Cyberlink PowerProducer DVD Authoring Guide

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Date Added: Aug 6, 2007
Date Updated: Aug 6, 2007


PowerProducer 4 is Cyberlink's DVD authoring software. PowerProducer allows you to author DVDs with menus and other advanced features, while streamlining the process to be simple enough for the average home user. In addition to DVD authoring, PowerProducer also supports Blu-ray and HD DVD authoring (although this guide does not cover these topics).

This guide is aimed at users new to DVD authoring, but is already fairly comfortable with things like video conversion and editing and know about basic DVD structures like Titles and Chapters.

PowerProducer is missing several useful features when it comes to DVD authoring, including multiple audio track support, subtitle support and VOB importing without re-encoding. Read our DVD Authoring Tools Roundup to find out which DVD authoring tool is best for your needs.

Software you'll need:


Step 1: Checking your input files

Before you load your inputs into PowerProducer, it is best to make sure that these input files are all of the same system (PAL or NTSC). As a rule, files that are 23.976, 24, 29.97 or 30 frame per second are NTSC. While PAL video is at 25 FPS. Multiples of these frame rates (eg. 15 FPS and 60 FPS => NTSC) are sometime used as well. There are many ways to check for the frame rate of your video file, for example, using GSpot for AVI files. I prefer to organise my videos before even starting PowerProducer, so I will know beforehand what kind of DVD I am making. Normally, your video player software will also show you the frame rate of the file. For example, in Windows Media Player, you can find out the frame rate of the video by accessing the "Statistics" options from the "View" menu, go to the "Advanced" tab and the "frame rate" will be displayed there.

Windows Media Player: Statistics


Windows Media Player: Statistics


If you are using Media Player Classic, you can find out the frame rate by going to the "File" menu, selecting "Properties", go to the "Details" tab and the FPS will be shown there (the screenshot below shows: "Video: MPEG4 Video (H264) 720x384 25.00fps [Video]").

Media Player Classic: Properties


Another method to find out details about your video file, that will work for almost any kind of video file, is to use MediaInfo. Simply download and install MediaInfo, load in your video file, and the details about the video will be shown, including the framerate (fps).

MediaInfo: Video Details


Once you have found out the frame rates of your video files, separate the NTSC and PAL ones, as you do not want to mix them together when making a single DVD. You should probably also separate the widescreen and full-frame videos. So each DVD you make should only contain widescreen PAL, widescreen NTSC, full-frame PAL or full-frame NTSC content. It's also probably a good idea now to check your input video to see if they have any audio synch issues, and fix them before loading them into PowerProducer.



Step 2: Starting and setting up a new project

Start PowerProducer. You will be shown the following screen, click on "Produce movie disc" option.

PowerProducer: Home


You should now be presented with the "Select your disc" screen where you select what kind of disc you want to make. Click on the "DVD" button for step 1, select "DVD" for step 2, select the capacity of your disc in step 3 (4.7 GB or dual layer 8.5 GB disc) and then select whether you want to make a 16:9 (widescreen) or 4:3 (full-frame) DVD.

PowerProducer: Select your disc


Press the "next" button Next to continue.

You will now be taken to the "Content" screen, where you can load in your input video, and access the DVD authoring options.

PowerProducer: Content


Before we load in our video files, we need to set up the project first. Press the "Preferences" button Preferences at the top of the screen.

PowerProducer: Project Preferences


For "Movie playback mode", select how playback will work on the disc (play title, and then return to the menu; play all titles and then return to the menu or not have a menu at all). The working directory is where the output DVD files will be placed (it is best to ensure this is a new empty folder). The temporary directory is where the temporary files will be stored.

For Menu settings, "Add a thumbnail index" will number each video title or chapter and display it on the menu. Enabling the "Enable video thumbnail" option will allow motion menus to show movie video for the selectable thumbnails, as opposed to just a still picture. You can then specify the length of the motion (taking into account that every second of motion will require more space on the disc to store the menu, which mean less space for the actual movie).

"Eject after erasing" will eject the re-writable disc after erasing. "Display TV safe zone" will show a dotted rectangle on the menu preview screen, showing what is the safe area to have your menu (some older TVs do overscan, which basically zooms in on the picture to prevent a black border from showing around it, and the safe area ensures your whole menu will be visible on these TVs).

