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iPontificateDVD Studio Pro: Creating a First-Play DVD Without Stress


- October 29th, 2004

For those novice users of DVD Studio Pro, I thought I might impart a simple little tip when using Apple's DVD authoring application, specifically, how to create first-play DVDs. First play DVDs are movies that automatically play when placed in a home DVD player, and oftentimes simplify the DVD authoring process by eliminating the need for creating complex menus and buttons. Using a DVD in this manner effectively reduces it to a high resolution VHS tape that once loaded runs on its own. Anyone familiar with the little plastic tab on VHS tapes that you break off to prevent recording will be familiar with this concept. You put the disc in, and voilà, it plays.

While this isn't much of an option for authoring DVDs using multiple video tracks, it is nice in a time crunch for getting material out the door like demo reels or archival footage. As most of you might have suspected, VHS is becoming antiquated at an ever increasing rate. Creating DVDs has become so simple and cost effective, virtually anyone with access to the software and hardware can take advantage of the current video technology.

Onto the steps involved with the first-play DVD...

I will take this at a pace more directed at users of DVD Studio Pro 2.0 that would be best described as amateur or some-time users -- those users who might otherwise be intimidated by DVD Studio Pro with all its bells and whistles. The first step is to have some type of video footage that has been converted into the MPEG-2 codec using Final Cut Pro or Compressor to fit the 4.7 GB data threshold.

Once the video has been converted, import the video into the application via the import button in the lower left asset palette. Be sure to both import the .m2v video and the corresponding .aiff audio file so the movie contains the sound you need for the file. You will have to search for where the file is located so be sure to remember when converting the video. Next, drag the icon on the asset palette onto the time line directly to the right of the pallete and in the center of the screen.

You now have the track that will be used as the first-play video for the disc.

Now, to assign that track as the first-play video, click on the icon of the little DVD disc in the upper-left hand corner. It should say UNTITLEDDISC unless a previously created project had been opened. After clicking, the menu in the lower-right corner will change to show the parameters of the actual disc. Select the pulldown menu for "First Play" and assign Track 1, Chapter 1. That's your set for first-play commands.

Now, since there will be no menu used, it is necessary to assign a command when the video reaches its end. The easiest thing to do is simply command the DVD player to replay the video that had just played. To do this, move up to the upper-left corner palette below the icon of the UNTITLEDDISC, and click on track 1. The lower-right menu will change again to give you access to the track parameters on the disc. Simply select the "end jump" pulldown menu and select track 1, Chapter 1 as the end-jump command.

Hit the Build and Burn icon on the upper tool bar and tadow! You just made a first-play DVD, easy for the author and viewer in one fell swoop. An easy, first-play DVD that will offer you higher resolutions and quality than a VHS transfer, or being forced to use proprietary DVD authoring apps that force logos and junk into the mix. It's an easy way to use DVD Studio Pro if you might have been a little afraid to use it, or were a little embarrassed to ask for help. No one will tell.

With five years in the entertainment industry, and three years writing for The Mac Observer, works passionately on various genres of film, including documentaries, narrative features, and shorts. He has two feature films under his belt as Director of Photography and Camera Operator, and his current role at TMO is to cover digital media and the film industry.

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