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DVD Studio Pro 2 Solutions

Book review by John Hershey

We always are looking for a way to de-mystify and speed up our learning curve with complex media applications. For this process, "DVD Studio Pro 2 Solutions" by Erica Sadun is a valuable tool.

Apple’s DVD Studio Pro 2 is a fairly deep program. It is as complicated as Photoshop CS but not nearly as user-friendly. Most regular consumers and weekend videographers are likely to be content with the simpler functionality of the iLife suite’s iDVD application. However, if you need to create top notch DVD's with all the navigation, menus and sophisticated features totally customizable from the ground up, this book cuts through the jungle of DVD Studio Pro's less-than-intuitive procedures.

This is a no-nonsense approach to learning how to use the complex, professional application. Don’t expect to whiz along from chapter to chapter. You need to take well-deserved breaks in between. Erica Sadun’s writing is not peppered with wry humor or breezy style. She has cut to the chase in pulling out different routines that would be pretty challenging to work out without guidance. The text is a less intimidating read than the 598 page Users Manual that comes with DVD Studio Pro. In addition, each chapter of the Sadun book has several hands-on, interactive tutorials that reinforce the material you have just read. These tutorials are the trademark "Solutions" exercises from which the series takes its name.

A DVD with over 3 GB of supporting files, tutorial elements, and try-out applications is included. The DVD Studio Pro application is not one of the try-outs included. Unfortunately, you have to own it or at least be able to access the full program in order to use the tutorials. The author entices you to try tricks you may not have imagined. After stepping through fundamentals of a feature, the Solutions section goes even further, like a roadmap leading you off the beaten track into creative experimentation.

For instance, one tutorial has you creating a drop box that accommodates an animated brush stroke revealing a video clip. You are instructed how to delve deep into existing iD VD files to borrow the brush effect, then customize it for your project.

How would first time users of DVD Studio Pro fare? I never actually used the program before I opened the book. Sticking with the book and doing the tutorials, I found that Studio Pro is much easier to learn this way than plowing through Apple’s manual. It is, however, counter-productive to try to skip around within a chapter since the information builds on itself in sequence.

And how about seasoned users of DVD Studio Pro? I took a mini-survey and asked a developer who knows the application well to assess the Solutions book. He felt it might be a good companion to the Apple manual that comes with the application, when needing to quickly find how-to information on one of the many DVD authoring procedures.

In the Introduction to the book, Erica Sadun refers to herself as an "unrepentant geek" with over 20 books to her credit. Yes, she could be called a "geek," but one who can communicate by dissecting an overwhelming process. She doesn't over-explain. The downside of this is that you are sometimes expected to remember how to repeat complex sequences previously spelled out in order to step through a new tutorial process. You might have to backtrack and re-read an earlier few pages. Well, this isn't DVD Studio Pro 2 for Dummies. Perseverance is required, and ultimately, rewarded.

Author: Erica Sadun
Published by Sybex $39.99