What is involved in DVD authoring

DVD authoring

As more and more people rely on digital services to watch films and TV programmes, DVD collections are diminishing. The number of DVDs I own has probably halved in the last couple of years as I’ve shifted them out realising that most of my films could now be found on Netflix, Amazon Prime or NowTV. However, here at Echo Video we continue produce large numbers of DVDs & Blu-rays for our clients every year. They are still an incredibly popular method for delivery especially when it comes to films or live events as it gives the person buying it something tangible to own.
There’s also an awful lot of room to be creative when it comes to DVD design, not just in the on disc print or DVD case but in the way the the on screen information is presented through the menus – whether they’re static or motion. We really enjoy putting together DVDs so I thought I would take on a quick guide of how we produce them.

Encoding

Export options for an Mpeg2-DVDFirst things first we need to make sure that the video is in the right format to put onto a DVD. Everything we film is in HD and often will be in a MOV. format – great for editing but not always great as a delivery format, therefore we need to turn the video into an Mpeg2 for DVD. Depending on the original file and the length of the video this can be a time consuming process and we need to make sure that the file remains as high quality as possible. Bear in mind that DVDs are standard definition so there will be quality loss when compared to an original HD video.

DVD Chapters

You’re probably aware of what a chapter on a DVD is and we have to manually pick at what times we want there to be a chapter in the video. There’s no hard and fast rule for this but generally the video will be divided up into scenes that lend themselves to be chapter points.

Intros and Transitions

Whether it’s a simple fade in or a montage of clips in the video, an awful lot of DVDs have introductions. These will need to be created in Premiere or After Effects before being used on the DVD. Motion transitions can make the journey through a DVD a lot smoother and create a more polished experience for the user.

Menus & Buttons

Most DVDs will have at least one menu, even if it just says PLAY it’s still a menu that needs to be created. More complicated DVDs will have chapters menu to allow you to jump to a specific point in a film, a special features menu or an audio and subtitles menu that allow the user to pick how the video will be presented. All of these need to be designed (normally using Photoshop) and optimised for DVD use.
We can have music in the background on a loop, or video clips or a simple still image or montage, it’s up to you.
Buttons are what you will use to navigate the menus all the functions will need to be mapped and colour coordinated to make it clear when an option is in-elected, selected and clicked.

A simple DVD flowchart

Flowchart & Remote control functions

We have complete control over what happens on the DVD from the moment it enters a DVD player. If you want the video to start playing straight away and only go to the menu when it ends, that’s fine, or maybe you want the DVD to start on the chapters menu, not sure why you would but that’s OK as well. We can direct the order in which things happen and how much control the user has over them.
You know when you put in a DVD and a disclaimer or trailer pops up that you can’t skip? We can put that onto your DVD as well. This also extends to the buttons on your remote control. You’ve probably seen buttons like, TITLE or MENU or your DVD remote, we can dictate what happens when those buttons are pressed.

Subtitles & Audio

One of the great things about DVDs is that they are universally used and extremely versatile so that you can create one and make it accessible to a wide ranging audience. One video can have multiple language options built in so that from the DVD menu you can select the audio e.g. 5.1 Surround, Stereo, French, Spanish, Hard of Hearing, Director Commentary etc. And the same for the subtitles – None, English, French, Descriptive.

Regions & copy protect

Choosing the regions for a DVDFinally we come to burning the disc. Once we’ve checked that all the functions are going to work properly and you’re happy with the design we come to the final stage. At this point you can region lock your DVD so it’s only available to watch in certain countries or areas in the world (for reference UK & Europe is region 2) and decide whether to allow people to copy your disc for free. As a note if you’re having the disc duplicated or replicated then you’ll need to leave it unprotected and then ask the DVD manufacturers at add in write protect at that stage.

And there we have it, there are so many choices and possibilities that I’m sure you can imagine why it keeps us so busy. If you would like advice or help with DVD authoring then please get in touch with Echo Video on 01273 911345.