Creating a Pre-Authoring Checklist for DVDs

Before you put in your blank disc and begin the burning process you need to take stock of what you have done in the DVD Studio Pro file. Without this you can end up making serious mistakes and you may not have an opportunity to correct them before the DVD makes it to its destination. Here are a few things to do before you finalize the authoring.

Chapter Markers

Go through and check all of the chapter markers you have set on your video clips. This is one of the most overlooked things and often times chapter points can be set a few seconds off or in completely random spots. Make sure that these are set exactly where you would want an audience member to skip to, which usually means that you want them to be at scene breaks so that people are not skipping through the disc and randomly jumping into the video content.

Asset List

Image Locations

Go through each of the menu systems and make sure that where it is intended to have a picture or video there is one. If you are using the DVD Studio Pro menu templates then you will likely have picture or video drop points. These end up looking like a white box with an arrow in the center if you do not put some form of media there. This looks distracting and you want to make sure that you have appropriate images there once you are finished.  You have to first make sure that all of this media content, both that is playing back in a track for regular video viewing or in the menus, must be in the assets list.  This means that you have to properly import all of the images or videos you are putting in these drop locations, and they will be in the assets list.  These will also be an issue for space, so make sure you observe the 4.7 GB maximum storage of your DVD.

Title Safe Area

Correct Text and Visuals

Go through all of the text and images to make sure that you put the right items in the correct places. Often times in the flurry of authoring in DVD Studio Pro you can end up misplacing objects or putting absent text areas.  You want to follow some key ideas about text in the menus, mainly following standard broadcast protocol.  First, ensure that the text can be clearly read at eight to ten feet from the monitor, which may be the position the audience will be in.  Second, ensure that all relevant text is in the broadcast safe zone of the monitor.  This means the inner two thirds and not resting on the outlying edges.  This is not a hard and fast rule, but it is going to ensure a universalist approach to viewing the DVD.  Third, make sure to use sans serif fonts for any menus that will not be on the screen for too long.  This is done since it is easier to read, and is often the standard in the regular video production.  This does not, however, have to be observed in your title listings, as it is more important to maintain brand image rather than readability.  The title will be implicit to the audience, and therefore it is more appropriate to compare it to a logo rather than a normal communication tool.

Selecting Aspect Ratio for Video Playback

Aspect Ratio

Check each video clip carefully and make sure that the aspect ratio is set where you would want it. DVD Studio Pro gives you a number of options for this ranging from 16:9 to 4:3 to 4:3 Pan and Scan. If your videos are widescreen you then need to make a choice whether you are going to anticipate whether the video is going to be watched on a standard or widescreen television.  One of the most important DVD authoring tips, and DVD Studio Pro tips specifically, is to make sure that your video gives the correct playback for the way it was produced and not just for the monitor it is likely to play on.  This means that during the simulation you should not look just to see if it fills up the display, but if it allows for a full view of the video.  This means if it is widescreen it needs to be letterbox on an SD television, or full display on an HDTV.


The final thing you must do before burning your disc in DVD Studio Pro is to Simulate. This button is at the top center of the display directing next to the atomic appearing Burn button. This will simulate the complete disc within the program, and you can then go through it as if it was already created. Check every connection, every menu, every button, and every video to make sure it is exactly to your liking.  This is not going to replace the burning of a test DVD since it is not entirely representative of how the DVD will play on a regular home theater system and how the physical DVD will playback.  You will want to make sure that you burn one or two test DVDs from the batch of DVD-Rs that you are writing to and then play them back on an independent DVD player that is not on a computer.  This is especially true if you are using a DVD-R+ disc, which is not acceptable for every single DVD player.  This can be one of the more difficult situations, but the Simulate function is the most important DVD Studio Pro tips since it is going to be a roadmap for how it will eventually look.

About shaneburley