After playing with DVDit! LE for only a short time, I was impressed by the program's design flexibility. Since buttons and text can be placed anywhere on the menu, I could use the background image that I'd origin ally wanted to use with iDVD but couldn't because it would've been obscured by the buttons clustered at the center of the screen. Even better, DVDit! LE has plentiful options for altering the size, shape, color, and brightness of both buttons and text. Like iDVD, it let me drop a still image onto a menu button to embellish it.
Unfortunately, my favorable comments about DVDit! LE must now come to a screeching halt. Looked at from the standpoint of a novice DVD creator, the program is very user-unfriendly. Even after going through the tutorial (something I hate doing with software), I had to double- and triple-check almost every move using the poorly organized, confusingly written onscreen help. Worse, I couldn't create a separate gallery of still images, which was one of my simple goals when I began this project. Since DVDit! LE doesn't support multiple menus, all links have to appear on the DVD's opening menu. To include a still gallery, I'd have had to add a separate button for each image, creating a ridiculously cluttered menu.
With no hope of including a gallery, I settled on a simple menu with an evocative background and a text link: "play movie." (see below). The finished product was easily tested using the Preview mode, and I immediately dumped it onto a disc by selecting Make DVD from the Build menu. The DVD transfer went just fine, and I was able to play my disc on all of the DVD players I had handy.
Although DVDit! LE provides a high level of flexibility when it comes to designing your DVD's menu, I don't think Sonic had the needs of the Average Joe with a digital camcorder and a pile of vacation tapes in mind. The program's interface is counterintuitive, and it lacks such key features as support for multiple menus and an easy way of creating image galleries. Of course, these and other features can be found in the more advanced versions of DVDit!. Given the limitations of the LE version that's bundled with Compaq's Presario 7000, I'd recommend buying DVDit! PE - or switching to a Mac.
Although I never did become the next Richard Linklater (or George Romero, for that matter), at least now I have a DVD in my collection with my own name on it. And if you own a digital camcorder, you can put your own video productions onto a disc. While I do have a few minor gripes about iDVD, Apple's entry-level program provides an exceptionally easy way for camcorder auteurs to create their own DVDs without sweating the details. Sonic's DVDit! LE gets you into the disc-making game with decent design options, but, again, I found its interface confusing and its stripped-down feature set frustrating.
Whether you have an easy or a hard time getting to that point, the satis faction you'll feel when you drop a DVD into the player in your home theater and watch your name scroll across the screen . . . well, there's nothing like it! Who needs Hollywood?
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