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|Product:||DivX Author 1.5|
DivX Author 1.5 - DivX Author is an interesting DVD and Slideshow creation software system for users to create an effective DVD with Root menus and chapters. Matt Grayson interrupts renewing his Blockbuster membership to take a look.
DivX have released a DVD authoring software application that also allows slideshows to be created and input onto a DVD with a proper menu at the beginning.
DivX Author 1.5 Specifications
- Input videos with different frame rates and resolutions
- Input DivX, AVI, WMV, MPEG-1, MPEG-2*, DVD-Video (.vob)*, SVCD*
- Input QuickTime (.mov, .qt), DVR-MS, DV/HDV
- Input Audio tracks (.mp3, .mp2, .wma, .ac3, .wav)
- Input Picture (.jpeg, .bmp, .png, .psd, .wmf, .emf)
- Video cut-editing
- Customize your own DVD menus, chapter points, subtitles, audio tracks, motion thumbnails
- Create photo slideshows
- Windows Vista support
DivX Author 1.5 Overlook
As we specialise in photography, I will concentrate on the Slideshow as the DVD is more for video enthusiasts.
I had no problem installing the system and once rebooted, the system can be started straight up. One thing I don't like even before starting is the five icons placed onto my desktop. Two are for the DivX author application discernible by the absence of the 1.5 on one of the icons. The icon without the 1.5 is the installation link which I don't see the point in having placed there after I have installed. The other icons are links to buy DivX, Tutorials and Movies. Whilst I see the importance of the tutorials, I would like to have been asked outright at installation if I wanted all these icons on my desktop.
Clicking on the launching icon loads up a grey window with five tabs at the top labelled Start, Source, Menu, Preview and Output. A new project has to be started and the Output format chosen which will be PAL for the UK. Clicking on New project automatically sends you through to the Source tab to start your Video. Clicking Add Movie to the top left of the window highlights the two options to the top right which are Add content for Video and Add slideshow for Slideshow creation.
Clicking on Add slideshow opens up a separate window to work in and has four individual tabs as well named Picture, Audio, Subtitles and Preview. The Picture tab is the first one to be used and this is where the files are uploaded for editing. Individual images from different folders can be uploaded or an entire folder all at once if, like me, you are ultra organised. The images can be dragged up or down into he order you want them to be in. The thumbnail images down the left are labelled with their number in the queue, the file name, size and a green highlight button in the top right where chapters can be marked for the DVD. An option to delete the images is also available. The image that is highlighted orange will display in the panel to the right and this can be rotated if not already done and a custom transition (how the image moves to the next one in the queue) can be input to jazz your slideshow up.
The two options under the thumbnails allow access to the Edit menu which only has three options of Auto chapter, Remove chapters and Clear all. The second button is for the slideshow settings. This allows changes to the core of the slideshow. The name can be changed, Picture display length which is defaulted to five seconds, Transition settings which will set up a standard wipe to use across the whole slideshow if none are chosen on particular images, and a resize option is also allowed.
The Audio tab allows an audio track to be overlaid onto the slideshow. First the Audio stream must be chosen then the track can be found using the browse button. Filters can be applied to the track if necessary and the slideshow can be adjusted to fit the track if need be. Alternatively, if the track is especially short, it can be looped to fit the slideshow. Notably, two tracks can be input but only one can be adjusted to fit the slideshow, which I don't think is very good.
Once the music is organised, clicking on the Subtitles tab allows text to be put over the images. This a very basic system and lets the rest of the program down as it cannot be edited very well. It cannot fade in or out with the image and just pops up onto the screen then pops off again. The layout, font, size, colour and border can be changed but I don't think it gives the user the freedom they need.
Being able to add the text onto a separate tile to have at the beginning of the slideshow like introducing my work and the model will be OK in that case except that this feature is not available and I think this is a travesty. Even the most basic slideshow creators have a blank tile feature. The title is input into a text line below the preview screen and the start and stop time as well as the layout mentioned earlier is displayed. The start and stop time can be amended to come on screen at any time and last as long as you wish. It's a nice touch and the video can be previewed to note down the start and stop times needed.
The Preview button will let you watch your creation unfold in real time with the music before deciding to go ahead and publish the DVD by clicking OK to go back to the start screen.
To start creating the DVD front page, the Menu tab allows a pre-set or customisable layout to be put on at the start of the DVD. The pre-sets will give a background option and will build the front page to how it thinks you should best have it. The customisable option gives loads of options so the amount of different DVD intros you can devise is near endless. The next few pages will allow you to set up the display of the front page including dragging the titles around the screen and renaming them if not already done.
Clicking on Preview will load a screen showing the DVD as it will be on your TV and has the details that a DVD player will show. The Output size bar that is constant at the bottom shows how much information your creations are taking up. This is useful for when choosing your Output type which is the next step when you are happy with the preview. The target size is determined by the purple bar along the bottom and just for a slideshow, it seems that a CD is sufficient in size, however, if I had included a video, I would have had to amend my choice. Once everything is complete, clicking on Start Output in the bottom right of the screen will start the rendering process.
DivX Author 1.5 Verdict
The DivX Author seems to have some good features like having a preview in the subtitle page to know where to place the titles, but then the titles page is rubbish anyway. There are many wipes and fades which is also good and I think on the whole, a nice slideshow could be made from it. Just don't expect your titles to look nice. The missing blank tile feature is the biggest let down and joined with the titles not being able to be transitioned, this lets the entire program down and gets a lower mark because of it.
If you are a Events or Wedding photographer, this system could be useful because of the convenience of two formats being able to be put onto one DVD. The lack of basic functions on the titling area screams out and I can see this putting a lot of people off this program because of it.
DivX Author 1.5 Plus points
Multiple media burning
Effective DVD front screen
Easy to use
DivX Author 1.5 Minus points
Puts loads of icons on desktop
Titles don't work very well
No blank tile option
DivX Author 1.5 costs around £24.99 and is available from the DivX website here.