Review: TMPGEnc DVD Author 3
TMPG Inc. (the Pegasys Inc’s sister company in U.S.A) were kind enough to send us their latest DVD and DivX authoring application TMPGEnc DVD Author 3 with DivX authoring for review.
TMPGEnc DVD Author 3 with DivX authoring claims to be an all in one DVD authoring solution. In this review we will be testing the features and performance of this new application from one of the world’s most renowned names in video editing, authoring and encoding software.
Now let’s take a look at the product specification.
Supported input formats
Supported output formats
DVD and DivX menu creation
If you would like to find out more about TMPGEnc DVD Author 3, you can read the full specifications at the Pegasys website.
For this review we will be using a computer with the following configuration:
- Motherboard: ASUSTeK P5W DH Deluxe (Intel Glendale DG I975x chipset)
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
- RAM: 2 GB OCZ Platinum dual channel kit DDR2 800
- GFX: BFG nVidia 8800GTS (640 Megabytes GDDR3)
- Sound: Onboard Realtek ALC882 HD audio controller
- Hard disk: 2X 250GB Seagate Barracuda (SATA 2)
Windows Vista Home Premium 64 bit is installed on our review PC.
Our first task was to install TMPGEne DVD Author 3
We had no problems installing the application. The first time we ran the application we were asked to supply our registration key. Once we entered our key the application started.
An internet connection is require to verify the registration key. The application will verify this key from time to time when the application is started. Verification is simple and lasts only a few seconds.
Let’s head to the next page where we will run through the main functions of TMPGEnc DVD Author 3….
Program run through:
Let’s start by taking a brief look at TMPGEnc DVD Author 3 functions.
In the above screenshot we can see the applications splash screen.
Once the application has started we are presented with the main TMPGEnc DVD Author 3 project window in the above screenshot. In this window we can see options to start a new project, open an existing project, location settings for PAL and NTSC, launch the DVD writing tool and the help button.
In the above screenshot we can see the main source window. From here we can select a file for authoring by selecting the Add file option, select the source wizard which will guide the user through selecting the input file format, and lastly the add slideshow option.
The add file option brings up a standard Windows file selector dialog
The source wizard allows different file formats to be imported into your project.
Selecting the Add Slideshow option opens the window in the screenshot above and allows the user to add pictures and audio. The slideshow editor also offers the possibility to add a transition effect between two pictures and automatically adjust the duration to the audio background duration.
From this screen we can select to create a menu using templates, custom and no menu. The aspect ratio of the menu can be set to 16:9 or 4:3.
In the above screenshot we can see a list of the menu templates provided.
The next screen allows the type of menu to be used. Automatic, top menu only, track menu only and top and track menus.
The above screen allows us to set how the DVD will playback on our set top player.
Menu Custom settings:
This screen allows a background picture to be selected for our menu.
On this screen we can edit how the menu is displayed, set loops, set time duration, set background music and various other parameters.
This screen allows audio background music to be selected and edited for use in our custom menu.
The links editor allows the menu structure to be edited.
In the above screenshot we have the main editor window; this allows our content to be edited. With features for cut and paste of segments of audio and video and editing and importing key frames.
The simulation window allows us to check how our DVD will play on a set top player. This is very useful for checking that all tracks will play and our menu items all work properly.
The output window allows us to set the target size of our project. (Single layer DVD, double layer DVD, or a custom size). Here we could also select the target drive for burning our project to DVD media and also set any “Post” tasks, such as closing the PC down when complete.
This window also starts the whole authoring process and builds a compliant DVD file set if this is a DVD project rather than a DivX project, this also includes transcoding the files if required.
Here we can see the options menu. This menu allows the preferences to be set for TMPGEnc DVD Author 3.
Let’s move on to the next page where will test TMPGEnc DVD Authors performance…
DVD Authoring performance tests:
For these tests we used one MPEG 2 file of approximately 4 Gigabytes in size and one DivX file of approximately 700 megabytes in size and built a DVD compliant file set onto our review PC’s hard drive for each of our input formats.
