Mountain Lake PBS Productions

Colin Powers reflects on PBS programming for the Adirondacks, Lake Champlain, & Quebec, public broadcasting, and the future of media distribution.

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DVD mastering tips learned under duress!

May 26th, 2011 · No Comments · Filmmaking, Multi-media, Resources

It has been a long haul getting the Skatopia DVD completed. As we near the end, I can say I’ve learned stuff about the FCP-Compressor-DVD Studio Pro workflow that I’ve never known. Thanks to frequent visits to Creative Cow and some other forums, we’re about to deliver a really classy product.

First I made some layered menus using a couple tuturials including this video intro and Larry Jordan’s text walk-through. Then I found a free plug-in for photoshop that made nice chroma-based smoothing for my overlay graphics.


Next I learned Compressor’s nasty little secret: the default setting for DVD audio compression uses a Dolby audio preset to create an .ac3 file. Compressor’s preset both adds extra audio compression AND messes with your levels. If you’ve paid for (or slavishly created) a mix with lots of dynamic range and accurate levels… count on Compressor to squash the range and lower the volume.


To fix this little issue, you need to make a copy of the audio preset and modify the copy: go into the “Preprocessing” tab in the Inspector and select “None” for compression (I decided to deselected the low-pass and DC filters, too) and in the “Audio” tab select –31 for dialnorm.


Suddenly your DVD actually sounds like your FCP project.


Lastly, I found two tutorials on building a Director’s Commentary track. What I like is that there are multiple ways to access the track, on-the-fly or continuous.


After you record your track and Compress it (using your new preset), drop the .ac3 track on A2 in Studio Pro (I guess each audio ‘track’ in SP is actually stereo).


Then two steps,( each with a tutorial) to make it easy to listen to:
  1. Simply make a button that links to track one but set the audio stream to A2.
  2. Use this cool script to allow someone to toggle it on & off with a button on their remote

Finally we mastered to Verbatim dual layer DVD+R disks that let us put the 97 minute feature up with the highest quality encode (90 Minute Best 2-pass). DVD Studio Pro’s manual pretty much walked us through our first dual layer workflow. It came out great, though some players add a noticeable “hitch” to the video at the layer break point.



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