Tutorial: Max to DVD
Did you know you can author a DVD with content created by SWiSH Max4? The process makes use of Windows Live Movie Maker and Windows DVD Creator. Both programs are provided with Vista and Windows 7. DVD’s authored in this way make interesting and unique invitations or presentations. The technique can also be applied to create custom titles for home movies.
The movie below is similar to an invitation that I recently created and sent via normal post as a DVD for playback using a standard DVD player.
To replay the demonstration movie, click on the last scene once the movie has finished playing.
The movie was exported to AVI format without sound. A sound track was then added using Windows Live Movie Maker. This is faster than exporting the soundtrack with Max4 and also gives superior results. The resulting movie file was then saved to DVD using Microsoft’s DVD creator. (Included free with Vista and Windows 7).
The final Movie was sized to suit a 4:3 aspect ratio. Although 16:9 is generally preferred, playing a 16:9 movie on a 4:3 device will normally display the movie in “letter box” mode. This mode prevents the text from utilizing the full height of the display. For this reason I have based the template on a 800×600 movie size.
The SWiSH Max4 file below is provided as a template. The text and background colors can be modified via the template / wizard interface. If further customization is required, or you wish to use the movie as the basis of your own design, the supplied movie can be modified manually.
The template can be downloaded from here.
Configure the wizard
Modify the wizard parameters are needed. For export as AVI, I recommend a dark background color.
Set the export length
Preview the movie and see how long it takes to play. The duration changes depending on the amount of text entered in the Invite Text parameter. Based on this value, consider how long you want the movie to play. A value longer than the minimum time gives users the option of reading the items shown in the details screen. The default movie plays to completion in about 35 seconds.
As the text is moved using script, as opposed to a normal effect, Max4 is unable to determine how long to monitor the movie when it exports to avi. For this reason, the Make movie longer by:[ ] frames option in the AVI Movie Export Settings panel needs to be set. To access the panel go File | Export Settings | AVI Movie.
To view the frame rate of the movie, select scene_1 in the Outline panel, then press the Movie Properties… button in the Properties panel. The frame rate is normally 25. Therefore, to export a 35 second movie, the make movie longer option in the AVI Movie export panel needs to be set to 35*25 = 875 or longer.
The avi export is also quicker if the Export audio option is unchecked.
Export to AVI
Once the Export Settings options have been set, save the .swi movie then export the movie to a video file using the menu command: File | Export | AVI Movie…. Select a location for the destination movie to be written then press Save.
The export process will commence. As each frame is sampled and re-written to create the .avi file, the export process will take some time to complete. The output file should be about 20Mbytes in size.
Edit with Windows Live Movie Maker
Open Windows Live Movie Maker. If the icon cannot be easily found, type movie into the Start Button search programs and files search box.
Drag the avi file into the right hand area of Movie Maker.
Use the Add Music option to add your chosen sound track.
Resave the movie using Save Movie | Burn a DVD. This will save the movie as a 720×480 wmv file. This option will also open Windows DVD Maker and add the file to that application.
Burn DVD with Windows DVD Maker
If not already open, open Windows DVD Maker via the start button and add the file that was created in the previous step.
Check the selected Options. Choose an aspect ratio of 4:3. Consider the DVD playback options: Play video in a continuous loop or Play video and end with DVD menu are probably the better choices for this type of presentation.
Set the DVD title to something meaningful.
Press Next and choose a suitable menu. The “Fullscreen” menu works well.
Press Burn to create the DVD.
To create multiple copies of the DVD, it is easiest to create an iso image of the DVD and then burn copies from that.
I have found that a free ware program called MagicDisc is useful for this purpose. I use MagicDisc to convert the recently burnt DVD into an iso image. The iso image can then be opened with Windows Disk Image Burner (Windows 7 only) to burn duplicate disks. If you are using Vista or XP then a quick search of the web will find other utilities that can be used to burn iso images.
I recommend using a DVD-RW to prototype and test the burning process. Once a satisfactory result is obtained, create a .iso image from the DVD-RW disk and then burn copies to DVD-R or DVD+R as required.
In DVD Maker, although I chose options that should show the menu after the movie, the menu seems to appear first. The appearance of the initial menu appears to depend on the target DVD player.
The scrolling text appears slightly jerky on the final DVD even though it is fine in the original avi file. Setting the frame rate in Max4 to 30 frames per second may help minimize this effect.
Many computer systems come supplied with alternate DVD authoring software so experiment with that software as well.
It may be possible to obtain a slightly better quality result by using the uncompressed option in the Max4 File | Export Settings | AVI Movie panel (Press the Setup Compression… button to select compression options). Note that this will increase the exported file size significantly.
The Max4 export sound option requires that the Stereo Mix device is chosen as the recording device during Export to AVI. Please see this blog article for information about accessing and enabling the Stereo Mix device.