Why It All Matters in DVD Production

DVD production is a great option for independent filmmakers. Until recently, years after digital cameras and editing systems became standard equipment for independents, filmmakers still had no choice but to output their work onto VHS for home viewing. VHS is an analog format, so image and sound quality always suffered. DVDs have been on the scene for a while, but until recently, they cost too much for an individual to produce. Now, computers routinely ship with DVD burners as standard equipment so you can easily output your finished project to disc for less than the cost of making VHS dubs. To make a good DVD, however, you need to understand both screen and pixel aspect ratios, video standards, and how to manage them to make your work fully accessible to your target audience.

You can make a DVD that displays 4x3 content, 16x9 content, or both. This creative freedom, of course, necessitates a fair amount of planning. For example, you can give the user a choice of watching a letterboxed 4x3 version of your widescreen masterpiece or the original 16x9 version, but you then need to produce a 4x3 version along with a 16x9, and make sure there’s room for both on your disc. If your DVD includes widescreen content, you need to define how the material will play on a 4x3 monitor (does the material automatically appear letterboxed on a small screen, pan & scanned, or do you give the viewer a choice).

And don’t forget the menus. A former girlfriend used to ...

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