Ulead DVD MovieFactory 5 Video to DVD Software Review

HD Burning Basics

Ulead has been no slacker when it comes to updates for its entry-level DVD MovieFactory line of disc burning and DVD authoring software. Coming to market about a year after version 4.0 of the product, Ulead DVD MovieFactory 5 brings Blu-ray and HD-DVD disc authoring support into the mix, as well as an enhanced set of video editing and disc burning tools and direct support for HDV source files. While the DVD MovieFactory line is still a simple product aimed at beginners, it comes with an impressive set of features for the price.

Install, Reboot, Run

Running the DVD MovieFactory 5 installation wizard puts four new programs on your system: BD Disk Recorder 2.5, DVD DiskRecorder 2.2, QuickDrop 2.0, and the main program, DVD MovieFactory 5. Upon rebooting after installation, you’ll notice the Ulead Quick Drop program in the system tray and on the desktop; we found this to be a little bit annoying, as the installation wizard never asked us if we wanted this feature activated. Also appearing on the desktop is a shortcut to the main Ulead DVD MovieFactory 5 launcher, which directs the user to all of the software’s main functions, including DVD video and slideshow disc authoring, disc burning, direct-to-disc capture, and DVD disc ripping.

Clicking Video Disc > New Project brings you to the main DVD authoring/video editing interface, where you can capture or import video, create slideshows, trim clips, and add chapter points. The Join/Separate and Enhance Video buttons, together with the Multi-Trim Video feature, provide access to some well-designed basic editing functionality, with titling, transitions, and access to three audio tracks. The overall look and feel of the interface is very slick and easy to use, with well-designed buttons that look nice without being overly flashy or decorative. One minor drawback of the video editing tools, however, is the poor quality of the transitions, which have a tendency to look a bit blocky and unprofessional.

Once you’ve imported your video clips and/or created your slideshows, it’s time to click Next and begin designing your menu.

Menu Design

Though DVD MovieFactory 5 does come with 16 well-designed menu templates, users can import their own background images, music, and even motion menu video backgrounds to create their own menus. Buttons and basic layout schemes, however, are limited to the designs that come with the package, so if you want full menu-creation control you may want to look at another product. Still, with the background, font choice, layout, and basic menu design options that come with the software, a huge variety of menu types are possible.

Basic button behavior in DVD MovieFactory has always been completely painless and fully automated, and version 5 is no exception in this regard. As you add clips to your project, they are automatically added to the menu. If another menu is needed to accommodate more clips, it’s automatically added, along with the necessary button navigation to switch between menu screens.

Once your menu designs are in order, pressing the Next button takes you to the disc burning screen, which includes all of the basic DVD burner functionality, including burn speed selection, a Test Before Burning and Create Disc Image and a very handy Normalize Audio function which can help to compress some of the highs and lows in your audio track and set all clips at the same volume level.

Slideshows and Such

Two other noteworthy functions of DVD MovieFactory 5 include the Slideshow creation program, which is an improvement over previous versions of the software (though it does suffer from the poor quality of the transitions), and the label printer, which greatly simplifies the sometimes-daunting task of creating quality disc labels.

Like many of the products in its market niche, DVD MovieFactory 5 does much more than is possible to cover in a short review like this one; features like direct-to-disc capture, editing of DVD-RW discs, creation of DVD Audio discs, and easy drag-and-drop functionality with QuickDrop represent many of the staple functions of comparable disc burning suites like Nero and Easy CD Creator, and are well represented in this product. Notable updates to version 5’s feature set include SmartScene scene detection, menu transition support, Ad Zapper (for easily removing commercials from recorded television broadcasts), and Motion Filter effects to add motion elements to otherwise still image menu assets.

Bottom line: the addition of Blu-ray, HD-DVD and HDV support make the upgrade well worth the price; the addition of an array of video editing and menu creation enhancements make it a real winner in the under-$50 DVD authoring category. Nice job, Ulead!

TECH SPECS

Platform: PC

Operating System: Windows XP

Processor: Pentium III 800 MHz, AMD Athlon XP 1800

RAM: 512MB

Hard Disk: 900MB (install); 4GB+ for video capture and authoring (more for HD, HD-DVD or Blu-ray projects)

Strengths

  • Blu-ray, HD-DVD, HDV support
  • Good basic video editor

Weaknesses

  • No installation configuration options

SUMMARY

Ulead DVD MovieFactory 5 is a inexpensive and dynamic DVD authoring program that’s ready for the future.

Joe McCleskey is a multimedia producer and
freelance writer.

$50

Ulead Systems, Inc.

2000 Mariner Ave., Ste. 200

Torrance, CA 90503

www.ulead.com

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