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Author Topic: Free DVD Menu authoring software, is there such a thing?  (Read 7846 times)

Hirudin

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Free DVD Menu authoring software, is there such a thing?
« on: December 15, 2005, 06:02:22 AM »
I've been looking for a program that can make a DVD menu out of a couple BMPs/PNGs/JPGs/WHATEVERs for hours.......... I don't know anything about DVD menus, but I know I hate them! They should be like html, instead they're more like... bad furnature assembly instructions.


Do any of y'all know of a halfway decient (I'll take a quarter decient) program that can create a DVD menu? All I ask is that it takes less than 50 steps, involves less than 4 programs, and produces files I can import into DVD ReMake Pro (VOBs, IFOs, BUPs... standard DVD files).

This should be easy. They seem to be a grand total of 2 images (or if you're really fancy; a video clip and an image) and a few rectangle areas designated as buttons.


Super mini review of DVD ReMake Pro: Hollywood DVDs have the most convoluted file structures I've ever seen. DRMP seems to work well for what it has to work with, but it isn't exactly mature yet. Example: some components can be deleted by hitting the del key, other components you have to right click and choose delete.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Free DVD Menu authoring software, is there such a thing?
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2005, 07:11:11 AM »
Not free and I haven't tried it but this looks cheap and might do what you want

http://www.svcd2dvd.com/

You can try the demo version.

There is also Microsoft's Photo Story 3 (you'll find it in the Windows XP downloads on MS's website - sorry haven't got the link). This will produce slide shows from graphics files and if I remember correctly burn them to DVD with menus. You don't have control over the menus though.

Sorry I can't be more help but I haven't found anything free and ended up shelling out for something.

It is worth saying I think that with DVD Authoring you tend to get what you pay for - there seems to be little out there related to MPEG encoding to DVD (which is what you are looking for though it doesn't seem like it) which is better than junk.

Another program (a bit more expensive but does work well) is ULEADs CD and DVD Picture Show. You can build entire CDs and DVDs of slide shows, and add animation, graphics etc. and use templates to produce menus.

There are very few programs (even at expensive prices) that give full control of menu building for DVDs as it is sucha complex business. Most are based on some sort of template system. The best I have found at a reasonable price is TSUNAMI-MPEG DVD Author, but it isn't cheap and is still based on templates. Sony's DVD Architect (formerly Sonic Foundry's product) is very flexible but a silly price.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2005, 07:15:38 AM by Carol Haynes »

nudone

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Re: Free DVD Menu authoring software, is there such a thing?
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2005, 09:52:01 AM »
how about downloading a trial verion of adobe encore or something similar (the ones Carol mentions above) - i don't honestly know if there are any restrictions with encore but i would guess that there isn't - it isn't the most intuitive of programs to use though. a 30 day trial may be enough for you to do what you need to do.

elpresi

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Re: Free DVD Menu authoring software, is there such a thing?
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2005, 01:35:08 PM »
AFAIK, you have DVDStyler DVDAuthor GUI, both free:
http://www.videohelp.com/tools?s=2#2

The video clips must be mpeg2 dvd-compliant. If not convert them 1st to dvd-mpeg2
(you have a few free mpeg2 encoders here: http://www.videohelp.com/tools?s=40#40 )

Hirudin

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Re: Free DVD Menu authoring software, is there such a thing?
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2005, 08:52:39 PM »
Thanks Carol and elpresi! I'll check out SVCD2DVD, DVDStyler and DVDAuthor GUI ASAP!

I think I can do everything I need to do menu wise with DVD ReMake Pro except link a background image with a sub image. I hope one of the 3 programs above can do it.

I've considered encore, but I hate Adobe so much I don't want another of their viruses programs on my computer.

[edit]Dangit, DVD Author looks like what I need, but I can only find the source (which I can't do anything with). Could someone here compile it for me? I have Windows 2000 and 32bit AMD Athalon...[/edit]

[edit2]Oh wait, I think the GUIs include the binaries... never mind   :)[/edit2]

[edit3]added edit tags[/edit3]
« Last Edit: December 15, 2005, 09:27:19 PM by Hirudin »

dtrud0h

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Re: Free DVD Menu authoring software, is there such a thing?
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2005, 01:52:37 AM »
Cheapest solution I found was to buy a dvd-rw drive that came with the Roxio suite. The exact name of the program escapes me, it too was based on templates, however I found I could control whatever I wanted to do with it like embedding three 30 sec. or whatever Thumbnail-sized clips playing against a static background,  My text, buttons, borders, and layout.  Another nice feature was the ability to have it play  a clip, or a series of clips after a certain amout of idle time, then replace the menu again. 

I think it was called pm studio with ez-cd 5 or 6.  I just wiped out my windows partition after deciding to wholeheartedly switch to PCLinux OS.

Theres about 6 dvd authoring progs included with it,  all open source.  Sadly, I haven't tried them out yet (maybe a weekend project)
( I'm not spamming the message board here, just a small plug for Texstar.)
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Carol Haynes

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Re: Free DVD Menu authoring software, is there such a thing?
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2005, 03:16:16 AM »
The Direct download for the GUI including DVD AUthor with a normal windows installers is http://www.videohelp...hor_Full_Install.zip

This is the 'full install' link on http://www.videohelp.com/~gfd/ if the direct link doesn't work.

