July 18, 2013

Create a Video Scrapbook with Toast & iPhoto

For a truly exceptional holiday gift, try making a family video scrapbook on high-definition DVD or Blu-ray Disc. Take your summer vacation videos and photos and turn them into a treasured keepsake. Other good topics: weddings, graduations, birthdays and family reunions. Think about your source material, then let your imagination go!

With a video scrapbook, you can include photos, videos, captions, background music, titles, transitions and more. Basically, the same kinds of enhancements you might put in a paper scrapbook, but with music and videos too, and displayed in full 1920x1080 resolution on your HDTV using a standard Blu-ray player. Even better, it costs virtually nothing but time!

While we're calling it a scrapbook it's really just a standard video DVD or Blu-ray with menus, where some of the "videos" are actually photo slideshows, and others are regular home video clips. Here's how to get started:


Step 1: Gather Your Materials

First, gather all the materials you'll be using in your scrapbook: photos, videos, ephemera like ticket stubs and postcards, appropriate music, and so on. If needed, scan printed photos and ephemera, and transfer videos from VHS to digital. Learn how to transfer videos with Toast.


Step 2: Create Your Slideshows

Next, use iPhoto® 11 to create photo slideshow(s) with your chosen theme and background music. You can customize transitions, add text titles or captions to any slide, and even use voice narration instead of music. Make sure to choose "HDTV" for Aspect Ratio in the Settings at lower left. Learn how to make an iPhoto slideshow.


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iPhoto Slideshow settings with HDTV chosen (click to enlarge).



Step 3: Export Your Slideshows

Once your slideshows are done, export them from iPhoto using the Export button at the bottom of the screen. Choose "Custom" settings, then "QuickTime" export, and finally choose MPEG-4 compression for both video and audio, as well as a size of 1920x1080 for highest quality. Learn more about exporting iPhoto slideshows.


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QuickTime export options for iPhoto.



Step 4: Assemble Your High-Definition DVD or Blu-ray Disc

Now it's time to put it all together into a finished disc! This is where Toast 11 comes in. Choose the Video project tab, and either High-Definition DVD-Video or Blu-ray Video, depending on your burner and blank media. Then drag your exported slideshows and home video clips into the Toast window, or choose them using the Media Browser.

Next, arrange the videos in the desired order by dragging up and down within the window. To trim unwanted portions of videos, click the Edit button (watch tutorial). This is also where you can edit video titles and choose a still frame for each movie that will appear in your disc menu. Learn more about making high-definition discs with Toast.


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Editing a video in Toast 11 (click to enlarge).


Finally, choose a background theme and title for your disc, as well as other options, on the right side of the Toast window. Then click the Burn button to write your disc. Save your project in case you want to make changes later, and be sure to make extra copies for the rest of the family!


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Toast disc authoring options are on the right (click to enlarge).


July 16, 2013

Getting Started with Pinnacle Studio 16 Ultimate

When you need big-time moviemaking power in an easy-to-use app, it's time for Pinnacle Studio 16 Ultimate. With Pinnacle Studio 16, you can quickly edit video, audio and photos with stunning results.

The first step is to import and arrange your clips in the Storyboard, then you can make frame-accurate edits using the Timeline, and add high-quality transitions, effects, and a soundtrack. Enjoy full 1080p HD output support, including Blu-ray™ authoring and stereoscopic 3D, and share your movie directly to YouTube, Facebook, Box and more.

While even novices can get started quickly with Pinnacle Studio, as we'll outline below in our Getting Started tutorial, power users will revel in Pinnacle Studio's amazing array of more than 2000 special effects, 2D/3D transitions and templates, as well as a green screen for superimposing people on different backgrounds. Pinnacle Studio 16 Ultimate also includes the Red Giant Filmmaker's Toolkit and Motion Graphics Toolkit.

Getting Started

After installing the software, you'll see extensive help options, including a full PDF manual, in-app help, and a training series. There are also dozens of great video tutorials available on the Pinnacle Studio YouTube channel. This Getting Started guide is designed to help you get your feet wet, but we encourage you to explore some of the other resources to experience the full power of Pinnacle Studio.


Add Media to the Library

Upon opening Pinnacle Studio, the first thing to notice is the tab bar at the top of the screen, with the main options like "Import," "Library," "Movie," "Disc" and "Export." To get started, click on the Import tab to bring in any video, photos and audio tracks you want to use in your new movie that are not already in your Pinnacle Studio Library, such as new clips from your camcorder or audio tracks from a CD. (Media files already on your hard drive can automatically be added to your Library when you install Pinnacle Studio.)


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The Pinnacle Studio Importer helps you bring in all your source material (click to enlarge).


On the far left, you'll see a list of attached devices (cameras, camcorders, USB sticks, SD cards, CDs/DVDs, hard drives and other locations, including linked Cloud services like Box). Click the device you want to import from, and a location (folder on your hard drive) to save to (middle left), then select the files you want to import. If needed, you can play video clips and audio files to preview them before selecting. Finally, click the Start Import button at the bottom.


Select Media for Your Production

Now that you've imported all your media files, click the Library tab at the top to select the material for your project. The simplest way is to make a new Collection (at left), and give it a name. Then drag all your project files into this Collection. Choose the relevant section of the library: videos, photos, or audio, and then scroll or use the search box to find the items you want to use. You can preview any clip, and pre-trim it in the preview window before adding it to the storyboard. To pre-trim, just move the start and end markers to the desired locations, then drag the clip straight from the preview window to the storyboard. For photos, double-click to crop, straighten or color-correct. Here are video tutorials on importing media from hard drive or file, and from tape or disc, and another on using the Library.


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The Pinnacle Studio Library, where you can organize, rate and edit all your source media (click to enlarge).


Make Your Movie

Now that you've got your photos, audio and video selection, and trimmed or cropped as needed, it's time to start creating your movie! Click on the Movie tab, where you'll see your media at top left, a preview window at top right, and the Storyboard and Timeline at the bottom. The Storyboard lets you quickly arrange and reorder clips by dragging. In the Timeline below, you'll see: an Overlay track for video and title graphics (Picture-in-Picture, Chroma key or other effects); a Video/Audio track for video with synchronized audio, photos or any other objects; a Music track for Sound effects or music; a Sound track for Sound effects or music; and a Voice Over track for voice-over narration (this will be automatically created with first recording).


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The Pinnacle Studio Movie Window, where you create your production (click to enlarge).


Find the Collection you put together earlier at top left, and start dragging media to appropriate places on the Storyboard or Timeline. Pinnacle Studio will show you what will happen even before you drop the clip. So have fun and experiment! You can always use the Undo button (reverse arrow in the toolbar along the top of the Timeline) There are lots more ways to add/edit media using the Preview window and Timeline, but we don't have space to go into them here. Check out this great tutorial on basic editing for more!


Add Transitions and Effects

Now that you've dragged in your media to the appropriate positions on the Timeline, it's time to get fancy with some special effects and transitions! This is where Pinnacle Studio truly excels. Again, there are lots of wonderful tutorials in the YouTube channel, but we'll add a basic transition here to show you the process. A transition is simply a way of connecting two items in your Timeline, two video clips, two audio tracks, two photos, etc. A dissolve or fade between two clips is an example of a simple transition.

In the Library, select Transitions. You'll see further effect categories nested below, such as "Light." Click on any effect to preview it. When you find one you like, drag it to the beginning or end of a clip in the Timeline. You can even replace an existing transition this way. Finally, set the transition duration or remove a transition completely by dragging the edge left or right. For a simple fade or dissolve, just drag the transition handle that appears when your mouse is over the edge of a clip.


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Adding a Transition effect from the Library (click to enlarge).


Now try adding an effect. Double-click any clip on the Timeline to open the Effect Editor, then select an effect type and style, such as Camera - Old Film (hover for a preview), and apply by clicking it. Next, edit the effect parameters, such as the amount of grain, dust and scratches for Old Film, as desired. Finally, click the Play button for a preview and click OK to finalize your effect.


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Adding the Old Film effect to a video clip (click to enlarge).


There are literally thousands of effects to choose from, try some others. We especially recommend using the Pan & Zoom tools for photos, which allow you to create Ken Burns-style photo montages.

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Using the Pan & Zoom tools on a photo (click to enlarge).


Share Your Movies

Once you've gotten your video the way you want it, the final step is to burn your movie to disc, upload it to the Web or save it for playback on most any device. To produce a DVD or Blu-ray Disc with interactive menus, click the Disc tab at the top.


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Producing a DVD or Blu-ray Disc (click to enlarge).


You can customize your disc in many ways, including adding background images and chapter titles. Don't have a Blu-ray burner? You can even burn special high-definition discs on DVD media that will play in your Blu-ray player. See our disc authoring tutorial for more.

For uploading to the Web, saving the movie to hard drive, or exporting it to your smartphone or tablet, choose the Export tab. Here, you can export to a file for playback on your computer, tablet, smartphone or game console, or upload it directly to Box or YouTube, in either standard or high definition. Use the handy presets or choose custom export settings.


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Exporting your movie to the Web or disk file (click to enlarge).


For more about all the many ways you can share your Studio productions, check out our complete export tutorial

March 6, 2013

Edit HD Video on Your iPad with Pinnacle Studio

Let's face it, hooking up your video camera to your computer, transferring video, and using a desktop movie editor is not something you are going to do on the fly. Yet raw video is rarely good enough to post to Facebook or YouTube without a little trimming, cutting, or audio editing.

That's where Pinnacle Studio for iPad comes in. It lets you do everything from a few simple cuts and trims to full-fledged desktop-class editing, with timeline and storyboard views, transitions and effects libraries, drag-and-drop movie templates, Ken Burns-style pan-and-zoom capabilities, precision editing, and full 1080p output to your choice of destinations, including YouTube, FaceBook, Box and email.

Best of all, Pinnacle Studio makes it easy, with an intuitive touch interface using simple tap, drag and swipe gestures. Tap to preview a clip in your media library. Double-tap to add it to your storyboard. Swipe along the timeline to move the playhead, tap the razor blade icon to split your clip at that point, then pinch open the timeline for frame-by-frame trimming. It all works the way you expect and the interface is fast and responsive, since CPU-intensive effects rendering is queued up for later processing -- just tap the render gears to start it going when you're ready.


Getting Started

After downloading from the App Store, the first time you open Pinnacle Studio it will ask for permission to access your media libraries: photos, videos and audio. It then builds a database of the media on your iPad for easy access within the program. This database is automatically updated each time you open the app; you can also update manually at any time.

From then on Pinnacle Studio will open to the Project page, which is a list of editing projects you've created with the app, as well as general settings and sharing tools. There's also a complete user manual right within the program, which goes into far more detail than we have room for here. If you'd like to read it before buying, or print it for reference, it's available on the Pinnacle support site.


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The Pinnacle Studio Projects page. Tap any project to start editing.


Tap the + button to create a new project and give it a name. You will then be taken to the main Edit page, which is divided into three areas: media and effects libraries, a preview window and the timeline/storyboard view. Placement depends on whether you are using portrait or landscape orientation.


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The Edit page showing the library, preview and storyboard/timeline areas in both portrait and landscape views.


Adding Media

The next task is to select and add media to your storyboard. Tap the relevant section of the library: videos, photos, or audio, and then scroll through them to find the items you want to use. You can preview any clip by tapping it once, then pre-trim it in the preview window before adding it to the storyboard. To pre-trim, just move the start and end markers to the desired locations, then drag the clip straight from the preview window to the storyboard. Audio can be placed anywhere along the timeline view; if you drag an audio file on top of a video clip, the start of the audio and video files will be synced up.

Note that you can also start recording video right within Pinnacle Studio, using the red record button to bring you to the iPad Camera app. When you stop the recording it will go straight to the library. This is a great feature for creating product demos and for streamlining production on location. You can bring in non-iPad-generated media wirelessly using services like Box and iCloud/PhotoStream, or with the iPad Camera Connection Kit.


Adding Transitions, Titles and Special Effects

Now that you've got your clips pre-trimmed and added to the storyboard in order of appearance, it's time to get creative with transition, effects, titles and so on.

If you're new to Pinnacle Studio or short on time, try one of the "Montages," or templates. These are full-fledged productions with transitions, text, soundtracks and more, all you need to do is add your own media. Simply select a Montage from the library, and start scrubbing from the beginning of the movie. Each time you see an empty video, photo or text placeholder, drop in your own media. You'll be amazed at the great results you can get!


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Choosing a Montage (top) and filling it with your media (bottom).


If you'd rather create your own effects and titles, just drag the elements you want alongside any clip on the storyboard. Dropping the effect thumbnail where there is an existing transition replaces it.


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A few of the available transitions in the library.


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Some of the many title styles.


There are lots more cool effects and capabilities that we can't go into here, notably precision trimming and pan and zoom. And you'll need to take the time to render them before finishing up. Do check out the user guide if you want to learn more.


Sharing Your Videos

The final step is to upload your finished production to the Web or email it. Just tap the Share button and then enter your credentials for your service of choice. Pinnacle Studio does all the video heavy lifting.


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You can share your finished productions right from your iPad.

December 19, 2012

Make Your Videos Come Alive with Creator NXT

Want to liven up your videos with professional-looking special effects? It’s easy with Roxio Creator NXT! With Creator's video effects, you can make your movies burst with fireworks, give brand new videos an aged film look, or add falling snow and fog to a winter scene. Many of these amazing effects are included in Creator NXT, and all of them are in Creator NXT Pro.

Creator NXT includes a set of naturalistic effects like fog, fire, smoke and sparkles, while Creator NXT Pro adds styles like skew, aged film, newsprint and destabilization. All these effects are available directly within VideoWave, Creator's full-featured video editing app, integrating seamlessly with the program's other built-in effects, such as distortion, colorization and 3D. (The Video Effects: Nature and Enhance & Style packs are also available separately as plug-ins for earlier versions of Creator.)

To get started, install your Effects pack (if not already included with your version of Creator), and then open VideoWave by clicking on the Video-Movies tab on the Creator home screen and choosing Edit Video - Advanced. (You can also open VideoWave directly from the Roxio folder in the Windows Start menu.)

Next, choose your project type. Select Normal for 4:3 video, or Widescreen for 16:9 video, depending upon your source footage. Now add the clips you will use in your movie by clicking the Add Photo/Video button and choosing them from your hard disk. You can play clips in the file browser to preview them. Then click Open to add them to your project. Finally, arrange the clips on the timeline in the order you'd like them to appear in your movie.

Now that you've got your production started, it's time to play with some effects! Below we'll show you how to apply a few typical effects from the packs, but there are many more where these came from. For extensive video samples of the effects, be sure to check out our video tutorial, as well as the respective product pages for Video Effects: Nature and Video Effects: Enhance & Style.


Applying an Effect

The first step is to choose the type of effect you want to apply to a particular clip or portion of a clip. Click Add Video Effect at top left, or the Effect Selector in the right-hand pane to see a gallery of effects. You'll see a complete list of all available effects, including those built into VideoWave and those added by Effects packs.

You'll see several versions of most effects. For example, there are four fog effects: Fluffy, Red Mist, Rising Green and Steady Mist. Click the Play button on any effect in the gallery to preview it. Explore the various effects types and variations to get a feel for what's available and how you might be able to use them in your production.

Once you've familiarized yourself with the effects, choose one to apply to a clip, then either drag it to the clip preview pane to apply it to the current clip, or drag it directly to the Fx1 timeline at the bottom of the VideoWave window. You'll see a result like the below, from the Enhance & Style pack:


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Applying the Aged Film effect (click to enlarge).


