Making the Move from Cheap to Semiprofessional DVD-Creation Tools
When it comes to DVD-creation tools, there are few choices between cheap "entry-level" tools and expensive "professional" tools. If you are making the jump from entry level to professional level, some of the choices you want to look at will again be dictated by the operating system you are running. If you are not running on Mac at this point, you will want to seriously consider making the jump.
Apple's Final Cut Studio is the professional upgrade from iLife. The upgrade brings enhanced control over your menu structure, extended support for multiple DVD formats (standard and the difference HD formats), and many other tools such as transitions, scripting, and conversion. The price jump to DVD Studio Pro 4 is only $499, and if you want DVD Studio as part of the Final Cut Studio (which includes Final Cut Pro 5, Soundtrack Pro, Motion 2, and DVD Studio Pro 4), you have to part with only $1,299.
If you do not have the choice of using a Mac, you do have some choices on the Windows platform.
The good news for Windows DVD designers is that I think the gaps between Mac and PC development will shrink. Three of the driving forces behind the drop in the gap include Windows Vista (coming out at the end of 2006), increased support for video on the Xbox 360, and more Windows video editors. Superior presentation is a key feature within Vista, and the ripple effect is that presentation will transition to all Windows products, including video-editing tools and playback tools. The new Xbox 360 is forcing all developers to build games in High Definition. Microsoft is releasing a series of products built around XNA Game Development Studio that will allow developers to easily create content for the Xbox distributed on DVD. Finally, the largest momentum is coming from you. Every day, companies such as Kodak make it easier to create digital video and images. People are demanding better tools for creating DVDs. If you want to see this in person, check out Microsoft's Movie Maker community.