Collage of different disc authoring interfaces

A DVD provides hours of video and audio on a compact disc that is both of a higher-resolution and more durable than that of the videocassette it replaced. Content that is to be put on a DVD must first employ specialized software that is designed to follow the specifications set down by the DVD Forum in the 1990s. This is the purpose of Disc authoring software. It ensures that the disc will play on any disc player regardless of whether it is on a computer, in a car or in the living room or bedroom.??

Disc authoring software focuses primarily on creating a video and uses similar editing schemes found in video editing software. The differences lie in both the execution of assembling the content for the disc, as well as in the actual process of creating it then being burned to a disc. Nowadays, it’s possible to author a disc by letting the software take care of everything. Alternatively, you can choose to go with software that balances control with automation, or instead, go with one that is totally hands-on but still takes care of the “heavy-lifting” in the background. ??

Disc authoring software focuses primarily on creating a video and uses similar editing schemes found in video editing software. The differences lie in both the execution of assembling the content for the disc, as well as in the actual process of creating, then burning it to a disc.


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At its most basic, the digital content, (i.e. the video or other media) must first be transferred to a hard drive. Then it is up to the users to work with what the selected authoring program will allow to be done when creating their discs. Since all of the authoring programs take care of encoding the content and conforming it so that a properly formatted disc can be made, and are able to take advantage of hardware acceleration and other graphic enhancements found in the computer, they are better able to create the finished disc more efficiently. But regardless of whether the disc is to show at grandma’s, an exposition, an event, or to be sold to the public, basic procedures must be followed. It will be in the amount of time and the level of control spent in making the disc that will dictate the type of disc authoring software needed.??


??Putting together a video by the casual user can be considered the same as assembling a video “scrapbook” in that the purpose often is to combine a series of videos together. So a birthday party may share time with a recital or a family vacation. Because the user isn’t looking to spend a lot of time making the DVD, any automation on the part of the software will be appreciated. The software basically shields the user by making choices for him or her while still delivering a finished DVD with a level of competence when it is played. <!–segment_break_2–>

??Apple iMovie/Macintosh OS X??

Featuring classic Apple ease-of-use, this authoring program is included with the operating system and  takes you from beginning to end in an intuitive and handholding fashion that obviates the power hidden “beneath the hood.” It employs a Timeline/Preview interface geared to the visual (example: color-coding audio waveforms for clips), and employs one-step effects and editing tools that can be understood and accessed with little effort. Making “Hollywood” trailers is just one of the included projects readily accessible, and there is a very short learning curve should the user want to derive more control over the work at hand. High definition video can be burned or exported, and there is support for AVCHD (camcorders). Once complete, the finished video is outputted through a menu command to iDVD (another free/provided program) which then automates the procedures to create the finished DVD.

??Individual Software Video Expressions Platinum/Windows XP, Vista??, 7

Designed as an simple studio, the program uses drag-and-drop to insert digital photos into a workspace that also can contain video clips. The interface has a constant “look” to it, regardless of whether video editing or photo editing is being done or special effects are being added. High-definition content can be used, and users can import music (copyright laws might apply, although not for user-created music). The finished DVD can have text caption effects overlaid onto the video, plus there is the ability to upload the final project file to Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo and Twitter.


??Intermediate DVD authoring software ups the ante on features while maintaining a workflow that can still guide the user through the entire process of creating a DVD. But as a result there has to be a balance between how “deep” the tool-set can be. Features are included that expand on the authoring of the DVD disc, for example enhancing the video’s colors or having the completed DVD automatically start to play at a given point when inserted in a player. Companion software is offered to do such things as enhance/add video and audio effects or print graphics and/or text on the finished DVD. All of these additional capabilities increase the learning curve and could turn off the casual users wanting to get their authoring done and out the door quickly, but for the patient users, can add polish and panache to their DVD. ??

Arcsoft ShowBiz 5/Windows 8, RT??

This DVD software program has integrated video editing tools to enhance files that have been imported: for example, anti-shaking, color adjustment and noise level reduction. Effects, text, transitions, titles and narration can be added as well. There is both a Storyboard (drag-and-drop media files) as well as a more precise editing Timeline mode. Users can easily make adjustments in the Timeline mode for viewing multiple tracks and source files or adding effects and audio at a precise point. 3D photos and video can also be edited (or created), as can picture-in-picture effects. There are several themes and menu templates that can be used in the creation for both DVD and Blu-ray discs. Content can also be exported to mobile devices and shared to online sites such as Facebook and YouTube. Both CPU and GPU optimization are used to further a faster encoding and smoother video output for playback.??

Nero 12/Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8??

This authoring package comes in a multimedia suite that burns Blu-ray discs as readily as DVDs, with a player for previewing/viewing video and audio (not for BD discs however.) There is also support for HD videos from camcorders (AVCHD.) Besides Timeline and Preview windows for assembling a video, there are various navigation options for use and built-in special effects that can be added. There is a multitude of themes, disc menus, graphics and text to choose from that can be added to the DVD. Music duration can be matched automatically in slideshows and video projects. The finished work can also be exported to a wide variety of file formats and optimized for use on game consoles and mobile devices. Additional functions include the ability to upload finished work to the web as well as to stream content directly through a home network. The software can take advantage of hardware-accelerated video encoding as well.? ???


collage of disc authoring software companies
collage of disc authoring software companies
The best way to describe professional-oriented DVD authoring software is to use the word “control” — as in control over a wide array of functions used in the creation and burning of the DVD. This type of authoring software will have a deeper learning curve as the focus is on providing the user with significant levels of control over the functions. That’s not to say there isn’t a layer of automation involved, but the software expects the user to have a good idea of what he wants to do and to know how to go about doing it. While not necessarily its only use, this software is well designed for those looking to turn out a video project for a commercial release, not a personal one. ??