Notice the name and duration of the effect in the timeline at the bottom. You can have multiple effects at different points in the Fx1 timeline, or even overlap effects by adding a second effect to the Fx2 timeline, and so on. Here's an example of a second effect, Newsprint, from the Enhance & Style pack.


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Using the Newsprint style (click to enlarge).


Now we'll look at how to edit the duration and settings for an effect. First click on the effect icon in the Timeline to select it, and then click the Settings tab at upper right (if you don't see this tab, choose "Show Settings" from the Tools area at left). You'll see a window similar to the below:


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Changing settings for the Newsprint style (click to enlarge).


To change the duration, drag the orange start and end markers just below the clip in the preview pane. Press Play to preview how the effect will look and to help fine-tune your start and end points. Now check out the settings page at right. Here you can change whatever parameters are applicable to your effect. In the case of Newsprint, we can change the size of the lines or dots in the effect. In the case of the Visual Harmonizer, we can change the vertical position of the harmonics. Other effects may have different sets of parameters.


Nature Effects: Fog, Smoke, Fire & More

The Nature pack has some really cool effects, such as fog, rainfall, fireworks and "fairy dust" that should work well with many home movie scenes.

Here's the Mist effect being applied to a beach video:


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Applying the Mist effect from the Nature pack (click image to enlarge).


Using Keyframes

The final piece of the effects puzzle is using key frames, found in the Settings tab for your effect. Key frames let you change the settings for an effect at different points in time. During the time between the key frames, the effect gradually changes from the settings defined in the first key frame to the settings defined in the second key frame. For example, if you apply the Visual Harmonizer effect to your production, you can set different vertical positions for the effect at the beginning and end, or any location in between.

By default, when you add an effect, the application adds start and end key frames. To add a keyframe, use the jog wheel or slider in the Preview pane to move the playback head to the position at which you want to insert the keyframe. Then click Add key frame here in the Settings pane. Make sure the key frame is selected in the drop-down box, and adjust its effect settings. You can have different settings for each key frame you define.


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Defining new key frames.


Key frames give you incredible power over your effects, and help you create most any look you can imagine. Try some video effects today!

October 23, 2012

Creating High-Def DVDs & Blu-ray Discs with Toast 11

If you thought you needed a Blu-ray recorder in order to burn high-definition discs from your home movies, think again. Toast 11 Titanium, together with the High-Def/Blu-ray Disc™ Plug-in (included with Toast 11 Pro), can burn HD video directly to standard DVD media using your regular DVD recorder, complete with customizable menu themes and navigation screens!

These special AVCHD discs can then be played back on your Sony Playstation® PS3 or most set-top Blu-ray players, for viewing on your HDTV's big screen. Of course, if you do own a Blu-ray recorder, Toast 11 can burn to Blu-ray Discs as well.

If you've watched Blu-ray movies played on an HDTV, you know how breathtaking the quality can be. There is simply no comparison between the detail you get with full 1920-by-1080 HD video and standard 720-by-480 DVD resolution. And now that HD camcorders and DVRs are plentiful and affordable, more people are recording their home movies and TV shows in high-def. Even the iPhone 4 can record 720p HD video (1280-by-720 pixels).

So how do you get your home HD recordings onto your TV screen? External Blu-ray recorders for Macs have become affordable, but even if you don't want to buy one, the answer is as close as Toast and your DVD burner.

You can fit up to an hour of HD video on a dual-layer DVD, which is plenty for most home video productions. With a Blu-ray recorder, you can also burn hours of video onto BD media. Even better, Toast lets you crop and trim your HD video, so you can edit out segments you don't want and conserve disc space and processing time. The same thing goes for HD recordings you make using Elgato's EyeTV or other TV recorder, so you can burn your favorite HD shows onto DVDs that will play back in your set-top Blu-ray player.


Getting Started — Import Your Video

To create a high-definition DVD, first open Toast 11 (make sure you have the High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in installed) and select the High-Definition DVD-Video or Blu-ray Video project option under the Video tab (you can also choose these options from the Toast Assistant under the Video projects tab). Now bring in your HD video clips. Click the Media Browser tab at right, and select clips already on your hard drive, or use the AVCHD option to import movies directly from your attached AVCHD camcorder (which should be in computer connection mode). You can even choose TV recordings from your EyeTV or TiVo folders.


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Choosing the High Definition DVD-Video project in Toast 11, with the Media Browser at right (click to enlarge).


While Toast does not import directly from HDV camcorders, which use MPEG-2 video encoding, you can use HDV clips in your high-def projects as long as you import them to hard disk first, using your camera's utility software, then drag them to the Toast window. Everything will be converted to the proper format when you burn your disc. As you import or drag in video clips, your Project window will start to fill up and look like this:


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Video clips in the Toast Project window. The first and third clips are from two different AVCHD camcorders (note the different resolutions), the second clip is from an HDV camcorder. Toast can burn these all to one disc seamlessly (click to enlarge).


Each clip is labeled with valuable information, including the date recorded, the length, and the encoding format (such as H.264/AVC 1920x1080, 1440x1080 or 1280x720 for AVCHD clips, and MPEG-2 1440x1080 for HDV camcorder clips).


Cropping and Trimming Clips

If some of your video clips need trimming to remove unwanted portions, click the Edit button next to each clip in the Project window. You'll see the following window pop up:


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Editing a video clip in the Toast 11 Project window (click to enlarge).


Here, you can do several things. You can change the default name and date of your clip, set the thumbnail picture, add chapter markers to longer videos, apply audio effects, and crop and trim your video. The clip name and thumbnail picture will appear in the navigation menu shown when you pop the disc into your set-top Blu-ray player.

To trim the beginning and end of your clip, look at the slider below the video and drag the two trim markers at either end to their desired positions. (You can also enter specific start and end times in the boxes below the video.) If you'd like to crop out a portion from the middle of the clip, move the play head at the top to the beginning of the area you crop, then click the little upward triangle just to the right of the Play button. This will insert a new pair of trim markers that you can drag to define the area you want to crop out. When finished, click OK. Editing is nondestructive; your original video will be unaffected.


Finishing Your Disc

Now that you've imported all your clips, trimmed any unwanted portions, and given them descriptive names, it's time to finish up your disc. Make sure the clips are in the sequence you'd like them displayed on your disc menu--just drag them up or down to change the order. Next, click the Options tab at top right to bring up the disc options. You can select a menu style, choose the encoding quality, decide whether you want the disc to start playing video automatically on insertion, and include any original photos, among other options. Click the Customize button for even more settings.


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Setting disc recording options (click to enlarge).


Now you're all done, except for burning! The bar at bottom left will show how much video you have, and whether it fits on your disc. Choose DVD or DVD DL as the disc type if you have a DVD drive, and BD or BD DL if you have a Blu-ray recorder.


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Choosing the DVD or BD disc type (click to enlarge).


If all is in order, click the red Burn button, insert a blank disc, and wait while Toast performs its magic. You can then pop your disc into most set-top Blu-ray players and enjoy high-def home movies on your HDTV!

September 18, 2012

Top 5 Features in Roxio Creator NXT

Thinking about upgrading to Roxio Creator NXT? Here's a peek under the hood at some of the top new features. The biggest news is that Creator now includes Corel PaintShop Pro, the leading photo editing, organization and design app that lets you turn ordinary photos into extraordinary ones. (Read more about PaintShop Pro below.)

Creator NXT is also fully Windows 8 compatible, and comes with an upgraded widget that lets you burn direct from the desktop. Video conversion is much faster, thanks to new support for Intel's hardware-based video encoding architecture (included in better 2011-2012 PCs). And an expanded Learning Center provides dozens of video and PDF tutorials so you can follow along as you create.

Check out the complete list of what's new on the Roxio Creator NXT and Roxio Creator NXT Pro pages, respectively. Here, we've rounded up the top five features so you can get off to a quick start on your Roxio Creator NXT adventure.


1. Take Your Photos to the NXT Level with PaintShop Pro

Corel PaintShop Pro is a powerful high-end photo editor that normally costs $79.99, yet it's now included with Creator NXT at no extra charge! Just a sampling of the hundreds of cutting-edge tools in PaintShop Pro:

Photo Blending — Merge the best parts of multiple photos to create the perfect group shot or photo montage.
Selective Focus — Create cool "tilt-shift" effects that turn your photos into miniature worlds.
Smart Carver™ — Seamlessly remove objects from an image, and expand or contract objects without distortion.
HDR Module — Create perfectly exposed photos or stunning surrealistic images.
Makeover Tools — Make subjects look thinner, whiten eyes, remove wrinkles and blemishes, or paint on a tan.
Scratch Remover — Instantly repair scratches and cracks on your photos.
Photo Organizer — Browse, tag and organize your growing photo collection, plus make make quick fixes like removing red eye and correcting color and brightness.
Edit with Layers — Use layers to protect your original image, then add elements, create compositions, or apply artistic enhancements and effects.

See PaintShop Pro in action in our video tour.


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PaintShop Pro's Photo Blend feature lets you create the perfect group shot where everyone looks their best (click image to enlarge).


2. Share Media Directly to Social Networks

With Roxio Creator NXT, you can upload videos direct to the world's most popular video sharing sites: Facebook, YouTube and Google+. After using Creator to import, edit, enhance and convert your movies, now you can share them easily too!

To upload your video, simply click the Share button on the Video/Movies tab in the Roxio Home screen, then choose your social site as well as the movie you want to share. (You can also share direct from VideoWave if you are editing your video.) You'll be prompted for information about the video, then it will be automatically uploaded to your account. You can save your Facebook, YouTube and Google+ account information within the program, so you only need to enter it once.

See how to upload a movie from VideoWave direct to YouTube in our video tutorial.


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Sharing videos to social networks is a snap with Creator NXT.


3. Convert Video for Playback on More Devices

Roxio Creator NXT has dozens of presets that take the guesswork out of converting video for your smartphone, tablet, game console, Blu-ray player or other device. There's no need to understand confusing video formats. Just choose your device from our huge array (such as Android™ Windows Phone, iPad® or Xbox 360) and click the convert button. Creator does the rest!

Learn how to convert videos for your device in our online tutorial.


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Roxio Creator NXT has video conversion presets for all the latest devices (click image to enlarge).


4. Add Pro-quality Soundtracks to Your Slideshows & Videos

Creator NXT includes 50 new premium background tracks from Triple Scoop Music that turn your movies and photo slideshows into Hollywood-style productions. You can create soundtracks of any length that match your video. You can even change musical moods by tuning the volumes of specific intruments.

Creator NXT Pro takes things further, with the full SmartSound SonicFire Pro soundtrack creation software, plus 100 premium tracks from Triple Scoop Music to choose from. You'll also get the SmartSound Emotional Depth music library, with uplifting, dramatic scores that help you create stirring productions.

See how easy it is to add a soundtrack to a slideshow in our video tutorial.

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Creator NXT makes it simple to add pro-quality soundtracks to your productions.


5. Do More with Creator NXT Pro

For even more professional media tools, check out Roxio Creator NXT Pro which adds over $450 worth of extras like:

Corel Paint It! — for turning photos into painterly artwork.
HDR Express™ — for creating ultra-realistic photos with high dynamic range.
iZotope Music & Speech Cleaner™ — for noise reduction and audio cleaning of LP or tape recordings, as well as video soundtracks.
SmartSound SonicFire Pro 5 — for producing perfect video soundtracks, with control over mood and instrumentation.
HD/BD Plug-In — for authoring high-definition video on Blu-ray media (also available as an add-on for Creator NXT).
Video Effects Package — 14 amazing special effects for spicing up your movies: fire, fog, rainfall, snow storm, smoke, fireworks, fairy dust, aged film, skew, newsprint, and more.
Triple Scoop Music Tracks — 100 royalty-free pro-quality soundtracks for your videos and slideshows.
SmartSound Emotional Depth Music — more royalty-free tracks featuring uplifting and hopeful dramatic music that will add positive emotion to your videos.


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Turn your photos into framable artwork with Corel Paint It!, part of the Roxio Creator NXT Pro suite (click image to enlarge).


August 17, 2012

Convert Your Home Videos with Easy VHS to DVD for Mac

Sure, it's easy to share movies from your digital camcorder with Roxio Toast® 11 Titanium, but what about those piles of home movies and favorite TV shows you have recorded on VHS tapes? It's time to preserve your precious home recordings and transfer them to digital video. With Roxio Easy VHS to DVD for Mac you can burn them to DVD; upload them to to YouTube™ or Facebook®; or convert them for playback on your iPad®, iPhone® or Apple TV®.

Using iMovie® and Toast (Toast Basic is included in the package if you don't already have the full version) you can also edit your recordings, add titles and transitions, and create projects combining analog footage with that from digital camcorders.

Roxio Easy VHS to DVD for Mac includes the hardware and software you need to capture and convert almost any analog video. The video capture hardware is a small USB stick with connections for both composite and S-video sources. Simply install the software, plug in the USB stick and connect your VCR or camcorder, and you're ready to start transferring your tapes.

You can even capture non-tape sources like the output from a TV set or game console (a great way to capture game play!). Here are some common analog video sources you can capture with Easy VHS to DVD for Mac:

  • VHS tapes from your VCR
  • Analog camcorder output (VHS, S-VHS, 8mm or Hi-8)
  • The composite or S-video output from your TV or game console (when viewing standard-definition video)

Easy VHS to DVD for Mac is also perfect for recording shows from standard-definition DVRs that don't have PC transfer capabilities. Otherwise your shows are trapped forever in the DVR. (If you have a networked TiVo, you can send shows to your Mac with TiVo Transfer, then burn them with Toast. TiVo Transfer is included with Toast 11 Titanium.)

Here's how to get started with Easy VHS to DVD for Mac:


Step 1: Capture Video to Your Mac

After you've installed the software and plugged the USB device into your Mac, open the Easy VHS to DVD application. You'll see the following screen:


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The Easy VHS to DVD for Mac Introduction window.


Here you enter some quick information about your video: name, approximate length, and desired recording quality. The approximate length is not binding -- you can start/stop your recording at any time -- it just helps to determine the disk space that will be required for your recording. For example, if you have an hour-long video, and choose 90 minutes and high quality, the program will tell you that you'll need about 4GB of hard disk space.

In the next screen, you'll select your source video (composite or S-video) and check that it is playing correctly in the preview window. If not, make sure you have connected to a set of analog output jacks on your VCR or camcorder (input jacks look the same, but will not work), and that all plugs are tight.


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Connecting and checking your video source.


Next, check the audio. Make sure you can hear it through your Mac's speakers or headphones, and that the green lights are blinking in the preview window. If you have no audio, check that the red and white RCA cables are plugged into output jacks on your VCR or camcorder. If you'd like to mute the audio, and only capture video, you can do that too, by clicking the mute button at the upper left corner of the video window.


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Checking your audio source.


Now it's time to start recording! Cue up your video again to the beginning, and click the red record button to start capturing. If you'd like to automatically stop recording after the amount of time you specified at the beginning (90 minutes in this example), check the box at the bottom. Leave it unchecked to stop the recording manually by pressing the button again.


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Starting the recording.


When the recording is finished, it will be saved to your Movies folder with the name you gave it at the beginning of the project, and you'll see the following output options:


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Easy VHS to DVD for Mac output options.


You can burn your recording to DVD with Toast, send it to iMovie for editing, or save it in iTunes® MPEG4 video format for your iPad or iPhone. You can also go back and capture more videos. MPEG4 video output will be saved to the Easy VHS to DVD folder (inside your Movies folder), and can be dropped right into iTunes for playback on your iPad, iPhone or Apple TV.

