Newsletter #105 - May 27, 2006
Roxio's MyDVD Premier 8
Why do I use MyDVD?
was the software on my first computer that
had a DVD burner, and on all of my following ones. I didn't specify
it... added by the OEM.
DVD plug-ins for Movie Maker and Photo
Story are made by Sonic. They have some sort of relationship with
Microsoft when it comes to disc-making software. Sonic is right
there in my Movie Maker and Photo Story work.
My DVD making needs are minimal and for the
most part I've been successful...
The marketing arm of Sonic is great, and their people easy to
work with. Their tech support is poor at best... I hope
you don't need it.
I was using MyDVD Studio Deluxe v6.1 when MyDVD Premier
8 was released at the end of February. I installed what I thought was
a routine upgrade... and was a little surprised to find it wasn't.
We're at the crossroads of Sonic and Roxio's corporate merger
resulting in changes to their DVD software.
Roxio is a Division of Sonic
My first awareness of differences was in the logo on the software
case... after years of seeing Sonic's logo, it was now Roxio... things
continued from there to the...
I'd gotten used to
each upgrade of Sonic's MyDVD telling me there's an installed
older version which would need to be uninstalled first...
something I didn't care for as the previous version was
I was pleasantly surprised
when Roxio's Premier 8 version didn't remove Sonic's
v6.1. They install to different folders... I have them both on my
laptop, and can use either.
v6.1 is in C:\Program
Files\Sonic\MyDVD Studio Deluxe
v8 is in C:\Program
are almost fully compatible... the installation process
for Premier 8 required the removal of the previous version
of CinePlayer to get to v2.3.0, and it said Sonic DLA was
incompatible... and uninstalled it.
I won't go into a comparison of the
features in the two packages. I'll give you a sketch of the DVD and
Video features of Premier 8
I mentioned MyDVD in 3 newsletters since installing Premier
8, but haven't given this new version a more complete review... it's
time to do it. And as usual, I'm learning about it as I write, so you get
whatever I run into, the positives and the negatives.
When registering v8, the logo is roxio.
... but the email of acknowledgement comes from
Sonic... the link in the email is to a Roxio web page... on and
on... they're in a transition period, so we can consider them
interchangeable when it comes to MyDVD.
The link on my website page for Roxio Easy DVD
Creator shows it's at version 8, with a special offer for $79.99... I
don't have that software and can't comment on how much it aligns with the new
version of MyDVD. I mention it only because it's the comparable DVD software
that Roxio brings to the merged table.
The link on my Sonic MyDVD page shows it's at version 8, with 2
options... MyDVD 8 Essentials for $49.99 and MyDVD 8 Premier for $69.99. The
page has a Roxio logo.
Links on my Sonic DVDIt and Sonic ReelDVD pages still go
to Sonic pages. They're the higher end products for professional
users... MyDVD and Easy DVD Creator are consumer
Besides taking a closer look at the Premier 8 package, this newsletter
will help me understand changes happening because of the merger... I'll
need to make some changes to my website.
... before getting into it
further, here's a couple
Vista Corner... the publicly available
beta versions started this week... now available to enterprise users, and then
to individuals in June. I downloaded the latest 5384 build, but
haven't installed it yet.
Another follow-up note about my first
for-sale video on Google
Video... submitted on May 3... the current status is still "Video
is verified; stay tuned - it will be live shortly"... 23 days and counting
so far to it live. No hurry on my part.
The Renaissance Wedding is Sunday... look
for pictures and videos as they roll out to the website starting
Monday... I purchased a 4th camcorder battery the other day to raise the total
number of minutes of projected recording time to 550
Another current priority is the Photo Story 3 tutorial for
MaximumPC... it's coming along well.
dance recital last weekend is now memories,
with video history on about 90 minutes of mini-DV tape footage. Our
2nd row seats were too close to the stage... the camcorder on the monopod was a
tad below the height of the stage floor, so upper bodies were included
but not feet. At least our grands weren't in any tap
numbers. After intermission, I went upstairs and shot the second
half from the balcony sidelines.
.... back to the main
DVD & Video
Let's look at the menu
choices in reverse sequence.
v6.1 has muvee autoProducer... while
v8 has CineMagic. Similar to AutoMovie in Movie Maker 2, they are the
highest level video editing wizards...
Give them source files and
they'll make an edited movie.
I bought muvee when it first came out over 4 years
ago... but didn't use it after the first fun-filled few weeks. MyDVD Studio
v6.1 includes that muvee software. Let's give CineMagic some video files
and see how it does.
I used WinDV to capture 6 scenes from the dance
recital footage... to type II DV-AVI files.... then opened the
unedited scenes in CineMagic. No need to give it background music for
I worked on the newsletter as it automatically analyzed the
files, taking about 15 minutes for the 18+ minutes of video clips.
