Today we come to the final article on DIY DVD production. If my first two articles didn’t scare you away – congratulations! You’re an official DIY badass, or perhaps slightly delusional. In either case, you now have excellent video and audio from your event. It went off without a hitch – all your fans have been talking for weeks about the giant rotating drumkit and the chorus of belly dancers that accompanied you on your hit single. You’ve extracted all your audio and video files. You’ve got backups of the backups, and you’re ready to put your DVD together. So, now what?
Step 1: Video Editing
You’ve got 3-5 cameras worth of video footage from your event, and you’ve got one professionally mixed stereo sound file that is so good you could sell it as a live CD. The first thing you have to do is line up the audio and video shots.
Disclaimer: When I edited my DVD, I used the Adobe suite (specifically, Adobe Premier Pro) to edit together my video. There are many other completely valid choices out there for editing video – Final Cut Pro, Vegas, etc. – it doesn’t really matter what you choose to use, just that it works for you. Most of the examples I’m going to give will come from my experience in Premier, but I’m sure there’s also ways to do these things in just about any other program, except Windows Movie Maker. We’re making a professional-looking DVD, so for the love of Dio, please use professional video software!
Remember in the last article, how I recommended you use a “clapper” or “click marker” to create an audio and video sync point? Now is going to be your chance to use it. Import all of the video files into your project, and use the sound of the click and the video footage of the moment the clapper closes to sync all of your shots.
“Oh crap, Fang, I forgot to do that!” Not to worry, your entire DVD is not ruined. It will just be a little more difficult to sync all your shots. What I recommend doing is to first sync all your video together, then sync the audio. In my case, I synced 3 tracks of video based on the explosion of a confetti cannon. The moment the cannon went off was an easy frame to find in each of my video tracks. You’ll need to find a video event that has a clear start or clear end that all of your cameras captured. For instance – the guitarist jumping off of the drum riser and landing, or the bassist falling down after his 5th shot. Whatever works.
Once you have the video synced, you can sync your audio by looking for a singular, sharp, quick sound – for instance, the singer accidentally whacking himself in the teeth before that big third chorus. Or maybe a singular cymbal hit. Try to be as accurate as possible here. People can really tell when the audio is off-sync, and it’ll make your whole DVD look amateurish.
Next step – Choosing your shots. For the most part, this is up to artistic interpretation. Obviously, try to find the coolest shots possible at all times. Adobe Premier has a feature where you can watch four video streams all at once, and click on the stream you want to select as your final shot. This can help you edit in “real time”, and speeds up the process considerably. After you’re done with this first pass, you can go back and clean up the edits.
Not sure which shot to pick? Or when to do the transitions? Watch a few professionally-created band DVDs to get a good idea of some of the shots you’ll want to try to replicate. Also, if you pay very close attention, you’ll notice that the shots usually change in time with the beat of the song. Matching shot transitions and events in the song can make a video really seem in sync with the music, and will make your DVD much more watchable. When in doubt, switch your shots to the beat of the song!
Step 2: Create your DVD Menus
Now, after hours (or perhaps days) of editing, you finally have an awesome video file that you’re certain your fans will want to buy. The edits are in time with the music, the audio is synced, and everything looks fantastic and professional. You’re almost there…or so you think. Perhaps the most challenging point of this whole process lies ahead. Ready your courage, young adventurer, for the challenge of:
THE DREADED DVD MENU
Fear not, brave adventurer, for there are programs to aid you on your quest. But all Dungeons and Dragons speak aside, this process can be a complicated one, and will test your photoshop and editing skills if you want to make anything that looks halfway decent. Some things to think about:
- Do you want to have an author credit at the start of the DVD (think “the MGM Lion” or the “Universal Globe” that shows before a movie)?
- Do you want to have animated (read: video) backgrounds to your DVD menu?
- Do you want to have extras and hidden content?
- Do you want to have video transitions between your menus?
- Do you want credits at the end of your DVD?
Hopefully you’ve answered “yes” to all of these questions. That’s good – that means that you want to make your DVD look and feel as professional as possible. However, each one of these things requires more work from you. You’ll have to create the video files to play behind the menus, create the transitions, and craft a credits sequence.
There are so many “right” ways to do these things, that I’m not even going to go into examples. Suffice to say that it will behoove you to look at professionally made DVDs and pay close attention to their menu systems and transitions between menu selections. Figure out what you like and what you don’t like, and what you think you can recreate yourself.
I made a large majority of my DVD menus (heck, even a large majority of my music videos) using Adobe Premier, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe After Affects. There are a huge number of incredible, free videos on the net regarding teaching yourself after effects, but the one site I highly recommend checking out is Video Copilot – http://www.videocopilot.net/
Once you have all your files ready, you can load them into a DVD authoring software, like Adobe Encore. Again, there are a number of solutions that are equally valid for this step, so choose what you like! Use the power of the almighty google to supplement your knowledge.
Step 3: Printing your DVDs
Alright, you’ve got a DVD that looks great! Everything works, and it’s ready to be duplicated and pressed. At this point, you’ve got three choices for how to get your DVD out to your fanbase – professional duplication, home duplication, or kunaki.
Professional Duplication – Just like CDs, there are companies out there that will professionally duplicate or press DVDs for you. The only problem with this is that you need to order a minimum number of DVDs to even make this worthwhile. And it costs money. Remember, DVDs usually cost more to create than CDs, which means you’ll have to sell them at a higher price. From my experience, DVDs are a “nice-to-have” merch item, but they don’t really sell at every show like CDs often do. Unless you can guarantee that you’ll make your money back, I’d stray away from this option.
Home Duplication – Basically, burn the DVDs on your computer and put them together at home. You can purchase blank DVD cases from any number of stores online for super cheap, and print and cut out your DVD artwork yourself (or have a print shop do it). To make the face of the DVD, purchase CD labeling kits and print them out on your printer. One by one, by hand, you can put these DVDs together. This takes a lot of time and effort, but you can make a batch of 15-20 DVDs at a time without having to worry about minimum orders or anything of the like. Until about a year ago, this is how I would’ve recommended you go, until I found out about…
Kunaki – Kunaki.com is the place to go for low-volume CD or DVD replication/ Their website describes Kunaki as a “cold, unfeeling machine” that will burn, package, and even shrink wrap duplicates of your DVD on the cheap – and there’s NO minimum order! It’s seriously one of the best-kept secrets in the business. The only downside to kunaki is that you have to know what you’re doing. Kunaki basically works off the business model that their machine does everything without any human ever touching the product. It lives in a warehouse with no lights, and spits out boxes with mailing addresses on them that the UPS guy picks up. You send kunaki your files, and it prints your CD or DVD exactly as you sent it. This means that you have to double-check that all of your files are set up correctly, and that your DVD image actually works before you make 100 copies, because there’s no refunds. However, since the prices are so cheap, you could very easily order one tester DVD before you order the other 99. I can’t recommend this service enough to savvy band leaders. Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.
So there you have it – now you’ve got your shiny, professional DVD for sale at your merch booth. If you followed all my steps, hopefully your fans will be blown away by how professional it looks. If they ask you how you did it, tell them that “Fang and his cold, unfeeling machine” helped out. Remember to use clips from your DVD to help promote and book your band! Promoters love good live video! And send me your clips!