For YouTube and Facebook, it's even easier -- the capture files saved to your Easy VHS to DVD folder can be uploaded directly, no additional conversion necessary. Just sign into your account in your Web browser and click the Upload button (YouTube), or the Add Photo/Video button (Facebook). Then select the desired capture files.

We'll go ahead and burn our recording to DVD with Toast Basic (which is included in the Easy VHS to DVD package).


Step 2: Burn the Recording to DVD

Now that you've digitized your video, it's time to burn it to DVD. When you click the "Send to Toast" button, Toast will open with the DVD project type selected and your video already in the project window, as below.


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Burning to DVD with Toast.


At upper right, you'll see options for customizing your DVD, such as Menu Styles and whether your disc will start to play automatically on insertion. Click the Customize button to do things like change the Menu title of your DVD.

You can also add more videos to your DVD project using the Toast Media Browser or dragging them in from the Mac Finder (the bar at the bottom will tell you how much space you have left on your disc, whether single or dual-layer). Finally, you can trim your videos and set their menu button titles and thumbnail pictures by clicking on the Edit button next to each video in the project window.

When you've got your disc set up the way you want it, click the Burn button at lower right and you're all done.

July 20, 2012

Rediscover Your Musical Past with Easy LP to MP3

Need a soundtrack for a family vacation or road trip? Unlock your family's musical past by converting old LPs and tapes to MP3, then create mix discs or playlists customized for every mood. All you need is Easy LP to MP3 and a turntable. You can dig up your old one, or borrow one from a friend. The process is quick and painless.

Easy LP to MP3 makes it easy to get great results with its LP & Tape Assistant. Even better, once you've made your recordings, you can put away those LPs and tapes, preventing further wear and tear. You can also go on to make CD and DVD compilations — perfect for family reunions, holidays, anniversaries and birthdays — even combine them with tracks from digital sources like CDs or Internet radio.

For records that were never issued as CDs, or family audiotapes, transferring these analog sources to digital will help you enjoy them and preserve them for future generations. And Easy LP to MP3 makes it simple. Here's how:


Step 1: Use a Clean Source

When digitizing analog audio make sure you get the best signal into the computer before recording. While Easy LP to MP3 has a noise cleanup tool, this should be viewed as a secondary cleaning. Wipe your LPs first with a lint-free anti-static cloth or record brush. If you have a lot of material to record, you might also consider replacing the needle in your turntable if you can't remember the last time you did so. Similarly, if you are digitizing tapes, make sure your tape deck heads are clean, and that you engage the same noise-reduction technology (Dolby B or C, etc) used when the tape was recorded, for proper decoding.

Step 2: Connect Things Up

The Easy LP to MP3 package includes a USB recording device and all the cables you need to connect most analog audio sources. First use the provided USB cable to connect the device to your computer. Now plug one end of the provided dual-headed RCA cable into the audio input jacks on the USB capture device. Be sure to connect the red plug into the red jack and the white plug into the white jack, to maintain the correct stereo signal. Red is right, and white is left.



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Connecting your analog audio source to your USB capture device and computer.


Finally, connect the other end of the RCA cable into your analog audio source, such as a receiver, preamp or tape deck with "line-level" stereo output jacks (often labeled "tape out"). Note that turntables generally deliver "phono" level audio output and must be run through a preamp or receiver. They cannot be connected directly to the USB capture device. If your source does not have RCA jacks, such as a portable tape player, you can use the headphone jack, along with the provided mini-jack to RCA adapter cable. If you do use a headphone jack as your source, you'll have to do a little extra work in adjusting input levels, which we'll cover in Step 3.

Step 3: Choose Recording Input and Adjust Levels

Now you're ready to start recording! Open Easy LP to MP3 and choose the Audio>Convert LPs and Tapes task. This will open the LP & Tape Assistant, and you'll see a Recording window with options for selecting your audio input and adjusting the recording level. Choose "Line (USB Multimedia Audio Device)" to select the capture device. If you're using Windows XP, also select "Line" from the Input dropdown menu. Then click the "Recording Setup Guide" button for detailed instructions on setting recording levels.



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Starting the LP & Tape Assistant from the Roxio Easy LP to MP3 main window (click to enlarge).


Setting the correct recording level is very important. You want to get as high a level as possible without "clipping," which can cause distortion. If the recording meters go into the red zone, sound is being clipped and you should readjust your recording level. Note that if you have used the headphone connection of a tape recorder or amplifier as your source, you may also want to adjust the volume on your tape deck or amp. To minimize distortion from headphone jacks, it's best to use a midpoint volume level on the source, then adjust the level further using the level slider in Easy LP to MP3. You can also use the "Auto" button to have the program automatically analyze your source and set the correct recording level.


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Setting the recording input and level. Note that the level does not go into the red (clipping) zone (click to enlarge).


Now, start playing a song and listen to it come through your computer. Use quality headphones or external speakers if possible. Check for hum — you may need to ground your source deck (all turntables come with a special ground wire for this purpose). Also keep sound cables away from CRTs, televisions and other sources of electronic noise.

Once you've got a clean sound source coming through, it's time to begin recording! Cue your source to the beginning, press the red Record button, then start your source playing. Don't worry about recording blank space at the beginning; you can remove that later. Make sure you have enough disk space before starting. The Assistant tells you how much recording time you have available.

By default, the LP & Tape Assistant automatically separates tracks whenever a period of silence is encountered. To adjust the sensitivity of the track separator, click the Advanced Options button. Here, you can also limit recording time to a given number of minutes (handy for unattended recording), mute system sounds, and specify the file format and quality of the recording (CD quality is the default).


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The finished recording of a single album side, automatically split into tracks (click to enlarge).


Step 4: Identifying and Enhancing Your Tracks

Now click the Next button at bottom right to go to Step 2 of the Assistant. Here you'll get a chance to identify and enhance your recordings. You can correct track splits, edit out unwanted bits at the beginnings or ends of tracks, and use filters to clean up and improve sound quality. You can also automatically identify the artist, album and song names!



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Trimming the recorded tracks (click to enlarge).


After you've adjusted the track separators to trim your tracks (use the zoom buttons at top right to get a close-up look, then drag the separator arrows left or right), click the Tags button. The Edit Audio Tags window will then open, where you can identify your tracks automatically with MusicID.



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Identifying your tracks and editing audio tags (click to enlarge).


Finally, checking the Clean box will reduce noise on all your tracks, while Enhance will improve the dynamic range, especially important for tape sources. Click the Clean and Enhance buttons to choose filtering options. You can also fade each track in and out by a variable length of time, and preview the results using the playback controls at lower right.



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Cleaning your recordings (click to enlarge).



Step 5: Burn or Export Your Recordings

Once you're satisfied with your new recordings, it's time to burn them to disc or send them to your music player! To record a CD, select the tracks you'd like to include by ticking the checkboxes, then click the Burn Audio CD button. If desired, also click the checkboxes to add CD-Text info to your Audio CD, and to maximize track volumes (which will equalize the volume levels of tracks from different LPs).


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Export options for your recording (click to enlarge).


If you'd like to output your recordings to files, such as MP3, WMA, FLAC or OGG files for use in your iPod or other portable audio player, select your tracks, then click the Export Tracks button. You'll be prompted to choose your output format and destination. Finally, you can also choose to send the tracks to the Sound Editor for further tweaking before burning or conversion.

So dust off those albums and start recording! Don't forget to transfer that beautiful cover art to your new CDs as well, with the included Express Labeler software. Find it in the Tools area of the Easy LP to MP3 home screen.

June 26, 2012

Make Your Videos Explode with Roxio Creator 2012

Want to liven up your videos with professional-looking special effects? It's easy with Roxio Creator 2012! With Creator's video effects, you can make your movies burst with fireworks, give brand new videos an aged film look, or add falling snow and fog to a winter scene. Many of these amazing effects are included in Creator 2012, and all of them are in Creator 2012 Pro.

Creator 2012 includes a set of naturalistic effects like fog, fire, smoke and sparkles, while Creator 2012 Pro adds styles like skew, aged film, newsprint and destabilization. All these effects are available directly within VideoWave, Creator's full-featured video editing app, integrating seamlessly with the program's other built-in effects, such as distortion, colorization and 3D. (The Video Effects: Nature and Enhance & Style packs are also available separately as plug-ins for Creator 2009, 2010 and 2011.)

To get started, install your Effects pack (if not already included with your version of Creator), and then open VideoWave by clicking on the Video-Movies tab on the Creator home screen and choosing Edit Video - Advanced. (You can also open VideoWave directly from the Roxio folder in the Windows Start menu.)

Next, choose your project type. Select Normal for 4:3 video, or Widescreen for 16:9 video, depending upon your source footage. Now add the clips you will use in your movie by clicking the Add Photo/Video button and choosing them from your hard disk. You can play clips in the file browser to preview them. Then click Open to add them to your project. Finally, arrange the clips on the timeline in the order you'd like them to appear in your movie.

Now that you've got your production started, it's time to play with some effects! Below we'll show you how to apply a few typical effects from the packs, but there are many more where these came from. For extensive video samples of the effects, be sure to check out our video tutorial, as well as the respective product pages for Video Effects: Nature and Video Effects: Enhance & Style.


Applying an Effect

The first step is to choose the type of effect you want to apply to a particular clip or portion of a clip. Click Add Video Effect at top left, or the Effect Selector in the right-hand pane to see a gallery of effects. You'll see a complete list of all available effects, including those built into VideoWave and those added by Effects packs.

You'll see several versions of most effects. For example, there are four fog effects: Fluffy, Red Mist, Rising Green and Steady Mist. Click the Play button on any effect in the gallery to preview it. Explore the various effects types and variations to get a feel for what's available and how you might be able to use them in your production.

Once you've familiarized yourself with the effects, choose one to apply to a clip, then either drag it to the clip preview pane to apply it to the current clip, or drag it directly to the Fx1 timeline at the bottom of the VideoWave window. You'll see a result like the below, from the Enhance & Style pack:


AgedFilm.jpg

Applying the Aged Film effect (click to enlarge).


Notice the name and duration of the effect in the timeline at the bottom. You can have multiple effects at different points in the Fx1 timeline, or even overlap effects by adding a second effect to the Fx2 timeline, and so on. Here's an example of a second effect, Newsprint, from the Enhance & Style pack.


Newsprint.jpg

Using the Newsprint style (click to enlarge).


Now we'll look at how to edit the duration and settings for an effect. First click on the effect icon in the Timeline to select it, and then click the Settings tab at upper right (if you don't see this tab, choose "Show Settings" from the Tools area at left). You'll see a window similar to the below:


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Changing settings for the Newsprint style (click to enlarge).


To change the duration, drag the orange start and end markers just below the clip in the preview pane. Press Play to preview how the effect will look and to help fine-tune your start and end points. Now check out the settings page at right. Here you can change whatever parameters are applicable to your effect. In the case of Newsprint, we can change the size of the lines or dots in the effect. In the case of the Visual Harmonizer, we can change the vertical position of the harmonics. Other effects may have different sets of parameters.


Nature Effects: Fog, Smoke, Fire & More

The Nature pack has some really cool effects, such as fog, rainfall, fireworks and "fairy dust" that should work well with many home movie scenes.

Here's the Mist effect being applied to a beach video:



Mist.jpg

Applying the Mist effect from the Nature pack (click image to enlarge).


Using Keyframes

The final piece of the effects puzzle is using key frames, found in the Settings tab for your effect. Key frames let you change the settings for an effect at different points in time. During the time between the key frames, the effect gradually changes from the settings defined in the first key frame to the settings defined in the second key frame. For example, if you apply the Visual Harmonizer effect to your production, you can set different vertical positions for the effect at the beginning and end, or any location in between.

By default, when you add an effect, the application adds start and end key frames. To add a keyframe, use the jog wheel or slider in the Preview pane to move the playback head to the position at which you want to insert the keyframe. Then click Add key frame here in the Settings pane. Make sure the key frame is selected in the drop-down box, and adjust its effect settings. You can have different settings for each key frame you define.



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Defining new key frames.


Key frames give you incredible power over your effects, and help you create most any look you can imagine. Try some video effects today!

May 22, 2012

Transferring & Converting MiniDV Tapes with Roxio Creator 2012

Early converts to digital camcorders likely have a pile of MiniDV tapes chronicling everything from weddings to birthday parties. MiniDV was state of the art from about 1995-2005, when high-definition cameras and AVCHD started taking over. But if you think since MiniDV is digital, the tapes will last forever, you'd be wrong.

First, you can only transfer these tapes to your computer if you still have a working MiniDV camera and a PC with an IEEE 1394 (FireWire) port. Otherwise you'll have to pay big bucks to a specialized service bureau with DV equipment.

Second, very few devices support playback of the DV video format. Tapes can be played in the camera or in a MiniDV tape player, and AVI DV files can be played on your PC. You'll need to convert them for your tablet, streaming box, website, DVD player, and most other devices.

Finally, all tapes degrade with time, not just analog ones. Even if all you do is transfer the raw DV files (which are large, about 10GB per hour) to hard drive or Blu-ray data disc for archiving, you'll be in much better shape than leaving them on tape. You'll no longer need a working DV camera or FireWire-equipped PC.

With Roxio Creator 2012, you can transfer and convert your MiniDV tapes before they degrade or become obsolete. Creator imports direct from most MiniDV camcorders, lets you trim and split clips, and converts them for most playback devices, including DVD players, iPads, Android devices and YouTube. Here's how:

DV Camcorder Import

When importing from DV camcorders, you have two options. First, Creator's handy Plug & Burn utility imports and burns MiniDV tapes direct to DVDs or disc images. This option is great for archiving large numbers of tapes. (You can use the DVDs as video sources later for other projects.) You can import an entire tape at once, or a portion of it. Second, Roxio Media Import lets you import clips that you can save to your hard drive and use in any video project.

To import with Plug & Burn, choose it from the Video & Movies tab on the Roxio Home Screen. In the first screen, you choose DVD options, such as menu styles and disc title, and insert a blank disc. Next, connect your DV camcorder as directed by the manufacturer (typically via FireWire) and set it to playback (VCR) mode. In a few seconds, a camcorder icon will appear in the Content area.


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Choosing DVD options in the Plug & Burn utility (click to enlarge).

Next, use the camera controls in the Plug & Burn window, or on your camcorder, to fast-forward or rewind to the point where you want to begin recording. Then click to Capture either a portion or the entire tape. You can also give the clip a name, and choose to include automatic scene breaks.


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Archiving DV clips direct to DVD with Plug & Burn (click to enlarge).

Plug & Burn is handy for quick DVD transfers, but for more flexibility, such as when you want to burn clips from multiple sources on one disc, or when you want to convert for other devices like tablets, streaming boxes or websites, use Roxio Media Import. To open the Media Import utility, choose Capture Video from the Video-Movies tab on the Creator 2012 Home screen. Next, connect your DV camcorder, and select it from the drop-down menu at top left. Also select whether you want to capture in AVI DV mode, or MPEG2. MPEG2 is the format used by DVDs; AVI DV mode is the native camera format, and optimal quality. For archival purposes, or if you want to convert to other formats like MPEG4, it's best to import in AVI DV mode. Blu-ray data discs can hold up to 50GB, or about 5 hours of native AVI DV files.


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Capturing DV clips with Roxio Media Import (click to enlarge).

