One Last Desperate Argument for DVDs


The talk of the future of home entertainment is largely about how we will never have to deal with having physical copies of movies anymore, as everything will just be digital downloads. This may very well be true, in fact, I’m sure it will happen at some point. That won’t stop me from grabbing my soapbox and megaphone to proclaim how much better I think DVDs are.

As a way to perhaps show how biased I may potentially be, I will say I am a full-on collector of DVDs. And not in a “yeah, I have 80 DVDs, my collection is pretty sweet…” kind of way. At the moment I’m typing this, I have 1,167 DVDs. I’m not joking.

But for the record, I’m not opposed to digital downloads. I think they are good in a certain way, but I also don’t think they are as amazing as they are said to be. I’ve even dabbled slightly in the downloading world, but in the end, I’m still a stubborn fan of the DVD. Let me state my case, and feel free to offer a rebuttal to any of my claims.

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Creating a chapter index automatically with DVD Studio Pro

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As promised here is part 2 of creating custom buttons and a chapter index automatically with DVD Studio Pro. You can find Part 1 here.

In this video tutorial we pick up right where we left off in the last tutorial and show you how to take the custom button we made and incorporate it into a custom menu. Then, with a little bit of setup, we take that custom menu, save it as a template and then use that template to automatically create a series of chapter index menus with one simple drag and drop.

A recap from part 1…

“One of the most tedious things to author in DVDSP is creating chapter index menus with links to all the various chapters within a project. If you’ve ever had a multi-hour long video with dozens of chapters, creating chapter index menus can take hours and be extremely frustrating, especially if you make a mistake or there are changes after the fact. This 2 part video tutorial will show you how to easily create custom buttons and menus, complete with video drop zones, save them as templates, and then automatically create a chapter index menu series with one simple drag and drop.”

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Review: Matrox CompressHD PCIe Card

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Video compression has come a long way from the days of using Cinepak on a Quadra 950 tower and the old NuBus slots. For the most part, the wars between online formats has been settled with Flash leading the way. But behind that Flash Player is often H.264 encoded video, ever since it was introduced with Flash 9 in December of 2007. Even video powerhouse YouTube is pushing out H.264 video wrapped in a flash player. If that’s not enough, one of the officially supported video formats for Blu-ray is H.264.

So from on-line video (SD or HD) to high end Blu-ray DVD’s, h.264 is a huge player. It’s all good, right? Well, mostly. Have you ever compressed an h.264 video file? It can be unbearably long. We first started running into this bottleneck when we switched from doing mpeg-1 client web approvals (something that was very fast to compress and widely compatible) to h.264. We switched mainly because we wanted to post high resolution web approvals for our clients at higher quality, and MPEG-1 just wasn’t cutting it. H.264 really filled that need. But even a shorter video, say 10-15 minutes could take 60-90 minutes to compress on a Quad Intel MacPro, and some of our videos are more in the 30 minute range. If you have the time, leaving it running overnight is no big deal, but most of the time we’re doing these web approvals close to 5 or 6pm and they needed to be posted and sent to the client that same day. Waiting around just to finish a web post feels like a waste of time (although we did minimize this to some degree using LogMeIn as covered in my previous post).

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After hearing others brag about how great it was, we finally decided to try the “to good to be true” Turbo.264 USB key from Elgato (the non-HD version). I really fought it because I had a hard time believing that a little USB key could do what my huge expensive multi-processor MacPro could not. But also because it did not integrate with Compressor, which is part of our workflow. For the price though, we decided to give it a try.

For what you end up paying, the Turbo.264 does a pretty good job. It is FAST for sure, and the output is not too bad, but it’s not perfect either. It gave us the speed that we wanted, but not the quality. One of the main reasons it’s able to do what it does so fast is that the very first thing that’s done is resize the video frame, and then pass it off to the USB key for processing. This is key, because the rest of the processing is done on a lower resolution frame instead of working with the original uncompressed frame. Great for speed, but not optimal for quality. But for many people, this might just do the trick depending on your needs and budget. You end up seeing compression artifacts in places that you wouldn’t when using compressor with similar settings, typically areas of fast movement, effects or dissolves. But it did take care of the time bottleneck that we were having. So we decided to sacrifice some quality for the sake of actually getting home on time but continued to look for other options.

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