Ulead DVD Workshop AC-3 review

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Ulead DVD Workshop AC-3

Ulead's DVD authoring package, DVD Workshop, is a good choice for corporate video makers and ambitious amateurs. Can the addition of AC-3 audio encoding take it to a new level?

Well-featured DVD authoring tools are scarce in the mainstream Windows market. While Mac users have the benefit of working with Apple's very feature-rich and reasonably affordable DVD Studio Pro, the best sub-£1,000 offerings on the Windows platform are Ulead's DVD Workshop at £150 and Pinnacle's Impression DVD Pro at £350. Neither Windows program offers anything like the same level of functionality as Apple's software - that can really only be had under Windows with software costing many thousands of pounds.
While this gap remains in the Windows market, we're happy to recommend Ulead's DVD Workshop for advanced home users, and makers of wedding or corporate videos. It may not have multi-angle features, multiple audio tracks or subtitle support, nor provide copy-protected DLT output for large-scale duplication, but its menu-design tools are excellent, as are media management features such as chapter marking. The first version of DVD Workshop fell down slightly on its lack of support for elementary MPEG streams in which audio and video exist as separate files, but this was quickly remedied, allowing users to import audio for movies as uncompressed PCM files or as MPEG audio.

Our finished DVD-R looked and sounded good when played back on a Yelo 800 DVD player and, as always, we're very happy with DVD Workshop's performance for the consumer and mid-range prosumer level. We're sure that AC-3 support will be welcomed by a good number of users, but we would like to have had more control over AC-3 encoding parameters. Still, with the format making better inroads into the mainstream, we feel that more users will be inclined to prepare their sound files in advance and import them into Workshop projects. With that in mind, DVD Workshop AC-3 and Sonic Foundry's Vegas Video 4.0 could turn out to be a killer combo. In the long term, though, we hope that the AC-3 PowerPack marks the first of many add-on bundles, and that Ulead enhances the excellent Workshop interface for more advanced and professional DVD projects, bringing more of the authoring features still restricted to Apple's DVD Studio Pro into the sub-£1,000 mainstream.

Peter Wells

Read the full review in June 2003's Computer Video magazine.



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