Movie making with MAC iDVD 3

Previously we explored some of the more interesting new features in iMovie 3. Now that your movie is made, you will want to put your hard work onto DVD. Continuing from the last column — and also complementing the many PC-related digital video/DVD tools in the June 2003 edition of PC Word, including the feature “Master digital moviemaking” (page 90) and reviews in First Looks — this time we look at using Apple’s iDVD 3 software, which is available only as part of Apple’s $95 iLife suite of iTools (www.apple.com.au/ilife).

Previous versions of iDVD paved the way for easy DVD menu creation and authoring. New features in version 3 include better integration with the various iTools, new professional-looking menu themes and better chapter marker support.

DVDs are capable of storing 4.7GB of information — that’s around 60 to 90 minutes of high-quality footage. With iDVD, you can create DVDs that are playable in all regions and compatible with most players.

iDVD 3 can import movies only in QuickTime format (quite common among video editing tools) but can import still pictures in any QuickTime-compatible format such as TIFF, JPEG, BMP, GIF and more.

Creating chapter markers with iMovie 3

Chapter markers allow people watching your DVD to skip to various places within your movie — just like you can with a commercial DVD. To create chapter markers within iMovie 3, open your saved edited movie then use iMovie 3’s playhead to skip through to a frame that you wish to be the start of a chapter. Next, click the iDVD button then the Add Chapter button. As you create each chapter marker, enter a chapter title — they can easily be changed later by double-clicking on the original title. When you’re happy with your markers, click the Create iDVD Project button and in a moment iDVD 3 will automatically start (see here for a screenshot).

Creating menus

You’ll notice that a basic DVD menu system has been created automatically for you. Edit the layout by first clicking the Preview button to stop the preview, then clicking the Customize button. You’ll be able to scroll through a choice of themes on the left; simply click one to use it in your movie. More themes can be viewed by selecting the menu box titled New Themes and choosing Old Themes or All.

The next step is to click on the Settings button at the top left of iDVD 3. Here you can adjust menu settings, including fonts and navigation buttons. The Audio button allows you to import MP3s from iTunes to your menu system, and the Photos button works in much the same fashion, but with iPhoto. You might, for example, want to drag and drop a photo from your iPhoto library displayed on the left across to your menu system on the right. The Movies button allows you to do the same with movies — up to 30 seconds of footage can be looped for use in your menu.

The Status button is important, as it shows you how much space you have left until your DVD project is full.

To change any of the text on your menu, simply click on it and type in your changes. As you craft your menu, you may wish to view the TV safe area (-T), save your project (-S) and check that you’re going to be burning a PAL format DVD by going to iDVD-Preferences.

Burning the DVD

The next step is previewing your project, so you can see how it will appear on a standard DVD player — do so by pressing the Preview button again. You’ll notice that all those chapter markers you made in iMovie 3 are now individually selectable items of footage created automatically under the scene selection menu option. Once you’re ready to burn your project to DVD, insert a blank DVD-R disc and click the black-and-yellow Burn icon. There you have it, your memories on DVD!

If you’re interested in further exploring DVD authoring, you may wish to investigate Apple’s $949 DVD Studio Pro (www.apple.com.au/dvdstudiopro). Currently at version 1.5 (with version 2 slated for August release), its more advanced feature set enables professional touches like moving menus, and other benefits including compatibility with some third-party DVD-R drives.

Before you begin checklist

System requirements: a G4 Mac with a SuperDrive (DVD writer). Note that iDVD 3 is designed to work only with Apple SuperDrives and not third-party CD-R or DVD-R drives. You’ll also need at least 256MB of RAM and 2GB of free hard disk space, in addition to equal or later versions of OS X 10.1.5 and QuickTime 6.

Check compatibility: visit iDVD’s Web site at www.apple.com.au/idvd to check for camcorder, camera and DVD player compatibility.

Download the patch: owners of an older Mac with a SuperDrive should download the SuperDrive update from www.apple.com/hardware/superdrive. As it stands, all Macs featuring a SuperDrive can use 1x and 2x DVD-R media (discs). This patch introduces support for new 4x DVD-R and 2x DVD-RW media. The update is suggested by the primary drive manufacturer, Pioneer, as it will help protect against possible damage when trying to use this new media with older SuperDrives. Newer Macs such as the 17in flat panel iMacs, eMacs, PowerBook G4 and Power Mac G4s have the patch pre-installed.

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