I sat down the other day to do something that one might consider “mundane” in the 21st Century. I created a video that I wanted to burn to a DVD-R. Pretty simple. I have a digital video camera and I want to make a digital video disc with it. Input and output. I have gobs of ones and zeros that I want a laser to etch onto a foil bathed in chemical. If I can capture DVD quality video, one would think I could create a DVD with it.
Firewire cable, Firewire card, IEE1394 drivers, Sony camera control drivers, Capture drivers, Adobe Premier, Render work area, Export DV, AVI, DV codec, TMPGEnc MPEG2 encoder, MPG, and TMPGEnc DVD Author. Head spinning?
Shall we take the data path instead? 9.7GB of raw DV is captured. Then edited and saved creating another 8GB file. That file is encoded to MPEG2 turning it into a 4.1GB file. Then a menu and DVD commands are added. The result is another set of files totaling 4.2GB. 26GB – Twenty Six GIGAbytes on my hard drive. Mind you this is for a ONE hour long video. What’s time? A few hours editing, 2 hours to export the finished product, 5 hours compressing, 1 hour authoring, 2 hours burning 4 copies. Hate.
Two more observations. (bear with me)
1. Dear MPAA. You really have little to worry about. Piracy! Theft! Consider for a moment that our friend “Jeb” wants a copy of “Spider Man” on DVD. He don’t want’a PAY for it, cuz that’s the American way. So Jeb goes out and buys hardware for his PC, media, labels, and those special DVD cases, plus his $50 a month broadband account. Now he’s $300 into his “free DVD’s.” He spends hours trolling for new videos and it takes days to download them. Most of them turn out to be shitty porn or not what they were labeled as, but that’s okay – We’s get’n FREE DeeVeeDees! Once he has 3 or 4 movies he realizes that a 10GB hard drive won’t cut the mustard, so he heads out for more hardware. Now he has to down sample the video in order to fit it on a disc. That’s right! You see Hollywood has these cool 8GB pressed discs for movies. The current technology has only given us 4.7GB burned DVD’s. How do you get 8GB of data onto a 4.7GB disc without losing quality? You don’t! So now Jebs’ got himself a copy of “Spider Man.” It only took him a couple days to find and download it. He spent several hours fiddling with the compression and menu options. After a few tries he got one to burn correctly and work in “most” of his buddies players. Got the jacket cover art printed out, and cool labels made up… And you know what the other 99% of the people looking for “Spider Man” did? They bought the frigging thing for $19!**
2. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that 99% of the people who own a digital video camera have NEVER output the video. Sure they may save it to the hard drive, and make the occasional DivX movie, but the majority are piling up little mini-DV tapes of their memories. They use their camera like a damn VCR and soon – very soon, the tired tape motors and heads will wear out. Game over. My advice: Don’t buy a DV cam unless it outputs DIRECTLY to Mini-DVD, or you know what firmware your DVD burner has by heart.
Where does this leave me? I’m a freak, a nerd. I want to figure it out and conquer digital video once and for all. First my hardware was giving me trouble. BAD_POOL_CALLER showed up and I still can’t get completely rid of him. I use the most stable piece of video editing software (for PC *cough): Adobe Premier. This is way more then I need, but it’s a nice change after crashing every version of ULead BitemePRO, and Sonic MyDVD. TMPGEnc saved my ass. They have a great encoder, and a pretty decent DVD authoring tool.
I now have a path. A list of hardware and software that takes me from tape to DVD. This path was hard fought. With my PC crashing and other problems I have 4 new coasters that cost a buck each. I do have a much better understanding of how stupid it was for me to say: “Oh, I’ll just burn it to DVD for everyone.”
Other lessons and links:
1. Good media and burn speed is the difference between “compatable” and “Disc Error.”
2. Limit the tracks to one if you can, with chapters only, and a very simple menu layout.
3. Never de-interlace, it’s a waste of compression time and makes the output look like ass.
4. www. no more coasters .com – The word of God (for DVD stuff anyway)
5. TMPGEnc – Pegasys Inc.
6. Your digital camera and DVD burner hate you too.
**This story is true, names have been changed. “Jeb” actually held out his copy of “Spider Man” to me in an electronics store that I worked for. He asked if he could “try it out” in all of the DVD players we sold. I had never laughed in a customers face until that moment.