Version 1 of DVD Workshop shipped in June 2002 to a shower of well-deserved praise. Much has happened since then, however, including the introduction of the merged editing/authoring design paradigm by Pinnacle Studio and then Pinnacle Edition, and the entry of the 600-pound gorilla into the DVD authoring market, aka Adobe Encore.
Given these changes, we were curious to see if Workshop 2 (MSRP $495) would prove as impressive as its forerunner. Happily, the answer is an unqualified yes, primarily because of the design flexibility and enhancements incorporated into the new version.
Let's take a quick refresher course in Workshop's interface and functionality and then dive into the new features.
Visually, Workshop is dominated by a large preview window in the middle, with libraries of assets and effects on the bottom left, control tools on the upper left, and a filmstrip for menus and content on the bottom.
The program directs workflow with five tabs on the top left (Start, Capture, Edit, Menu, and Finish), each containing unique sets of context-sensitive tools. The fixed interface prevents the clutter endemic to Adobe Encore with no real negatives. It just works.
Unlike Encore, Workshop can capture video from camcorders and perform modest cutting and trimming, as well as timecode-based and content-based scene detection. This makes Workshop useful for projects like tape conversions that need minimal editing.
In addition to capturing in AVI format, Workshop can also capture directly into MPEG-2 format, speeding the DVD creation process. We tested this capability by capturing a 50-minute file, and Workshop delivered excellent quality and perfect audio synchronization. Workshop can also import the video from non copy-protected DVDs, essentially allowing your DVDs to serve a true archival role.
We'd like to see Ulead change to project-based asset libraries, since Workshop's permanent video libraries quickly become unmanageable. The best approach is to build custom libraries for each project, which you can delete once the project is complete.