Womble EasyDVD DVD Authoring Guide

Original Page URL: https://www.digital-digest.com/articles/Womble_EasyDVD_DVD_Authoring_Guide_page1.html
Date Added: Nov 12, 2009
Date Updated: Nov 12, 2009

Womble's MPEG Video Wizard is considered by many semi-pro users as a great MPEG editing tool. MPEG Video Wizard DVD included a DVD authoring component, but Womble has taken this to the next step with Womble EasyDVD, a dedicated DVD authoring tool to compete with the likes of TMPGEnc DVD Author, Nero Vision and others. One of the best things about Womble MPEG Video Wizard was that it was very clever at detecting just which parts of the input video needed to be re-encoded. EasyDVD follows this philosophy, making it an excellent tool for small DVD edits or to author a new DVD from existing DVD footage, without the need for any re-encoding and thereby saving a lot of time and CPU cycles.

This guide, like the EasyDVD software, is aimed at users who are fairly new to DVD authoring, but has a very basic grasp of video conversion and editing. While EasyDVD supports basic video editing, it is expected that your source files should already have been edited and ready for DVD authoring, using say Womble MPEG Video Wizard. As EasyDVD is a relatively new software, it does not yet support subtitles and multiple audio tracks.

Software you'll need:

Step 1: Starting and setting up a new project

Installing Womble EasyDVD is very straight forward, so you shouldn't run into any problems. Just follower the instructions in the installer and you'll be fine.

Start Womble EasyDVD. You'll be at the introduction screen. You have the option to create a new project or open an existing one. But before we do either, we'll configure some of the global options for the software. To do this, click on the "Options" button near the top right corner of the software.

EasyDVD: Start

The "General" options tab allows you to set whether to load the previously edited/saved project at the start, and whether to check for new updates at the start. Moving on to the "Source" tab, the only option here allows you to set the default minimum chapter duration, which is useful when you use the automatic chapter creation tool. Onto the next tab, "Menu", here you can set the default, minimum and maximum menu duration settings. And lastly in the "Output" section, you can allow for the export of non standard DVDs (not really recommended) and a couple of other non essential options. You can now close the options window. Most of the important options will be set later on, so don't worry.

EasyDVD: Options - General

EasyDVD: Options - Source

EasyDVD: Options - Menu

EasyDVD: Options - Output

Press the "New" button to start a new project. We'll be forwarded to the "Source" section. Note at the top there are 6 sections, "Start", "Source", "Menu", "Preview", "Output" and "Burn". For those that have used DVD authoring tools before, these sections will be pretty familiar. If not, then these represents the various steps in DVD authoring, "Source" is where we add in the input video files that we will create a DVD from.


Step 2: Load the input files, editing and chapter creation

We'll now add in our input video files, perform some basic editing if needed, and create chapter points. All of this can be accomplished at the "Source" stage. Before we add in our input movies, you might notice that there are actually two "Add" buttons here, and this requires an explanation of the data management structure of EasyDVD, which is very similar to that of most other authoring packages. The top "Add" button, with the movie reel icon, is for adding what EasyDVD refers to as "Movies". The bottom "Add" button with the film strip icon is for adding "Clips".

EasyDVD: Source

A "Movie" consists of one or more "Clips". So what is a movie and what is a clip? Well, a movie generally contains one or more clips that will play continuously and have the same property (same resolution, aspect ratio, audio ...). Let's use the example of taking a existing movie DVD and then re-authoring it in EasyDVD. The main movie will consist of several VOB files on the DVD, each of these VOB files will be a clip, but will belong to the same "Movie". So in this case, you'll first press the "Add Movie" button to add the first VOB file for the main movie, and then you will use the "Add Clip" button to load the other VOB files. For the bonus features, you can group each bonus feature as their own movie, so the documentary would be a movie consisting of one or more VOB files, the trailer would be another movie and so on. Basically, a "Movie" will have it's own menu entry, whereas "Clips" will not, apart from being in the chapter select menu.

Once you add a movie, an icon is added below to represent the movie. You can right click on this icon to change some of its properties. The first thing to do is to select or deselect it as a "First Play" item. A first play item is something that plays at the start of disc insertion, before any menus are shown. This could be a studio trailer, a copyright notice, or if you prefer movies to start right away without the menu, the main movie. You can also edit the label of the movie to make it easier from an organisation point of view.

