Ulead DVD Workshop

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Ulead DVD Workshop

Ulead seems to be on a mission to make the Windows DVD authoring market its own. But can its latest offering, DVD Workshop, satisfy the increasingly demanding prosumer?

Since the appearance of affordable DVD burners, development in authoring software has been concentrated at the entry level, ignoring the needs of the prosumer and professional video maker. Wedding video makers, corporate marketeers, and small independent production companies need much more than the simple wizard-based tools that currently dominate the lower end of the market.

The last attempt to address this problem was Roxio's VideoPack 5 which proved to be under-featured, overpriced, and very awkward to use. Uleadís DVD Workshop boasts a similar featureset to Roxioís offering, but comes in at exactly half the price and promises a more logical and intuitive user interface. Even more appealing is Uleadís upgrade policy, allowing registered users of other Ulead DVD authoring programs - such as VideoStudio 5, MediaStudio 6.5 and DVD MovieFactory - a US$50 discount on DVD Workshopís purchase price.

On launching DVD Workshop, the first thing that struck us was how closely the interface resembles that of Uleadís VideoStudio 6. It has the same large preview monitor with a businesslike grey surround and a tabbed structure. The authoring process is divided by tabs into four stages ñ Capture, Edit, Menu, and Finish. Projects can be built to PAL or NTSC standard but - as with most other programs under £1,000 - functionality doesnít extend past the limits of General Use DVD-R media. This means that DVD Workshop is fine for short-run projects burned to DVD-R, DVD-RW or DVD+RW, but is not appropriate for mastering commercial titles.

DVD Workshop isn't a program for professional mastering, nor will it meet the needs of the power users who demand 5.1 audio, subtitles, alternative soundtracks or multiple angles. But, at £175, that would be unrealistic. Even so, we do hope that Ulead takes note of the gaping hole higher up the Windows DVD authoring market, and offers professional plug-ins or peripheral programs for Workshop that provide this added functionality.Wedding video makers, corporate marketers and advanced home users, for whom the above features arenít necessary, may well find that DVD Workshop does everything they need. It does an excellent job of creating smart, functional DVD titles for small-scale distribution on DVD-R or DVD+RW disc. And its interface is by far the best weíve seen ñ being tactile, intuitive and very easy to use, without compromising control. We reckon the amount of thought invested in DVD Workshopís interface makes it one of Uleadís very best products, and itís certainly the best DVD authoring program available for the price.

Peter Wells

For the full review, see the April 2002 issue of Computer Video.

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