I periodically teach digital video creation courses for professionals, most recently for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Rather than a straight lecture/brain dump, it's kind of an exchange of information. I discuss new technologies and products, and generally demonstrate how to use them, while the attendees—usually video producers from academic, television, or business organizations—discuss how they use technology, what works and what doesn't, and their future technology goals and directions.
A recent class in Madison taught me the power and influence of Photoshop in the video production community. Let me explain.
The traditional DVD production model is a conglomeration model, where the authoring program assembles menus and videos prepared elsewhere, then encodes and burns the DVD. Adobe's new Encore typifies this model. Though you can produce basic menus in Encore, you really need Photoshop, and you can seamlessly transfer your menus between the programs, facilitating this production model. Of course, all videos are produced in either Premiere Pro or AfterEffects, and then imported into Encore.
The newer model, employed by Pinnacle Edition, is an integrated editing/authoring model where you edit your videos and create your menus inside Edition. Sure, you can import Photoshop PSD files as a starting point, but most of the heavy lifting associated with menu creation occurs in Edition. Ulead's DVD Workshop, which can capture and trim your videos, as well as create all menus, is another example.
In my small business, one-man shop view, the integrated model is superior. But I wanted to present the pluses and minuses of each approach to the class and get their view.
To me, the sole advantage of the integrated model is that it's easier to spread the work around. If you have a graphics artist, videographer, and authoring person, they each get their own separate application with well-defined outputs and handoffs.
However, disadvantages seem to abound. First is cost. Adobe's Digital Media Collection Professional costs $1,499 with Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Encore, AfterEffects Professional, and Adobe Audition. If you purchase the first three separately, it costs $1,857, making the bundle a better deal. This compares to around $600 for Edition and $500 for DVD Workshop.
Then, there are multiple interfaces to learn—Premiere, Encore, and the cryptic Photoshop. In contrast, Edition has one interface to learn for video editing, with menus generated in Title Deko, a utility also used for title design, and a relatively simple linking structure.
More important, at least to my style of work, is workflow. I produce primarily for DVD, and generally prepare all elements simultaneously. With Encore, it's ridiculously easy to go back and forth to Photoshop, so making changes is painless. However, I have to fully render my videos before importing them into Encore.
If I decide to make a change to the video later in the production cycle, perhaps after discovering some flaw that only become obvious after I started authoring, I have to completely re-render, which is time-consuming. In Edition, or its consumer sibling Studio, I just make the change and move on because the video isn't rendered until it's time to produce the video anyway.
To be fair, Encore is a much more capable DVD tool than Edition, though features like CSS, multiple audio, and text tracks, and the ability to create dual-layer discs are not critical to the average DVD producer, and weren't to most class members. The only truly significant feature Edition lacks is AC-3 support, which probably is a show-stopper for professional DVD producers pushing disc capacity.
Anyway, that was the outline I presented. Here's what I heard back.
First, most professional videographers already own Photoshop, love Photoshop, and want to design menus, buttons, text objects, and their country club logo and tombstone in Photoshop, though hopefully not for many years. They've already learned how to use it, think in layers, and—most importantly—have already paid for it.
Next, most thought that they would buy Premiere Pro anyway, since most used Premiere 6.5 and didn't want to learn a new editing interface. Again, no real learning curve, since Premiere Pro is so similar to version 6.5, from the user's perspective. That decision made, they could either buy Premiere Pro alone, for $699, or invest $300 more and get Adobe Video Collection Standard, which includes Premiere Pro, Encore, Audition, and AfterEffects Standard Edition (but no Photoshop). This evaporates the price difference between the two approaches to insignificant levels.
Finally, most felt that the major weakness of the integrated approach--the inability to split work between multiple contributors--was a significant issue in their production workflow. They wanted their graphics expert to design the menu in Photoshop, and loved the ability to jump back and forth between Photoshop and Encore to fix their mistakes. Their video was shot and typically edited by a different professional; if fixing errors required re-rendering, so be it. Measure twice, cut once.
Their workflows present a lovely contrast to mine, highlighting the fact that workflow and your preferred image and video-editing applications should have significant impact on your choice of DVD authoring programs. If you're a Photoshop and Premiere user, all this talk of integrated authoring is probably senseless babble. You create menus in Photoshop, edit in Premiere, and author in Encore.
On the other hand, if you're a small shop not exclusively drinking the Adobe kool-aid, and you're seeking a faster, easier-to-learn, and more economical solution, a more integrated approach--whether via DVD Workshop or Edition--may be a better decision.