can then burn this image file using a program like Roxio Toast (which is considered by most a better burning method) and this also gives you more control over the burn speed. (Just be sure to correctly set all your options in Toast which I won't go into here.)

Finally, you mentioned that your fated project had turned into an auto-run DVD. The method above should avoid that, however if you decide you want to make one of those in the future, it is very simple to create that option using the map-view of iDVD. You can likewise also make it an auto-run loop for kiosk use if so desired, but since that is not your intention for this project, I won't go into that here.

Hope this helps. Good luck.
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