Sony Vegas Pro 12 /Windows Vista, 7, 8??

This authoring package is integrated into a production environment that combines a track-based Timeline with workflow innovations; the results being creative control over standard and high-definition content up to 4K in both 2D and 3D. Drag-and-drop functionality is integrated with traditional 3- and 4-point editing modes inside a fully customizable workspace. An open architecture allows the use of hundreds of optional effects from third party sources, with, as an example, the Color Match plug-in matching color characteristics between clips for uniformity. Project files can be imported/exported from other software packages (example: DaVinci Resolve 8), high-quality titles can be produced and there is a wide array of audio track control in 24-bit/192 kHz. This program can burn both DVD and Blu-ray.??

rovi Sonic Scenarist SD DVD Authoring Software/Windows XP, 7??

A standard for professional DVD authoring, this software is used by leading authoring facilities worldwide, and its workflow procedures are designed to make for a reliable production. The interface allows for cell-level control over every detail of the title, for example supporting sub-picture effects as well as DTS audio and video angles with auto-switching of audio and subtitle streams. It also looks to streamline everyday tasks, for example, intelligent importing of menu graphics from Photoshop layered menu designs for menu creation, or re-using existing projects as templates. Compatibility with DVD players across all platforms (set tops, game consoles, PCs, etc.) is assured due to the program’s 15-year history.??

Decisions, Decisions??

DVD authoring software doesn’t care what is on the disc it has created, it’s only purpose is to ensure that the finished disc is compatible with all of the DVD players that have been and are being made. It is up to the users to decide just how much control they want over the content that will make up that DVD, and then choose the authoring software package that fulfills that promise. ???



What You Can’t See About A DVD Disc But Still Need to Know??

A DVD’s greatest advantage over other recording media is its near permanence: the laser reads embedded data without physically touching the surface. The most common DVD format is DVD-R, chosen because it works on all DVD players (computers, stand-alone) that people use in their everyday lives. The only negative is that this disc can only be recorded onto once, so any mistakes are permanent and can only be corrected by throwing the disc away and starting over. ??

An important consideration is how much content the disc can physically handle. A single layer DVD holds 4.7 gigabytes, which is more than enough for a 2 hour video with audio, but can be nearly doubled by using a dual-layer disc instead. As for Blu-ray discs, a one-time recordable disc (called BD-R) also follows the convention of being playable on any computer or stand-alone Blu-ray player, with the standard 25 gigabytes of usable space nearly doubled to that of 50 when a dual layer is used.??

The only other physical area to consider, which doesn’t affect the storage capacity, is whether the disc has a printable surface that can be written on by hand or a printer. These discs obviously will cost a bit more but are otherwise similar to those without this capability.

Marshal M. Rosenthal is a technology and consumer electronics writer.


Adobe Systems, Inc.
ArcSoft, Inc.
Ashampoo GmbH & Co. KG
Charismac Engineering, Inc.
Corel Corporation
CyberLink Corp.
Digiarty Software, Inc.
Digital Media Applications
Disc Art Authoring
Gear Software
Individual Software, Inc.
MedioStream, Inc.
Minnetonka Audio Software, Inc.
NCH Software
Nero, Inc.
NTI Corporation
Online Media Technologies Ltd.
Pegasys, Inc.
Rimage Corporation
Rivergate Software, Inc.
Roxio, Inc.
Sony Creative Software, Inc.


  1. A very timely article!  I have been looking for alternatives to Encore.  For those that are not aware Encore has been end-of-lifed with its CS6 version (and even that version has no guarantee that it will continue to work after updates to Windows or Apple OS).  There is no new Creative Cloud Encore edition to the dismay of many in the real world that still author and burn Blu-Ray and SD DVD's. But perhaps there are not that many out there.  Because every review I read about CC does not make much of a big deal about excluding disc authoring from the suite.


    I guess we can all use Encore as long as it works or we don't upgrade our computers….

    After that, will be looking at alternatives.


    It is beyond me why after including numerous application in the CC universe that many won't use, they had to exclude Encore… Adobe should probably not be listed as a resource for the article.




  2. I am in the market for a high level DVD and Blu-ray authoring software to replace Encore and came across this articale. It seem even Sonic Scenarist SD is no longer available. Any suggestions as to what we can use now??? We have tried Sony, but it doesn't do what we need it to either.



  3. My business partner uses DVD authoring in Vegas. It does work well. I would prefer to stay away for the PC, though. Looking through the above list most vendors are PC based. I see Toast is still be made by Roxio, a subsidiary of Corel. But reading the reviews, this does not appear to be a good solution, unless you have an older version. Well, back to Encore while it still runs on my OS.

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