I’ve told this story in other forums, but now I’m going to come clean here: I’m one of the ones who dropped Final Cut when Final Cut Pro X came out. At the time I had an aging G5 that was close to death. I knew I had a choice to make, either purchase a new Mac Pro or switch to Windows. At first it was a no-brainer: there was going to be a shiny metal box in my future, with a cute piece of fruit it’s side. Then the reports started rolling in about Final Cut Pro X and what it was missing, what had changed, and what this would mean for Final Cut Pro in the long term. Here’s what I cared about at the time – DVD Studio Pro. As a small businessman, I rarely turn down work that I can do. A lot of that work, at that point, involved making DVDs for weddings, industrials, and whatever else DVDs were needed for. My then-client-base wanted DVDs, not direct downloads. My go-to program was DVD Studio Pro.
I love Apple products. Heck, I’m writing this on Pages on an iPad. But at that time I heard unsettling rumors about legacy FCP7 projects, not being able to import Photoshop files directly into projects, XML import / export problems and a plethora of rumors that were true, false, subject to change and who-knew-what at the time. And I still had that aging G5 to contend with. Oh, and I also worked with Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects almost daily. I just didn’t have the full Adobe CS5.5 at that point. I did a cost-comparison between a new Apple and a new Windows box, as well as software pricing between what I needed, what was available, and what I would need it to do for the long-term. So, armed with all of that knowledge, I bought a (gulp!) Windows 7 machine and got CS 5.5.
I finished my last Final Cut Studio Project on a Monday, with everything mailed, emailed and backed-up. On Wednesday, as I turned on the G5, the logic board died. I had dearly loved that machine. I stripped it of it’s internal hard drives and firewire/USB board and sent it to be recycled, which is the equivalent of having a loved-one cremated. R.I.P. G5. Back to CS 5.5, and a long project in After Effects and Photoshop doing effects for a short film, which ultimately took a few months. As I worked on the short film, my client-base that needed DVDs dried up with the rest of the economy. Me – “Hey, Bubba, you need any more DVDs?” Bubba – “Nah, we’re closing down. Are you hiring?”
It’s been a while. I’m still happy with the purchase of the Windows box. And I’m more than happy about the decision to go all-out Adobe. CS5.5 is now CS6. I quickly adapted to Win7, which was/is light-years better than Vista or XP. I refuse to get sucked into the Apple/Microsoft debate, or the FCP vs. Adobe vs. Avid vs. Etc. flame-wars that I see going on in the chat rooms. Let me say this: Ford and Chevy will both get you from point A to point B. The rest of it is an argument about cup-holders and decals.
So, with no clients for DVDs for these many months, I never had a reason to open up Encore and play. . . until now.
A friend of mine needs a DVD copy of a short film he made for the festival circuit. He also needs another copy of it with a simple menu system for actors and crew. He called me up and said, “J, my burner is in for repairs. Can you knock this out?” I said, “Yep.”
So let’s dive in.
For those unfamiliar with DVD making, the pieces of audio and video you use to make the final product are called Assets. First things first, I need to transcode my audio and video into a format that DVDs can play. I have a quicktime .mov file to work with.
I first open Adobe Media Encoder, drag in my source .mov, click the NTSC 23.976p widescreen high quality 720×480 preset, choose where I want my new file to be, and hit the encode button. In a matter of a few minutes (this is a short after all) I have two files, one is video in MPREG-2, the other is a .wav file for audio.
Upon opening Encore, I get the standard dialogue box that accompanies most of CS6′s components. I hit New Project, and off we go. I give the project a name. Next I have a choice between a new DVD project or a blu-ray project, as well as the video standard (NTSC or PAL). I choose DVD and NTSC.
I click the FILE tab, and choose IMPORT AS. The drop-down menu gives me several choices. I choose ASSET. Then I choose my video and audio files’ location. I control-click each one, and press OPEN. They are now listed as assets under my project.
I go to the TIMELINE tab, click it, and choose NEW TIMELINE. There is now a timeline at the bottom of the screen. Under the Properties pane it now reads TIMELINE. The choices underneath range from Name to aspect ratios. I give it a name, choose 16×9 for an aspect ration, and then I click END ACTION. This tells the DVD what to do when it reaches the end of the timeline during playback. I set it to STOP. You can also set LAST ACTION to Chapter 1, causing the disc to enlessly repeat. This is handy for DVD kiosks for conventions and trade shows that need to endlessly loop. I control-click each file and drag it to the timeline, video goes under video, audio defaults to Audio 1.
What choices are present in the PROPERTIES pane depends what is highlighted in the PROJECT pane. If nothing is highlighted, the properties are for the disc. If an asset is highlighted, the properties are for the asset. If a timeline is highlighted, the timeline properties are displayed.
Click some empty space in the PROJECT pane, revealing the DISC options under the PROPERTIES pane.
here you can give your disc a name, and choose the FIRST PLAY options. Under FIRST PLAY, it has defaulted to CHAPTER 1 of our timeline. Since we have no menu system for the disc to worry about, let’s leave that defaulted that way.
Time to make the disc. I put a blank in my burner, hit the FILE tab, and click PREVIEW. My movie plays and ends the way I wanted it to. I exit the preview, and click the FILE tab. I go down to BUILD. It gives me several options, from a physical DVD, to a DVD Master on a DLT tape. I choose DVD. I am also given the choice of where I want this DVD to go to, in case I have multiple burners on the system. It has defaulted to the only burner currently on my system, the D: drive. At this point I can hit BUILD or CHECK PROJECT.
CHECK PROJECT let’s Encore check for errors ranging from button links to disc capacity. Since this is a small five minute project with no complicated menu system, I skip this because I’ve already watched it on PREVIEW. I press build. Encore does the rest. In a few minutes, my new DVD ejects from the drive, ready to play.
I put it in a seperate DVD player I keep in my office and watch it. It plays exactly like I wanted it. Poof, Encore has done it’s job.
Some of this sounds complicated. It’s not. It probably will take you longer to read this article than to put together a short menu-free DVD.
The other thing I want to discuss with Encore is Adobe Premiere Pro. You can send a sequence from Premiere Pro directly to Encore with a couple of button clicks, specifically FILE tab, ADOBE DYNAMIC LINK, SEND TO ENCORE. Once in the new Encore project, to transcode to MPEG-2 you can simply right-click the Premiere Pro sequence listed under your PROJECTS pane and hit TRANSCODE NOW, which will automatically open up Adobe Media Encoder and take care of it for you. If you need to change transcode settings, you can do that by right-clicking the Premiere Pro sequence name under PROJECTS and choose TRANSCODE SETTINGS before hitting TRANSCODE NOW.
Until next time, happy cutting.