It selected 100 seconds of the
footage and strung together a number of clips, with default long fades or
dissolves between them.
The preview window played it, but
silently. There was no audio.
At Step 2 of
CineMagic you customize it, selecting a style, photo duration (I
had only video clips so it was grayed out), overall production duration,
and sequential versus random clip order...
chose Memories, set the production duration to 120 seconds, and left it in
At the final Step 3 window, I first
opted to preview the movie... it took only a few seconds, making it easy to go
back a window to redo the customizing choices and preview again...
CineMagic is similar to the
AutoMovie feature of Movie Maker, something else like muvee that I don't use. It
can do the first cut, and then you can edit it from
There's nothing wrong with the
approach... for users who don't have the time or inclination to get into
making lots of editing decisions like you do in Movie Maker 2. I
prefer being in the driver's seat, but having fun at times checking to see what
the fully automatic approach can do.
When you're ready to go on,
Step 3 gives you the choices shown at the right. I opted to edit it in
VideoWave, the next menu choice in MyDVD.
VideoWave looks a bit similar to
Movie Maker in it's overall interface... it's easy to
When finished editing, there's
a long and interesting list of rendering choices... version
8 Windows Media Codecs, Generic AVI (I wonder what compression codec it uses),
Generic MPEG-1 and 2, Windows Media Video (maybe they use version 9
The rendering time was about as
expected... I selected Windows Media Video 8 for Local Area Network (768
Kbps)... my current usual choice in MM2, which gives me a good looking
movie of 640x480 that works well online.
Checking the rendered movie in WMP
showed it was smaller... 320x240 at 450 Kbps. Did I pick the wrong choice? I repeated it and got the
Besides the lower quality than
expected, there was no audio. CineMagic had stripped the audio from
the clips. It only works with background music separate from the video
files... I hadn't given it any music... or something didn't work
It doesn't seem like the
right process for dance recital videos... maybe for still pictures
with a music file. I'll use Movie Maker to make the dance recital
The steps of the process went along
well, with no hangs, freezes, or error messages.
When hearing no audio (funny.... the
recital was my first major test of a new shotgun mic and here I am editing
the footage and not hearing it)... I stopped at times to check by
playing something else on my laptop... the audio was fine
Moving up to the next
menu item, the one for capturing video from a digital camcorder
As we have ways to capture from a
camcorder, let's check it by using the other option, capturing
from a DVD.
I got as far as telling it I wanted
to capture from a DVD, but it didn't show the DVD contents...
My version of the software doesn't
support the feature... with MyDVD software it's possible that some features
work and some don't, and it's not easy at times to know which things work. Try
it... if it doesn't work, you'll often get a marketing pitch.
I tried a couple discs and gave up,
assuming it's not a feature that works for my version.
I then tried capturing from
my camcorder via firewire... and it worked fine. The file properties of the
captured files said they were compressed with the Panasonic DV Codec
with 16 bit 32 kHz audio ...
There was an option to do a Smart scan... when
pressed the tape was analyzed in fast forward speed. Thumbnails of
each scene were created next to the preview monitor.
The thumbnails let you browse
the contents of the tape. The Roxio Media Import wizard was controlling the
camcorder, moving around the tape as needed.
It was a fun experience, even if I
didn't capture to any MPEG files during it.
Time to move on upwards to the next
menu option, something that was in previous versions of MyDVD but one I hadn't
Plug and Burn (DV to DVD)
I gave it the first of the 2 tapes from the dance recital, one
with a full hour of footage.
Select a menu style, fill in the disc title, select the quality
level (HQ, SP, LP or custom), auto create chapters (I picked doing it
using scene breaks)... and opted to do the whole tape.
I left for a while as it captured the hour of
video and produced a DVD.
It was another interesting enjoyable experiences.
I checked and didn't see it using my hard drive space, not even for
temporary files (it must have been used a bit, but so little
space that I couldn't tell)... the video is being captured from
the camcorder tape, being converted on the fly in real time to MPEG-2
files, and flowing right onto the disc.
It really does deliver on what the menu choice
says, Plug and Burn (DV to DVD).
I finished by thinking... "what if I made a batch of movies in
Movie Maker, and saved them to a camcorder DV tape? I could then make a DVD from
the tape without having to use any of my hard drive space, and having it
done in real time." Maybe someday.
Time to go up to the next menu item....
(Quick DVD) MyDVD Express
I'll start with the same set of DV-AVI type II files of the
recital clips... and open the menu item which takes me to MyDVD Express. It
should be the quickest, easiest option of making a DVD from saved movies
I first tried to bring 6 wmv files into it at once. It
did it, but with only 1 menu icon. I restarted and added one at a time to
get 6 menu buttons.