Click on the "Video/Audio" tab to access more settings. Here, you can select the video quality and audio format to use, as well as the video system (PAL or NTSC). For video quality, selecting "HQ" will give you the best quality, but if you want to ensure everything fits exactly onto your blank media (at the best possible quality given the available space), you can select the "Smart Fit" option. For audio format, it is recommended that you select "Dolby Digital", as "PCM" (while ensuring maximum 2-channel quality) will take up too much space (650 MB for every 70 minute of audio), and MPEG audio is not that common. For "Location", select PAL or NTSC based on your input video (see Step 1).

PowerProducer: Video/Audio Preferences


Press the green tick button to save your preferences and return to the Content screen.

Now is probably a good time to save your compilation/project, by using the Save/Save as buttons at the top. Remember to save your compilation often.

PowerProducer: Save/Save As




Step 3: Load the input files, editing and chapter creation

We now load in our video files to the DVD compilation. From the "Import" section, select "Video Files" to load in your video files - various file formats are supported, from AVI (DivX/XviD), to VOB and even Media Center recorded DVR-MS files. Alternatively, you can add in pictures to make a picture slideshow (not covered by this guide), or even capture video.

PowerProducer: Import


If you did not select "Smart Fit" for the video quality option, then you should keep an eye on the compilation size meter down at the bottom - the blue part represents the amount of space your current compilation is using, where the red part represents the limit where if surpassed, your compilation will be over size. If you selected "Smart Fit", this shouldn't be a problem because the video will be re-encoded to fit onto your media automatically.

PowerProducer: Size


Once you load in your video files, they will be added to the menu preview. There should be thumbnails for each video you've added, and if you double click on them, the video will play. Do that to each video to check that their aspect ratio is correct (picture is not too wide, or too tall). If the aspect ratio is wrong, right click on the thumbnail, and select "Properties" - here, you can change the name of the clip, as well as adjust the aspect ratio.

PowerProducer: Clip Properties


You can also edit the video. From the "Edit" section, select "Video clips".

PowerProducer: Edit


This will give you a simplified video editor, complete with cutting, merging and splitting. It's all fairly intuitive, so I won't cover the instructions in detail. Here, you can use the slider to skip the video to a section, and then click on the "Set as title thumbnail" - this will set the current selected video image as the thumbnail for the title, which will be displayed on the menu.

PowerProducer: Set as title thumbnail


There is also an "Advanced Editing" button, which opens the included PowerDirector Express (a cut down version of PowerDirector, Cyberlink's video editing tool). Using PowerDirector Express is outside the scope of this guide, so instructions won't be covered, but a full guide on using PowerDirector will be available in the near future.

PowerDirector Express


Press the green tick button to save your edit and return to the Content screen.

From the "Edit" section, select "Chapters".

PowerProducer: Edit Chapters


Here, you can add chapter stops to your video clips - these chapters stops will be selectable from the menu or controlled using the player's chapter skip forward/backward controls, just like on a commercial DVD. The fastest way to add chapters is to use the automatic chapter function, you can set the number of chapters you want, and PowerProducer will automatically create these chapters evenly spaced on the clip. Alternatively, you can use the scene change detection to add a chapter whenever there is a scene change (using the slider below to set the sensitivity of the scene change detection - setting it to +, towards the right, will mean more sensitivity and more chapters being created). Press the "Start" button (circled in red in the screenshot below) to start either automatic chapter creation functions.

PowerProducer: Automatically add chapters


Any added chapters will be shown as thumbnails in the storyboard section on the bottom, and the menu tree at the top will show how many pages of chapter menus have been created so far.

PowerProducer: Chapters thumbnails in the storyboard


PowerProducer: Chapters menu tree


You can also add chapter manually, by using the video preview slider and then clicking on the "Set Chapter" button (circled in red below). By default, the video image at the chapter point will be used as the chapter thumbnail image, but you can actually set a different image (any image within the current chapter) to be used by using the slider and clicking on the "Set as chapter thumbnail" button (circled in blue below).

PowerProducer: Set chapter thumbnail/point


You can select which video file/title you want to add chapters to by using the title selection arrows in the storyboard section.

PowerProducer: Select Title


Once you are happy with your chapter edits, press the green tick button to save the changes and return to the Content screen.



Step 4: Menu Creation

Now we proceed to make a menu for our DVD compilation. PowerProducer comes with several different templates for menus, some of which can be customized. To select a template, select the "Menu" option under the "Edit" section.