EasyDVD: Source - Movie Options

Selecting the "Encoder Settings" option opens up the encoder options for this movie, where you can modify the audio and video encoder options. If EasyDVD detected that your input files are already DVD compliant, then you should see two blue bars which represent "Stream Copy" (or no re-encoding). Otherwise, parts or all of the video (and audio) may require re-encoding. While EasyDVD will do its best to detect whether your source is PAL or NTSC, you should check to make sure that the right settings are selected here, and do the same with the aspect ratio setting. If you're not sure what these options mean, it's best to just leave it as it is.

EasyDVD: Source - Encoder Settings

So load in all your input files first (it might take a while to load in, depending on the length of your input files), and then label and adjust the encoder settings. Below is a screenshot of the example I used for this guide, which consists of a main movie, a studio logo trailer that will be a "first play" and a featurette for the movie (my source files were from an unencrypted DVD, so no re-encoding necessary). Note that the main movie I had consisted of 5 VOB clips.EasyDVD: Source - Loaded Sources

We're not done with the source section just yet. Clicking on the movie or clip icon allows you to edit and add chapters. The editing facility is pretty basic compared to say Womble MPEG Video Wizard, but extensive editing should not really be performed in a DVD authoring tool. Editing is basically limited to trimming away parts of the video that you don't need, and you need to first click on the clip icon (not the movie icon) of the clip you wish to trim. A video preview of the clip is shown on the right, and below that, you have control buttons. For editing, the three buttons we need are the mark-in, mark-out and the trim button. Use the mark-in and mark-out buttons to select the part that you want to cut out, and then use the trim button to remove that part. The Undo and Redo buttons are useful if you've made a mistake.

EasyDVD: Source - Edit Controls

The last thing we will do in the source section is to create the chapter points. These are the points that can be skipped to using the next/previous chapter buttons on your DVD remote, or selectable in the chapters menus. You can manually add in chapter points, or to automatically add them in based on duration (for example, add a chapter point every X minutes) or the number of chapters (set Y number of chapters and EasyDVD will create them with equal durations). Note that the start of each clip in your movie has a chapter point automatically added, but you can remove them if you need do. You can click on the movie icon or the clip icons, and then use the chapter control buttons to add/remote chapters, or to create chapter points based on duration. To remove chapter points, use the prev/next chapter control buttons and then click on the "add/remove chapter" button. Chapters are noted as yellow points on the timeline.

EasyDVD: Source - Chapter Controls

EasyDVD: Source - Add Chapters of Equal Duration

Now is probably a good time to save your project. To do so, go back to the "Start" section and select the save option. Next, skip to the "Output" section, and note the size of the project listed under "Project Information" - you need to control this so that the compilation fits onto your DVD, otherwise you may need to re-encode everything (if your input isn't DVD compliant, then it doesn't matter as much, since it will require re-encoding anyway). Click on the "Menu" button at the top to go to the menu section. Remember to save the project often from now on.

Step 3: Creating Menus

Now we get to the meaty part of EasyDVD. EasyDVD includes a few menu templates you can use to quickly create menus, but for the purpose of this tutorial, we'll create a menu from the grounds up, just to provide instructions on the basics. For the example used by this tutorial, there will be a main menu where you can select to play the movie, go to the chapter menu, or go to the bonus features menu. There will be two chapters menus to host the 12 chapter points (6 on each page), which links to each other as well as back to the main page. And then there's the bonus menu, which links to a featurette, and as well as back to the main page. Let's first have a look at the layout of the menu editing area.

EasyDVD: Menu - Layout

The aspect ratio controls the aspect ratio of the menu, which can be independent of the aspect ratio of the movies. The background image/audio buttons allow you add these elements to the menu. The media list provides you with a list of available background images/video, audio files and button frames, with a "tick" button that allows you to apply the media to the current menu (for example, apply background to the current menu, or to add the selected frame to all buttons in the menu). The menu pages area provides you a list of the menu pages you've made so far, with the first one being "page 1", second being "page 2" ... The menu page controls allows you to create new pages, delete existing ones, and even clone pages for quick menu creation. We'll use all of these tools to create our menu.

First, select the aspect ratio of the menu, in most cases, that would be the default 16:9 widescreen menu, but make sure you select either PAL or NTSC depending on the system of your movie/DVD. The first menu we'll create is the main menu. In the menu page controls area, find the "Add blank menu" button and click on that to create our first page. It is blank now (or rather, white), so let's first apply a background image. From the media list, go to the background image/video list section, here EasyDVD provides some readymade backgrounds that you can use, or you can add in your own background images and even videos using the "+" import button. For the purpose of this guide, we'll just use one of the available background images, click on it to select it and then press the "tick" to apply the background to the current menu page (please note that if the background doesn't change, then select another image, press the "tick" and then try your original image again). Once the background options are finalized, any new pages you create will use the same background elements, so now let's create 3 other pages (2 for chapters, 1 for bonus features). You can't rename or label the pages, so page 1 will be our main menu, page 2 will be the bonus features menu page, and 3 and 4 will be the two chapter selection menu pages.

