Apple’s iDVD & DVD Studio Pro create a home DVD factory

Apple has introduced iDVD, a new application that lets consumers create professional looking DVDs for playback on consumer DVD players and DVD Studio Pro, the first full-featured DVD authoring tool available for less than $1,000. iDVD comes preinstalled on the Power Mac G4 with the new SuperDrive, a combination CD-RW/DVD-R drive that reads and writes both CDs and DVDs. DVD Studio Pro offers professional-quality DVD encoding, authoring and writing, and complements Apple’s Final Cut Pro video editing, effects and compositing software.

iDVD lets Mac users turn their iMovies, QuickTime files and pictures into DVDs that can be played on consumer DVD players. iDVD shields users from the complexity of DVD authoring by offering built-in professionally designed themes and drag-and-drop simplicity. With iDVD, users can: convert iMovies, QuickTime files and pictures into the format required for DVD using iDVD’s fast MPEG encoder; drag-and-drop iMovies and pictures into their DVD project; create menus, buttons and backgrounds using their own personal images, or choose from among more than a dozen beautiful themes with professionally designed background images and coordinated fonts and typefaces; preview the project to test navigation and flow; and record DVDs with a single click on the Power Mac G4’s CD-RW/DVD-R SuperDrive.

As a complement to Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio Pro lets users encode video, conduct complex authoring tasks, preview the finished product in real-time, and burn DVDs using the Power Mac G4’s new SuperDrive. With DVD Studio Pro, users can: encode video in MPEG-2 and encode audio in Dolby Digital, the two formats preferred for professionally mastered DVDs; author the DVD, working with up to 99 video tracks and multiple language tracks. DVDs can also be customized to include slide shows, still or motion menus from layered PhotoShop files or video clips, and interactive links directly to the web; preview the finished project in real-time without the need for a disk image or multiplexing; and burn DVDs on the SuperDrive for playback on consumer DVD players. In addition to burning DVDs, users can also choose to output to DLT tape for mass duplication or DVD-RAM to inexpensively test projects.

iDVD is preinstalled on the new Power Mac G4 with combination CD-RW/DVD-R SuperDrive, which writes to standard 4.7GB DVD-R discs, available from The Apple Store in packs of 5 for a suggested retail price of $49.95 SRP. Each disc can hold an hour of high quality video, and is compatible with a wide variety of consumer and computer DVD players. DVD Studio Pro is available this month from The Apple Store or through Authorized Apple Resellers for a retail price of $999. Minimum system requirements to run DVD Studio Pro are a Power Mac G4 with AGP graphics and DVD-R, DVD-RAM, or DVD-ROM drive (configuration must support Apple DVD Player 2.0 or later), Mac OS 9.0.4 or 9.1, QuickTime 4.1, 128MB RAM (192MB recommended) and a 12GB hard drive.

This is definitely a jump in the right direction for home creation of DVDs. However, please note the steep hardware requirements to run all of these applications together…nothing wrong with hi-end technology (we love it, in fact), but be aware that to put together the entire package will still require some deep pockets. With the current pricing for stand-alone DVD recording hardware, though, this isn’t bad considering that you get a powerful computer along with the recorder (& editing suite if you go another grand for Final Cut Pro) when all is said and done. Just be sure to do your homework before jumping in…

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