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What is DVD Authoring?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 17, 2024
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DVD authoring is the process of adding graphics and interactive content to an audiovisual DVD. This might include an opening logo, main menu page, index, or scene selection. It can also incorporate audio options such as two-channel stereo or 5-channel surround sound, multiple video formats, and other features. DVD authoring is usually only used on audiovisual DVDs and not on music disks.

Because of the high cost of DVD authoring tools, they were originally used by industry professionals only, but have since been made affordable to the public. The market for DVD authoring tools is expected to grow rapidly as people realize the vast potential for DVDs.

An unauthored DVD is a linear video. Presentations, digital video, photography, or film is committed to the DVD, but it is not formatted to be interactive. The viewer must watch the content in a linear fashion from start to finish, or use directional play buttons to move forward or backward through content. Though linear viewing might be fine for some projects, menu-driven DVDs provide a professional touch, greater flexibility, and many practical advantages.

For example, a company might use a DVD as a marketing tool in place of less effective forms of advertising. Statistics reportedly show that people are more likely to view a CD or DVD than to read flyers or other advertising materials. DVD authoring allows a potential customer to surf a DVD from a main menu to find areas of immediate interest. An authored DVD can even include active hyperlinks when viewed on a computer with Internet access.

As a self-promotion tool, DVDs have endless applications. Artists can create virtual galleries of their work and use DVD authoring tools to construct "a main plaza" from which to enter one of "several rooms" to view pieces. Musicians can create music videos and include band interviews or upcoming gig dates. Depending on one's field, an authored DVD might even be used to present a resume, such as showcasing previous experience in PowerPoint®-style presentations or original advertising material. Any talent or profession that translates visually can be expressed artfully and powerfully on DVD.

DVD authoring tools are available in all categories of user expertise and price ranges, from top-end Sonic Scenarist® for industry professionals, to freeware like Avi2DVD and DVDStyler. Corporate DVD authoring tools include Roxio's DVDit® and Adobe® Encore® among others, and there are many shareware packages for the home user. Among these are Nero's Vision Xtra, Roxio's Creator, Sonic's MyDVD® and Apple's iDVD®. Functionality, features, and ease of use vary between programs.

Whether a film maker using DVD authoring tools to include director's narratives, special cuts, or alternate endings; a student making a school project; or a homemaker archiving the family history through photos, film, and slides; you can use DVD authoring tools to make your DVD impressive, flexible, and professional.

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