Linux

I've been using Linux/Unix for many years. I've always had a strong interest in technology in general and computing specifically.

These are my opinions. Opinions are like noses, everyone has one, and they all smell.

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April 2017
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ManDVD

I asked on my local user group list.

I’m looking for a tool to take a series of images and create a DVD that will
do a slideshow of the images and viewable either on a computer or on TV. Originally I was thinking of something like gallery running from the CD. What I seem to be finding is applications to create DVDs to play in a DVD player. That works too. Anyone done this? There are a lot of files so GUI would be preferable.

Qdvdauthor is an attempt to put a gui on dvdauthor. It’s the right idea, however it seems to throw some serious errors and freezes X when I try to use it.

Then I found ManDVD. I started by working my way through the menus. I got the hang pretty quickly. So I started with a set of pictures I wanted to organize into a slideshow. In short order I had a nice slideshow video and it even had a soundtrack!

Creating a Slideshow

mandvd-create-slideshowFrom the main menu select create slideshow and you’ll get a new screen. The left side menu is deceivingly simple. It consists of Import Parameter, Add Picture, Import Folder Add Soundtrack, Select Font, and Font Color. If you choose Import Parameter first, it allows you to apply those settings to all the images you import. It can save you a bunch of steps dealing with setting for individual images.01mandvd-import-parameter

In the Import Parameter screen choose the Slide Duration, Transition Type and Transition Duration, then Confirm. You can do all this even before you import any pictures. There are a ton of different effects built in, that you can use in your slide show.
Next choose a directory to import. If you organize your images that way, importing by directory makes perfect sense. If you choose to create some unique grouping, you can do that too, one image at a time. The bottom of the screen is a display of thumbnails of the images you’re working with. It’s analogous to a roll of film. You can arrange them in the order you want them in your slideshow.02mandvd-import-folder

Want to give a little zing to your slideshow presentation? Choose Add Soundtrack. Pick music from your collection, must be mp3, wav or ogg. I was a little disappointed flac wasn’t supported. A line appears below the slider full of pictures and lets you know if you matched the audio track with the video track.
You could also use something like audacity to record the audio track yourself, then mix that in.

I did have to track down and fix one bug. I needed to edit /bin/dvd-slideshow and change every instance of “audio_bitrate=???” to “audio_bitrate=???k”. I found it by google searching the error message I was getting in the console screen. I don’t know if this is fixed in a later version.

There are options for setting the font and font color for the text you added to the images. You may have to make some adjustments to some of the longer texts, because they won’t fit in the image space.

Once you have everything the way you want, click on Generate at the bottom of the screen. An option box will pop up.mandvd-generate

You have checkable options to “Fade to black on last picture” and “High quality render (slower). There are “From picture” and “To picture” options which default to include all the images you imported. There is a “fps” slider which goes from 5 to 25. The three buttons along the bottom are “Show/Hide Console”, “Start” and “Cancel”, if you hide the console, then a progress meter is displayed. If you choose to show the console, you can view a log of the steps to build the video. Once you start all the menus and buttons stop working except for the “Show/Hide Console” button. I have a cpu monitor application I run on my desktop. This step seems to peg my processor. When it completes, a dialog pops up, “Creation of the slideshow is complete. Would you like to watch it?” If you choose yes this calls xine to play the video.mandvd-save-slideshow

Another dialog pops up “would you like to save this to your DVD project? After you choose yes, a dialog appears “Your menu button may either be some text, such as the name of the video, or an image. Define you menu button by the controls bellow.” You set the name of the slideshow, associate an image with it to be displayed in your menu button, extract an image from the video to use, ”

“Edit with Gimp” and there’s subsection called A/V Sync. I’m sure A/V Sync is a useful feature, just not for me. After you have created all these cool slideshows, then what?

Building a DVD

mandvd-menu
If you choose the “next” option on the bottom right side of the screen it will take you to a menu dialog. This is where you put together all the pieces that you created. You can choose a background for your on screen menu, either a solid color or a picture. You can select and arrange your videos on the menu screen. I decided to use images for my slideshows and so I had to arrange the images that represent my slideshows on the menu screen. At any point you can choose the “Previous” button at the bottom of the screen. This will delete all the previous work, so you’ll have to start over. You can also choose a Soundtrack to go along with your menu. There is a limit of 36 menu items.mandvd-structure

When you select the “Next” button, it takes you to the DVD creation screen. Only three options are available, “Create DVD structure”, a slider for “Execution priority” and two choices for Format “4/3″ and “16/9″ Once the encoding finishes, then the other menu options become available, “Watch the result”, “Burn DVD”, “Burn DVD with K3b” and “Create an ISO image”
I tried using K3b and created and ISO image and burned that, neither worked in my DVD player. When I used the “Burn DVD” option, I could play the first slideshow, but I couldn’t navigate to the other options when I played it in my DVD player. Everything worked fine in Xine. I’m not sure whether it’s a problem with the image menus or my DVD player, or perhaps even the media I used. When I tried with menus and the menu soundtrack that didn’t work. I found that it’s not a simple task to remove the image menus. I discovered that if you save your project, it will create a file with the .pma extension. This file is in plain text and contains information about your project, like the directory where you saved your work, the name you used for your menu, and the name of the slideshow you created similar to this:

/isos/manDVD/
$$MEDIAS$$
9-2-07 Solana Beach to Oceanside
/isos/manDVD//slideshow_16:13:03.vob

If something doesn’t work right you can start over, create a new project and reload the original slideshows from disk using the add video option. Just be sure to use another name if you save your project before you have finished.

Pros

I’m impressed! I produced in a few hours, what my amateur eyes see as a pretty professional piece of art. After some false starts I was able to create, what I thought, was some pretty impressive video. I had never even thought of doing this until this week, when I started looking for the software. And I didn’t have any thought of adding a soundtrack to the slideshow. Most of the applications I looked at before ManDVD were clunky and required me to know a lot more about the command line tools. I could have figured out how to do it, but that would have taken time I could use to create my first DVD.

Cons

I’m sure over time as this application matures it will get a lot nicer. However the only page I could find related to this was on the KDE apps site. Some of the titles and menus are in French, but I just used this program to create a DVD of some pictures without a problem. I don’t speak or read French. I’d like to see more options to change things back, like removing the image file from the menu. I’d also like to see a snap-to grid for setting up the menus. I had quite a few menu items and getting them evenly spaced can be a challenge. I found ways to work around these things. A few places it was a little clunky. Also I’d like to see a “niceness” slider in the window where you choose options to generate the slideshow. This application can consume a lot of resources depending upon the options you choose.

Conclusions

Probably not good enough for professionals, but if like me, you want to produce a video to share with family and friends, manDVD is just the trick. It could probably use some polish and a few additional features like support for flac files. Overall I give this four out of five stars. I was really impressed with the menu layout, it practically walked me through creating a DVD, something I’ve never attempted before.

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