111. About Burning to DVDs
112 Create an Auto-Play DVD
117 Customize a DVD Menu Screen Template
The first thing to understand about burning your project to a DVD is that, although you might start the process with only a click or two, a whole series of things is actually happening during this process. First, your project is rendered and coded as an MPEG-2 file; then your menus are created and hyperlinked to your video files; and, finally, these files are sent to your DVD burner for output.
This is important to know because, should you run into problems along the way, the best way to diagnose your problem is to break the process down to its individual components and try to isolate the roadblock. We do exactly that in 124 About Troubleshooting DVD Output.
Producing a successful DVD does not, unfortunately, guarantee that your disc will play in a DVD player. Although your home-burned DVD will play on virtually any DVD-equipped computer, not all standalone DVD players are capable of playing them! This is not an issue related to Premiere Elements (or any other DVD authoring program, for that matter). It's simply the nature of the hardware. Not all DVD players can play home-burned DVDs.
This compatibility problem is, fortunately, becoming much less of an issue. In fact, most newer DVD players will not only play home-burned DVDs, but they will also play music CDs and CDs loaded with MP3s. But, as you burn and distribute your DVD masterpiece to friends, family, and clients, bear in mind that not everyone you send it to will be able to successfully play it on their home theater systems. Most will. But there are no guarantees.
In the early years of home DVD burning, there were compatibility advantages to different DVD formats, with DVD-Rs more often playable on standalone DVD players than DVD+Rs. However, most current DVD players are capable of handling both formats equally well.
Can you send your American-burned DVD to your friend in Europe? A little-known fact is that virtually all PAL DVD players are perfectly capable playing NTSC DVDs. In fact, considering the challenges inherent in converting NTSC video to PAL, it's probably the preferred way to send video to your friends across the pond. (Unfortunately, American DVD players are not so capable of reading PAL discsyou probably won't be able to play a disc your European friend sends you.)
This is, in essence, related to the fact that home-burned DVDs are materially different than commercial DVDs. Commercially-produced DVDs have their data physically molded into the surface of the metal disca process that not only makes for easier reproduction but also provides some longevity for the disc.
Home-burned DVDs, on the other hand, affect only a chemical change on the disc material. Although the discs are read in a similar manner by the DVD player, this slight physical difference between PC-burned and commercially produced discs can mean the difference between the player being able to read the disc or not. (Rewritable DVDs, also called RWs, use yet another recording process, and even players capable of playing home-burned DVDs might have problems with RW discs.)
Also note that because home-burned DVDs save data with a chemical rather than material process, they unfortunately won't last nearly as long as commercial DVDs. In fact, although no one knows for sure how long home-burned DVDs will last, many people believe that home-burned DVDs won't maintain their integrity any longer than a typical videotapean important fact to consider if you plan to convert all your videos to DVD in hopes of preserving them better for future generations.
Both kinds of discs will certainly last until the next generation of recording medium is introduced. However, neither will likely last for a lifetime.
Finally, there are the issues of disc capacity. Many people assume that, because commercial DVDs can hold more than two hours' worth of video, a two-hour video project can easily be made to fit onto a single DVD. This is, unfortunately, not the case with most single-layer DVDs.
For the most part, a standard, single-layer DVD can hold about an hour of quality video. Premiere Elements 2.0 also supports dual-layer DVDs, which double that capacity. Regardless, if you are planning to output a 12 hour (or longer) video to DVD, it's best to check Premiere Elements's file-size estimate and adjust your quality level as necessary to ensure a good fit. Needless to say, squeezing much more than an hour's worth of video on a single-layer DVD can mean making some significant compromises to your video's quality.