Saturday, November 27, 2010

Windows DVD Maker Review

I recently needed to create a DVD of some camcorder footage.

I used to use software which came with my camcorder to pull the video from the camera, then various tools to edit, and finally Nero (which came with my DVD drive) to build the DVD with menus etc. It was a lot of messing around – but that’s what it’s like on PC (if you’re a cheapskate).

This time, I’m running on Windows 7, and my old Nero disc is incompatible. Never mind though – Windows 7 is all Mac-like and comes with ‘Windows Live Movie Maker’ and ‘Windows DVD Maker’.

Windows Live Movie Maker

Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 worked quite nicely. It imported my video from my camera (over firewire). It created a single AVI with several internal clips. Movie Maker has nice simple editing, though the location of the clips wasn’t highlighted. Movie Maker can ‘Save as -> Burn a DVD’. This first saves a WMV file, and then starts Windows DVD Maker.

Windows DVD Maker

DVD Maker takes one or more WMV files, allows you to configure the DVD menu, and then burns to DVD.

Pros:

  • Has some nice menu templates, with animation and fun transitions. It’s not out of this world, but enough to make your amateur DVD making look quite nice.
  • Simple to use.
  • Automatically takes your clips and creates scene selections from them.

Cons:

  • If you specify one WMV it will automatically create several ‘scene selection’ clips. However, if you specify more than one WMV it will just make each video its own selection. I didn’t like this either/or option – I’d prefer an options menu which allowed me to choose.
  • For me it repeatedly failed to the burn DVD with no useful explanation. Looking online, it seems like a common problem, and driver related. It's disappointing that DVD Maker fails to burn when other programs can burn OK.
  • It only burns directly to disc, not ISO file. This is very annoying, as it failed to burn to DVD on my machine. I ended up using the trial version of ‘Virtual CD 10’ to act as a virtual DVD burner. (After trying many other virtual drive related products.)
  • The scene selections didn’t match the clips in my video – they just seem arbitrary. Pressing ‘skip’ results in jumping over one whole clip, and landing part way through the next. Very odd. The DVD is only useful in ‘play’ mode – skipping and scene selection are inaccurate. This really detracts from the usefulness of the DVD.
  • The number of scene selections is limited to a fixed maximum imposed by the menu style you choose. The highest number of clips available appears to be 18. While this is enough for most uses, it's not hard to hit the limit.

Overall I was very disappointed by the experience. The gloss of Windows 7 seems very thin in the area of DVD creation. DVD Maker was superficially pretty, but then took hours of time to work around its lack of obvious features, and ultimately produced a poor quality DVD.

And finally, burning an ISO to a disc turned into another debacle of multiple programs being downloaded and tried. I eventually used ImgBurn to do it.

I like Windows 7, but I’m disappointed that DVD authoring hasn’t improved since XP. This one facet of Windows makes me wish I was on a Mac.

2 comments:

DiAnKy said...

U should be grateful to even HAVE a PC, u know.

Mark Pope said...

Of course I'm grateful I have a PC/computer. And legs and lungs and life - all of that stuff. I'm incredibly lucky.
But if I don't vote for improvement, then Bill Gates won't know what to work on. He's nothing without my blog.