MPEG2 to DVD test:
Our MPEG2 file was authored in 1 hour 6 minutes and 34 seconds.
DivX to DVD test:
Our DivX file was authored in 46 minutes and 25 seconds.
DivX Authoring and performance tests:
For this test we used one DivX file of approximately 700 megabytes in size and built a compliant DivX file with a menu structure.
From the source window we were able to add our file.
Using the chapter tool we added 20 chapters for testing purposes.
The menu structure was set at “Automatic” for our tests.
In the above screenshot we can see 3 menu pages have been created containing links to our 20 chapters.
In the above screenshot we can see our created menu displayed.
And in the above screenshot we finally have the links editor to allow us to manually edit the links to our chapters.
Now we tested our created “DivX with menu structure” in the simulation to make sure everything functioned as it should. The created menu system worked well and finding our created chapters was easy.
As a final test, we played the actual movie. The resulting quality was very good indeed and playback was flawless.
Our file was now ready to render and encode into a DivX file with a menu structure. As we can see from the above screenshot, our DivX file was rendered in 51 minutes and 6 seconds.
DVD Burning Tool:
In this test we wrote our authored DVD file set onto a single layer DVD+R media.
In the above screenshot we can see we are able to select our target drive and burning speed.
In the above screenshot, we can see our file set was built in 12 minutes and 41 seconds.
In the above screenshot we can see our disc image was created ready for burning to our DVD+R media in 3 minutes and 1 second.
Above we can see our disc was successfully burned at maximum speed (18x) but was burned much slower than expected, it took 12 minutes and 41 seconds to be exact. It should have been under 6 minutes with this drive. We tried to burn another disc, the result is below.
Once again we selected maximum burn speed (18x) and the disc was burned successfully, but once again very slowly. This time we watched the burn progress. At around 40% of the burn, the buffer was empty and the burning drive slowed down because of this. Clearly something is wrong with this tools buffer setting on Windows Vista (we were not able to test this under Windows XP). However we did check the file set could be burned with another burning application and this time we had no speed issues.
Set top player test:
We played our resulting DVD on various set top DVD players to check for compatibility and quality. The disc played without any issues and the picture and sound quality was excellent.
This concludes our TMPGEnc DVD Author 3 review.
While using TMPGEnc DVD Author 3, a number of things both positive and negative were noted. The main points are listed below
- Very good feature set
- Very good DivX authoring with a menu structure
- Excellent/very good transcoding performance and quality
- Very good format support
- Easy to use
- Good help file
- Requires an Internet connection for key validation
- The burning tool had burning speed issues
TMPGEnc DVD Author 3 is an extremely powerful application and covers nearly every common video and audio input file format currently used. What’s more is the quality of the output is excellent in most cases and at the very least very good on the highly compressed formats which are currently popular, such as MPEG1, and DivX.
The inclusion of DivX authoring with a full menu structure is a very worthwhile addition to the application. It is now possible to have a DivX file with chapters and a full menu system to allow easy navigation, just like we have all become accustomed to on a DVD.
TMPGEnc DVD Author 3 is also very easy to use. There are enough wizards to allow the novice user to create great looking DVD movie discs, as well as enough advanced features to allow the more experienced user the flexibility they demand from an authoring application.
The feature set is also very good with TMPGEnc DVD Author 3 and covers some very advanced authoring options. The built in editor should provide enough flexibility to meet most demands and again is very easy to operate.
There are not many negative things to say about TMPGEnc DVD Author 3. The only real negative thing we could find was the burning speed issue when we tried to burn our DVD at maximum speed.
Also, the need to have an Internet connection to validate the registration key could be a problem. This validation is required periodically, so an Internet connection is more or less a must to use this application.
To sum up, this is what we would say. “TMPGEnc DVD Author 3 is powerful with great quality output and has a great feature set”.
TMPGEnc DVD Author 3 can be purchased from the Pegasys website for $89.95 (April 2007).
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