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Monday, January 07, 2013

Vista Tips and Tricks: Windows DVD Maker


The first step in making your DVD is choosing what you want to include.
  • Click "Add items" on the toolbar, and use the explorer window to navigate to the content you want to add to your DVD. To preview videos or photos, just double-click on them. Note: If you include still images in your DVD, they will automatically be added to a "Slide Show" folder that will be displayed in an animated format on the finished DVD. Click the Slide Show button in the toolbar to specify how long each image will be displayed, what transitions are used, what music to use during the show, and in what order the music will play—you can even change the length of the show to match the length of the music, and use pan and zoom effects to add a bit of additional visual interest. You can't add video to the Slide Show folder, and you can have only one Slide Show on a disc.
  • If you want to remove content, just select the appropriate items and click the "Remove items" content in the toolbar.
  • To reorder items, either click and drag them into position, use the arrow buttons in the toolbar to move them where you want them, or right-click on the item and select Move Up or Move Down.
  • To identify your disc, type a descriptive name (32 characters or less) in the "Disc title" field near the bottom of the DVD Maker window.

Tip: In the lower-left corner of the DVD Maker window, you'll see a notification of how much time you've consumed on your DVD. Pay attention to it while adding video files to make sure you have room for all the clips and movies you want to use on your finished disc. A single-layer DVD will let you produce about 60 minutes of video, while a double-layer DVD provides twice that duration. Make sure you're using the right disc type for your burner and the length of your movie.

The "Options..." link in the lower-right corner of the Windows DVD Maker window lets you adjust a number of important settings for the DVD you're putting together.
  • Choose DVD-playback settings. These are fairly self-explanatory: You can choose to display a DVD menu when the disc is played, play the video first and show the menu afterwards, or play the video in a continuous loop.
  • DVD aspect ratio. Choose 4-to-3 to output your video in the standard-definition format, while 16-to-9 gives you the wide-screen look of most theatrical and high-definition releases.
  • Video format. NTSC is the format of choice in the United States, but many countries use PAL, so make sure you choose the right one for the person who will be receiving your video. If you're not sure, a number of resources on the Web can help you determine it, like this site.
  • DVD-burner speed. There's usually no harm in leaving this set to Fastest, but if you find your drive producing an unusual number of coasters, try turning it down to increase reliability. (Of course, it will take longer to burn the discs.)
  • Temporary file location. You can leave this at the default setting, too, but if you have an especially fast drive or one with a lot of free space, you can specify that here.

One of the most valuable features of professionally made DVDs are the menus that let you choose which content—or content area—you're interested in watching. It's easy to set up a menu in Windows DVD Maker, and once you've ordered your clips and set your options, you're ready to go.
  • Choose a theme. On the right side of the window is a list of menu styles from which you can select. Each includes the same three buttons—Play (which will start the movie from the beginning), Scenes (a chapter listing for all the individual files you've included), and Notes—but has a different arrangement of images and text, some with video and animation.
  • Customize menu. Once you've selected a menu, you're not stuck with it—you can perform alterations that will make it uniquely your own. Just click on "Customize menu," and then you can adjust the font, foreground and background video, audio that plays, and even the style of the menu buttons until you get exactly the look you want.
  • Menu text. Are you satisfied with your menu's appearance? If so, time to tell your audience what they'll find on the disc. Click the "Menu text" button to open the "Change the DVD menu text" dialog box, where you can change the DVD's title and Play and Scenes buttons, as well as the Notes text. (Note: The Notes button will only appear on your menu if you add text; you can type up to 256 characters.)

If you've made it this far, you're almost ready to load in a blank DVD and start producing your masterpiece. Before you do, click the Preview button so you can test your DVD's menus and make sure they all work the way you want them to.

Once you're sure everything is how you want it, insert a blank DVD into your DVD burner, and click the Burn button. Depending on the length of your disc, the options you set, and the speed of your computer and DVD drive, burning the disc could take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. When it's finished, you'll be given the option to burn another copy—this one will take much less time, as the heavy-duty transcoding work has already been completed.