Now that we've got our 4 pages, albeit incomplete, we're going to take a step backwards and go back to the "Source" section, so click on the "Source" button at the top to go there. Select the icon for the first play studio logo trailer, right click on it and select the "End Action" option, and select "Page 1", which is our main menu. This is to just make sure that the main menu is the first that's displayed after the first play trailer. Also set the end actions for the other movies (although they can be overridden elsewhere later on), I've set the main movie's end action to "page 2" (bonus), and the featurette to also end to page 2.

EasyDVD: Source - End Action

Go back to the "Menu" section. Let's first add a text title to the main menu page (page 1), the text being the title of the movie, so select the main menu page and right click on the main menu editing area and select the "Insert a text" option.

EasyDVD: Menu - Right Click Options

A text box will now show up and type in your text here. Click outside of the text box to finish editing, and then click on the text again. This opens up the element editor, where you can adjust the font for this text item. There are also controls to center the text horizontally or vertically, or you can simply drag the text box around to the desired location. The font size can be adjusted here as well, or you can drag the edges of the text box to the desired size. There are also linking and highlighting options for this element that can be controlled here, but these options are currently disabled as the current element does not link anywhere.

EasyDVD: Menu - Font

Now that our title is done, let's create the three buttons that links to the main movie, the chapter selection menu and the bonus features menu. You can simply create three text elements which we can then link to, or the easier option is to right click on the main editing area and select "Insert a button". This opens up the menu button properties window, which we can use to create the button. First, select where the button links to - since I'm creating the "Play Movie" button, I will link this button to the "Main Movie". Select the "Text" button style and enter in "Play Movie". The "End Action" and "Play Sequence" we'll come back to, as it's not too important for this current button. Press "OK" to create this button and change the font/size/location as needed. Since this button (or really just a text element with a link) has a link, the previously mentioned "Highlight" button is now enabled, and so click on it. This opens up the "Set button highlights" window. You can select the highlight style, either as an underline for the text, or a rectangular box, or even mask. There's also the transparency of this highlight, as well as the colour, and to ensure consistency, you can select to apply the changes to all buttons on the current page, or to all buttons on every page (recommended to ensure consistency).

EasyDVD: Menu - Play Movie Button

EasyDVD: Menu - Highlights

Right click on the "Play Movie" button, and most of the button options, like highlights, can also be accessed from here. What we do need to select is the "End Action", which is what will happen after someone clicks on this button and plays the content in question. I prefer to skip the bonus features page after the main movie ends, so here, I would select "page 2" as my end action.

EasyDVD: Menu - Play Movie End Action

Now create the "Chapters" button which links to page 3. And then create the "Bonus" button that links to page 2. If you want to ensure the same font/size is being used, you can simply select the existing "Play Movie" element, and copy/paste it onto the page (right click on the element to select copy/paste, or use the Ctrl-C/V keyboard shortcuts - you may need to left click on the main menu editing area after selecting the page before you can paste the element in there). Double click on the copied button to change the text, and don't forget to change the link and end action for these copied elements (if the element links to a page, like the bonus/chapters buttons, then the end action should be "continuous play". Now that we've got three buttons, you'll need some way to line them up unless you're going for the random look. To align the buttons, drag your mouse so that all three buttons are selected and right click on the button that you wish to align to the other buttons to, select the "Layout control" option, which should open a sub-menu full of alignment and size options. Remember that if you do make a mistake, you can use the undo/redo buttons to the right of the main editing area (or Ctrl-Z/Y) to undo/redo the changes. You can now also use the layout controls to center the page title (the title of the movie that we first created).

EasyDVD: Menu - Layout control

While it's still a bit early for our menus to be called complete, you can at any time go to the "Preview" section (using the button at the top) to test out your menu. And don't forget to save your project often.

