Finished audio and video programs are distributed to their audience in a variety of formats, some no bigger than a postage stamp (as viewed on the latest generation of 3GPP mobile phones) and some that span screen projection dimensions bigger than the side of a barn (IMAX theaters).
Apple's production applications are completely scalabledesigned to support the creation of content in these formats and every resolution in between. In some workflows, Compressor, included with Final Cut Pro, Motion, and DVD Studio Pro, is used to encode the completed project into a small form factor more suitable for mass distribution. In other workflows, Cinema Tools acts as the intermediary, forwarding a list of instructions to another application or person that uses the information as a roadmap. Quite often, the finished project is simply printed to videotape. In the case of visual-effects shots and other digital intermediate formats, the high-resolution frames are recorded directly to film via what is essentially a high-resolution printer, referred to as a film recorder.
Final Cut Pro has revolutionized the world of broadcast news journalism. Hundreds upon hundreds of reporters take to the streets each day armed with camcorders and PowerBooks. Final Cut Pro was the first generation of nonlinear digital editing applications to embrace the mobile tape formats for DV, DVCAM, and DVCPRO. Video that is acquired in these formats is captured with Final Cut Pro via FireWire. The 21st century video journalist is fully capable of editing in the fieldshuttling to find the best takes to edit them together into a finished news story. In news, the first to air the story wins, which is why journalists can no longer wait for the van to make it back to the studio before they can edit their content.
MPEG-4 and MPEG-2 are common file formats used to transfer and transmit news stories from the field back to the news bureau. Video journalists, especially those with tight deadlines and bigger capital expenditure budgets, often transmit edited stories directly to the studio via mobile satellite phone systems. Video journalists, especially those with a bit more lead time between deadlines, modest cap ex budgets, and a hankering for double-tall lattes, will often waltz into the nearest Starbucks, connect to the bureau via AirPort Extreme (Wi-Fi), and transfer their finished stories via FTP, while patiently waiting for their next assignment.
Another popular content distribution format is DVD. Since the launch of DVD in 1997, the format has become a favorite of consumers, surpassing VHS tapes in both rentals and sales for a number of obvious reasons. DVDs provide superior image and audio quality. DVDs are digital, and since the laser-reading mechanism never actually comes in contact with the physical disc, the quality does not degrade even after thousands of viewings. DVDs are multilingual, with support for up to nine different audio mixes and 32 different subtitle tracks synchronized to the same video content. Most important, DVDs are both interactive and nonlinear. A few clicks of the remote and you have instant random access to any segment within the program. With all these attributes going for it, DVD makes an ideal distribution format for all forms of video contentfeature films, television series, concert films, training videos, product promotions, and client show reels.
iDVD is Apple's consumer DVD authoring application that comes bundled with every Apple computer. Many Final Cut Pro users may consider iDVD to be more than sufficient for their authoring requirements. It's important to know that Apple's DVD Studio Pro application is to iDVD what Final Cut Pro is to iMovie. While it's true that iMovie is a powerful and intuitive consumer video-editing application, there isn't a competent Final Cut Pro editor alive that would trade down to iMovie, because Final Cut Pro offers a level of creative control well beyond anything the iLife application has been designed to deliver.
Likewise, DVD Studio Pro provides a level of creative control that goes well beyond the beautiful themes of iDVD. The real-time menu design capabilities of DVD Studio Pro provide the ability to change…well, everything: buttons, shapes behind buttons, movies in buttons, text, motion menu backgrounds, audio beds behind menus, and much more. More important, DVD Studio Pro is engineered to work with still and motion menu templates that have been created by the user.
Audio mixes created in Logic and Soundtrack can be encoded (faster than real time) in A.Pack, the Dolby Digital encoding application that is included with DVD Studio Pro. All manner of Dolby mixes, from stereo to 5.1 surround, are supported. For musicians and audio engineers, DVD Studio Pro's Timeline can support multiple audio mixes, which means they can author audio-only DVDs that producers can use to audition different versions of the mix (stereo, surround, music without vocals for karaoke, and so on). Buttons and menus can be created directly within DVD Studio Pro, which has integrated menu design tools to greatly simplify the authoring process.
Round-trip production in DVD Studio Pro perfectly complements still menus created in Photoshop. In DVD Studio Pro, it's possible to select a menu and open-in-editor directly into Photoshop, with all layers intact. You can make any revisions you like within Photoshop, and saving the file communicates the revision update directly back to DVD Studio Pro.
Motion should be considered the ultimate DVD motion menu design appli cation. In the menu-creation workflow, video elements from the originating program are imported into Motion, where filter effects and motion paths are added to convert them into vibrant video montages. Text for buttons, like "play all" and "chapter selection," can be created and animated directly within Motion. For added effect, particles from Motion's built-in particle engine can be incorporated into menu designs. Exporting menus from Motion for use in DVD Studio Pro is as simple as saving the project to the user's Movies folder.
Round-trip production is tightly integrated between Motion and DVD Studio Pro. From the authoring asset bin of DVD Studio Pro it's possible to open-in-editor, launching the application for direct access to those elements originally crafted in Motion. Any changes made to motion menus in Motion are automatically updated to DVD Studio Pro upon saving. This kind of revisionist functionality is perfectly suited to the design of DVD menus, many of which are recycled from project to projectdifferent movies and slideshows in the same overall DVD menu theme.