Use the camera controls in the window, or on your camcorder, to fast-forward or rewind to the point where you want to begin recording. You can set a fixed length for your capture, capture the entire tape, or use the controls to stop and start the recording in real time. You will see a preview of your capture in the window while it is recording to disk. You can also rename your clips as desired. Finished clips will appear on the right.


Editing and Converting DV Clips

Once you've finished importing your clips, you can edit them with Creator's full-featured VideoWave application, where you can combine them with clips from other sources, add transitions, titles and special effects, and incorporate audio soundtracks. Learn more in our video tutorial on editing with VideoWave.


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Editing a DV video clip in VideoWave (click to enlarge).

Finally, to view your DV clips on other devices, such as an iPad, open the Copy & Convert utility from the Video-Movies tab on the Creator 2012 Home screen. Here you can easily convert multiple clips at once to popular device formats. Learn how in our video tutorial. Soon you'll be enjoying your old DV movies on your iPad or Android device!


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Converting DV clips for iPad with Roxio Video Copy & Convert (click to enlarge).

Transferring & Converting MiniDV Tapes with Roxio Toast 11

Early converts to digital camcorders likely have a pile of MiniDV tapes chronicling everything from weddings to birthday parties. MiniDV was state of the art from about 1995-2005, when high-definition cameras and AVCHD started taking over. But if you think since MiniDV is digital, the tapes will last forever, you'd be wrong.

First, you can only transfer these tapes to your computer if you still have a working MiniDV camera and a Mac with a FireWire port. Otherwise you'll have to pay big bucks to a specialized service bureau with DV equipment.

Second, very few devices support playback of the DV video format. Tapes can be played in the camera or in a MiniDV tape player, and DV files can be played on your Mac. You'll need to convert them for your iPad, Apple TV, website, DVD player, and most other devices.

Finally, all tapes degrade with time, not just analog ones. Even if all you do is transfer the raw DV files (which are large, about 10GB per hour) to hard drive or Blu-ray data disc for archiving, you'll be in much better shape than leaving them on tape. You'll no longer need a working camera or FireWire Mac.

With Toast 11 Titanium, you can transfer and convert your MiniDV tapes before they degrade or become obsolete. Toast 11 Titanium imports direct from most MiniDV camcorders, lets you trim and split clips, and converts them for most playback devices, including DVD players, iPad, Apple TV and YouTube. Here's how:

DV Camcorder Import

When importing from DV camcorders, use Toast's handy Plug & Burn feature, which lets you quickly create DVDs or disc images of your video clips for archiving or use in other projects. You can import an entire tape at once, or a portion of it. After importing, you can immediately start recording your disc, or add other video or slideshows from your hard disk before recording.

To import with Plug & Burn, start a new DVD-Video or Blu-ray Video project. If you will want to burn your disc immediately after capturing, also choose your DVD options at this time, such as menu styles and encoding quality, at the right of the Toast window. Next, connect your DV camcorder as directed by the manufacturer (typically via FireWire) and set it to playback (VCR) mode. In a few seconds, a camcorder icon will appear in the Content area.


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Connecting your DV camcorder.

Use the camera controls in the Toast window, or on your camcorder, to fast-forward or rewind to the point where you want to begin recording. Now, click the Import button. A dialog box will appear, where you can choose to record the entire tape, or a certain number of minutes. You can also give the clip a name, and rewind the tape if necessary.

Finally, you can select whether to import and then record immediately, or just import. Choose Import if you want to record more clips or add video from other sources to your project.


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Choosing Plug & Burn options.

If you chose to record immediately, you'll also be prompted to insert a blank disc, and you can leave the project unattended until it's done, making it easy to archive your DV tapes to DVD. If you chose to Import only, the finished clip will appear in the Toast project window, where you can trim it if needed, and import more clips before burning them to DVD. Note that once the project is burned, the temporary DV format files (which are very large) will be erased from your hard drive. If you want to use these files for other purposes, be sure to move them from the Roxio Converted Items folder (inside your Documents folder) before quitting Toast.

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The finished clip, ready to burn (click to enlarge).


Editing and Converting DV Clips

If you'd like to trim your clips, use the Toast Video Editor. Click the Edit button to get the editing window, and watch our video tutorial on cutting and trimming with Toast.

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Editing a DV video clip in Toast 11 (click to enlarge).

Finally, to use your DV clips in a different kind of project, such as converting for iPad, first move them out of the Roxio Converted Items folder as mentioned above, and then drag them into the Convert project window. Then simply press the Convert button to choose your destination device or file type and Toast will do the job. Soon you'll be enjoying your old DV movies on your iPad or Apple TV!

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Converting DV clips for Apple TV with Toast 11 (click to enlarge).

Printing Disc Labels with Roxio Creator 2012

Tired of scrawled titles on burned CDs and DVDs? Bring out your secret weapon in the war against the black magic marker: Roxio Creator 2012! Next time you make a party compilation disc, digital photo album, or DVD/Blu-ray of your kid's birthday party, try making a printed jewel case cover. It's simple with the included Label Creator program. You can print three ways: to label templates from most major manufacturers, such as Avery and Neato; to printable discs with an appropriate printer; or even directly to disc using a LightScribe drive.

We recommend the latter two printing methods for discs, since stick-on labels can sometimes get stuck in slot-loading drives like those in many cars and most Apple Macs. LightScribe is a technology that etches labels right onto the reverse side of specially made discs, using the laser in your recorder. They have a cool holographic look, and come in several colors. Printers with direct CD/DVD print support are available from Canon, Epson and HP, among others, and LightScribe drives from companies like HP, Samsung, and Toshiba. For both LightScribe and direct disc printing, you'll need to buy special recordable media. Look for discs labeled "LightScribe" or "printable."

Taking the Express-Way

There are two basic ways to use Label Creator. For quickest results, use the Express Labeler wizard, which is invoked whenever you launch Label Creator from within another Roxio application. It's also available from the Tools menu within Label Creator. Express Labeler provides a series of dialogs that quickly step you through the process of creating labels, booklets, inserts and more. You can have finished labels in just a few clicks, using the convenient styles and automatic track name import. We won't go into the details here, since they are largely self-evident. Instead, we'll show you how to get creative by customizing your labels and inserts.


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Taking the fast lane to disc labels with Express Labeler.


To launch Label Creator in full mode, choose it directly from the Windows Start menu in the Roxio Creator Applications folder, or by clicking the "Edit in Label Creator" button at the end of the Express Labeler wizard (this method lets you start a label quickly in the wizard, and then use Label Creator to add custom elements). At startup you will be presented with a generic template for the disc label. Other layout options include: front and back jewel case inserts, booklets, slim case inserts, mini disc labels, core labels, disc sleeves, and DVD case inserts and booklets. To get started, choose all the layouts that apply to your project, such as label, booklet and back insert for an audio CD. The linked layouts will then appear in the window, and you can move back and forth between them.

All the templates are sized to fit perfectly into standard plastic jewel boxes, so all you need to do is add artwork and information. And Label Creator helps you there, as well. The easiest way to add glamour in Label Creator is to choose from one of the many different pre-designed templates, or Styles. Styles are professional graphics backgrounds combined with strategically placed text fields. Simply choosing a Style (by clicking on the Select Style button at the left of the screen) and filling in relevant information creates a handsome jewel case package. A Style can be applied to all the parts of your project for a consistent look, or just a particular layout. (Don't worry, you can also create custom designs, which we'll get to later.)


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Customizing a disc label with Label Creator (click to enlarge).


Once you've selected a design theme, it's time to enter information about your project into the text fields. For data CDs, that information will likely be title, contents, and date created. For Audio CDs it might also include the artist name and song list. If you've entered any of that information already while burning your CD-R in Creator, Label Creator can read it off the disc and position it for you in the label using the Smart Objects feature (click the Smart Objects button at left to select the elements you want on your label). Hitting the "Auto-Fill from Disc" button then polls your disc drive and returns with title, contents, artist, and other information and places it in the appropriate fields. Audio CD info will be automatically looked up on the Web for you. For any remaining fields not filled in, you can just double-click the text boxes and enter data manually. By using Styles and the information available on a disc, making a handsome jewel case cover and label can be faster than putting on earrings.

Adding Your Own Graphic Elements

Of course, you don't have to use the Styles as they are. You can use a Style as a starting point, then add or delete graphic elements, and change, reposition, or add text fields. The "Add Objects" tools let you add photos or graphics, rectangles, circles, lines and text, making Styles completely flexible. Label Creator doesn't mind if you overlap multiple fields, and lets you send objects to the back, bring them to the front, and align them in various ways by using the positioning tools at the top.

You can also apply special effects like curved text, shadows and rotation to text. To experiment, select the field or fields you want to edit, then choose Properties from the Edit menu. You'll get a dialog box with a preview field. Selecting multiple text fields at once and editing Properties or using the text toolbar at the top of the layout window is also an easy way to apply the same style across multiple text boxes.

To add your own custom image as a background, click the "Edit Background" button at bottom left. This lets you select a picture or graphic file, or a solid color, then apply it to some or all of your layout templates. Label Creator automatically resizes image and photo files to fit the template, which can save a lot of work. Or, instead of making a photo the background, use the Add Image tool at left to import it on top of the background. You can then scale the image to any size and thus effectively replace the background.


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Choosing a background image or color in Label Creator.


If you're making a photo album or DVD, you should have plenty of photos or video stills to choose from for your cover art. For audio CDs, try the Web: it's full of pictures of celebrities, singers, and bands, including CD cover art. Right-clicking on just about any image on the Web lets you save it to your hard drive, typically as a JPEG file which can go straight into Label Creator. What's more, you can find lyrics to a large majority of popular songs on the Web, often at an artist's own Web site, which you can cut and paste into your jewel book. Just be aware that these images and lyrics might be copyrighted, and should not be downloaded for anything other than personal use within the copyright laws.

If your cover art is not available on the Web, you can also scan the original album cover directly into Label Creator, with any standard scanner and the Scan Image tool at left. Or try scanning old family photos for a picture CD.

Printing Options

Once you've got your labels and cover art designed, it's time to print! Any color inkjet printer and photo paper will do, but for best results and perfectly cut covers, try the special labels and papers made for the task (available at any office supply outlet). Label Creator already has most popular brands listed in the Print dialog. To ensure exact page placement, test things first on some plain paper, then use the Calibrate button to fine-tune the alignment. Once you've gotten the placement perfect, you can create future labels and covers over and over with the same template and positioning.


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Label Creator's print dialog is where you choose options like specialty label types, or even LightScribe laser-etched labeling (click to enlarge).


For disc labels, Label Creator also supports printers that can print directly onto CDs. For these printers, you can choose printable silver, white or other media. Just look for the word "printable" in the media name.

If you're using stick-on labels, be sure to position them precisely over the middle hole, and then squeeze any air bubbles out by pressing from the center outward. Blank silver CDs without any logo printing work best, printed lettering may show through your labels, or create unsightly ridges.

That's all there is to it. So next time you make a CD, there's no excuse for using magic markers! Your CD rack, your friends, and your customers deserve better. Making yourself look like an artist doesn't require any crown jewels, just well-designed ones.

April 25, 2012

Create a Video Scrapbook with Toast 11 & iPhoto

For a truly exceptional Mother's (or Father's) Day gift, try making a family video scrapbook on high-definition DVD or Blu-ray Disc. Some good topics might be vacations, birthdays, kids, sports and hobbies. Think about what Mom likes...and what source material you have, then let your imagination go!

With a video scrapbook, you can include photos, videos, captions, background music, titles, transitions and more. Basically, the same kinds of enhancements you might put in a paper scrapbook, but with music and videos too, and displayed in full 1920x1080 resolution on your HDTV using a standard Blu-ray player. Even better, it costs virtually nothing but time!

While we're calling it a scrapbook it's really just a standard video DVD or Blu-ray with menus, where some of the "videos" are actually photo slideshows, and others are regular home video clips. Here's how to get started:


Step 1: Gather Your Materials

First, gather all the materials you'll be using in your scrapbook: photos, videos, ephemera like ticket stubs and postcards, appropriate music, and so on. If needed, scan printed photos and ephemera, and transfer videos from VHS to digital. Learn how to transfer videos with Toast.


Step 2: Create Your Slideshows

Next, use iPhoto® 11 to create photo slideshow(s) with your chosen theme and background music. You can customize transitions, add text titles or captions to any slide, and even use voice narration instead of music. Make sure to choose "HDTV" for Aspect Ratio in the Settings at lower left. Learn how to make an iPhoto slideshow.


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iPhoto Slideshow settings with HDTV chosen (click to enlarge).



Step 3: Export Your Slideshows

Once your slideshows are done, export them from iPhoto using the Export button at the bottom of the screen. Choose "Custom" settings, then "QuickTime" export, and finally choose MPEG-4 compression for both video and audio, as well as a size of 1920x1080 for highest quality. Learn more about exporting iPhoto slideshows.


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QuickTime export options for iPhoto.



Step 4: Assemble Your High-Definition DVD or Blu-ray Disc

Now it's time to put it all together into a finished disc! This is where Toast 11 comes in. Choose the Video project tab, and either High-Definition DVD-Video or Blu-ray Video, depending on your burner and blank media. Then drag your exported slideshows and home video clips into the Toast window, or choose them using the Media Browser.

Next, arrange the videos in the desired order by dragging up and down within the window. To trim unwanted portions of videos, click the Edit button (watch tutorial). This is also where you can edit video titles and choose a still frame for each movie that will appear in your disc menu. Learn more about making high-definition discs with Toast.


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Editing a video in Toast 11 (click to enlarge).


Finally, choose a background theme and title for your disc, as well as other options, on the right side of the Toast window. Then click the Burn button to write your disc. Save your project in case you want to make changes later, and be sure to make extra copies for the rest of the family!


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Toast disc authoring options are on the right (click to enlarge).


Create a Video Scrapbook with Creator 2012

For a truly exceptional Mother's (or Father's) Day gift, try making a family video scrapbook on high-definition DVD or Blu-ray Disc. Some good topics might be vacations, birthdays, kids, sports and hobbies. Think about what Mom likes...and what source material you have, then let your imagination go!

With a video scrapbook, you can include photos, videos, captions, background music, titles, transitions and more. Basically, the same kinds of enhancements you might put in a paper scrapbook, but with music and videos too, and displayed in full 1920x1080 resolution on your HDTV using a standard Blu-ray player. Even better, it costs virtually nothing but time!

While we're calling it a scrapbook, it's really just a standard video DVD or Blu-ray with menus, where some of the "videos" are actually photo slideshows, and others are regular home video clips. Here's how to get started:


Step 1: Gather Your Materials

First, gather all the materials you'll be using in your scrapbook: photos, videos, ephemera like ticket stubs and postcards, appropriate music, and so on. If needed, scan printed photos and ephemera, and transfer videos from VHS to digital. Learn how to transfer videos with Creator.


Step 2: Create Your Slideshows

Next, use Creator's Slideshow Assistant to create photo slideshow(s) with your choice of background music. You can customize transitions, add text titles or captions to any slide, and even use voice narration instead of music. Be sure to choose 16:9 widescreen at the beginning. Learn how to make a photo slideshow with Creator.


WinScrapbook1.jpg

Slideshow options in Creator.



Step 3: Export Your Slideshows

Once your slideshow is done, choose Create File at the end of the Assistant and it will be encoded to a video file.


WinScrapbook2b.jpg

Saving your slideshow to a video file.



Step 4: Assemble Your High-Definition DVD or Blu-ray Disc

Now it's time to put it all together into a finished disc! This is where MyDVD (part of the Creator 2012 suite) shines. First open Creator and select the "Create DVDs" option under the Video/Movies tab. This will launch the MyDVD application. For the project type choose either AVCHD (for High Definition DVDs) or Blu-ray Video, depending on your burner and blank media. Then choose Add New Movie to bring in your home videos and slideshows.

