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Creating Home Movie DVDs

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 1/22/2010

Learn some tips for creating effective DVDs for your home movies.

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    Home Movie Production

    Home movies have been a part of family life since the first Bolex cameras made their way to suburbia. As the technology changes both our ability to create and view these films we have to change the way that we manufacture them. DVD is the new standard format for the moment and all footage that intends to be viewed by most people will have to be in this format. Along with this is a change in expectation for DVD viewers, who do not tolerate a simple catalogue of raw footage. Here is a way to produce home movie DVDs that are categorized appropriately for the kind of footage they are.

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    Video Capture

    You have to begin by capturing the digital video footage from your camera onto your computer hard drive. In the effort for simplicity you can do this by connecting the camera to your computer with a FireWire 400 or 800 cable. Find the non-linear video editing software that you intend to use and open it to capture the footage from your digital video camera. Since you are likely going to want to deal with as much as the raw footage that you want you will need to use a Capture Now option instead of a Batch Capture, which would ask you to mark only certain clips you want for video capture. Make sure that you have a fairly large storage space or hard drive as both the raw footage and the DVD authoring file are going to be somewhat large.

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    Video Editing and Compression

    Once the footage is in your non-linear video editing program you have to decide how you want to present it. You can shorten it and edit it into sequences, or you can just create small blasts of un-edited footage. Either way you are going to end up with several different Timelines in your video editing software. Each one of these Timeline's is going to have to be exported and compressed from your video editing software one at a time. Select and option to Export using a compression program. If you are using something like Apple's Final Cut Pro you will have Compressor to compress each of these file's into the proper codec. Any non-linear video editing program with an associated DVD authoring software will have this option, especially Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere, or Sony Vegas. Select a compression rate that will fit into the DVD authoring format, which is usually just going to be MPEG-2. You should also make sure to actually set the quality that you will want the video and audio to be. Go ahead and compress the Timeline video into two tracks, one for audio and one for video. Do this for all of your movie sequences or sub-clips that you created in your video editing program. Make sure to label them clearly as there will be several different files.

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    DVD Authoring

    Open your DVD authoring menu and begin importing these video and audio tracks into it as Assets. Assets are used either in the video tracks or menu's of the DVD you are creating. You may want to also use other family images that you have on your computer for some of these DVD authoring assets. They will work perfectly for menu systems, or you can even add a photo slideshow through most high end DVD authoring programs. Begin creating new tracks and menus for each of the video clips. Place the video and audio clips onto those video tracks and compose an associated menu that is in the visual theme of that clip. Set a play button so that you will be able to select it and have it target the respective track. On each of these menus you will want to also put in a Home button so they can go back to the base menu. This base menu will be the place where the DVD viewer can select all of the other menu's they want to go to, so make sure that it is aesthetic and organized. You are going to want to make sure that the menus are also divided up according to the type of footage that is associated, that way people can look exclusively at footage of a family vacation or a birthday. Once you are done with your DVD authoring file you can simply select to Burn and do it on a blank DVD-R. Make sure that you test all the connections in your DVD authoring file before actually burning a DVD.