DIY: Create Your Own DVD Masterpiece

How to create DVDs from your digital video files using Sonic's MyDVD.

Create Your Own DVDs
You've bought the super-slick camcorder and have recorded hours and hours of footage, of everything from baby's first steps to twenty-first birthday parties (and everything in between). So what are you going to do with all of that footage?

We suggest you make your own video masterpiece on DVD. The price of DVD burners has come down in the past year and many new computers and laptops ship with DVD burning capabilities built-in. In this handy DIY guide, learn how to create DVDs from your digital video files using Sonic's MyDVD. Here is a quick run-down of what you will need to do to get started:

Step 3: Setting up

Step 1: Verify that you have all of the hardware required
Since we will be creating a DVD, you will need to have a DVD burner. This can either be a DVD burner installed in your computer or an external DVD burner, like the Sony DRX800UL.

Since we will be using a software application installed on your computer to create and burn your DVD, you will need some way of capturing the video from your camera or VCR.

If you have a digital video camcorder, it probably came with a cable and software to connect your camera to your computer -- if you are working with an older camcorder, you may need to purchase a video capture card or cable to get your video footage on to your computer. Step 2: Download a copy of Sonic's MyDVD
MyDVD is one of the easiest DVD authoring tools around and is popular with hobbyists and hard-core video fanatics alike. MyDVD is bundled with a number of DV camcorders and video editing packages, but if you don't already have a copy, you can download a trail version from here. Once you have downloaded the software, installation of the product is quick and you should be ready to go in under 10 minutes. Step 3: Setting Up
When you first start MyDVD, one of the things you will need to check is the setting for the television standard. MyDVD will look at your computer's locale setting to pick the correct standard (PAL or NTSC) based on your location. To double-check that this was setup correctly, select Tools > Options and in the General tab, select PAL for Australia. Step 4: Starting a New Project
To start creating your own DVD, click the New Project button on the MyDVD toolbar. This will open a dialog like the one shown below in Figure 1.

Figure 1: New Project Options

MyDVD can be used to create different types of DVD formats -- in this example, we are going to create a DVD-Video, which is compatible with most DVD Players. Step 5: Adding Menu Items
Commercial DVD's have multiple menus and sub-menus that are used to navigate through the CD contents and with MyDVD, you can add these same menu options to your own DVDs. MyDVD has a number of preset templates that you can use to give your DVD a polished look and feel, and these range from templates for holiday videos, baby videos, sport videos, etc.

By default, MyDVD will apply the "travel" template but you can change that by clicking the Edit Style button. This will open a dialog where you can pick a new style and customise the style settings, like fonts, colours, etc.

To add a sub-menu item to your DVD, drag the New Sub Menu icon from the toolbar on the left onto your main menu screen, as shown in Figure 2. You can double-click any text on the page to edit and by default, any sub menus you drag on the menu will automatically be arranged, but you can place them anywhere you like by clicking on the option to Arrange Buttons Manually from the right-hand side of the page.

Figure 2: A typical DVD main menu

You can preview your DVD menu by clicking the Play button at the bottom of the page. In addition, if the template features animation you can click the "Running Man" button (near the Play button) to display any background animation when you preview, so you can get a feel for what the finished menu will look like.

To navigate through your DVD menus, double-click a menu item to move down to that page, or use the up-arrow icon (which is added automatically) to move back to the main menu. Step 6: Adding Video or Image Content
To add the video to your DVD, drag the Add Files icon on to your menu page. This will open a dialog that will allow you to browse for a video file that you have stored on your computer. Once you have added this file to your DVD, you can then edit the video using the tools found in the dialog shown below in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Video Editing Options

You can use this dialog to trim your video footage using the red and green sliders on the playback bar and you can added multiple video clips together with transitions by dragging the video clip and/or transition into place on the timeline at the bottom of the screen.

And keep in mind that MyDVD also features a capture facility for recording video directly from your camcorder or other source and you can also create a slide show of static graphic files, enabling you to combine digital photos and video into one professional-quality DVD. Step 7: Burning your DVD
When you have all of your menus, sub-menus and content added to your project and are happy with the results, it is time to burn your project to DVD. Luckily, with MyDVD this is quite easy as there is a button in the bottom right-hand corner marked Burn -- when you are finished, click this button and a dialog will appear, allowing you to select your DVD burner and the number of copies you want to make -- it's that simple!

So whether you are creating your own movie masterpiece or just transferring the kid's first steps to DVD, with a little bit of creativity and Sonic MyDVD, you will be burning like a pro in no time!
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