For more information on creating HD discs with MyDVD read our full tutorial.


WinScrapbook3.jpg

Authoring a High-Definition DVD in MyDVD (click to enlarge).


You'll be able to choose a background theme and title for your disc, as well as other options. Finally click the Burn button at bottom right to write your disc. Save your project in case you want to make changes later, and be sure to make extra copies for the rest of the family!


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Burning your disc.


March 21, 2012

Upload Video Direct to Facebook & YouTube with Roxio Creator

With Roxio Creator 2012, you can upload videos direct to the world's two most popular video sharing sites: Facebook and YouTube. After using Creator to import, edit, enhance and convert your movies, now you can share them easily too!

To upload your video, simply click the Share button on the Video/Movies tab in the Roxio Home screen, then choose either Facebook or YouTube as well as the movie you want to share. You'll be prompted for information about the video, then it will be automatically uploaded to your account. You can save your Facebook and YouTube account information within the program, so you only need to enter it once.


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Creator 2012 lets you send videos directly to Facebook and YouTube (click image to enlarge).


February 20, 2012

Producing 3D Photos & Videos with Creator 2012

One of Creator 2012's coolest features is the ability to edit and create 3D photos and videos, even without special 3D hardware! You can add amazingly realistic 3D effects to your existing 3D pictures and movies, or edit shots from one of the many new 3D cameras on the market. You can also use a 2D camera and merge pictures into a 3D image with Creator.

Creator 2012 lets you do all three. You can view "anaglyph" 3D photos and videos on any monitor with a standard pair of red/blue glasses. For the higher-quality stereoscopic format used by many new 3D cameras and camcorders, you can edit in Creator with no additional hardware, but you'll need a 3D-capable PC or HDTV and matching 3D glasses to view the results. Most higher-end HDTVs these days include 3D capability. Check out our article on how 3D video works for more information.


3D-Capable Hardware

For the full high-definition 3D experience, we therefore recommend using a 3D-capable PC, which includes an appropriate video card or processor, a 3D-enabled monitor (which can be your big-screen 3DTV), and (usually) 3D glasses. Many recent laptops and desktops can be upgraded to 3D with a simple kit consisting of glasses and software, such as NVIDIA's 3D Vision Kit. NVIDIA also provides a handy list of 3D-capable laptops and desktops, along with a list of system requirements, including compatible 3D HDTVs.

Hardware 3D support also opens up the world of 3D Blu-ray and 3D games -- literally hundreds of great PC games can be viewed in 3D! And with 3D Blu-ray capability, you can both watch movies like Avatar, and create your own 3D Blu-rays for viewing on your big-screen 3DTV. (3D Blu-ray authoring requires the High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in or Creator 2012 Pro, along with a 3D-capable Blu-ray recorder.)


Creating and Editing 3D Photos

Creator 2012 makes it easy to produce 3D photos from either 2D or 3D originals, including 3D MPO files from a Fujifilm FinePix REAL 3D camera, a pair of left and right views of a place or object, or any 2D digital photo.

Basically, you load your pairs of images, adjust their positioning for an optimal 3D look while wearing your glasses (either anaglyph or active-shutter), and then save the results. Single 2D images are also supported. Creator will automatically make a second image slightly shifted from the first.

Check out our tips for shooting 3D images and videos for maximum effect, then see how to edit them in our video tutorial.


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Creator 2012 lets you convert 2D photos to 3D with one click, or edit photos from your 3D camera (click image to enlarge).


Creating & Editing 3D Videos

If you're lucky enough to have a 3D camcorder, Creator 2012 will let you import and edit your videos. But you don't need a 3D camcorder to get started -- Creator can also convert any 2D video to 3D!

It's all done in Roxio VideoWave, part of the Creator suite. VideoWave can also convert traditional 2D images into 3D projects, and incorporate 3D images from multiple sources.

See how to do it in our video tutorial.


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Creator 2012 lets you import and edit most types of 3D video, or convert 2D video to 3D (click image to enlarge).


Creating 3D DVDs or Blu-ray Discs

The final piece of the puzzle is burning 3D DVDs and Blu-ray Discs that you can play in your set-top 3D-enabled Blu-ray player. This is a great option if you have a 3DTV and Blu-ray player, but don't yet have a 3D-capable PC monitor and shutter glasses. If you do have 3D hardware support in your PC, you'll be able to preview your work before burning.

See how to create 3D discs with MyDVD in our online video tutorial.


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Creator 2012's MyDVD app lets you create 3D DVDs and Blu-ray Discs (click image to enlarge).


January 24, 2012

Capture & Preserve Your Home Movies with Roxio Toast 11

Sure, it's easy to share movies from your digital camcorder with Roxio® Toast® 11 Titanium, but what about those piles of home movies and old TV shows you have recorded on VHS tapes? It's time to preserve your precious home recordings and transfer them to digital video. With Roxio Video Capture USB for Mac you can burn them to DVD, upload them to YouTube™, Facebook®, or convert them for playback on your iPad®, iPhone® or other portable player.

Using iMovie® and Roxio Toast 11 you can also edit your recordings, add titles and transitions, and create projects combining analog footage with that from digital camcorders.

You can capture and convert almost any analog video. The video capture hardware is a small USB stick with connections for both composite and S-video sources. Simply install the software, plug in the USB stick and connect your VCR or camcorder, and you're ready to start transferring your tapes.

You can also capture non-tape sources like the output from a TV set or game console (a great way to capture game play!). Here are some common analog video sources you can capture with Easy VHS to DVD for Mac:

  • VHS tapes from your VCR
  • Analog camcorder output (VHS, S-VHS, 8mm or Hi-8)
  • The composite or S-video output from your TV or game console (when viewing standard-definition video)

The USB capture device is also perfect for recording shows from standard-definition DVRs that don't have PC transfer capabilities. Otherwise your shows are trapped forever in the DVR. (If you have a networked TiVo, you can send shows to your Mac with TiVo Transfer, then burn them with Toast. TiVo Transfer is included with Toast 11 Titanium.)

Here's how to get started:


Step 1: Capture Video to Your Mac

After you've installed the software and plugged the USB device into your Mac, open the capture application. You'll see the following screen:


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The video capture introduction window.


Here you enter some quick information about your video: name, approximate length, and desired recording quality. The approximate length is not binding -- you can start/stop your recording at any time -- it just helps to determine the disk space that will be required for your recording. For example, if you have an hour-long video, and choose 90 minutes and high quality, the program will tell you that you'll need about 4GB of hard disk space.

In the next screen, you'll select your source video (composite or S-video) and check that it is playing correctly in the preview window. If not, make sure you have connected to a set of analog output jacks on your VCR or camcorder (input jacks look the same, but will not work), and that all plugs are tight.


easyvhsmac2.jpg

Connecting and checking your video source.


Next, check the audio. Make sure you can hear it through your Mac's speakers or headphones, and that the green lights are blinking in the preview window. If you have no audio, check that the red and white RCA cables are plugged into output jacks on your VCR or camcorder. If you'd like to mute the audio, and only capture video, you can do that too, by clicking the mute button at the upper left corner of the video window.


easyvhsmac3.jpg

Checking your audio source.


Now it's time to start recording! Cue up your video again to the beginning, and click the red record button to start capturing. If you'd like to automatically stop recording after the amount of time you specified at the beginning (90 minutes in this example), check the box at the bottom. Leave it unchecked to stop the recording manually by pressing the button again.


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Starting the recording.


When the recording is finished, it will be saved to your Movies folder with the name you gave it at the beginning of the project, and you'll see the following output options:


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Mac video capture output options.


You can burn your recording to DVD with Roxio Toast, send it to iMovie for editing, or save it in iTunes® MPEG4 video format for your iPad or iPhone. You can also go back and capture more videos. MPEG4 video output will be saved to your Movies folder, and can be dropped right into iTunes for playback on your iPad, iPhone or Apple TV®.

For YouTube and Facebook, it's even easier -- the capture files saved to your Movies folder can be uploaded directly, no additional conversion necessary. Just sign into your account in your Web browser and click the Upload button (YouTube), or the Add Photo/Video button (Facebook). Then select the desired capture files.

We'll go ahead and burn our recording to DVD with Roxio Toast 11.


Step 2: Burn the Recording to DVD

Now that you've digitized your video, it's time to burn it to DVD. When you click the "Send to Toast" button, Roxio Toast will open with the DVD project type selected and your video already in the project window, as below.


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Burning to DVD with Toast (click to enlarge).


At right, you'll see options for personalizing your DVD, such as Menu Styles and whether your disc will start to play automatically on insertion. Click the Customize button to do things like change the Menu title of your DVD.

You can also add more videos to your DVD project using the Add button (the bar at the bottom will tell you how much space you have left on your disc, whether single or dual-layer). Finally, you can trim your videos and set the menu button title and thumbnail picture by clicking on the Edit button next to each video in the project window.

When you've got your disc set up the way you want it, click the Burn button at lower right and you're all done.

January 22, 2012

Capture & Preserve Your Home Videos with Roxio Creator 2012

Sure, it's easy to share movies from your digital camcorder or smartphone with Roxio Creator® 2012, but what about those piles of home movies and old TV shows you have stashed away on tapes? It's time to preserve your precious home recordings and transfer them to digital video.

With Roxio Creator 2012 and the Roxio Video Capture USB device, you can burn them to DVD, convert them for playback on your portable player or streaming to your TV, even upload them to YouTube™, Facebook® and more. You can also edit your recordings, add titles and transitions, and create projects combining analog footage with that from digital camcorders.

Using Roxio Creator and the capture device, you can capture and convert almost any analog video. The video capture hardware is a small USB stick with connections for both composite and S-video sources. Simply plug in the USB stick, open Roxio Creator, and you're ready to start transferring your video.

You can convert more than just tapes. Here are some common analog video sources you can capture:

  • VHS tapes from your VCR
  • Analog camcorder output (VHS, S-VHS, 8mm or Hi-8)
  • The composite or S-video output from your TV (when viewing live standard-definition channels)

Roxio Creator and the USB capture device are also perfect for recording shows from standard-definition DVRs that don't have PC transfer capabilities. Otherwise your shows are trapped forever in the DVR. Just connect the output of the DVR to the USB capture device. (If you have a networked TiVo, see our tutorial on converting TiVo shows with Roxio Creator.)

Here's how to get started:


Step 1: Capture Video to Your PC

After you've plugged in the USB device, connect your source to the USB stick using a composite or S-video cable. Now open Roxio Creator 2012 and click on the Video-Movies tab. To transfer tapes to DVD, choose either "Plug & Burn," or "Capture Video." Plug & Burn is for when you want to go directly from tape to DVD as quickly as possible, without editing the video or saving it to your hard disk. It only takes a little longer than playing back your video to complete the burn, and is the fastest way to transfer a large number of tapes.

If you want to do more with your recordings, such as edit them, upload them to YouTube, or convert them for playback on your iPhone®, iPad® or Android™ device, it's best to use the Capture Video option, which saves your recordings to hard disk for subsequent use in all types of projects, including burning DVDs.

To use Plug & Burn, insert a blank DVD, choose a menu style and title if desired, a quality level (1 hour of high-quality video will fit on a single-layer DVD, 2 hours on a dual-layer disc), and start capturing direct to DVD. You can capture multiple pieces of video, up to the capacity of the disc. Finally, click "Finish" to complete the burn. That's all there is to it!


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Transferring a video to DVD with Plug & Burn. (Click to enlarge.)


If you want to capture video to your hard disk for further editing or conversion, you can choose either MPEG-2 (for DVD transfer) or other digital formats, such as MP4 or AVI. It takes longer to transfer a tape to DVD with Capture Video, since capturing and burning are separate processes, but if you have the hard disk space, and think you might want to do more with your video than just burn a DVD, the extra time is worth it.

Choosing "Capture Video" from the Video-Movies tab brings up the Media Import window, as shown below. The first task is to select your video capture device from the drop-down menu. (If your PC has a built-in webcam, that will usually be the first device in the list.)


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Selecting your video capture device. (Click to enlarge.)


After you select your USB stick, you'll see a preview window of the video currently being played on your source (VCR, camcorder, TV or DVR). If you don't see a picture, be sure the correct input is chosen in the menu (either Composite or S-video). Next, choose a video format for your recording (such as DV, DVD HQ, DVD SP, DVD LP or VCD). If you want to edit your video in VideoWave or CineMagic, choose DV. If you only want to burn DVDs, we recommend recording in DVD HQ format for top quality if you have the disk space (Media Import will tell you how much space you have available). Otherwise you can choose one of the more-compressed (lesser-quality) DVD options, such as DVD SP and LP. You can fit about 1 hour of HQ, 1.5 hours of SP, or 2 hours of LP video on a single-layer DVD. Dual-layer discs hold twice as much.


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Setting up your recording. (Click to enlarge.)


Other options to choose include a capture length (so you can record unattended), a title for the recording, and video enhancements like contrast and brightness. Now click the Capture button to start recording. You'll see the progress of the recording in the Status area. When it's done, the finished video will be saved to your Videos folder (or whatever destination folder you selected), and will show up in the thumbnail list at right. Keep recording videos in this manner until you have all the material you need for your project.


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The finished recording in the movie list. (Click to enlarge.)


Step 2: Burn the Recording to DVD

Now that you've digitized all your videos, it's time to burn them to DVD. Go back to the Video-Movies tab, and choose "Create DVDs." This will start the MyDVD application, which is a full-featured DVD authoring package.


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Starting up MyDVD and selecting a project type. (Click to enlarge.)


MyDVD will first ask you to select a project type, such as a standard DVD with menus, or a DVD without menus that starts playing automatically when you insert it in your player. Next, add your recordings to your project by clicking the Add Movie button and selecting them from the browser. Add as many movies as you need for your project. They will appear in a list at lower left.


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Adding the recorded movie to the DVD project. (Click to enlarge.)


If desired, you can now customize your DVD with menu styles, titles, backgrounds and chapter markers. See our MyDVD tutorial for more on what you can do with MyDVD. Once you've gotten the DVD the way you want it, press the Burn button at top right.


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Burning the DVD.


In the Burn dialog box, you can choose your recording speed if desired, and enter a label for the disc. You can also save to an Image File on your hard disk, which is useful if you may want to burn additional copies of the disc later, or prefer play it back from your hard disk or media server.

Step 3: Do More with Your Recordings

Capturing video and burning your tapes to DVD only scratches the surface of what you can do with your digitized video. Once you've captured videos to your hard disk, you can also do things like:

  • Trim and cut out unwanted portions from your recordings.
  • Add titles, transition, soundtracks and more in VideoWave, the full-featured video editing program included with Roxio Creator 2012.
  • Convert them for viewing on your iPhone, iPad, Android device, PSP®, or other portable player
  • Post them to YouTube or Facebook
  • Share them online on your own secure Web page with Roxio PhotoShow®.

Finally, Roxio Creator 2012 also includes disc label creation software, as well as the popular LP & Tape Assistant program for digitizing analog audio. Once you've converted all your old analog video and audio to digital, you'll never go back!

October 16, 2011

Preserve Your Home Videos with Easy VHS to DVD for Mac

Sure, it's easy to share movies from your digital camcorder with Roxio Toast Titanium, but what about those piles of home movies and old TV shows you have recorded on VHS tapes? It's time to preserve your precious home recordings and transfer them to digital video. With Roxio Easy VHS to DVD for Mac you can burn them to DVD, upload them to YouTube or Facebook, or convert them for playback on your iPad, iPhone or other portable player.

