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Old April 3rd, 2003, 07:30 PM   #1
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DVD/Superdrive/IDVD question

I just bought a new 1.42ghz G4 with superdrive and don't know much Macs or about the DVD recording capability. The information from the the IDVD help section says you can only record 90 minutes on a 4.7gb DVD-R. First, what limits me to this 90 minute limit, the DVD-R size or the encoding (IDVD) program? I want to record 2 hours on a DVD-R with great quality.
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Old April 3rd, 2003, 08:27 PM   #2
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iDVD limits you to 90 minutes. If you want 2 hours you need to look at DVD Studio Pro and a program like Cleaner 5 or 6, Sorenson Video Pro or Squeeze and Toast. Great quality is a subjective term. The best quality encoding is done with hardware and not software. Choices of boards are limited for Mac. However, this may change soon. Apple is rumored to be releasing their own hardware encoder soon.
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Old April 3rd, 2003, 09:24 PM   #3
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I'll add that part of what "limits" you with iDVD is its internal encoding scheme. With MPEG-2 encoding (DVD's format), data transfer rate is a key meter. If you give iDVD up to 60 minutes of material (including motion menu footage) it will use one data transfer rate to produce pretty good results. Giving iDVD 61-90 minutes of material triggers it to use a more agressive compression plan (and lower data transfer rate).

Of course, in exchange for these (and many other) presets, iDVD shields you from many of the icky, un-fun aspects of DVD authoring. (Very similar in concept to the difference between iMovie and Final Cut Pro.)

DVD Studio Pro, Apple's professional DVD authoring system, gives you more flexibility principally because it exposes every aspect of DVD authoring with all of its glorious complexity. DVD-SP does not, for example, perform the MPEG-2 compressions for you at all. You'll have to use a product such as Cleaner 6 separately before coming into DVD-SP. Since Cleaner offers quite extensive control over the encoding process you can tweak to your heart's content.

One last point, since you indicated you're new to this DVD authoring thing. The blank DVD's usable with your Mac (and most other computers) are known as "General" DVD's. By design, they're more limited in their capacity than the theatrical release DVD's you buy and watch, which are known as "Authoring" DVD's. Explanation: the formidable political powers in Hollywood wanted to ensure that every kid with a home computer could not knock-off copies of their movies. You -can- buy authoring discs -but- you'll have to pay-up big bucks for the gear required to burn them.

Good luck and have fun, John!
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Old April 3rd, 2003, 09:42 PM   #4
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Jeff,
Interesting, i dunno anything about this but could you list some hardware encoders for the PC?

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Old April 4th, 2003, 05:27 AM   #5
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Zac,

I don't know the PC equipment. Ask the question in the PC editing forum and you should get some replies. I do know there are at least 5 or 6 boards for the PC at a sort of affordable price (under $1,000 USD).
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Old April 4th, 2003, 09:57 AM   #6
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I thought I'd jump in here and clarify a couple of points in Ken's post. 4.7 general media, 4.7 authoring media, and DVD5 have all nearly equal capacities. The "Hollywood" discs are DVD9 discs. These are dual layer discs with a capacity of 8.95 gb. These can only be created mechanically at this time. This means that they would be created at a replication facility after the creation of a master. These discs are really two discs on one side. After the first layer is read, the laser refocuses on the next layer and play resumes (this is why there is sometimes a short pause during a movie)

A DVD5 is also created mechanically, as opposed to being "burned."

There is also authoring media that has a capacity of 3.95gb. Authoring media, as Ken said, does require more expensive burners than general media does. But these burners (Pioneer S201) are available for some bargain prices from those who spent $5K, but are willling to part with them for much less.

I hope I've cleared some things up, and not made anything more confusing

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Old April 4th, 2003, 11:32 AM   #7
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Thank you Charles! (And Welcome!) I appreciate your expansion, correction and clarification.
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Old April 4th, 2003, 08:15 PM   #8
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I have a question following Ken's post above. I have not yet coughed up for DVD SP, though I did play with it a bit in a lab to which I have access, but I thought one of the big bonuses to DVD SP was that you got Apple's MPEG 2 vbr encoder with it, which then became integrated into your FCP, allowing you to output FCP in vbr MPEG 2 with user selectable average br. Am I right in that, and in thinking that this is the only way to get that software?

I'm thinking that DVD SP is probably where I in fact need to go with my work, but I certainly don't need a lot of the advanced options. I wish there were an intermediate level with a good vbr compression option and decent chapter/menu capability. Or is that what Cleaner & Toast do? If so, how do they compare to DVD SP, and is there any real cost savings in that route?

Interestingly enough, the Apple US academic pricing for DVD SP is $500, which is pretty good, but no such luck for those of us over the medicine line in Canada, where the academic pricing seems a whole lot less aggressive, at least on some things.

