Lacking the backing of an Adobe budget and the refined presentation that makes some of its competition so attractive to use, DVD-Lab Pro is a case in point for that old cliché about books and their covers. Sold by Pure Motion, a firm that candidly admits it doesn’t have the marketing budget to push its products as much as it’d like, this is a piece of software designed for those looking to author their own DVDs.
It’s aimed towards more advanced users, and it’s very clear within seconds that this isn’t an application for people who want to grab some video and slap it on a disc. What they’ve tried to do here instead is incorporate more sophisticated features into a friendly interface, and the results aren’t bad, although the interface could use some work.
So let’s go through the process of making a DVD to look at how it works. The screen immediately splits down into a file tree, an assets window, a preview and a working window (which has the movie timeline and a separate connections window that covers the likes of menus and suchlike).
First we headed for the assets window and pulled in a selection of files. Upon opening, the program checked them out and reported any problems. For instance, when we looked to bring in a file encoded as MPEG-1, DVD-Lab rightly informed us that this could cause a couple of quality-related issues, seeing as DVD utilises MPEG-2. Through the assets window you can also import backgrounds, subtitle streams, audio, plug-ins, objects; in fact, any of the creative component parts that go to make your DVD.
There are umpteen tools at your disposal here, and once we’d got over the relatively sparse interface – which may look a little confusing at times, but at least means you’re never too far away from what you need – it was fairly straightforward to put a good DVD together. Be warned, though, that this isn’t an application that holds your hand through the process, and there is a learning curve you need to consider. You may need to refer to the 269-page PDF help file quite a lot in the early stages.
Yet there are plenty of advanced features here that are hard to find elsewhere at such a price point. Take the likes of chapter branching, a full debug system that’ll test your menu system for any problems, audio transcoding and regional coding for starters. In fact (and we’re perfectly aware this sounds like a cop-out) there’s too much to do justice to the program in this review.
Truth be told, we didn’t really enjoy our first half hour with DVD-Lab Pro, perhaps having being a little spoilt by top presentation, wizards and walkthroughs over the past few years. But as we got used to the way it works, we warmed to it. It’s an adept, powerful application, and while it’s not right for those who want simple, fuss-free DVDs, it’s a powerful solution for those who thirst for that bit more.
Company: Pure Motion