'

DVD MovieFactory

dvd-movie-factory-thumb.jpg
  • Editors' rating
    7.2 Very good
  • $49.95

Pros

  • Makes DVD creation and burning fairly easy
  • contains excellent menu tools
  • makes slide shows from still images
  • exports to a variety of formats
  • comes with label-making software.

Cons

  • Editing tools are hard to understand
  • not enough templates
  • templates lack variety
  • no Macintosh version.

Home movies have come a long way. Your parents had to feed film into a projector to share your family's holiday. Today, you can edit your digital footage on a PC and save it on DVDs. Ulead's DVD MovieFactory helps you create flashy, polished DVDs.

We love MovieFactory's ability to create professional-looking menus, but be prepared to peruse the manual -- this tool isn't that easy to use. For simple DVD authoring (importing, converting and burning video), MovieFactory gets the nod. But for flashier results, you'll need a full-fledged video-editing package such as MGI's VideoWave 5.0.

To install MovieFactory, just insert the CD-ROM. You'll be prompted to install the application itself and a variety of useful extras that come on the disc -- including the handy CD Label Maker, which lets you create labels for your discs. However, note that this program requires a separate installation.

MovieFactory's opening screen offers four main choices: capture video, author menus, burn disc images and make CD labels and covers. Capturing video is a three-step process that helps you transfer video from your digital video camera and export it for DVD creation. After you get the video on the PC, MovieFactory holds your hand all the way. The Capture screen, like most of MovieFactory's screens, organises your editing and formatting controls in the top left corner, displays preview images on the top right and arranges video clips along the bottom.

Don't look for powerful editing tools in MovieFactory. From the Capture screen, you can make some simple trims to your movie, but that's about it. You can use timeline controls located under the video to isolate sections of a clip, but the controls are confusing and the manual doesn't help explain them. Once you have selected all your clips, select Batch Convert from the controls at the top left to quickly convert them to another video format. Or select Make A Movie to string clips into one longer video file. MovieFactory's interface is neither elegant nor easy to use.

Using MovieFactory, you can export videos to a variety of formats -- more than any other software does -- including DVD, VCD (VideoCD , which stores video on CD for playback on computers and some DVD players), SVCD (Super-VideoCD , which works just like VideoCD but supports DVD menus), or DV (which you can export back onto your video camera). MovieFactory throws in a few other novel export options, too, such as the ability to export to email or make a greeting card. If you export to email, however, MovieFactory will ask for the recipient's email address and -- this is a pain -- your ingoing and outgoing mail server addresses, and then sends the file itself.

Top ZDNET Reviews

Once you've trimmed your footage and got it in the appropriate format, you're ready to create custom DVD menus that let you jump to either the entire movie or to specific scenes. MovieFactory walks you through the process of starting a new project, creating an on-screen menu of clips and making submenus for each clip so that viewers can quickly jump to different scenes. Note that these menus work only if you're using DVD or SVCD formats. Thirty-eight templates in five categories (Business, Classic, Cool, Cute, and Romantic) give the on-screen menus a professional touch, although we would have liked more variety in the categories. When you're done, you can preview the finished product before you burn a disc. Unlike the editing tools, the menu features are well conceived and easy to follow.

Once you've created and compiled your DVD, MovieFactory's Burn screen lets you create a disc image, or a copy of your footage that lives on your hard drive, so that you can easily create new DVDs from the same material in the future. You can also output your creation as a VideoCD or SVCD and burn it onto a standard CD-R/RW if you don't have a DVD burner. In our tests, burning and compression were quick and painless.

We like MovieFactory's CD Label Maker, which lets you create professional-looking CD booklets or round CD labels. Unfortunately, the program's controls are a bit confusing, and the program comes with only four templates to work from: two for booklets and two for labels.

If you have some digital-editing experience and are looking for low-level tools, Ulead's DVD MovieFactory is worthwhile and powerful. But we think it's too complicated for beginners. The controls on the editing screen can be hard to understand, and the brief manual doesn't provide enough help. At £45 (inc. VAT) for the boxed version, MovieFactory should be your choice if you're not picky about editing and are on a budget.

Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Category creativity application
Subcategory creativity - video editing & production
Package Type retail
Distribution Media CD-ROM
Version 2
Software
Subcategory creativity - video editing & production
Category creativity application
License Type box pack
Version 2
License Category shrinkwrap
System Requirements
Min Processor Type Pentium III - 450 MHz
Min RAM Size 64 MB
Min Hard Drive Space 150 MB
OS Required Microsoft Windows 2000, Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition, Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition, Microsoft Windows XP
OS Family Windows
Additional Requirements CD-R, CD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW, SVGA monitor, sound card
Min Processor Speed 450 MHz
Min Processor Type Pentium III
Header
Brand Ulead
Product Line Ulead DVD MovieFactory
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC

Top ZDNET Reviews