Maybe I should check a base assumption I'm making here while I'm at it: as I understand it, vbr takes advantage of more aggressive compression in scenes where most of the frame is unchanging, but lowers the compresson level for scenes in which there is more significant change (I'm forgetting the name for that kind of compression). Most of what I tape is interviews or speakers, in which the background is largely fixed, and in which the subject does not often move, but occasionally may fill the frame with motion in gestures, etc. Am I right in thinking that vbr has real advantages in such a situation?

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Old April 4th, 2003, 09:57 PM   #9
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I'm confused. What part of Oregon is in Canada?
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Old April 4th, 2003, 10:28 PM   #10
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Ken or Jeff
This may be a stupid question but I'm very new to Macs and especially DVD recording but how can a stand alone DVD recorder take a 2 hour VHS or 8mm analog tape and burn it on a 4.7 gb DVD-R and the Mac doesn't allow this? Is it possible to make DVD-R copies of analog material using a DV bridge by going directly to IDVD or do you have always run any footage through Imovie and cut it down to 60 minutes worth of material before going to IDVD?

Thanks again for any input,
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Old April 5th, 2003, 12:01 AM   #11
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You are correct in your remark that DVD Studio Pro installs an MPEG-2 codec for QuickTime Pro. I don't know this for fact, since I purchased Cleaner 6 slightly after I first purchased DVD SP, but I think that Cleaner might also come with an MPEG-2 codec.

Your confusion regarding the roles of all of these products in understandable. Right now, in my opinion, second-level (semi-pro) DVD authoring on the Mac represents a quiltwork of tools. DVD SP basically puts a user interface around the current authoring standards. "Authoring" basically represents the assembly of all of the various elements (content elements, menu elements, behaviour scripting, flag-setting, region encoding, alternate track settings, subtitling management, etc.) that constitute a DVD. It does not constitute compression of content. (That's where a product like Cleaner comes into play.) DVD SP will "multiplex" this jambalaya of stuff into a disc image and will burn the disc. But its burn process tends to be cumbersome, particularly since it insists on re-multiplexing the stew each time it burns a disc (a very time-consuming process). So burning the disc is often relegated to a product like Toast Titanium.

By wrapping authoring + compression + multiplexing +
burning into a neat package iDVD presents, I believe, the best value proposition for most home and semi-pro DVD creation projects. Yes, it forces compromises. But I've owned and upgraded DVD SP since it's first version. I've plowed through most of two books on it's use. I've attended a class on it's use (highly recommended, by the way). And I've used it a few times. But I must candidly admit that the arcane details of elaborate DVD authoring just don't float my boat. I admire those who are skillful at it. But I much prefer using iDVD for its simplicity, relative flexibility and enjoyable interface.

Look for some potential integration enhancements to DVD SP soon.

John
I believe that when you hear folks talk about "separate" DVD burners they're often referring to devices capable of burning those "authoring" discs, not just separate "SuperDrives".

There are a few DVD-R consumer devices that can directly transfer VHS tapes (or broadcast material) to DVD-R's without going through a computer. Unfortunately they're still a bit expensive and have a babble of formats right now.

Failing that, you could capture the material to your Mac (via Firewire through a camera, deck or other device capable of bridging between analog and digital) and then export that material to iDVD. But to get beyond that 90 min boundary you'll have to take the plunge to DVD Studio Pro and all that that means. That's the only route of which I am aware, although I'm certainly not the final word on the subject.
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Old April 5th, 2003, 05:36 AM   #12
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I believe the 90 minute limitation was imposed to help prevent ripping of commercial releases. Most movies are over 90 minutes.
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Old April 5th, 2003, 03:42 PM   #13
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You're right, Jeff, Oregon has not been part of Canada since 1846 or so. I moved and didn't update my profile. I live in Vancouver BC now.

Given what people have said here, it's possible that iDVD may in fact do the job for my purposes, at least for the time being. Maybe I'll do the same project through both iDVD and DVD SP (in the lab) and see if the difference amounts to much.

If anybody has the time and interest, I'd like to understand the bitrate stuff a bit better. Does anybody know what the two fixed bit rates are that iDVD uses? And what are the circumstances in which vbr actually shows a marked advantage?

Thanks once again for all the expertise and information this site so routinely delivers.

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Old April 5th, 2003, 04:23 PM   #14
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Linc,

You had be worried, I thought maybe George traded Oregon for Manitoba.

VBR is better when you have scenes with either a large amount of motion or a lot of detail. The example I use quite often is a scene from a football field looking up at the fans. Many different color, small detail and movement. The scene may show artifacts from compression, depending on lighting, software etc. A fixed rate is just easier and much less processor intensive. It just crunches the number one way.

Remember, iDVD will not work an external burner. It doesn't need to be the SuperDrive, but it does need to be mounted internal. A small number of users have had issues getting non-SuperDrives to work internally. To the best of my knowledge it has been traced to older machines.
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Old April 5th, 2003, 11:25 PM   #15
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Some notes I took during a 2002 class indicate that iDVD uses target bit rates of 8 Mbit/sec and 6 Mbit/sec.
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