You can choose to burn a DVD, VCD, or SVCD. I did the odd one,
an SVCD which encoded and burned fine. There's a small 'Encoding preview'
monitor which shows you the video being made. Feel free to do other things with
the computer during the renderings. Let it have all the resources during the
last part, the burning of the disc. Interfering with that step can result
in a coaster.
Playback of the SVCD in Windows Media Player was good... the
MPEG-2 SVCD files are 480x480 pixels (non-square in playback so they look
normal 4:3), and the audio is there...
For an easy and quick disc, this express line seems like a good
choice. Let's see what more you get with the top menu choice, the one
for full service DVD.
MyDVD 8... Make a DVD
Using the same 6 video files I used in the express line...
dragging and dropping them in one at a time.
Then I added a slide show of still pix with 3 music files for
background, and previewed the show... it played each picture for a
long 25 seconds, as it fit the number of pictures to the overall duration of the
3 music files.
By moving on to the next window, it gave me options
to customize it... 5 seconds per pix... and select a visual style. I
checked the option to apply pan and zoom to all, but I didn't notice any of
them moving in the preview... maybe the movement would be
there in the DVD.
MyDVD 8 includes 14 menu styles... and a button to get more. The
two online packages with 5 more styles in each are $29.99
One of the menu tasks is to add an intro movie... I did...
adding an unrelated video.
You can opt to edit a movie from
within MyDVD. Effects, transitions, text overlays, background music... and the
audio of the video clip itself work in this part of the app.
These editing features are sweet
spots in the package. More editing options in more places... there can't be too
many things to select from.
The screen shot shows my
grand-daughter Olivia on stage, with the frame and text effects added by
You can add chapter points to
any or all of the movies in the menu.
Put a blank disc in the drive, press
the burn button... and it's into encoding and disk
Here's where things took a scary turn, but recovered.
Attempts to play my first full-featured DVD back
showed it being a rare 'coaster', not recognized by any
of the DVD software on my laptop, not even by MyDVD 8
which made it.
One error message said it couldn't recognize the format of the
disc.... but there hadn't been any error messages throughout the
process of rendering and burning. Other indications were about there not being
a disc in the drive.
I had watched it burn, and could visually see the section
of the disc that was used... and it looked normal. I put the disc in a
drive of my Vista system and it opened it in WMP, showed the files on the disc,
and started to show the Intro Movie... I put other DVDs in my laptop and
they played fine... the only issue was my laptop which just made the disc
couldn't read it.
So goes the all-too-normal issues when making and playing
home-made DVDs. To cross-check it, I did the project over from scratch and
made another disc... which played fine. The coaster was an anomaly and I
threw it away.
Conclusions and Closing
I'm glad it worked as well as it did. You can run into issues with MyDVD,
some of no consequence and others serious. I don't like closing on a
negative note, but Sonic/Roxio have some work to do to have the
community of users saying positive things about their tech
An example of a minor but possibly frustrating
one: I installed My DVD Premier 8 on March 3rd. The install
went fine, and on March 28th I decided to do the online registration. First
I did Cine Player which registered fine. Then MyDVD 8 which told me I
didn't have an internet connection.
I tried again and again to register it, at least weekly, and always got the
message that I didn't have an internet connection. 3 months of unsuccessful
attempts. Guess when it decided to acknowledge my connection and successfully
register? Yup, as I was writing the info about registration for this
newsletter... on May 20th.... OK, I missed my chances to get a screen shot
of the error message.
Not being able to register isn't a serious issue. But I've run into
technical issues on previous versions of MyDVD, taking a week once to do
what was usually done in a few hours as I had to spoon feed files
to each step of the process. In such instances, Sonic tech
support is either unreachable or essentially useless. On my most serious issue
to date, it's now over a year since I mailed a set of the source files to
Sonic for lab checking/testing at their end... with no response.
The one coaster from the testing done for this newsletter is a
non-issue, as I didn't need it, and I might have been pushing files and data
around too quickly for it. Next week's work with the Renaissance wedding videos
will be different. I'll cross my fingers, knock on wood, and use other
software if I need to.
Is MyDVD good? Yes!!! Is it worth the $50 to $80 price tag? Sure. Will
you be able to resolve any technical issues if you run into them? Probably
not... tech support was bad before, but now Roxio can say it wasn't on
their watch, and Sonic can say to check with Roxio. You might have to
switch to something else. I won't be able to help.
.... and from what I can see, the underpinnings of Vista's new DVD
Maker is from... Sonic
Have a great week...