DVD Authoring with Adobe Encore DVD
Wes Howell, 2004, Focal Press
350 pp. w/CD
This “professional guide” will indeed help you learn to create commercial-quality DVDs. The package starts with a thorough introduction to Encore DVD, followed by coverage of Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Photoshop software as integral parts of DVD authoring with Encore DVD. This is logical because Encore DVD depends on these other Adobe products for many features that are built into all-in-one DVD authoring applications like MyDVD 5 (see below). A succession of tutorials takes you through the creation of a simple DVD, using materials provided on a disk. The author is clearly an expert on his subject, and he delivers all the tips, tricks, warnings, and other goodies that separate stand-alone training materials from the manuals.
The book is well-organized and copiously illustrated, but its production is only C+. Many illustrations have no figure numbers and some of those that do are not referred to by those numbers. The index is spotty and a random check of the entries turned up several incorrect references. Nevertheless, the package is a very solid introduction to Adobe Encore DVD and an invaluable guide to integrating the complete line of Adobe products. 4
Adobe Premiere Pro, Set
Total Training, 2004
An all-video package, this set helps users get their feet wet with Adobe Premiere Pro. Most of each video displays Premiere work screens with projects in process, as voice-over narration explains and describes each move. Learners can mirror the demonstrations using video clips and other resources supplied on a DVD ROM. Disk 1 is a tour of the software and disk 2 shows how to use the basic Premiere tools.
Systematic and well organized as far as it goes, this number one of three sets doesn”t guide learners very deep into the Premiere jungle. A dual display setup is recommended so that learners can work alongside the demonstration, without having to play the DVDs on an NTSC monitor, where the already fuzzy screen shots are hard to see.
NOTE: Adobe video products seem to offer six different ways to perform every operation, including keyboard shortcuts that speed things up considerably. The disks in these training packages can confuse newbies, either by saying “you can do it this way or that way or the other way,” complete with lightning demonstrations, or by saying, “Just press CTRL/ALT/F7 to do such-and-so.” It would have been better to present each operation in one, usually mouse-based form, however slow; then let learners find their own preferred alternate commands as their skills increase. 4
MyDVD 5 for Windows
Jan Ozer, 2004, Peachpit Press
www.peachpit.com, 296 pp.
Using a task-oriented organization, this text takes beginners carefully through the process of DVD authoring with MyDVD 5 software, from planning projects to producing disks, labels, and boxes. It even tells you how to optimize your PC for the program in an opening chapter so sensible that it should be excerpted and applied to all demanding, persnickety media software. The style is direct and breezy, without the irritating cuteness of those “Stupid Person”s Introduction to…” books.
Though billed as a “visual quickstart guide,” this book is essentially text with generous illustrations (well-placed and supplied with figure numbers). The author is skilled at creating screen shots that freeze the critical moment in an operation (not an easy task). Like the Adobe text, it is thorough, well-organized, and written by an expert. The lack of a tutorial disk is a minus, but only if your learning style suits the tutorial approach (mine doesn”t). Since I haven”t used MyDVD 5 software, I can report that this book presented it so well that I want to get my hands on this impressive package. 5
4 Very Good
2 Not so Good
Jim Stinson is a Videomaker Contributing Editor.