Tsunami Makes for Easy DVD Creation
By Jim Bray
Burning your own DVDs is becoming increasingly popular now that
DVD burners have become affordable. Theres an abundance of software
packages on the market that can help you in the process of creation, and
one of the easiest Ive tried is the unfortunately named Tsunami MPEG
The company, Pegasys Inc., had the bad luck to announce this product just
as the Tsunami disaster hit Asia during the Christmas season of 2004. I
imagine they were hoping to make waves a different way, but what can you
do? Despite the timing of the name, its a decent product that offers
a lot of power and flexibility.
DVD Author offers a step by step, button-based methodology for building
your masterpiece. Once youve started your project youre ready
to import the video files, and the software gives you two choices: import
a file or open a DVD video. The second choice is meant for copying non-copyrighted
material, for instance to make a copy or re-edit and reauthor a disc you
or someone else made earlier.
I used this to remaster an old concert I recorded from TV many, many years
ago that was never released on DVD. I had originally captured it to digital
from a crummy old mono VHS cassette, but the machine I used at the time
didnt have software like this Tsunami stuff (it was a standalone
machine) and it added its own chapter stops arbitrarily. I wanted to change
that so thered be chapter stops for each song.
Enter Tsunami. After a couple of false starts where the software basically
told me to get lost, I exited the program and fired it back up again, after
which it worked just fine so it could have been a Windows thing.
I told DVD Author to open the DVD Id made originally and then saved
it to the PCs hard drive to speed things up (hard drives are generally
faster than a CD or DVD drive).
Once captured, I went back in and zipped around the footage to find where
I wanted to create the chapter stops. This was time consuming but not difficult.
I found just the right frames to use for the chapter stops and added them,
basically by pointing and clicking.
Once youve set your chapter stops you can create your own menu from
a variety of themes you can edit. I liked the way you can choose a thumbnail
image from each chapter you can use in the menu, though of course for a
concert you basically get to choose from different shots of the band. Still,
you can also type in your own text to label a chapter, which I did to create
a menu organized by the songs in the performance.
You can also tell the software how you want your menu to operate; for
example, if you want to go directly to a chapter menu as opposed to a main
menu, and what you want the disc to do once it has played through (replay,
return to the menu, etc.)
The job completed, I used Tsunami to burn it to a new DVD, and the result
was just fine.
You can also start completely from scratch, assembling your own clips
into a DVD disc, which I also tried with a variety of home movies I had
collected over the years. DVD Author lets you edit the clips in the program,
choosing your own start and end points, transitions and the like. This
is great for cutting out crap you dont want saved for posterity.
It can be time consuming, but its easy enough to do, especially after
youve messed with the program for a while and have gotten used to
its ins and outs.
Heres a listing of some of the softwares features:
Create your own titles, transitions and menus with a library of
buttons and artwork
Import video from MPEG-1 or 2, AVI, DVD video or DVD-VR files;
Import audio from MPEG-1 audio layer 2, Dolby Digital (AC-3), or WAV.
High speed conversion from MPEG formats to .ifo & .VOB files
Compatibility with TMPGEnc encoder series
Home DVD-Video editing (IFO file)
Stand-alone DVD-VR (VRO) authoring
Motion Menu creation using movie clips
Dolby Digital Audio (AC-3) support
Workflow based interface
DVD Author lets you create a standard DVD format disc that should play
on most DVD players. And as a bit of obsolescence proofing, it also offers
DVD+R double layer support.
This isnt a program designed to let you pirate copyrighted movies,
but if you have some non-copyrighted material (or material for which you
own the copyright), it offers a lot of features and power with a quite
user friendly interface.