Thursday, September 25, 2008

Burning to DVD on a PC

by Harry B. Miller III, A.C.E.

Outputting a sequence and burning it to DVD on a Mac is easy. Export a Quicktime reference from the Media Composer, drop the created .mov file on to Toast, hit Burn. Toast will encode the entire movie, and burn it as a playable DVD. And it works in the background, as you continue to work on other things on your computer. It isn’t fast; the encoding and burning takes longer than a real time play out. But it works. Easy and simple.

My Avid system is on a PC, however, with the XP Professional OS. I wanted to find a workflow to burn a DVD of a sequence that was as easy as on the Mac OS. I experimented with the following products.

Roxio’s Easy Media Creator (Roxio also sells Toast)
AVS Video Converter
TMPGEnc DVD Author 3
DVD Flick (freeware)
Adobe Premiere Elements 4

Roxio’s EMC isn’t so good. The Mac version (Toast) is great, but the PC version wants to be everything to everyone, and doesn’t do anything well. $99. It will compress a reference movie, but the results had some stutter. And the interface was complicated. When you choose “Video” as the major category, you then get a menu of 10 different programs that are poorly named and described. Once you make the selection (and you still don’t know if it is the right selection for the job), there isn’t much guidance on the best way to proceed.

AVS Video Converter is cheap ($60), easy, fast, and it just worked. Choose the file to convert, choose what to convert to (DVD), Convert, then Burn. All the settings are clearly labeled so making the correct choices was clear. Chapter markers, if desired, were brainlessly simple to add. The only drawback is it couldn’t compress a Quicktime reference file. That can be done with Quicktime Pro or Sorenson.

TMPGEnc DVD Author 3: $90. Good. A simple interface where you drag-n-drop clips into a list to burn. There is some editing ability, and you can create menus (if you want). It encodes and burns. The best part of this program is it leads you step by step through the process, but it allows you to easily skip a step you don’t want or move back to make a change. Interestingly it allows the input and output of DivX movies. As far as I’ve seen, DivX movies are the smallest and best looking of any compression.

DVD Flick: free, but not as simple or reliable. And it couldn’t convert a QT reference.

Adobe Premiere Elements 4. $99. Good. The interface was clear: Get Media from one of five sources, drop the sequence / clip into the timeline, Share (burn to DVD, upload to a web site, etc.), then Burn. It transcoded the entire movie, and burned it to disc easily. Adobe is releasing Elements 7 soon, which will include Premiere and Photoshop for $150. That looks like a great deal.

At some point perhaps Avid will build in a simple, drag-n-drop burn sequence to DVD. Until then, Toast on Mac and the above for PC are viable options.

On another note: Elgato makes a USB stick called the Turbo H.264, Mac only, that accelerates encoding of Quicktimes. The software displays the speed of the encoding. Although it has limited output codecs, it can compress up to twice real time. With some of the fastest PC’s and Mac’s ever available, why can’t our compression software work as fast as the Elgato?


Blogger Jeff said...

Thanks for posting this review.

As a Mac owner freelancing on systems running Windows, I agree that no DVD burning appliction on the PC comes close to Roxio Toast 7 and newer.

After attempts with Roxio EMC, Nero, and Premiere Elements, I am currently using a combination of Sorenson Squeeze and Avid DVD by Sonic, which Avid now bundles with BOXED upgrades to Media Composer.

Avid DVD is the first Windows DVD authoring app I have tried that does not try to re-encode my video a 2nd time. Avid DVD passes the DVD-compliant MPEG-2 video through, ensuring that the image will look the same as it did when I checked it in Windows Media Player.

The process could still be more straightforward; but, Avid DVD has kept me from having to use Toast on my personal PowerBook during sessions.

5:17 AM  

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