Miraizon's Cinematize ($59 download, $69 box, www.miraizon.com) is specifically designed to pull the digital files from a DVD into a multitude of formats for a variety of uses. Cinematize gives you the power of creativity and lets you utilize your DVDs in a way you've not yet considered--or at least not considered possible.
A few years back I began to realize that I needed a way to get back "in" to previously authored DVDs. I'm not referring to the practice of "ripping" them to back up or copy complete disc images, but rather for the purpose of unpacking and re-editing or otherwise re-purposing the individual video/audio files that were on the DVDs. Situations began to arise more and more frequently that required us to get access to the digital footage, from both our own library of DVDs and ones brought in by clients. Previously, the only ways to get footage off an authored DVD was to either dub the DVD onto another format (DV, DVCAM, etc.) or run it through a "media" converter into your edit/capturing system of choice.
There were a few problems with these methods. One, it was a pain to dub or convert, and secondly, you usually ended up with a second- or third-generation copy by the time you got it on your computer. I'm sure you can conjure up images in your mind of what kind of quality you get in subsequent-generation copies—hardly the kind of thing you want to turn around and deliver to your clients as professional product.
I always thought that it was redundant to take a digital file, dub or convert it through an analog format, and then import it back into your computer as a digital file again. It was obvious that the postproduction world needed a better choice. It seemed natural to create a bridge between digital formats to facilitate digital-to-digital media transfer.
I was knee-deep in the challenge of trying to pull out the digital footage to which I needed access when I started talking about the situation with a fellow editor. Fortuitously, he had recently run across a product called Cinematize and suggested that I try it out. Cinematize is now one of the most used pieces of software in my "editing toolbox."
Miraizon's Cinematize is specifically designed to pull the digital files from a DVD into a multitude of formats for a variety of uses. Make no mistake; this is not a DVD ripper! Cinematize gives you the power of creativity and lets you utilize your DVDs in a way you've not yet considered—or at least not considered possible.
Miraizon's Cinematize is specifically designed to pull the digital files from a DVD into a multitude of formats for a variety of uses.
The Cinematize interface is very user-friendly, yet deceptively powerful and efficient. You load in your DVD or image file, launch Cinematize, select the clip to extract from your DVD, select extraction options for video, audio, and subtitles, then extract and save.
How it Works
The Cinematize interface is very user-friendly, yet deceptively powerful and efficient. You load in your DVD or image file, launch Cinematize, select the clip to extract from your DVD, select extraction options for video, audio, and subtitles, then extract and save. Done.
Another perk is that Cinematize can decode to any code supported by QuickTime. That means that regardless of whether you're working with an AVI file or a ten-bit uncompressed DVCPRO clip, Cinematize will decode to any format you have loaded into your computer.
Cinematize also has the flexibility to let you select in and out points within the same chapter or in a different chapter. One of my favorite functions is a built-in viewer that instantly allows you to view your selection. It's all about giving you choices in an accessible manner. You can also select video or audio alone or concurrently. Need audio from one part but video from another? You can do it with Cinematize.Cinematize also has the flexibility to let you select in and out points within the same chapter or in a different chapter.
What I believe is one of the really powerful features of Cinematize is its ability to decode DVD elementary streams. It does so by extracting the file that was burned on the DVD and storing it on your hard disk as an M2V file ready to be used with most DVD authoring programs. You can also choose to decode an MPEG-2 file if that's your authoring format of choice.
The beauty of this process is that it's incredibly fast—around ten times real time. In no time you'll have a digital copy of the original file with no quality loss, and you'll have decoded it to an authoring format that you can use (no additional MPEG compression needed).
If you need to re-edit footage off a DVD, Cinematize gives you all the options that you'll need. Cinematize can decode to any QuickTime-supported format and is not restricted to Mac or Windows. That gives users working in Premiere or Final Cut Pro (with myriad codec choices) the ability to decode a high-quality digital file with Cinematize.
Another way that I frequently use Cinematize is to create "presentation" files. Bonus: You don't need to re-edit the footage and you don't need to re-author the DVD.
This is done by creating a PowerPoint movie from a part of the DVD. Before I discovered Cinematize, this would have been an involved four-step process. Once Cinematize hit the market it became a non-issue.
Choose the in and out points from the part of the DVD that you want to extract, select the format (size, frame rate, etc.), and save the clip. The possibilities are endless; from an iPod movie to a Web-streaming file, Cinematize will make quick work of your DVD project.
As I already mentioned, the Cinematize user interface is easy and straightforward. Unlike a lot of programs, you really can't get lost figuring out what to do. The most obvious benefit when comparing speeds depends on the decoding work that you're asking it to perform. For an elementary stream or MPEG file, performance is very fast, since it's mostly reading the data off your DVD drive. However, when you are decoding to another codec, such as MPEG-4 or its H.264 variant, the speed varies a lot depending on your CPU.
Cinematize can create a single movie file with audio and video or separate them into their own files, depending on your needs. It also has the ability to extract the subtitles from a DVD, but I can't speak to how well it accomplishes this feat, as I have yet to test the feature. Because it does not extract from encrypted DVDs there is no need rush to your nearest video rental store in the hopes of pirating a slew of new releases. I imagine this feature helps to keep the Hollywood lawyers off their back as well.
For the few times that I needed to contact tech support, they proved knowledgeable about their product and quick to respond. On both occasions I simply needed a quick update with the latest patch to address the issues I was having.
Whether we like it or not, the DVD format has become the quickest and most widely accepted playback format in the history of electronics. Because of its ability to retrieve and manipulate existing DVD content, Cinematize will continue to meet the needs of video producers for a long time to come.
Cinematize also works well in conjunction with some of the newer devices. There are some exciting new features being seen in late-model DVD recorders, as seen in Anthony Burokas' recent article, Stacking the DVD Decks. However, to date, none of them are able to give you dynamic menu options. Cinematize lets you have your cake and eat it too, by allowing you to use the quality and speed of your real-time DVD recorder and then decode the file back into your computer to author a new DVD without any quality loss.
Cinematize not only has a home in the postproduction world, but Cinematize customers also include doctors, lawyers, schools, churches, etc. The common theme among them is that they are all using DVDs as a part of their workflow—and not just on the final export end of the process. Cinematize is one of the only applications that gives you the opportunity to pull material off a DVD and work with it.
One improvement that I'd like to see in Cinematize is greater support for decoding AC-3 files. Otherwise, Cinematize delivers a rare combination of ease of use, performance, and high-quality output. If you use DVD as part of your workflow, then I strongly suggest that you take a look.