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Saturday, November 3, 2012

••◊ Burning a DVD for film festival submission

Let me first start off by saying that I'm not a big fan of DVDs.  I do, however, have fond memories of buying my first DVD player in 1997 as a graduation present for myself.  I was in Magnolia Hi-Fi in Seattle and they had this new, shiny, slim Panasonic player.  It played DVDs and CD's - remember those days when CD playback mattered?  ...optical out for Dolby Digital in 5.1 surround!  ...S-video, which was an upgrade from the composite video I was used to using on our VCR.  Yes, simpler times.

It's the 21st century now and things have changed for the better.  Shiny disks are sort of obsolete, and for good reason.  We have bandwidth at home.  I get a better quality picture from Vimeo.  However, the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival still requests film festival submissions by DVD.  It's a bit shocking to me, simply because this gathering has a reputation of being on the leading edge of technology and ecological practices - both of which I appreciate and would be proud to be associated with.  Home brew video DVDs have been nothing short of a horrible, rotten, miserable experience in my time dealing with them.  There's always that one player that doesn't read the disk, or skips around on the video, or spontaneously combusts when you insert the disk because it can't spit it out fast enough - well, maybe not that, but anyone who has burned a DVD at home can sympathize.

So I'm in the middle of burning DVD's for the SXSW festival.  I consulted with my friend and he gave me some advice that actually works, much unlike the black magic voodoo you often find in amateur forums online.

Step 1. Buy good blank media.  My friend said that he uses DVD+R, but I chose to go with DVD-R because that's the most compatible with all DVD video players that exist, even the old ones.  He recommended the USDM brand, so I bought the "Supreme" disks to not take any chances.  I don't have time to experiment with brands and products.  Please note that I am not affiliated with this company, nor the web site I link to in this blog post.  Other brands may work just as well.  This is the brand my friend uses on a consistent basis with success and his business relies on delivering working products to clients.

Step 2.  If you are using Adobe Encore to author your DVD, select "DVD Image" as the output option.  Don't burn the disk directly from Encore.  Don't create the DVD directory.  Create a .iso file of the disk image.

Step 3.  Use a freeware (sponsored) program called ImgBurn to burn the DVD image (i.e. the .iso file) to the DVD-R disk.  Note that you have to scroll down toward the news section to download the correct program.  There are some deceptive advertisements on their web site for DVD burning software.  I mistakenly thought one of these links was the installer and ended up with "Grab-n-Burn" on my desktop.  After removing this junkware from my computer, I found the discreetly placed link to download the actual ImgBurn software.  Heads up. 

When I tested on Sony, Memorex, and generic media I only found one bad disk and it was burned on my laptop.  So far the rest have worked on all players.  I still have to test the disks before sending them out, but at least I have a work-able solution for film festivals now.  I'll repeat this method when my "good" media arrives on Monday.  Hope you have as much luck as I did.

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