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ConvertXtoDVD, a Film, and a FedEx Receipt

~ a capsule review of the ConvertXtoDVD v4 Authoring Program ~

Jan 8, 2012
Peter Falkenberg Brown

On December 29th, 2011, at 4:15pm Eastern Standard Time, in the city of Portland, Maine, I looked at a FedEx receipt that I had just been handed, and couldn’t decide whether I wanted to jump up and down in the Kinko’s store, or go immediately to bed.

The receipt represented an uncounted number of hours that I had spent creating my very first short film, “The Epiphany of Zebediah Clump”. The receipt also confirmed that my 8 ½ minute film was on its way to the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF), and would arrive before the final deadline of January 6, 2012. My feeling of tension about my film project had been rather off the charts in the month of December, and the need to meet the SIFF deadline had impinged substantially on my Christmas week holiday.

But the film was finally done, and on its way. The last major task that I had needed to do was to take the exported file of my film and burn it to a DVD that I could send to SIFF. I also had to create a DVD cover, but that was easy. What was not at all easy was the DVD burning (authoring) of my movie. I suppose it should have been easy, but when one is on a deadline, technical problems often start creeping out of the corners with little billy clubs, offering snarky comments like, “So, you thought you were finished, did you?”

The little techno rascals had challenged me from start to finish with my film, primarily because of my own ignorance. From learning how to edit in Lightworks, to transcoding raw footage for import, to creating good exports, the technical aspects of dealing with digital film had been a huge learning experience. Then, after all that was done, I had to actually burn my lovely film to a DVD.

Since I had never actually used DVD authoring software before, I started searching the web for software, and also tried the software products that came with my Windows 7 laptop. All of them shall remain nameless, since I don’t want criticize any products in this review. In fact, some of them may have served someone very well.

In my case, I immediately ran into two deal-breaker requirements. I wanted to see what the DVD menus and the film itself would look like before I burned the DVD (i.e. “preview mode”), and I needed the software to correctly import my Quicktime .mov file. I had exported it successfully from Lightworks, but some DVD authoring programs choked on it, or wouldn’t import it at all. These were the file specs:

Format: Quicktime
Sample rate: 48 kHz
Sample size: 16 bit
Stereo file from LR mix
Format: 1080p (sf) 29.97fsp
Compression: DVCPRO 100
Final .mov file size: 7.4 gigs

I began to panic; well, to slightly panic, because I couldn’t find the software that would import the file correctly and offered a preview mode.

Finally, at the last moment, I found ConvertXtoDVD, at:

ConvertXtoDVD is created by VSO Software, located in the southwest of France, in the town of Toulouse. The author of the software is the company’s founder, M. Jacques Vignoles.

I grabbed the trial version, and then the full version, and violà, it imported my .mov file perfectly. If I had taken more than one year of High School French at the Waynflete School in Portland, I would attempt to say something more than “magnifique”. But there you have it.

Although it might not seem to be so, this is only a capsule review of ConvertXtoDVD. The company is coming out with Version 5 very soon, and I will do a longer review of that version, which will include a review of its menu creation functions.

Since I was so very short of time in December, and because SIFF didn’t require menus, I skipped the task of learning how to create them, and instead created a “first play” DVD, which means that it starts to play as soon as you pop it into the DVD player.

I was very pleased that ConvertXtoDVD had that function, as well as the ability to specify numerous options about film ratio, image filters and many other things besides. Once I reached the decision to skip the menus, I was able to burn a directory of DVD image files in a jiffy, and from there, it was just one more step to burn the film to a DVD. That proceeded apace and I soon had a DVD of my wee film in my hot little hand.

After I did a bit of research about blank DVD media and the quality of various brands, which is another story, I was able to view my film on a variety of devices, including my laptop and widescreen TVs. (I picked Sony DVDs by the way.)

It may seem like a small thing; the function of burning a film to a DVD. I discovered that it was not at all small, and with the specifics of my particular .mov file, it wasn’t at all simple to find the right program.

ConvertXtoDVD proved to be the champ; at least for me. It worked well, and worked quickly, and because of ConvertXtoDVD, I was able to make my SIFF delivery deadline in time, for which I offer a sincere “merci” to M. Vignoles and company.

Sometimes a receipt is more than just a receipt.

Peter Falkenberg Brown is passionate about writing, publishing, public speaking and film. He hopes that someday he can live up to his favorite motto: “Expressing God’s kind and compassionate love in all directions, every second of every day, creates an infinitely expanding sphere of heart.”

~ Deus est auctor amoris et decoris. ~

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