Digitally Versatile Delights

Windows Middle East takes you through a step-by-step guide on how to make a DVD movie with your digital camcorder footage.

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By  Andrew Picken Published  April 29, 2003

Introduction|~||~||~|Sitting through achingly boring slideshows, flicking through dusty photo albums or watching fuzzy video footage of your auntie’s wedding is a chore we’ve all had to endure at some point.

It is now possible to consign all of this to history as digital technology, capable of capturing your special moments on compact, quality formats, is now well within the grasp of all Windows Middle East readers.

Creating, producing and editing movies used to only belong to the big studios of Hollywood but now the chance to create your own DVD movie is at your fingertips with the latest digital technology.

With the help of a PC, affordable video editing software, Digital Video (DV) camcorder and a few accessories, it is possible to create a professional looking movie from the comfort of your own home.

Analogue camcorders are slowly succumbing to their digital successors with the digital format offering a greater quality to your movie footage and easy integration with your PC. The cost of an average DV camcorder has tumbled in the past few years and you can pick one up for around the $800 mark, there is a wide range of brands to choose from.

Windows Middle East has put together a step-by-step guide on how to produce a DVD movie from your DV camcorder footage. Here is what it takes.

||**||What you will need|~||~||~| No matter how simple or sophisticated you intend to make your DVD, some type of video-editing package will be required. A plethora of video editing software is available on the market today and it ranges from as little as $100 to over $2000. We plumped for the popular mid-range package, Ulead Media Studio Pro 7 ($500).

The higher you climb up the price range, the more sophisticated the editing tools will become. However, all of the software available will allow you to get started with the basics of capturing movie footage from your DV camcorder. This will include transferring your video footage onto a PC, editing the material and then finally burning the finished product onto DVD.

DVD Software

To get your edited movie footage onto DVD you will require DVD authoring software. You will find that most mid to high range video editing software will incorporate such software, which simplifies the whole process. However, the DVD authoring software that comes with most DVD writers, such as the popular Sonic, is also more than adequate. We used DVD MovieFactory LE, which came included with the Media Studio Pro 7 software.

Cables and Cards

For your DV camcorder to communicate with your PC, you need an IEEE-1394 Firewire interface installed on your PC. Most recently built PCs will have this as standard but if you have a slightly older model you can pick one up for around $15.

The essential cable needed for creating your DVD is the IEEE 1394 FireWire 6-4 cable that links the DV camcorder directly to your PC. You may already have this depending on what DV camcorder or video editing software you decided upon, but if you need to buy one they are available from most retailers at around $15.

||**||Step by Step guide|~||~||~|Step 1. Install software

Install all the relevant video editing and DVD authoring software.

Step 2. Get video footage ready

Take the movie footage you wish to transfer onto DVD. For the purposes of our workshop we used a Samsung VPD-590msi DV camcorder ($915), which also comes with a memory stick, an excellent feature for digital still photography.

Step 3. Set up the connections

Connecting a DV camcorder to your PC is made simple with a digital video cable and IEEE 1394 FireWire card, though it’s worth remembering the frame rate for video capturing is dependent on the capacity of your PC.

Most packages accommodate the plug and play principle, where once all new devices are connected they will automatically be detected. In Media Studio Pro 7, to check if the video editor detected your DV camcorder, click on Setup/ Device Control/ Current Device. Select your DV camcorder and then test if you can control it by using the control bar.

Step 4. Capturing the video image

To capture the movie footage from the DV camcorder, ensure the DV camcorder is connected to your PC, switched on and set to play or VCR mode. Run the video capture software and then click on Setup / Switch Capture plug-in, select the plug-in you wish to use. Then click on Capture / Video. When the dialog box pops up, select the capture options you require and click OK. Your movie footage will be transferred from the DV camcorder into the PC.

||**||Step by Step guide 2|~||~||~|Step 5. Editing

After capturing your movie footage its time to begin editing it into shape. A number of common features exist across all video editing software, including standard icons such as play, pause, rewind, fast forward and basic effects such as fade or dissolve. In Media Studio Pro 7, the video capture and video editing functions open into different windows.

One of the biggest problems with shooting your own movie will be the shaky footage or redundant bits that you don’t need. The best way to iron out these problems with your movie is to edit them using the timeline function.

Most mid-range packages come with video and audio timelines that allow you to cut and paste strips of film. You are left with several sub-sections of footage that don’t necessaflow together unless spliced together with transitions, which are basically special effects, such as fading or tiling.

This brings us to an opportune moment to discuss the value of differently priced video editing software. One of the best ways to understand a package’s value is in terms of how many transitions are available. Entry-level software will give you about ten transition options, Media Studio Pro 7 on the other hand has over 100. However, having hundreds of effects is still no substitute for skilful editing and effective use of transitions is often more critical when putting a film together. As somebody wise once said, practice makes perfect.

Step 6 Saving your edited work

All levels of video editing software have user-friendly save options. In the software we used saving your work was particularly simple, just File / Save As. Though you have to pay particular attention to the options tab where it gives you four options: Save, Video Capture, General, Advanced and Compression.

It’s important to remember that a second of video requires at least 30MB of disk space, which makes compression vital for PC-based video editing. MPEG compression is the most popular so remember to select MPEG compressor in your settings in order to compress your edited file. Other things to check include ensuring the video setting is on PAL and the audio settings are at 48k and 16-bit stereo.

Step 7 Authoring and burning the DVD

Before actually burning your footage to DVD, authoring software allows you to create backgrounds, titles, menus, credits and even design your own menu buttons. Even if you’re not fussed about creating elaborate titles or menus, you will need to at least create a background for the DVD and a few function buttons like start and stop.

In Media Studio Pro 7, this can all be achieved in the DVD MovieFactory software, a simple, creative package that has the same authoring capabilities that you will see on most professional DVD’s.

Now we move onto the final stage, burning the footage onto DVD. Using the DVD MovieFactory select copy disc then put your DVD in the DVD-R drive, select the drive and then click on next. Your DVD will now be burned onto disc.

Steven Steilberg and Quentin Tarintino can now stand aside; you have created, produced and edited your first DVD movie. There is a high chance that the transitions might not be too smooth and some of the audio might be out of sync, but don’t worry all of this will come with practice.

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