Adobe Encore DVD 2.0  DVD Authoring Software Review
$349

Adobe Systems, Inc.

345 Park Ave.

TSan Jose, CA 95110

(800) 833-6687

www.adobe.com

Second Encore

Adobe's Encore DVD 2.0 was released as part of the new Production Studio Premium as well as standalone software. We don't think it got as much fanfare as Premiere Pro 2.0 did on its own, but after spending many hours of quality time with it, we think it deserves some additional recognition.

Getting Started

The first thing you will notice is that Encore DVD 2.0 looks like all the rest of the Adobe Video Collection apps, complete with dockable panels. There are certainly times where you could have the panels configured to the point where unless you were looking closely at the title bar, a casual glance at the interface might lead you to believe you were in Premiere Pro or After Effects instead. We don't think this is necessarily a good or bad thing, but if you are a Video Collection user, it means that you have to become keenly familiar with your surroundings if you find yourself with a couple of Video Collection apps open at the same time.

Importing

A notable new feature is that you can use Adobe Bridge to manage all of your assets between all Video Collection applications. This will let you seamlessly take your rendered clips from any other Video Collection app and put them out to DVD that much easier. That would mean not having to think about folder management anymore, as well as getting support for any XMP metadata that you would want to add to your clips… isn't life grand?

We think the importing of video has become much smoother. While some of the error messages for non-importable clips aren't as verbose as those put out by some other DVD authoring tools we've used, the process feels a lot more stable to us than it did in 1.5.

If you're making a slideshow, Encore DVD includes a slideshow editor that allows you to make your shows browseable (if you want them to be) and change lengths of slide display and transitions between slides, and apply pan and zoom effects (i.e. the Ken Burns effect).

Playlists

In spending many hours with Encore DVD, we are elated to report that there are no more freezes when scrubbing for chapter points. This was one of the most frustrating problems that we encountered with Encore DVD 1.5.1.

You can now define chapter playlists, and create a button that shows one or more chapters, then returns to a menu. While you could do this before, it meant you had to make a new timeline from the clip that you wanted to make a button for, which ate up some of your available bits. This approach can save a lot of space, so you can use higher bitrates or put more content on your disc.

Conversely, if you chopped up your project into several files, you can then dump all of these assets into a single timeline. This means that each file doesn't turn into a title like before, which translates into a time savings for your viewers, whose DVD players won't have to grind back and forth during the title change. So the upshot is that you get more flexibility in creating your timelines and playlists regardless of your authoring strategy.

Menu Creation

Encore DVD 2.0 adds automated chapter menu creation, even if you're using templates with video thumbnails. This will save you a lot of time at the end of your authoring session as you begin planning menus.

A feature that we found incredibly useful was the flowchart for menu planning. It operates by listing thumbnails of your menus and your timelines. Menus also include a list of buttons under the thumbnail. You can use the black arrow tool as a pick whip to quickly link your buttons to other menus or to timelines.

One minor quibble we have with a simple menu that we created (using simple arrows from the Wingdings font for navigation) is that the default for menu creation is to change the text to match the name of the menu. That left us with some strange looking symbols instead of the arrow we wanted. We do understand that intent of this function is to assist with the automated creation of chapter menus, but clearly the moral of the story is get into Photoshop to render out those odd little characters that you don't want to have changing. No big deal, but it would be kind of nice if this could be easily overridden.

Out with a Bang

We encountered no surprises over the course of using Encore DVD 2.0. There is a little bit of a learning curve, of course, but we would expect no less with such a powerful and thorough program for DVD authoring. If you want to make a DVD that works exactly the way you want it to work, look no further than Encore DVD 2.0. We're hard pressed to think of a project that we could produce that would pose much of a challenge for Encore DVD 2.0 to create.

Competitive upgrades (trade in your non-Adobe DVD authoring program for Encore 2.0) are available for Apple DVD Studio Pro, Pinnacle DVD Impression Pro, Sonic DVDit! PE and SE, Sonic ReelDVD and Ulead DVD Workshop for $299, and users of previous versions of Encore DVD can upgrade for $149. It's definitely an essential upgrade from 1.5, if you ask us.

TECH SPECS

Operating System: Windows XP

Minimum Processor: 1.4GHz w/SSE2

Minimum RAM: 512MB

Hard drive space: 1GB for installation

Trial version: Yes, 30-day

Audio formats supported: AC3 (Dolby Digital), AIFF, DTS, MP3, M2P, MOV, WAV, WMA, WMV, PCM

MPEG audio support: No

Accepts pre-encoded MPEG-2 files: Yes

Accepts DV files: Yes

Built-in MPEG-2 encoding: Yes

Scene detection: No

Authoring wizard: No

Pre-formatted Templates: Yes

Motion Buttons: Yes

Motion Backgrounds: Yes

Internal Titling: Yes

End of Play Behavior Control: Yes

Video Editing: No

Multiple Video Streams: No

Multiple Audio Streams: Yes

Subtitle Creation: Yes

DVD scripting: No

DVD-ROM Content: Yes

Error Checking: Yes

Disc Simulation: Yes

Realtime Previews of Motion on Menus: Yes

Label/Case Printing: No

DLT Export: Yes

Project Sizes Supported: DVD-5, DVD-9

CSS encryption supported: Yes

Copy Protect Flag Support: Yes

Region Coding Support: Yes

STRENGTHS

  • Significantly more stable than previous versions
  • More flexibility in timelines and playlists
  • Flowchart for menu creation/overview

    WEAKNESSES

  • Can't modify some menu authoring defaults

    SUMMARY

    An extremely powerful (but still relatively accessible) DVD authoring application.

    Charles Fulton is Videomaker's Associate Editor.

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