Family DVD authoring in three steps

By using Sony Vegas Pro 8.0 and TMPGEnc Authoring Works 4, I finally created the long-overdue family DVDs for the 80th birthday celebrations of my grandfather.

Editing the original files

The original videos were taken by a Sony hard drive Handycam, which creates video files with MTS extensions. I have about ten gigabytes of these files, and I need to find an efficient way to edit them — mainly taking out the shaky footage.

Sony Vegas Pro is made for such task after opening the file in the trimmer: either use “add media from/Up to cursor” or draw a region on the media and drag or copy it to the editing zone. This is the most time consuming task, and every second of the media needs to be watched for highest editing quality, which is not an easy job for a long footage.

Out of the treasure of functions sported in Sony Vegas Pro, I employed two features for my task: overlap the media for smooth transition between scenes; creating text media to preclude certain videos as an introduction or explanation. The first feature is especially useful, and I can overlap clips in the same track or even overlap videos on different tracks. I use this feature for smooth transition between the scenes, but it seems possible to create a man walking in the sky by merging a walking scene with a clip of the blue sky.

Exporting the files

After finishing the editing, the next step is rendering the media into certain formats. I choose DVD PAL format to create a mpeg 2 file for DVD. Make sure to check the audio settings because some DVD file rendering does not have audio enabled by default.

I believe I made a mistake when rendering the media. Since the original MTS files are NTSC format, it is better to choose DVD NTSC for the mpeg file to save the conversion time, though I haven’t tested the conversion speed with or without the format conformity. It took about six hours for a 1.5hr MTS video being converted into DVD mpeg format on a HP DV2000T with a Core 2 Duo T7200 CPU.

At hindsight, I should also have wasted time on setting transition effects between clips because I can do almost the same much faster under TMPGEnc DVD authoring program.

Make the DVD

The converted file is approximately 4.7GB, tailored by Sony Vegas for the size of a common DVD disc. The next move is turning the mpeg file into DVD files, create a menu and burn it into the disc.

Just add the video file into TMPGEnc Authoring Works as a track, and split the long file into chapters. I am amazed how easy to quickly navigate though the whole video, and pinpoint the exact frame to split into chapters. Right or left click on the video strip can quickly move forward or backward, which is faster and accurate than seeking with cursor.

With a long video split into chapters, I added transitions between them, and used a menu template for the navigation menu. All this can be done quickly and intuitively under this amazing application. TMPGEnc Authoring Works is also good for creating photo slide shows, and I decide to use it to replace Proshow Gold for my future photos slide projects. Proshow does come with more lens movements for the photos, and even with more transition effects. Unfortunately some transition effects of Proshow Gold is not suitable for photoed people.

Transition effects and culture

Proshow Gold has some transition effects which may slit a person in the picture into halves or make that person’s head detach from the body — certainly not good for sensitive viewers. Unfortunately I couldn’t find an option to exclude these cutting transitions and apply the rest to the batch of pictures. Checking and changing the transitions for every single picture is just too time-consuming.

When watching the DVD, my mother complained about the ‘blackout transition effects’ between scenes, although that transition is widely used in documentaries and other TV programs. She might think that it’s not good to darken a person in the video into a black background.

I am not sure if the westerners have the same perspective.

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