EasyDVD: Preview - Main Menu

Let's create the bonus features page, or page 2. Click on the second page in the page preview area, and add in the text title "Bonus" for the page (if you want the same font/size as the title on the main menu page, then you can use copy/paste again), and use the layout controls to center the text if needed. Follow the instructions in creating the other buttons and create a "Featurette" button to link to the featurette. Again, copy/paste is great here because it even keeps the position of the buttons, so it makes designing a consistent menu easier. And don't forget to change the end action (I chose "page 2", so that when the featurette finishes playing, it goes back to the bonus menu page). For the button highlights, if you didn't select the option to apply the highlights to all buttons on all pages, then you need to set them here again. On this page, we'll also need to create a link back to the main menu page, so create a new button called "Main Menu" and link that to page 1 - I used a different colour for the text to make it look more interesting. Here's what my "page 2" looks like:

EasyDVD: Page 2

Let's create the chapters page. After creating the "Chapters" page title, I also copied/pasted over the "Main Menu" button from the bonus page to both the chapters pages, so that they would all have links back to the main menu page as well. We also need to link page 3 to page 4, and vice versa, so that the viewer can skip to the next/previous chapters page. The easiest way, and to ensure consistent design for me, was to copy/paste the "Main Menu" button and replace the text/link appropriately ("Next >" for page 3, and "< Prev" for page 4). Don't forget to use the layout control to align the buttons.

EasyDVD: Page 3

Now we will create the selectable chapter buttons, which will actually be motion images playing clips of the movie from that particular chapter. You might just settle for stills though if you don't have much space left on your DVD, as motion menus take up a bit of space. Again, we choose to insert a button, and link that to the first chapter. The "End Action" should be "None", but if you were to change the end action to say page 1, then this means that it will play the currently selected chapter and then skip back to the main page after it is done. You can also then select the "play sequence", to select how many chapters to play before referring to the end action. Creative use of this allows you to create buttons that, for example, only only selected chapters, making a "choose your own adventure" type DVD movie/game possible. Of course, none of this is what we want for the chapter selection buttons, so keep the end action as "None" which will disable the "play sequence" options. For the "Button style", instead of using "Text", we can use the "Frame" option to make the button a frame still (or motion frame) from the actual chapter. Alternatively, you can use your own images. You may want the frame to have a text just below it to indicate which chapter it is, or you can remove the text to make it a button only. That's the button for the chapter 1 created. To create the second button for chapter two, I prefer to use copy/paste again, and then when the button is selected, the element properties window that pops up allows you to change the chapter link (the frame still will be change automatically). Now repeat for all the chapters, and use everything you've learned so far, like the layout control, to make everything look right. For the first chapter page, I created 6 buttons (I have 12 chapters, so 6 on each page).

EasyDVD: Menu - Button Properties

If you want to make these buttons animated, that is to show the first few seconds from the chapter in which they point to, then it's as easy as checking the "Motion Menu" checkbox just above the main editing area, and then setting the duration of the motion menu to the right of that. Use the Preview section to see what the motion menu looks like.

EasyDVD: Menu - Motion Menu

Now repeat the same for page 4 (the second chapter page). Again, copy/paste is your friend, and don't forget to make the menu a motion one if that's what you want. Here's what my chapters menus look like:

EasyDVD: Page 3

EasyDVD: Page 4

My menus are now complete. If you really like your design, you can use the "Save as template" button in the menu page controls (the area where you click on the buton to create new pages, the right most button) to save this menu template for later use. Now is also the time to go to the Preview section and fully test your menus fully, especially all the end action stuff, and if they all work as expected, save your project.

Step 4: Output and Burn

Not too long to go now. Press the "Output" button at the top to go to the output section. Your project information will be shown on the right, the size of the current project is also shown and if you've made a ton of motion menus, then this size is important to determine whether you need re-encoding or not. On the left are some of the output options. Folder path is where you want the output DVD folder to be present - the "Video_Ts" folder will be created under the path you specify here. Output size is either a single layer or a dual layer disc. Note that EasyDVD will either re-encode your video/audio to reduce the file size or it will do a "stream copy" which means the quality stays the same. You cannot "increase" quality by choosing the 7.92 GB option for a single layer project. Here, you can click the "Encoder" button to access the encoder settings for the various movie files, which were also accessible way back in Step 2. Once all that's done, the only thing left to do is to click on the "Start" button to start the encoding and authoring process and sit back and wait.

EasyDVD: Output

When the encoding is done, you are free to test the produced DVD folder, using say PowerDVD or WinDVD, both of which allows you to playback DVDs from hard-disk folders. If everything worked great, then you can then burn the DVD folder onto a DVD disc. To do this, go to the "Burn" section. Change the folder path to where you outputted your DVD files (should be selected automatically for you), and then choose your DVD burner. You may also choose to output to an ISO file for later burning with your favourite DVD burning software, such as ImgBurn. The options further below allow you to specify a label for the DVD/ISO, whether to eject the disc on completion or even to shut down your computer after burning. For the burning speed, it is recommended your burn at the slowest speed available to minimize the change of burning errors.

EasyDVD: Burn

And we're done :).

Got more questions? Post them in our Womble Forum and get them answered by other expert users. The specific discussion thread for this article can be found here.

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