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Dazzle DVD Creation
few years back, Dazzle made a splash in the desktop video world with
its Digital Video Creator - an external video capture box that encoded
video to VCD-compliant MPEG-1 in real-time. The quality it offered was
reasonably good, novices didn't have to open up their PCs to install
it, and real-time capture was a huge bonus at a time when MPEG encoding
software was scarce, expensive, and slow.
But, the appearance of recordable DVD in the mainstream means that video
enthusiasts have lost interest in VCD, and are now looking for high-quality
MPEG-2 encoding solutions rather than just MPEG-1. Just about every
DV editing program for Windows comes with integrated encoding software
for DVD, but the quality of encoded footage can vary greatly, and rendering
times can be slow depending on the speed of the system's processor and
the encoding settings chosen.
As with Dazzle's MPEG-1 capture devices, DVD Creation Station 200 connects
to the host Windows PC via USB, and captures audio and video through
analogue inputs on the external box - composite video, S-video and L/R
phono sockets. Usefully, the box has slots for memory cards most commonly
used with camcorders and digital cameras - Compact Flash, SD Card, MultiMediaCard,
Memory Stick, and Smart Media. Bundled software includes four of Dazzle's
own programs - OnDVD for creating DVD-based slideshows; Photo Editor;
MovieStar basic video editing; and a lite version of Dazzle's DVD Complete
Although DVD Creation Station 200 delivers excellent video quality
at conservative bit-rates, the bundle as a whole seems rather weak.
For a start, we'd like to see the option to capture video as elementary
streams, rather than have the linear PCM audio multiplexed with MPEG
video. The DCS200 device should be better integrated with MovieStar
- with more control over MPEG bit-rates and audio parameters. It would
also be good to see the capture device work from within DVD Complete.
MovieStar has enormous potential, but in places it's poorly implemented.
The trimming tools are ingenious, and the timeline layout should lend
itself to some rather complex cutting capabilities, but Dazzle needs
to provide support for insert editing and audio splitting for it to
be really worthwhile. Some decent control over video effects should
also be on the things-to-do list. We'd also like to be able to encode
for the web directly from the timeline and save the resulting files
on the system's hard drive. Further bonus points would be won if DVD
Complete were able to work directly from MovieStar project files.
The bundled version of DVD Complete is too limited, and is further let
down by its inability to capture from the DCS200 device or import raw
MPEG captures made with Test Utility. Upgrading to the Deluxe version
costs only US$29, however, and we think it's well worth the price. Still,
including the full Deluxe version in the bundle in the first place would
have made the package far more appealing.
MPEG encoding isn't a nightmare any more, as software encoders are plentiful
and computer systems are extremely powerful. There is a place for hardware
encoders - particularly for users making long projects or turning round
lots of movies on a regular basis. These people tend to exist in the
prosumer market, however, and the DVD Creation Station is not being
targeted at them.
Read the full
review in July 2003's Computer Video magazine.
Reviewed in July's
Cool 3D Studio
Dazzle DVD Creation Station 200
Roxio Easy CD & DVD Creator 6
Cubase SX and Wavelab 4
In July's news:
Power of X upgraded
Better, cheaper Mac DVD authoring
Third-generation Hitachi DVD cams
Western Digital Serial ATA HDD
Sony MiniDV pocket cam
ADS FireWire/USB 2.0
FCP 4 packs a pro's punch
Canon big-money competition