Using iMovie and Toast (Toast Basic is included in the package if you don't already have the full version) you can also edit your recordings, add titles and transitions, and create projects combining analog footage with that from digital camcorders.

Roxio Easy VHS to DVD for Mac includes the hardware and software you need to capture and convert almost any analog video. The video capture hardware is a small USB stick with connections for both composite and S-video sources. Simply install the software, plug in the USB stick and connect your VCR or camcorder, and you're ready to start transferring your tapes.

You can also capture non-tape sources like the output from a TV set or game console (a great way to capture game play!). Here are some common analog video sources you can capture with Easy VHS to DVD for Mac:

  • VHS tapes from your VCR
  • Analog camcorder output (VHS, S-VHS, 8mm or Hi-8)
  • The composite or S-video output from your TV or game console (when viewing standard-definition video)

Easy VHS to DVD for Mac is also perfect for recording shows from standard-definition DVRs that don't have PC transfer capabilities. Otherwise your shows are trapped forever in the DVR. (If you're lucky enough to have a networked TiVo, you can send shows to your Mac with TiVo Transfer, then burn them with Toast. TiVo Transfer is included with Toast 11 Titanium.)

Here's how to get started with Easy VHS to DVD for Mac:


Step 1: Capture Video to Your Mac

After you've installed the software and plugged the USB device into your Mac, open the Easy VHS to DVD application. You'll see the following screen:


easyvhsmac1.jpg

The Easy VHS to DVD for Mac Introduction window.


Here you enter some quick information about your video: name, approximate length, and desired recording quality. The approximate length is not binding -- you can start/stop your recording at any time -- it just helps to determine the disk space that will be required for your recording. For example, if you have an hour-long video, and choose 90 minutes and high quality, the program will tell you that you'll need about 4GB of hard disk space.

In the next screen, you'll select your source video (composite or S-video) and check that it is playing correctly in the preview window. If not, make sure you have connected to a set of analog output jacks on your VCR or camcorder (input jacks look the same, but will not work), and that all plugs are tight.


easyvhsmac2.jpg

Connecting and checking your video source.


Now it's time to check the audio. Make sure you can hear it through your Mac's speakers or headphones, and that the green lights are blinking in the preview window. If you have no audio, check that the red and white RCA cables are plugged into output jacks on your VCR or camcorder. If you'd like to mute the audio, and only capture video, you can do that too, by clicking the mute button at the upper left corner of the video window.


easyvhsmac3.jpg

Checking your audio source.


Now it's time to start recording! Cue up your video again to the beginning, and click the red record button to start capturing. If you'd like to automatically stop recording after the amount of time you specified at the beginning (90 minutes in this example), check the box at the bottom. Leave it unchecked to stop the recording manually by pressing the button again.


easyvhsmac4.jpg

Starting the recording.


When the recording is finished, it will be saved to your Movies folder with the name you gave it at the beginning of the project, and you'll see the following output options:


easyvhsmac5.jpg

Easy VHS to DVD for Mac output options.


You can burn your recording to DVD with Toast, send it to iMovie for editing, or save it to iTunes MPEG4 video format for your iPad or iPhone. You can also go back and capture more videos. MPEG4 video output will be saved to the Easy VHS to DVD folder (inside your Movies folder), and can be dropped right into iTunes for playback on your iPad, iPhone or Apple TV.

For YouTube and Facebook, it's even easier, the capture files saved to your Easy VHS to DVD folder can be uploaded directly, no additional conversion necessary. Just sign into your account in your Web browser and click the Upload button (YouTube), or the Add Photo/Video button (Facebook). Then select the desired capture files in the Easy VHS to DVD folder.

We'll go ahead and burn our recording to DVD with Toast Basic (which is included in the Easy VHS to DVD package).


Step 2: Burn the Recording to DVD

Now that you've digitized your video, it's time to burn it to DVD. When you click the "Send to Toast" button, Toast will open with the DVD project type selected and your video already in the project window, as below.


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Burning to DVD with Toast.


At lower left, you'll see options for customizing your DVD, such as Menu Styles and whether your disc will start to play automatically on insertion. Click the More button to do things like change the Menu title of your DVD.

You can also add more videos to your DVD project using the Add button (the bar at the bottom will tell you how much space you have left on your disc, whether single or dual-layer). Finally, you can trim your videos and set the menu button title and thumbnail picture by clicking on the Edit button next to each video in the project window.

When you've got your disc set up the way you want it, click the Burn button at lower right and you're all done.

September 20, 2011

Top 10 Features in Roxio Creator 2012

Roxio Roxio Creator 2012 and Roxio Creator 2012 Pro have dozens of new and improved features that let you do even more with your media. Entirely new apps in Creator include FaceFilter Studio for portrait enhancement, DivX Pro for high-quality video creation and playback, and a set of "Nature" video effects like fire, fog and snow.

Roxio Creator 2012 Pro adds more than $400 worth of extras, including the new HDR Express™ for ultra-realistic photos, the iZotope Music & Speech Cleaner™, and 100 pro-quality music background tracks for your videos.

Check out the complete list of what's new on the Roxio Creator 2012 and Roxio Creator 2012 Pro pages, respectively. Here, we've rounded up tutorials on the top ten features so you can get off to a quick start on your Roxio Creator 2012 adventure.


1. Rejuvenate Your Portraits

With FaceFilter Studio, part of the Roxio Creator 2012 suite, you can transform, rejuvenate, and revitalize your portraits. Turn frowns into smiles with the expression editor, vanish wrinkles with the skin filter, create fake tans, erase skin blemishes with the smoothing brush and much more. Fix that group photo so that everyone is smiling and looking their best, or touch up a family portrait.

See how FaceFilter works its magic in our video tutorial.


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FaceFilter Studio can change frowns into smiles, and much more (click image to enlarge).


2. Create Hollywood-Style Video Effects

Want to liven up your videos with professional-looking special effects? It's easy with Roxio Creator! Use our special "Nature" Video Effects pack to create fog and smoke, or add falling rain and snow to your videos. Roxio Creator Pro has even more cool effects, such as Aged Film, Newsprint, Fireworks, Fairy Dust and more.

Learn how to make your movies come alive in our video tutorial.


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Apply pro-quality effects like Aged Film to your videos with Roxio Creator 2012 (click image to enlarge).


3. Convert Video for Any Device

Roxio Creator 2012 now has dozens of presets that take the guesswork out of converting video for your smartphone, tablet, game console, Blu-ray player or other device. There's no need to understand confusing video formats. Just choose your device from our huge array (such as Android™ Phone, iPad® or Xbox 360) and click the convert button. Creator does the rest!

Learn how to convert videos for your device in our online tutorial.


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Roxio Creator 2012 now has dozens of presets for video conversion (click image to enlarge).


4. Upload Videos Direct to Facebook and YouTube

Roxio Creator 2012 now makes it even easier to upload videos to Facebook and YouTube. Just choose the "Share Video" option from the Video and Movies tab on the Creator home screen, and select the Facebook or YouTube option. Roxio Creator does the rest, including saving your login information, and prompting for any needed information about your videos.


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Roxio Creator 2012 takes the pain out of online video sharing (click image to enlarge).


5. Convert Videos with DivX® Pro

Roxio Creator 2012 now includes DivX Pro, a complete package of utilities that allows you to create and play high-quality DivX movies. In addition to playback on any PC or Mac, you can play your movies on millions of DivX devices such as the PlayStation® 3, DVD players, mobile phones and more.

To convert movies with DivX Pro, simply open the Converter, add the videos you want to convert, select an output profile (up to full 1080p HD resolution!) and click the Start button. To learn more about the capabilities of the Converter, including a list of supported video formats, visit the overview page.


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Convert your movies into high-quality DivX videos in three easy steps (click image to enlarge).


6. Take DivX To Go

With DivX To Go, you can transfer videos for viewing on other DivX devices. For example, you can burn a DivX disc for your Blu-ray player, or save DivX files to a USB flash drive.

See how easy it is to use DivX To Go in our video tutorial.


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DivX To Go lets you transfer videos to your DivX players (click image to enlarge).


7. Speed Up Media Performance

Roxio Creator 2012 now takes advantage of Intel's latest generation "Sandy Bridge" processors to greatly speed up encoding and media performance. If you have a late-model computer, Roxio Creator 2012 will save you a lot of time!

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Enjoy faster encoding and performance with Sandy Bridge processors and Roxio Creator 2012 (click image to enlarge).


8. Jazz Up Your Videos with Background Music

Roxio Creator 2012 now includes a huge array of carefully selected pro-quality background music for your slideshow and video projects. There are 50 tracks in Creator and 100 in Creator Pro, all arranged in convenient categories like "Animals & Pets," and "Babies, Children & Family." There's a track for every theme!


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Roxio Creator 2012 includes a collection of background music tracks from Triple Scoop Music (click image to enlarge).


9. Create Stunning HDR Photos

With HDR Express™ (in Roxio Creator 2012 Pro only), vibrant, true and beautiful colors are at your fingertips. Automatically merge multiple exposures into one HDR (high dynamic range) image with easy controls and presets to create realistic or stylized HDR photos.

If you haven't tried HDR photography yet, you will be astonished at the results! Check out this YouTube video for examples, as well as the PDF tutorial.



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With HDR Express (part of Roxio Creator 2012 Pro) you can create photos that emulate the full range of human vision (click image to enlarge).


10. Cut the Noise with iZotope Music & Speech Cleaner

Clean up your audio recordings and experience increased impact and clarity by removing unwanted noise and enhancing voices or music. The iZotope Music & Speech Cleaner™ (included in Roxio Creator 2012 Pro only) gives you all the tools of a complete audio cleanup suite with straightforward accessibility.

Based on the same advanced noise reduction technology the experts use, the program provides professional-quality results on most common audio file types. See how it works in this YouTube tutorial.


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The iZotope Music & Speech Cleaner (part of Roxio Creator 2012 Pro) guides you through the process (click image to enlarge).


Extracting Video and Audio Clips from DVDs with Roxio Toast 11

Have you ever wanted to copy video or audio clips from a DVD to put on your iPad or use in other projects? Now you can! Roxio Toast 11 Titanium lets you select and extract just the video scenes (or parts of scenes) you want from your non-encrypted DVDs. You can then convert them and send them to iTunes in one step. You can even combine clips from various scenes on your DVD, selecting just the highlights you want, and eliminating the rest. Clip out a scene from that DVD of your sister's wedding and add it to a family movie disc, or extract the music from that movie or concert DVD and listen to it anywhere. Here's how:


1. Bring in Your DVD

Open Toast and click on the Convert tab, then select the Video Files project type. Add a non-encrypted DVD disc or DVD-Video folder (VIDEO_TS folder) to your project by dragging it into the Toast window from the media selector at right.


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Dragging a Video_TS folder to the Toast project pane (click to enlarge).


2. Mark Clips to Extract

After you drag the video to the project pane, a window will open up showing the video with a timeline at the bottom.


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The Toast clip selection window (click to enlarge).


3. Select Your Clips

The clip selection window includes a pair of in/out markers on the far left and right of the timeline. Drag these to mark the beginning and ending points of the first clip you want to extract, then click the + button in the bottom left corner to add it to the list. Drag the markers again to select a second segment and click + again. Double-click the clip names to edit the titles if desired.


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Selecting DVD clips in the Toast Video Editor (click to enlarge).


Keep adding clips in this manner until you are done, then click the Add button to extract them. The clips will now appear in the project window, where you can burn them to disc or export them in a myriad of formats for use in video projects or playback on your mobile device.

4. Convert & Export Your Clips

Now that you've extracted your clips, all that's left is to convert and export them. Click the big red Convert button at bottom right, and a dialog box will open where you can select output options.


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Video output conversion options (click to enlarge).


First choose the device or format you want to save to, such as iPhone or QuickTime movie. Then select a quality level (we recommend using the default options for your output device). Finally, choose a destination for your video, such as iTunes, your Movies folder, or the Desktop. Click the Convert button, and you're done!

Now enjoy your DVD clips on your iPad, iPhone or Apple TV, upload them to Facebook, or use them in your other video projects, including iMovies.


5. Extract & Convert Audio Clips Too!

To extract audio clips from a DVD, the process is exactly the same, except you choose the Audio Files project type at the very beginning. Then drag your DVD or Video_TS folder to the project pane, and the same clip selection window as for video will pop up. Follow step 3, then click the Add button to add your audio clips to the project pane.

Here you can add track information and apply audio effects if desired. Finally, click the Convert button to burn or output your audio files.


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Audio output conversion options (click to enlarge).


Now enjoy your audio clips on your iPod, upload them to the Web, or use them as slideshow soundtracks!

August 15, 2011

Preserve Your Musical Past with Roxio Toast 11

Need a soundtrack for a family vacation or road trip? Unlock your family's musical past by converting old LPs and tapes to digital, then create mix discs or iTunes playlists customized for everyone on your list. All you need is Toast 11 and a turntable or tape player. So dig up your old record player, or borrow one from a friend. The process is quick and painless.

Toast 11 makes it easy to get great results with its Spin Doctor app. Even better, once you've made your recording, you can put away those LPs, preventing further wear and tear, and preserving them for future generations. You can also go on to make CD and DVD compilations of your musical memories -- perfect for family reunions, anniversaries and birthdays -- even combining them with tracks from digital sources like CDs or Internet radio (which Toast 11 can automatically capture from your Web browser!). This article shows you how, step by step.

Step 1: Use a Clean Source

When digitizing an analog audio signal it's important to make sure you get the best signal into the computer before recording. While Toast's Spin Doctor has clean-up filters, they should be viewed as secondary. Make sure that you wipe your LPs (with a soft, lint-free cloth or record brush). If you have a lot of material to record, you might also consider replacing the needle in your turntable if you can't remember the last time you did so. Similarly, make sure your cassette deck heads are clean, and that you engage the same noise-reduction technology (Dolby B or C, etc) used when the tape was recorded. Not all decks support all technologies.

Step 2: Connect Things Up

Depending upon whether you have a record or cassette, you will have to use a slightly different technique to connect your sound source to your computer. For tapes and other line-level audio sources, including TVs, VCRs, DVD players, stereo receivers, and MP3 players, you should ideally use a player that has line-out jacks (usually two RCA plugs), and connect these jacks to the line-in minijack of your Mac. (If your Mac doesn't have an audio input jack, you will need to buy a third-party USB audio interface.) If your portable tape player lacks line-out jacks, you can also use a headphone output; though this will require more work in adjusting levels (see Step 3).

If you're recording from an LP, you'll likely need to run it through a receiver or amplifier with a "phono preamp" first because most turntables put out a signal that is much lower than a standard line signal. Connecting this directly to the computer will not work properly. Many home receivers and amplifiers have a special input for connecting the turntable. You then connect the line-out from the amplifier (often labeled tape out) to the line-in of your Mac. If you don't have a receiver with a phono input, you can buy dedicated phono pre-amps at electronics hobby stores. Finally, there are USB turntables that provide a direct USB input to your Mac. These are the easiest to connect.

Step 3: Choose Recording Input and Adjust Levels

Now you're ready to begin recording! Open Spin Doctor and select a recording source -- most likely the Built-in Input if you are recording from the Line-in, or a USB input. If things are hooked up correctly, you'll see the input level meter light up, and you can also monitor the source using speakers or headphones by click the speaker icon at right.


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Choosing your input source (click to enlarge).