Renegade

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Re: Free DVD Menu authoring software, is there such a thing?
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2005, 08:36:51 PM »
The best thing that I've seen is DVD-Lab from Media Chance. It's not free, but for DVD authoring, it's VERY cheap. It also beats the heck out of most other tools that are anywhere near it's price range. You can easily go out and spend 3x or more (much more) on a DVD authoring tool and still not get anywhere near the same quality.

One of the major problems is that many DVD authoring tools encode the material for you, even if you've already got the right AC3 & MPEG-2 files. That just leads to quality degradation, which is just stupid. DVD-Lab follows a more professional approach and gives you more control. It's not for total beginners but it is easy to use.

The menu authoring in DVD-Lab is top notch as well.

Just so that you know... A professional level DVD authoring tool will run you $25,000 at the low end. (Or at least the last time I checked - they may have some down a bit - not too sure.)

If you're just looking to make some boogery "My Family Vacation" DVD, then DVD-Lab is overkill. But if you want to present things in a more professional manner, you can't go wrong with it.

Last time I used it (a while ago), it was a bit particular about things and really wanted proper files - but that may be fixed and you may be able to use MPEG-1 video (which you shouldn't be able to do...).

Anyways... Just throwing that out there for you.

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nudone

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Re: Free DVD Menu authoring software, is there such a thing?
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2005, 03:21:04 AM »
you've convinced me Renegade, going to give DVD-Lab a spin today.

Renegade

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Re: Free DVD Menu authoring software, is there such a thing?
« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2005, 08:04:00 AM »
you've convinced me Renegade, going to give DVD-Lab a spin today.
Let me know how you like it. I think you'll be impressed, especially if you've used any of the $600.00 boogerware DVD tools that really belong in the Recycle Bin...

Keep in mind that you need the right files - valid MPEG-2 video and valid audio files (wav or AC3).
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Carol Haynes

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Re: Free DVD Menu authoring software, is there such a thing?
« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2005, 08:35:30 AM »
I have started playing with this Renegade - it looks really powerful - but it isn't exactly intuitive to use.

I have a number of DVD-VR discs I have recorded from TV. It allows me to add the VR files to the Assetts area but I can't work out how to get it to import the file as separate tracks. The VRO file simply gets imported as a single file with no chapter or track marks. Any idea how to import VRO files properly?

Trouble is the help file doesn't really mention VRO format in any detail, and the only reason I knew the software could do this was from a one line statement on the website.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Free DVD Menu authoring software, is there such a thing?
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2005, 10:23:08 AM »
Oo errr ...

I have to say I am not particularly impressed.

It is tremendously complicated software and the manual is useless.

I have just used it to demux a movie and ended up apparently with 1:22 of video and 2:29 of audio !!! How that can happen I am really not sure. Despite that I burned a DVD of the project and it seems to work, except the audio lags about 2 seconds. There appears to be a tool which allows you to set an Audio Delay figure, but there doesn't seem to be anyway of determining exactly what the delay should be - and given that the preview windows refuses to play back with any sound it is only possible to guess by buring discs and seeing if it works.

Am I missing something with this or is it meant to be this confusing?

At first glance the Pro versions seems to be able to do everything anyone could ever want with DVD Authoring but for me life is too short to try and learn this package!

By the way if anyone likes it the company will do a 50% academic discount (follow the email link on the website and ask for instructions). Not sure if this is only applies to the Pro version, but then that brings the Pro version down to the price of the Standard version so if you are going to buy it and have student/academic status you may as well get the Pro edition.

mouser

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Re: Free DVD Menu authoring software, is there such a thing?
« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2005, 10:26:59 AM »
ive tried dvd lab pro and been very happy with it - this may be one of those programs that suits the way your brain works or not.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Free DVD Menu authoring software, is there such a thing?
« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2005, 11:00:13 AM »
That's what I thought and why I didn't just rubbish it. It doesn't seem to gel with my brain though and it would be a lot easier if the manual was better written. At the very least it would be useful if the manual listed error messages and what to do to fix things.

I suppose my needs are a bit odd in this area.

My JVC DVD Recorder produces DVD-VR (VRO) files (even after the disc is finalised) and if I use LP record mode the video size is SVCD picture format. Consequently a lot of software won't author new discs without recoding the video to a DVD standard format.

I want to be able to transfer them to a standard DVD VOB based format and add a menu. As it stands I have Ulead's DVD MovieMaker 3 which will simply copy my exisiting programs (complete with track and chapter marks) without recoding to DVD (ie. it lets me keep the SVCD picture format which works fine) but won't add a menu.

I have TMPGEnc MPEG Xpress 3.0 and TSUNAMI DVD Author Pro 1.5, but the Author package won't use non-DVD standard video and insists they be recoded. That isn't a problem except that it takes anything up to 24 hours per disc to recode them !! I really don't want to have my computer permanently running recoding tasks in the background 24/7/365 !!

DVDLab Pro seemed the obvious solution to me because it allows me to use VRO files without being strict on video format, and I can add a menu. Trouble is that whilst output seems to compile without error from the VOB file Nero says that it can't reallocate the files when it comes to burning the DVD. Add to that audio delays in the processing, and an inability to listent to AC3 or DTS sound in DVDLab preview (apparently it is to keep the price down by avoiding costly licenses from Dolby Labs) and the package becomes increasing difficult to use, at least in my circumstances ...

Anyone got any other ideas for a solution to my problem?