How to Make a DVD: The Short Version

Since this whole book is, more or less, about how to make a DVD, for now I'll give you the overview from 35,000 feet of the DVD-making process from start to finish.

When I first got iDVD and a SuperDrive, I took this free Apple online seminar called DVD Authoring Made Simple, seen in Figure 1.1.

Figure 1.1. Apple's DVD seminar online and its five step process…


The online tutorial was awesome I had worked with video a lot in the past but didn't have much experience with interactivity. And it's been revised and updated since I first saw it, so it's even better now.

I've always thought Apple's five-step process made sense and I've followed it for almost every DVD project I've undertaken since.


You'll find the online seminar at

Let's take a brief look at those five steps.

Step 1: Plan

Well duh. Of course the first step is to plan. But since very few of us have ever actually made a DVD, what are some of the things that need planning?

Here's a partial list to get you started:

  • Who is the viewer? Develop appropriate material for the target audience.

  • What is the project's purpose? What are you trying to accomplish? Sell something? Entertain? Evoke emotions? Nailing it now will benefit you later.

  • What video, audio, still graphic, and other assets need to be created or assembled? Some of this will have to wait until after Step 2, but it's a good idea to start this list early and consult it often. You don't want to get to the end of a project and discover you forgot to cover a key shot.

  • Budget Now is the time to determine out-of-pocket costs (if any). Then triple them.

  • End date The final due date or deadline. All other milestones are figured out backward from here.

  • Milestones Milestones I use include storyboard and script approval, all assets in-house, all editing completed, rough cut (of DVD), and end date.


Keep in mind that this is the list for making a DVD. There is (or at least there should be) a similar list for actually shooting your video, which is a whole nother subject and one you could write a book on. And, in fact, Michael Rubin has done just that. If you want to know more about the video-making process, check out his Little Digital Video Book, also from Peachpit.

You should probably storyboard the DVD itself, as well as each individual video segment (this is highly recommended; see Chapter 2). And now is a good time to start developing the script, as well.

Many people skip the planning phase or gloss over it. That's a bad idea. Planning may be the most important part of the process. I can promise that the time you spend planning will be repaid to you in abundance when you finish your project on time and without having to redo much (if any) of it.

Step 2: Create

This is the part where you make or find all the different media pieces that will eventually be part of your DVD. In this phase you'll

  • Write a script

  • Shoot and edit video

  • Create art

  • Create titles

  • Create the soundtrack

  • Create navigational elements


This step tends to be the most time-consuming, so after you determine how many hours you think all your content creation is going to take, double or triple it.

Step 3: Encode

Before you can make a DVD, you need to convert all of the elements into a format DVD players understand MPEG 2 for video and AIFF or AC3 for audio. The good news is that with iDVD and QuickTime on your team, you don't have to do much. Just create your DVD project using QuickTime-compatible files (that includes a lot of different file formats, by the way). Then work with those files until your masterpiece is complete. When you click Burn, iDVD handles all of the encoding to MPEG 2, AIFF, or AC3 for every element in your project, all behind the scenes and without your having to lift a finger.


The downside is that you don't have control over data rates or image quality in iDVD. Its defaults will probably be fine for 95 percent of what you want to do. If you need more horsepower, Apple's professional DVD authoring tool, DVD Studio Pro, lets you encode video at any data rate and author media for a wide variety of DVD formats. It's discussed in Appendix A.

Step 4: Author

In hip multimedia parlance, authoring means the creative melding of video, audio, and graphics into an interactive DVD with menus, buttons, soundtrack(s), and subtitles or alternative language.

This is where iDVD comes in. It's a DVD-grinder (well, officially, it's known as a DVD authoring program). Just pour in your raw ingredients video, sound, pictures, menus, buttons, and so on add a little elbow grease, and out pops a fully formed video DVD with all the bells and whistles, that can be played on almost any cheap DVD player.


If you were conscientious about Steps 1 and 2, Step 4 will be painless and fun. If you weren't, it won't.

Indeed, iDVD is the easiest, fastest, most intuitive program you can use to author a DVD. But you knew that.

Step 5: Burn

Preview and adjust your magnum opus in iDVD, and when you're happy with everything about it, there's just one thing left to do click Burn. And iDVD does the rest.


I know it sounds simple, but this may be the scariest step of all. If you make a mistake in any of the other steps, as long as you catch it before you burn, it won't cost you a penny. But make a mistake here and you're out $3 (but you will have a shiny new $3 coaster you can use to protect your furniture from unsightly stains and rings).

The Little iDVD Book
The Little iDVD Book
ISBN: 0321197747
Year: 2003
Pages: 62 © 2008-2017.
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