PowerProducer: Edit Menu


Click on the "Template" button, and from the drop down menu, select a theme for your menu (eg. Sports).

PowerProducer: Menu Themes


Press the "+" button to add your own custom background image for the current theme. You can also click on the "Apply to all menus" button to apply this template to all the menus on your compilation. If you want to create your own menu template from scratch instead of using an existing one, the best way is to select an existing template that sort of looks like what you want to make, add a custom background using the "+" button, and then configure the template options (button per page, layout, frame ... see below, these options are not enabled if you do not add your own custom background) to your taste.

PowerProducer: Apply to all menus


Click on the "Return" button to return to the template options page.

PowerProducer: Return


Click on "Buttons per page" to indicate how many buttons/thumbnails you want per page - this applies to the chapter menu as well. There are also "Frame", "Button Layout" and "Button Style" options, althought not for these options to become available for selection, you will need to use a custom background image (added using the "+" button described above).

PowerProducer: Menu Buttons


Once you have selected your menu template and the template options, you can also add a background music to the menu, and add a "first play video" (a video which plays before the menu shows up). Remember that for background music, it will only play for a certain length before either stopping or restart from the beginning - the length setting was set earlier in the preferences section (see Step 2). You can click on the "Remove background music" button to remove the music, but I find that you will also have to make some other changes to the menu, as otherwise the music is not properly removed (the template is not saved). When making the menu, especially motion menus, keep an eye on the size bar down at the bottom to make sure you compilation isn't too big - a 60 second motion menu can take quite a lot of space, especially if it has animation/motion thumbnails.

PowerProducer: Menu Options


You can also choose to save your template for future usage, or load one you have made before.

PowerProducer: Save Menu


When you have finished making the menu, press the green tick button to save the changes and return to the Content screen.

Here, you can edit text elements of the menu by double clicking on the text to change it.



Step 5: Output

Finally, we will create the output DVD files for burning. Press the "next" button Next to continue.

Here, you can decide what to do with the compilation. You can burn straight to disc, create a image file or create a DVD folder which you can then burn with tools like ImgBurn. As with all my other DVD authoring guides, I prefer the DVD folder option, as this gives me the opportunity to test my compilation in PowerDVD or another software player before comitting to disc.

If you do decide to burn straight to disc , pop in the blank disc into your DVD drive, erase the disc if it is a non-empty re-writable disc , select a volume label and then click on the "Configure" button to configure the burning options. As a general tip, always burn at the lowest speed possible to ensure an error free burn.

PowerProducer: Burning Options


PowerProducer: Burning Configuration


If you want to make a image file, you should also change the label.

Select one of the output options (burn to disc, disc image or dvd folder), for image/folder, select an output location.

PowerProducer: Burning Configuration


All that's left to do now is to click on the "Burn" button Burn (it's called the "Burn" button, even though you might not actually be burning anything yet). Wait while PowerProducer does its work ...

PowerProducer: Progress


After PowerProducer finishes, you will either have a newly burnt DVD (if you selected to burn straight to disc option), or you will have a RDX image file or a DVD folder (complete with VIDEO_TS folder, IFO, BUP and VOB files) ready for testing and burning. You can test playback of the DVD folder in PowerDVD or another software DVD player, and if you are happy with the results, burn to DVD using PowerProducer's built-in disc utility. When the processing finishes, you should have been presented with the option to go back to the main menu (the first screen you see when PowerProducer is started) - go there and click on the "Disc utilities" option.

PowerProducer: Disc Utilities


There are several disc functions you can select, such as erasing a re-writable disc, copying an existing disc, burn disc from the image you just created, save a disc to a image file or burn a disc from the DVD folder you just created.

PowerProducer: Disc Utilities Options


The burning options are fairly simple, just pop in a blank media, select your burner, choose a burning speed (again, set to the lowest possible to ensure an error free burn), and in the case of burning a DVD folder, select a label, press the "Burn" button and off you go. When loading the DVD folder, select the folder that is on top of the "AUDIO_TS" and "VIDEO_TS" folder (eg. in my example, the folder I need to select is c:\temp\output\MyVideo).

PowerProducer: Burn DVD Folder


Alternatively, you can use ImgBurn to burn the DVD folder - using our Burning a DVD Folder with ImgBurn guide if you wish.

We're done :)



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