Author! Author!

I think it might be useful that DVD authoring be taught in film schools and film preservation programs. Not to everybody, and not as a requirement. But it would be a useful elective to offer, or as a sub-section of another course. Because until the streaming world offers a distribution medium as accessible to independents as physical media is, this facet of digital distribution is as important a skill as knowing desktop publishing was in the 1990s.

Maybe I don’t get around enough, or haven’t met that many people. But from conversations I’ve had over the last few years, I’ve found lots of people know Final Cut Pro, Premiere and DaVinci Resolve, and know their way around finer points of grading (color and exposure correction) in these programs. There are people who know After Effects. In the last few years the number of people who know their way around digital restoration programs like PF Clean or Viva has gone up. 

DVD authoring, however, remains a subject underexplored. Granted, pro-quality computer programs that stitch together and arrange the basic components of a DVD haven’t been offered or least supported in years. I don’t mean the rudimentary programs like Roxio’s “Toast” and others, or the kind that turn out discs called “DVD Recorder” when played back on a computer.

I mean the sort of application like Apple’s DVD Studio Pro, or Adobe’s Encore. A program that allows you to create the autoplayed and non-skippable opening with the FBI warning. One that allows you to set up sub-menus for scene selection, and to watch individual shorts or the entire program of them. Or toggle-able subtitles.

DVD Studio Pro
DVD Studio Pro, Apple’s DVD authoring software, unavailable or unsupported as of 2009. Which is why I still have a working Mac Pro tower running Mac OS 10.6.8

Some DVD duplication outfits offer authoring as one of their services, but that’s an additional expense for you. Blu-ray authoring is even more elusive, to be sure, mainly because only Encore does this and – from what I hear – can be buggy and vexing. And the cost of Blu-ray authoring from a duplicator is also pricier.

Disc authoring is the presentation part of that digital finished product you’ve spent all that time editing and tweaking and mixing. You’ve still got to turn it into something that can be watched by other people, and in a manner and ceremony that goes beyond starting with one’s desktop and a window inside it, or the bare-bones menu of your smart TV showing a list of files.

Because if you want to independently distribute and sell copies of your work to an interested public – until streaming your content gets as easy as podcasting is – it’s quite possible that you’re going to have to do it on physical media, and in a format and layout that’s just like you’d find in a commercially-released product. 

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