Encore DVD, Adobe's new professional DVD-authoring application, lets you have your cake and eat it, too. It's a tasty cake for beginners, with easy drag-and-drop menu creation and automatic transcoding to DVD formats--basic features common to lower-priced packages such as . But it's a filling cake, too, with a handful of professional-level features and tools including subtitles, navigation link overrides, and mastering options. Encore is well integrated into the work flow of Adobe's digital media tools, giving you more design control over your production. Still, Encore is Adobe's first attempt in the authoring space, and there are some unfortunate compromises with the interface and certain features. We prefer Apple's DVD Studio Pro 2.0 for its higher-end authoring options, but for Windows users, Adobe Encore DVD offers the most functionality of any similarly priced package.
Adobe Encore DVD runs on Windows XP only: it won't work with previous versions of Windows or the Mac OS. It's a fairly significant limitation, but it's necessary for Encore to take full advantage of Microsoft's new digital media architecture. (You are also required to update to &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Emicrosoft%2Ecom%2Fwindows%2Fdirectx%2Fdefault%2Easpx%3Furl%3D%2Fwindows%2Fdirectx%2Fproductinfo%2Foverview%2Fdefault%2Ehtm" target="_blank">Microsoft's DirectX 9.0.) Encore may ask you to update your video card drivers to avoid video playback glitches, as well. Once all of that's taken care of, installation is quick and easy. The program directory uses about 80MB of space for a basic library of buttons, graphics, and menu backgrounds. The installation disc also includes some 280 additional buttons, images, and menu backgrounds. Adobe's downloadable maintenance release 1.0.1 from December 2003 includes a variety of bug fixes and speed enhancements.
Encore's interface should be familiar and comfortable for users of other Adobe products. There's a Project window to assemble and organize assets andTimeline and Monitor windows. Adobe users will also recognize Menu Editor windows; Toolbars; and Layers, Character, and Library palettes similar to those in . Multiple windows can be nested with tabs to save space, but the interface has limitations: you can't resize the palettes or save window layouts.
Encore lets you drag and drop to add clips to menus or to create links between menus and clips. For more hands-on control, palettes let you view and set attributes individually or in a group; you can add a background audio track to a group of menus in one operation, for example, or select buttons on several menus and change the associated link for all of them simultaneously. The Project window lets you keep things organized with sortable lists of Menus and Timelines to make sure clips are consistently defined and linked. There's also a helpful Check Links feature that keeps tabs on orphaned menus.
Encore's Integrated Menu Editor makes menu and button creation easy; just drag and drop.
Encore gives everything you need to create great-looking DVDs. The integrated Menu Editor lets you build custom menus with still or video backgrounds, graphics overlays, titles and text, buttons, and links. Buttons are highly customizable. You can use Photoshop layers to determine a button's graphical shape, highlight colors, and text label; you can even include a thumbnail image or a video from the linked video clip. Best of all, you can transfer menus directly between Encore and Photoshop for more sophisticated design work without flattening layers or making conversions required by other DVD tools.