Next, adjust the audio input level, or gain. Setting the correct input volume is very important. When recording, you want to get as high a level as possible without "clipping." If this happens, the audio may be noticeably distorted. To adjust the level, watch the two meters in the recording window as you are playing the loudest passage in your source. Adjust the level slider so that the bars stay just just below the red region (where clipping occurs) even in the loudest areas. Note that if you have used the headphone connection of a tape recorder or amplifier as your source, you can also adjust the volume on your tape deck or amp. For best results in this case, the output from the source and the Spin Doctor input slider should both be set about halfway. (If you are using a USB input, the gain slider will be fixed and you can skip to the next step.)

While you're checking levels (using quality headphones or external speakers if possible), also check for hum -- you may need to ground your source deck. Most turntables come with a special ground wire for this purpose. Also make sure that the computer and source equipment are plugged into the same power strip, and that power cables and sound cables are not bunched together. Keep sound cables away from CRTs, televisions and other sources of electronic noise.

Once you've adjusted the input level, choose the recording quality from the drop-down menu at the bottom of the window, such as CD, DVD, or DVD High Quality. Choose as appropriate depending on what type of disc you want to make, and click Next.


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Making the recording (click to enlarge).


Finally, it's time to press the record button! Cue up your source to the beginning, press the record button in Spin Doctor, and then start your source. Don't worry about recording blank space at the beginning; you can remove that later. Make sure you have enough disk space before starting. CD audio is uncompressed, and runs about 10MB per minute (or 600MB per hour). Spin Doctor cleverly tells you exactly how much recording time remains. Click the Pause button if you need to pause the recording, and click the Done button when you are completely finished.

Step 4: Identify Tracks and Clean Things Up

Once you've made your recording, it will appear as a single waveform in Spin Doctor, where you can edit it and apply filters like noise reduction. If you have recorded an entire LP or tape with multiple tracks, the first thing to do is divide up the tracks. Spin Doctor can do this for you automatically. Simply click the Auto-define Tracks button at the top. This will define tracks based on passages of silence in the recording. You can set the sensitivity and other parameters in the Spin Doctor Preferences dialog. You can also set Spin Doctor to automatically define tracks after every recording.


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The Spin Doctor recording before defining tracks (click to enlarge).


Next, click the Identify button at the top to automatically retrieve artist and track names from the GraceNote online database. It works amazingly well. We were only able to stump the database a few times. The Info button at lower right lets you view and edit track data such as artist names and song titles.


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After defining and identifying tracks (click to enlarge).


Finally, click the Filters button at lower right. Here, you'll find noise reduction, sound enhancement and EQ filters that you can apply to your entire file, or selected tracks. Keep Noise Reducer settings as low as possible to reduce noise without muting the overall sound too much. It's often useful to test noise reduction settings on a quiet passage (such as the spaces between songs) where noise is easily distinguished.


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Applying noise filters (click to enlarge).


The Sound Enhancer filters let you adjust the dynamics of a recording. This is particularly useful for restoring some dynamic range to tape recordings as well as MP3s created with low bit rates. Why is this necessary? Compression (as with MP3 encoding) tends to make highs not as high and lows not as low. Similarly, tapes often don't have the dynamic range found in records and CDs due to a lower signal-to-noise ratio. The Sound Enhancer manipulates the signal to expand the differences again (you can think of it like increasing contrast in a photographic image).

Step 5: More on Defining Tracks

Spin Doctor's Auto-define Tracks feature analyzes the recording, looking for quiet passages, and splits tracks automatically. If it doesn't match the original tracks correctly, you can manually define the tracks clicking on the waveform where you want the track to begin, dragging to the right, and then releasing the mouse button where you want the track to end. Your newly created track is displayed on the timeline as a colored rectangle and appears in the track list at lower left. This method is also useful for snipping off unwanted portions at the beginning or end of your tracks. Note that the entire selection must be outside of any existing tracks.

Note that by selecting only the regions with sound when you define tracks, you eliminate any silence at the beginning as well as the gaps between songs. The gaps will be added back when you burn your audio CD. Toast automatically puts in 2-second pauses, but you can customize them.

Step 6: Burn or Export Your Recordings

Once you have defined your tracks, simply select the ones you want to transfer and press the Toast or iTunes button at top right. Toast or iTunes will be launched and the track(s) you selected added to the Toast Audio CD project list or your iTunes library. In Toast, you can then adjust the gaps between tracks and complete your CD setup before burning. You can also drag tracks from Spin Doctor to Toast, and combine them with digital tracks from other sources.


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Sending tracks to Toast (click to enlarge).


When combining tracks from multiple sources, try the Normalize Track function found in the Toast Disc menu. Normalizing all tracks on a CD helps equalize the volume of tracks taken from different sources, which can be annoyingly loud or soft. (However, normalization should not be used as a substitute for setting levels correctly during recording. Once a sound is distorted or clipped, you can't restore it.)

Now it's time to press the Burn button! You've just made the best possible recording of your LPs and tapes. Don't forget to transfer that beautiful album cover art to your new CD too. Toast 11 Titanium includes Disc Cover 3 RE, which makes it easy to create perfect labels and covers.

July 19, 2011

Capture Web Audio & Video With Roxio Toast 11

Roxio Toast 11 Titanium is the ultimate media toolkit, designed to make it quick and easy to get the most out of your personal media. With Toast 11, you can capture both streaming audio and Web video, then convert the results for playback on your favorite player, or use in any media project. Here's how:

Capture Audio from the Web — or Any Mac App

With Toast 11's updated Spin Doctor utility, you can now capture audio from any running application, including streaming audio from Web browsers, separate from the audio from other apps or the System. No more system beeps ruining your captures!

To get started, open Spin Doctor and choose Applications>Currently Running from the source options at left. Then click on the app you want to capture from, in this case, Safari:


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Toast 11's revamped Spin Doctor utility now lets you capture the audio from any running app, such as Safari (click image to enlarge).


Click Next to go to the recording window. Here you can adjust the recording level (especially important for live microphone recordings and analog inputs), and choose recording quality options. We've chosen CD quality output.


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Spin Doctor recording options.


Now it's time to capture. Click Next and press the red Record button when you want to start recording. (Tip: start recording just before you press play on a streaming Web audio track. That way you won't miss anything. You can trim off any excess bits in Spin Doctor later.) You can Pause the recording and restart at any time with the red button as well. When you're finished recording a track, click the Stop button. You can then record more tracks, or click Done.


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Spin Doctor in the process of recording. You can pause and restart recording with the red Record button before finally pressing the Stop button to finish your track (click image to enlarge).


After clicking Done, your recorded track(s) will open in the Spin Doctor editing window, where you can define the beginnings and ends of tracks by sliding the green markers at either side, as well as apply audio effects and edit track information.


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The Spin Doctor editing window, where we've adjusted the green start/end markers for our track, and entered Artist and Album information (click image to enlarge).


When you're finished editing, you can save your track(s) to disk from the File menu, or send them directly to iTunes or Toast using the buttons at upper right. When exporting to iTunes, you can choose your encoding format, such as AAC, Apple Lossless, or MP3. In Toast, you can burn your tracks to CD or Music DVD.

Next time you hear something great on the Web or any Mac app, fire up Spin Doctor and record it!


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Exporting from Spin Doctor to iTunes in Lossless format.


Capture Web Video

Ever wish you could save YouTube or other Flash-based streaming Web video to your hard disk so you can play it offline? Or wanted to tranfer YouTube clips to your iPhone, iPad, Android device or other portable player? Now you can, with Roxio Toast 11's Web video capture feature.

There are just a few simple steps: To start, open Toast, click the Convert tab, and choose the Video Files project type. Next, open the Media Browser by clicking on the Media tab at top right, or selecting it from the Window menu. Finally, click the Video tab in the Media Browser and then "Web video" from the drop-down list of media types. Now Toast is all ready to capture.


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Preparing to capture Web video (click to enlarge).

To start capturing video, simply open your Web browser and play the video you want to record. Toast will automatically capture it for you, and then add it to the Media Browser Web video list. Continue playing and capturing as many clips as you like. Below, we've captured several YouTube clips.


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Captured clips displayed in the Media Browser (click to enlarge).

Now drag the clips to the project window to convert them to the desired playback format (the Flash-format captures will not be saved permanently, so be sure to convert them before you quit Toast). Click the Record button, and you'll be prompted to select your playback device and quality level. You can save the converted videos directly to iTunes if you like, or to a folder. We've opted to send our videos to iTunes below, so we can transfer them to an iPad.


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Sending captured video to iTunes (click to enlarge).

Now you can preserve and enjoy your favorite Web videos anywhere, no Internet connection required!


Preserve Your Home Movies with Easy VHS to DVD

Chances are you've already moved on to HDTV, but what about all those piles of home movies and old TV shows you have recorded on VHS tapes? It's time to bring them into the digital era by recording them to your PC. With Roxio Easy VHS to DVD you can burn them to DVD, convert them for playback on your portable player, or upload them to YouTube, Facebook and more. You can also edit your recordings, add titles and transitions, and create projects combining analog footage with that from digital camcorders.

Easy VHS to DVD includes both the hardware and software you need to capture and convert almost any analog video. The video capture hardware is a small USB stick with connections for both composite and S-video sources. The editing and burning software is based on the top-rated Roxio Creator suite, so you know it's polished and easy to use. Simply plug in the USB stick, then install the software, and you're ready to start transferring your tapes.

The program is not just for tapes, though. Here are some common analog video sources you can capture with Easy VHS to DVD:

  • VHS tapes from your VCR
  • Analog camcorder output (VHS, S-VHS, 8mm or Hi-8)
  • The composite or S-video output from your TV (when viewing live standard-definition channels)

Easy VHS to DVD is also perfect for recording shows from standard-definition DVRs that don't have PC transfer capabilities. Otherwise your shows are trapped forever in the DVR. (If you're lucky enough to have a networked TiVo, see our tutorial on converting TiVo shows with Creator here.)

Here's how to get started with Easy VHS to DVD:


Step 1: Capture Video to Your PC

After you've plugged in the USB device and installed the software, connect your source to the USB stick using a composite or S-video cable. Now open Easy VHS to DVD. You'll see the following Home screen:


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The Easy VHS to DVD Home screen.


The Home screen gives you various options for common tasks. To transfer tapes to DVD, you can choose either "Plug & Burn," or "Capture Video." Plug & Burn is for when you want to go directly from tape to DVD as quickly as possible, without editing the video or saving it to your hard disk. It only takes a little longer than playing back your video to complete the burn, and is the fastest way to transfer a large number of tapes.

To use Plug & Burn, you simply insert a blank DVD, choose a menu style and title if desired, a quality level (1 hour of high-quality video will fit on a single-layer DVD, 2 hours on a dual-layer disc), and start capturing direct to DVD. You can capture multiple pieces of video, up to the capacity of the disc, then click "Finish" to finalize the burn. That's all there is to it!


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Transferring a video to DVD with Plug & Burn. (Click to enlarge.)


If you want to do more with your recordings, such as edit them, upload them to YouTube, or convert them for playback on your iPhone, iPad or Android device, it's best to use the Capture Video option, which saves your recordings to hard disk for subsequent use in all types of projects, including burning DVDs. This option also allows you to select other digital formats than MPEG-2 (the DVD format), such as AVI and VCD. It takes longer to transfer a tape to DVD with Capture Video, since capturing and burning are separate processes, but if you have the hard disk space, and think you might want to do more with your video than just burn a DVD, the extra time is worth it.

Choosing "Capture Video" from the Home screen brings up the Media Import window, as shown below. The first task is to select your video capture device from the drop-down menu. (If your PC has a built-in webcam, that will usually be the first device in the list.)


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Selecting your video capture device. (Click to enlarge.)


After you select your USB stick, you'll see a preview window of the video currently being played on your source (VCR, camcorder, TV or DVR). (You may need to choose either Composite or S-video from the Input menu if you don't see a picture.) Before you click the Capture button to start recording to hard disk, choose a format (such as DV, DVD HQ, DVD SP, DVD LP or VCD). If you want to edit your video in VideoWave or CineMagic, choose DV. If you only want to burn DVDs, we recommend recording in DVD HQ format for top quality if you have the disk space (Media Import will tell you how much space you have available). Otherwise you can choose one of the more-compressed (lesser-quality) DVD options, such as DVD SP and LP. You can fit about 1 hour of HQ, 1.5 hours of SP, or 2 hours of LP video on a single-layer DVD. Dual-layer discs hold twice as much.


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Setting up your recording. (Click to enlarge.)


Other options to choose include a capture length (so you can record unattended), a title for the recording, and video enhancements like contrast and brightness. Now click the Capture button to start recording. You'll see the progress of the recording in the Status area. When it's done, the finished video will be saved to your Videos folder (or whatever destination folder you selected), and will show up in the thumbnail list at right. Keep recording videos in this manner until you have all the material you need for your project.


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The finished recording in the movie list. (Click to enlarge.)


Step 2: Burn the Recording to DVD

Now that you've digitized all your videos, it's time to burn them to DVD. Go back to the Home screen, and choose "Create DVDs." This will start the MyDVD application, which is a full-featured DVD authoring package.


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Starting up MyDVD and selecting a project type. (Click to enlarge.)


MyDVD will first ask you to select a project type, such as a standard DVD with menus, or a DVD without menus that starts playing automatically when you insert it in your player. Next, add your recordings to your project by clicking the Add Movie button and selecting them from the browser. Add as many movies as you need for your project. They will appear in a list at lower left.


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Adding the recorded movie to the DVD project. (Click to enlarge.)


If desired, you can now customize your DVD with menu styles, titles, backgrounds and chapter markers. See our MyDVD tutorial for more on what you can do with MyDVD. Once you've gotten the DVD the way you want it, press the Burn button at top right.


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Burning the DVD.


In the Burn dialog box, you can choose your recording speed if desired, and enter a label for the disc. You can also save to an Image File on your hard disk, which is useful if you may want to burn additional copies of the disc later, or prefer play it back from your hard disk or media server.

Step 3: Do More with Your Recordings

Capturing video and burning it to DVD only scratches the surface of Easy VHS to DVD's capabilities. Once you've captured videos to your hard disk, you can also do things like:

  • Trim and cut out unwanted portions from your recordings.
  • Add titles, transition, soundtracks and more in VideoWave, the full-featured video editing program included with Easy VHS to DVD.
  • Convert them for viewing on your iPhone, iPad, Android device, PSP, or other portable player
  • Post them to YouTube
  • Share them online on your own secure Web page with Roxio PhotoShow.

Finally, Easy VHS to DVD also includes disc label creation software, as well as the popular LP & Tape Assistant program for digitizing analog audio. Once you've converted all your old analog video and audio to digital, you'll never go back!

June 15, 2011

Adobe Photoshop Elements' Top Five Tricks

Create extraordinary photos, fast, with Adobe® Photoshop® Elements 9. Photoshop Elements makes it a snap to organize, edit and enhance photos. You can quickly share your memories in unique print creations, on the Web, on your mobile phone, and more.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 is now part of the Toast 11 Pro media suite. Here are five incredible features that you'll be able to use right away to improve and share your photos.

 ♦ Use PhotoMerge to create perfect group shots and panoramas;
 ♦ Fix most photo flaws with the Spot Healing Brush;
 ♦ Use Guided Edits to create hot special effects like LOMO styles;
 ♦ Share albums online, complete with music and effects;
 ♦ Make amazing printed photo books, calendars and cards.

Read on for tutorials on each of these features.


