HD DVD creation on the Mac and PC

Although I tend to blog about HDi and advanced interactivity in HD DVD, many customers simply want to release their high-definition video quickly and cheaply. If you are a professional videographer shooting things like weddings, corporate events, marketing collateral, industrial films, digital shorts, etc. then often you won't need a disc with the breakthrough interactivity seen on titles such as Universal Pictures' Smokin' Aces. You also may not have the time or money to invest in creating such a disc.

The great news is that the HD DVD standard supports such productions with two key features. The first is the ability to create what's called "Standard Content," which is essentially the same as traditional DVD content but with high-definition video and audio. In other words, you still get 6 times the resolution and much better sound, but you don't get the cool animated menu overlays. That means easy title creation with virtually no learning curve.

The second feature is the ability to create fully-compliant HD DVD discs using existing red-laser DVD-9 media. That's right – you can burn HD DVD content onto a 9GB DVD disc for exactly the same price as a regular DVD. How cool is that? And lest anyone complain that "9GB isn't enough," it is plenty big enough for short-form content (such as weddings, short films, etc.) at normal bit-rates, and we've even seen several feature-length HD DVD release on DVD-9s with somewhat lower bitrates.

So how does one create such a disc? Well, if you are running on a Mac you probably already have Apple's DVD Studio Pro. It has supported creating HD DVD discs for a while now, using the same interface you are used to for standard DVDs. (Interesting aside: one of the more persistent rumours out there is that "Apple supports Blu-ray." Whilst it's true that they are on the Blu-ray Disc Association's board, the assertion is a little misleading since they're also an active member of the DVD Forum, and they actually ship products that support HD DVD).

For those of you using a PC, you have the choice of several packages, including Pinnacle Studio Plus 11, Ulead DVD MovieFactory, and CyberLink PowerProducer, among others. We expect all the current DVD-creation products to include high-definition creation (both HD DVD and Blu-ray) as time goes by, especially as burners become available.

Unfortunately, none of the tools listed above will generate the multiplexed A/V data needed for a complete Advanced Content title... yet. For that you will need something high-end like Sonic Scenarist, although we hope to see more consumer-focused options in this areas soon. Another option is NetBlender's DoStudio, an authoring package that supports Advanced Content authoring (including graphical creation of menus) and is licensed on a month-to-month basis rather than a purchase-to-own basis, but it doesn't currently perform the final multiplexing of data.

P.S. The best part of all this? DVD-9 isn't just limited to Standard Content; you can make Advanced Content on a DVD-9 as well! You can download the Coloured Blocks Advancing on a Moving Block sample, burn it to a UDF 2.5 disc, and play it on an Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on drive today with your Xbox 360 controller!