Why I Still Use iDVD: Confessions of a Physical Media Creator
tl;dr version: It works … mostly, does most of what I want, and nothing else does … it seems.
You may have heard of DVDs, they were all the rage for awhile in the late 20th and early 21st century. Lately though, they’ve been superseded by this thing called “The Cloud” (a subject for another day). However, some of us still make money creating physical media. For me that mostly involves event videos & DVDs, mostly of Peoria Ballet performances, although I usually have several other smaller jobs requiring DVD creation throughout the year.
It’s All About the Software
For years Apple was strong in this field; with iDVD they had a consumer-level program in terms of ease of use that had capabilities even pros could love. With regular updates, an ever-expanding selection of templates, the ability to alter and save your own templates with a little work and knowledge, animated menus with audio and more, iDVD allowed you to create professional-looking DVDs without investing in expensive software and the time it takes to learn it.
Tense is tricky here. While no longer supported, plenty of people still use the software discussed here. So I’m going to go with present tense.
While it has templates, the focus of DVDSP is on those who want to have total control over their DVD, from images, to layout, navigation and output options. As you might imagine, DVD Studio Pro has a much steeper learning curve than iDVD, but once you learn it you can do just about anything you want with a DVD.
I spent years creating DVDs that my customers loved just using iDVD. While the template-based workflow and relatively limited options began to become a limitation, it worked, worked well, and again, my customers were always happy with the results. However, I had begun to chafe at iDVD’s limitations, and yearned to expand my horizons.
If you go into media creation and don’t enjoy learning new software, expect to be frustrated. Keeping up with the changes is part of the game, part of the game that’s driving me a little crazy these days when it comes to website creation.
For several years I had been looking at upgrading my iDVD and iMovie/Final Cut Express workflow to the full Final Cut Pro & DVD Studio Pro combo, but it was cost prohibitive. At this point they were bundled in a suite and cost upwards of $700, depending on version and how willing I was to stretch the definition of using it for educational purposes. Eventually, about 5 years ago now, I was able to solve that problem by buying a used iMac with Final Cut Studio (and, bonus, Adobe CS Master Suite 5.5) pre-installed. And so, a few years later, I found myself finally learning DVD Studio Pro.
After Apple had decided to discontinue it.
Decline and Fall of Professional DVD Creation Software
But still, it worked, lots of people still used it, and the only other Mac compatible, professional level DVD creation software, Adobe’s Encore, was similarly discontinued. So I took a couple of days to learn it, and once you learned how it worked, it wasn’t bad. Definitely a non-Apple interface, as most of their professional level software is/was. This comes from the software having come to Apple through their buying out of other companies rather than in-house creation.
Come to think of it, how much is that an explanation for their dumping the old Final Cut for Final Cut Pro X, which clearly was developed in house?
So despite the extra effort, the control DVDSP gave me was a welcome change from iDVD’s restrictions, and I was ready to use it for several more years, hopefully until everything moved to the cloud.
Sadly, it was not to be.
After a year and an OS upgrade, in only my third or fourth project with DVD Studio Pro, I began having fatal, reproducible and unavoidable errors. The program would open, I could work in it, but it always crashed before I could finish and export a project. So I learned Adobe Encore one morning … and had the same thing happen.
And so … back to iDVD. Which has some issues, both pre-existing while it was still technically supported, and new from being an old program unsupported for several OS upgrades. But as opposed to DVDSP & Encore, I can get it to work, even though I need some additional (fortunately free) software to make sure everything works correctly in the final output.
Conclusion … or Not. Maybe Back to DVD Studio Pro?
This year, as I was finishing the editing of The Nutcracker and getting ready to make the DVD, I decided once again to search the inter webs for Mac DVD creation software. (I was going to publish a listing here with my quick reviews of the options, but I’ve gone on long enough, so maybe that will be a short post later.) Turns out some people are still able to use DVDSP even with the latest OS updates. So maybe it was just that one project, and maybe I’ll try it again for the Ballet’s spring show (note to self, ask ballet if I’m videotaping the spring show). Because if I’m going to use unsupported software, I’d rather use professional unsupported software.
After all, I like to think I’m a professional.
Alright people who know me, stop laughing.