Ulead DVD MovieFactory 4.0 Disc Creator Edition
In DVD MovieFactory 4.0 Disc Creator Edition, Ulead has added support for a variety of new disc formats and made the program easier to use, cementing its transition from video-DVD creator to all-around disc maker. Ulead also improved the program's core function by adding more video-menu options, such as allowing you to move and resize all the elements on a DVD menu. For motion menus, you can set the duration of the background and button videos as well. But Ulead's improvements don't always go far enough, and working with DVD MovieFactory means making compromises. You can add pan-and-zoom effects to a slide show, for example, but your setting will apply to the whole group of pictures, not just to a specified one or two. On the whole, it's a strong disc-burning program, but we still recommend for power users and for hobbyists. Installing DVD MovieFactory 4.0 Disc Creator is probably a little easier if you purchase the boxed copy rather than downloading it. The downloadable version supplies you with two links, one for the suite itself (a roughly 90MB file) and one with additional media content (roughly 345MB). The full installation requires almost 1GB of disk space. You might be tempted to skip the media file (especially if your two-hour-plus download keeps failing, as ours did--Ulead's PR acknowledged this problem and assured us that Ulead is working on improving the download). But keep trying. Without the media file, the program has templates for only six DVD menus, and that's not enough.
Once the download is complete, installing the software is as simple as can be. Start the program, and you'll get the launcher, which looks like an Apple flat-panel monitor and does a good job of sllaying out your disc-burning options. The suite's various apps have a common look and an organized, clean appearance that helps you find your way around quickly.In the competitive field of disc-burning software, a program can't risk falling behind on new formats. DVD MovieFactory 4.0 Disc Creator has added support for double-layer DVDs, DVD+VR 2.0, and xDVD (xDVD is the format created when burning a DVBT file--a primarily European broadcast format--to DVD; you'll need an xDVD-compliant DVD player to play the disc). The app also adds an option for 16:9 wide-screen menus and video editing, support for Dolby digital audio, and the ability to export video as DVD-VR. A new Auto-Fit tool lets you compress the content of 8.5GB DVDs so that they'll fit on 4.7GB DVDs. The Auto-Fit tool doesn't work with commercial DVDs, but of course that's verboten anyway.
Those features sound great, but what about improvements to everyday tasks? To that end, Ulead comes through with better video-editing tools, including a jog wheel and a speed shuttle that help you find your place in a video, making editing much easier than with version 3.0. You can also now save your work when creating a video disc, so you don't need to finish your project in one sitting. Despite the improvements to the video-editing tools, this app still wouldn't be our choice for a serious video editor. If you need to do anything more than make trims, look to a full-featured editing app such as Ulead's own.
DVD MovieFactory 4.0 Disc Creator now also lets you add pan-and-zoom effects to your photo slide shows, customize the look of your DVD menus, and lighten dark clips with one button. Unfortunately, these features aren't as useful as they seem on paper. Create a slide show and try to use the new pan-and-zoom effect, and you'll see what we mean. You can't control exactly how the effect pans across your photo, as you can with Apple's; instead, you need to select a type of pan from a menu that doesn't show a preview. Worse, the pan-and-zoom effect you choose automatically applies to every photo in your slide show. The same is true for adding transitions. Although the program includes fantastic new options for creating DVD menus, including letting you freely place the buttons and text and also adjust the motion duration for buttons and the menu background, you're forced to apply the same duration for the background and all of the buttons. You can't give each one its own length.
Quick-Drop Desktop icons add a whole new component to the suite. This set of six metallic-looking icons lives at the right side of your screen and provides a quick way to burn discs. Simply drag content to the right icon (there are icons for burning video, data, and music discs) and click the Burn button that appears. The other Quick-Drop icons let you preview media files, copy a disc, and synchronize content with a removable disc.