Disc Warrior, Come Out to Play

Sure, iMovie is great - but after you've spent hours editing a digital video masterpiece, it hurts to transfer it to a lousy analog videotape. Apple's new iDVD software may ease the pain.

Using iDVD - a simple DVD-authoring application that will ship with the Power Mac G4s that have Apple's new SuperDrive - you can quickly create DVD interfaces for your digital videos, as well as slide shows of digital images. It all happens via a drag-and-drop interface; iDVD will even encode your movie in MPEG-2, the video format required by DVD players. Apple will also sell certified DVD discs for $10 a pop.

You can customize the appearance of the DVDs you create by setting font, button, and background styles for each disc. You can even drag pictures into iDVD to use as backgrounds for your DVD pages.

Compressing DVD-quality video takes a lot of horsepower. But Apple says that iDVD encodes at a rate of 2x - this means that an hour of video takes only two hours to encode. But iDVD can fit only an hour of video on a disc - Apple probably decreased iDVD's compression rate in order to speed things up.

For professional customers who need to author DVDs, Apple also announced DVD Studio Pro, a $995 professional product due at the end of January; it's meant as a companion to Apple's Final Cut Pro editing software.

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