Create Perfect Panoramas & Group Shots

Photoshop Elements 9's enhanced Photomerge technology let you combine the best parts of multiple photos to make the perfect panorama or group shot. Photomerge Panoramas's enhanced blending capabilities fill in those jagged edges as it automatically stitches together multiple horizontal or vertical photos. Photomerge Group Shot lets you create group shots where everyone looks their best. You can also match photo styles between pictures, clean up scenes, and more.

To make a panorama, choose File>New>Photomerge Panorama. You'll be prompted to choose a set of photos, your desired perspective, and whether you want the edges of your panorama automatically filled in for you. The autofill is a fantastic feature that means you don't have to crop your panorama to get rid of the uneven edges that result when photos are stitched together. Then the program goes to work creating your panorama...that's really all there is to it. You can then edit the finished panorama if you like, removing unwanted elements with the Spot Healing Brush (more in the next section), fixing red-eye, and so on.


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Using Photomerge Panorama to stitch a perfect landscape (click to enlarge).


Learn more in this video tutorial.


Fix Photo Flaws

The Content-Aware Spot Healing Brush is another amazingly powerful tool that can make unwanted elements of your photos disappear as if they'd never existed! Wipe out telephone wires from your sky shots, or random strangers from your vacation photos. You can also use it to quickly fix scratches and tears so you can make new prints of old photos. Just select the Spot Healing Brush, then "paint" the spots that need fixing. They will magically be filled with appropriate content from the surrounding area.


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Scratches on an old photo vanish with a few swipes of the Spot Healing Brush (click to enlarge).


See the Content-Aware Spot Healing Brush in action in this video tutorial.


Easy Special Effects

Want to create a reflection effect? Or a lomography-style photo? Touch up a photo portrait? Photoshop Elements makes it easy to apply pro-style special effects with Guided Edits that tell you exactly what to do, step-by-step, and even applies tools for you.

To choose an effect, click the Fix tab at upper right, then click the Guided subtab. You'll see a long list of edits and special effects, from touching up skin tones to creating old-fashioned looking photos. Below is the Reflection effect.


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Using Guided Edit to apply a reflection effect, step-by-step (click to enlarge).


See how Guided Edits make special effects fun and easy in this video tutorial.


Share Albums Online

Want to share photos quickly in an online album for your friends and family to view, download and print? Photoshop Elements' Organizer makes it simple. Just select the photos you want to share, then choose Share>Online Album to open the Online Album Wizard.

You'll be guided through choosing an album name and slideshow theme, as well as email addresses to send a link to the album. Finally, click the Share button at the bottom, and you're done. In addition to Photoshop.com, you can share directly to Flickr, Facebook and SmugMug. You can even send photos to a CEIVA photo frame!


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Creating and sharing an online photo album (click to enlarge).


In the example above, we entered an email address under the Sharing tab, which sends an invitation to view the finished album. Below is the album page on the Web. Clicking the Slideshow button at upper right starts a slideshow using the scrapbook-style template we picked earlier. Viewers can also download and print photos from the albums if you checked off the appropriate boxes under the Sharing tab above.


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The finished online album at Photoshop.com (click to enlarge).


Make Amazing Photo Print Projects

Online and email sharing is great, but sometimes only a print will do. Whether you want a greeting card, calendar, collage, or photo book, Photoshop Elements's powerful print projects features can produce it. You can even produce CD and DVD labels and inserts.

To get started, select the pictures you want to print, then click the Create tab at upper right, then select the type of project you want to print. Below, we've selected Greeting Card, which brings up a wide selection of templates to choose from.


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Creating a greeting card in Photoshop Elements (click to enlarge).


Learn more about creating greeting cards in Photoshop Elements in this video tutorial.

May 24, 2011

Burning High-Def DVDs & Blu-ray Discs with Toast 11

If you thought you needed a Blu-ray recorder in order to burn high-definition discs from your home movies, think again. Toast 11 Titanium, together with the High-Def/Blu-ray Disc™ Plug-in (included with Toast 11 Pro), can burn HD video directly to standard DVD media using your regular DVD recorder, complete with customizable menu themes and navigation screens!

These special AVCHD discs can then be played back on your Sony Playstation® PS3 or most set-top Blu-ray players, for viewing on your HDTV's big screen. Of course, if you do own a Blu-ray recorder, Toast 11 can burn to Blu-ray Discs as well.

If you've watched Blu-ray movies played on an HDTV, you know how breathtaking the quality can be. There is simply no comparison between the detail you get with full 1920-by-1080 HD video and standard 720-by-480 DVD resolution. And now that HD camcorders and DVRs are plentiful and affordable, more people are recording their home movies and TV shows in high-def. Even the iPhone 4 can record 720p HD video (1280-by-720 pixels).

So how do you get your home HD recordings onto your TV screen? External Blu-ray recorders for Macs have become affordable, but even if you don't want to buy one, the answer is as close as Toast and your DVD burner.

You can fit up to an hour of HD video on a dual-layer DVD, which is plenty for most home video productions. With a Blu-ray recorder, you can also burn hours of video onto BD media. Even better, Toast lets you crop and trim your HD video, so you can edit out segments you don't want and conserve disc space and processing time. The same thing goes for HD recordings you make using Elgato's EyeTV, so you can burn your favorite HD shows onto DVDs that will play back in your set-top Blu-ray player.


Getting Started — Import Your Video

To create a high-definition DVD, first open Toast 11 (make sure you have the High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in installed) and select the High-Definition DVD-Video or Blu-ray Video project option under the Video tab (you can also choose these options from the Toast Assistant under the Video projects tab). Now bring in your HD video clips. Click the Media Browser tab at right, and select clips already on your hard drive, or use the AVCHD option to import movies directly from your attached AVCHD camcorder (which should be in computer connection mode). You can even choose TV recordings from your EyeTV or TiVo folders.


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Choosing the High Definition DVD-Video project in Toast 11, with the Media Browser at right (click to enlarge).


While Toast does not import directly from HDV camcorders, which use MPEG-2 video encoding, you can use HDV clips in your high-def projects as long as you import them to hard disk first, using your camera's utility software, then drag them to the Toast window. Everything will be converted to the proper format when you burn your disc. As you import or drag in video clips, your Project window will start to fill up and look like this:


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Video clips in the Toast Project window. The first and third clips are from two different AVCHD camcorders (note the different resolutions), the second clip is from an HDV camcorder. Toast can burn these all to one disc seamlessly (click to enlarge).


Each clip is labeled with valuable information, including the date recorded, the length, and the encoding format (such as H.264/AVC 1920x1080, 1440x1080 or 1280x720 for AVCHD clips, and MPEG-2 1440x1080 for HDV camcorder clips).


Cropping and Trimming Clips

If some of your video clips need trimming to remove unwanted portions, click the Edit button next to each clip in the Project window. You'll see the following window pop up:


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Editing a video clip in the Toast 11 Project window (click to enlarge).


Here, you can do several things. You can change the default name and date of your clip, set the thumbnail picture, add chapter markers to longer videos, apply audio effects, and crop and trim your video. The clip name and thumbnail picture will appear in the navigation menu shown when you pop the disc into your set-top Blu-ray player.

To trim the beginning and end of your clip, look at the slider below the video and drag the two trim markers at either end to their desired positions. (You can also enter specific start and end times in the boxes below the video.) If you'd like to crop out a portion from the middle of the clip, move the play head at the top to the beginning of the area you crop, then click the little upward triangle just to the right of the Play button. This will insert a new pair of trim markers that you can drag to define the area you want to crop out. When finished, click OK. Editing is nondestructive; your original video will be unaffected.


Finishing Your Disc

Now that you've imported all your clips, trimmed any unwanted portions, and given them descriptive names, it's time to finish up your disc. Make sure the clips are in the sequence you'd like them displayed on your disc menu--just drag them up or down to change the order. Next, click the Options tab at top right to bring up the disc options. You can select a menu style, choose the encoding quality, decide whether you want the disc to start playing video automatically on insertion, and include any original photos, among other options. Click the Customize button for even more settings.


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Setting disc recording options (click to enlarge).


Now you're all done, except for burning! The bar at bottom left will show how much video you have, and whether it fits on your disc. Choose DVD or DVD DL as the disc type if you have a DVD drive, and BD or BD DL if you have a Blu-ray recorder.


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Choosing the DVD or BD disc type (click to enlarge).


If all is in order, click the red Burn button, insert a blank disc, and wait while Toast performs its magic. You can then pop your disc into most set-top Blu-ray players and enjoy high-def home movies on your HDTV!

April 26, 2011

Getting Started with Easy LP to MP3

Looking for a great gift that costs nothing but time? Unlock your family's musical past by converting old LPs and tapes to MP3, then create mix discs or iPod playlists customized for everyone on your list. All you need is Easy LP to MP3 and a turntable. You can dig up your old one, or borrow one from a friend. The process is quick and painless.

Easy LP to MP3 makes it easy to get great results with its LP & Tape Assistant. Even better, once you've made your recording, you can put away those LPs, preventing further wear and tear, and preserving them for future generations. You can also go on to make CD and DVD compilations — perfect for Mother's or Father's Day, holiday reunions, anniversaries and birthdays — even combine them with tracks from digital sources like CDs or Internet radio.

For records that were never issued as CDs, or family audiotapes, transferring these analog sources to digital will help you preserve and enjoy them. And Easy LP to MP3 makes it simple. Here's how:

Step 1: Use a Clean Source

When digitizing analog audio make sure you get the best signal into the computer before recording. While Easy LP to MP3 has a noise cleanup tool, this should be viewed as a secondary cleaning. Wipe your LPs first with a lint-free anti-static cloth or record brush. If you have a lot of material to record, you might also consider replacing the needle in your turntable if you can't remember the last time you did so. Similarly, if you are digitizing tapes, make sure your tape deck heads are clean, and that you engage the same noise-reduction technology (Dolby B or C, etc) used when the tape was recorded, for proper decoding.

Step 2: Connect Things Up

The Easy LP to MP3 package includes a USB recording device and all the cables you need to connect most analog audio sources. First use the provided USB cable to connect the device to your computer. Now plug one end of the provided dual-headed RCA cable into the audio input jacks on the USB capture device. Be sure to connect the red plug into the red jack and the white plug into the white jack, to maintain the correct stereo signal. Red is right, and white is left.
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Connecting your analog audio source to your USB capture device and computer.


Finally, connect the other end of the RCA cable into your analog audio source, such as a receiver, preamp or tape deck with "line-level" stereo output jacks (often labeled "tape out"). Note that turntables generally deliver "phono" level audio output and must be run through a preamp or receiver. They cannot be connected directly to the USB capture device. If your source does not have RCA jacks, such as a portable tape player, you can use the headphone jack, along with the provided mini-jack to RCA adapter cable. If you do use a headphone jack as your source, you'll have to do a little extra work in adjusting input levels, which we'll cover in Step 3.

Step 3: Choose Recording Input and Adjust Levels

Now you're ready to start recording! Open Easy LP to MP3 and choose the Audio>Convert LPs and Tapes task. This will open the LP & Tape Assistant, and you'll see a Recording window with options for selecting your audio input and adjusting the recording level. Choose "Line (USB Multimedia Audio Device)" to select the capture device. If you're using Windows XP, also select "Line" from the Input dropdown menu. Then click the "Recording Setup Guide" button for detailed instructions on setting recording levels.


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Starting the LP & Tape Assistant from the Roxio Easy LP to MP3 main window (click to enlarge).


Setting the correct recording level is very important. You want to get as high a level as possible without "clipping," which can cause distortion. If the recording meters go into the red zone, sound is being clipped and you should readjust your recording level. Note that if you have used the headphone connection of a tape recorder or amplifier as your source, you may also want to adjust the volume on your tape deck or amp. To minimize distortion from headphone jacks, it's best to use a midpoint volume level on the source, then adjust the level further using the level slider in Easy LP to MP3. You can also use the "Auto" button to have the program automatically analyze your source and set the correct recording level.


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Setting the recording input and level. Note that the level does not go into the red (clipping) zone (click to enlarge).


Now, start playing a song and listen to it come through your computer. Use quality headphones or external speakers if possible. Check for hum — you may need to ground your source deck (all turntables come with a special ground wire for this purpose). Also make sure that the computer and source equipment are plugged into the same power strip, and that power cables and sound cables are not bunched together. Keep sound cables away from CRTs, televisions and other sources of electronic noise.

Once you've got a clean sound source coming through, it's time to begin recording! Cue your source to the beginning, press the red Record button, then start your source playing. Don't worry about recording blank space at the beginning; you can remove that later. Make sure you have enough disk space before starting. The Assistant tells you how much recording time you have available.

By default, the LP & Tape Assistant automatically separates tracks whenever a period of silence is encountered. To adjust the sensitivity of the track separator, click the Advanced Options button. Here, you can also limit recording time to a given number of minutes (handy for unattended recording), mute system sounds, and specify the file format and quality of the recording (CD quality is the default).


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The finished recording of a single album side, automatically split into tracks (click to enlarge).


Step 4: Identifying and Enhancing Your Tracks

Now click the Next button at bottom right to go to Step 2 of the Assistant. Here you'll get a chance to identify and enhance your recordings. You can correct track splits, edit out unwanted bits at the beginnings or ends of tracks, and use filters to clean up and improve sound quality. You can also automatically identify the artist, album and song names!


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Trimming the recorded tracks (click to enlarge).


After you've adjusted the track separators to trim your tracks (use the zoom buttons at top right to get a close-up look, then drag the separator arrows left or right), click the Tags button. The Edit Audio Tags window will then open, where you can identify your tracks automatically with MusicID.


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Identifying your tracks and editing audio tags (click to enlarge).


Finally, checking the Clean box will reduce noise on all your tracks, while Enhance will improve the dynamic range, especially important for tape sources. Click the Clean and Enhance buttons to choose filtering options. You can also fade each track in and out by a variable length of time, and preview the results using the playback controls at lower right.


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Cleaning your recordings (click to enlarge).


Step 5: Burn or Export Your Recordings

Once you're satisfied with your new recordings, it's time to burn them to disc or send them to your music player! To record a CD, select the tracks you'd like to include by ticking the checkboxes, then click the Burn Audio CD button. If desired, also click the checkboxes to add CD-Text info to your Audio CD, and to maximize track volumes (which will equalize the volume levels of tracks from different LPs).


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Export options for your recording (click to enlarge).


If you'd like to output your recordings to files, such as MP3, WMA, FLAC or OGG files for use in your iPod or other portable audio player, select your tracks, then click the Export Tracks button. You'll be prompted to choose your output format and destination. Finally, you can also choose to send the tracks to the Sound Editor for further tweaking before burning or conversion.

So dust off those albums and start recording! Don't forget to transfer that beautiful cover art to your new CDs as well, with the included Express Labeler software. Find it in the Tools area of the Easy LP to MP3 home screen.

Toast 11 Pro's 5 Magical Ingredients

Toast 11 Titanium now comes in two flavors: standard and Pro. The standard version includes all the great digital media features and extra goodies you're used to, like SpinDoctor, Disc Cover, TiVo Transfer and Get Backup. It's the perfect complement to iLife, helping you get more out of your digital media. But Toast 11 Pro takes your media to a whole new level, with five pro-quality apps in addition to Toast itself, a package worth more than $400:

  • Adobe® Photoshop® Elements 9 the most popular app for photo editing, enhancement and sharing;
  • Boinx FotoMagico™ 3 RE for creating spellbinding photo and video stories in high definition;
  • BIAS SoundSoap™ 2 SE with new Toast plug-in for audio noise reduction and enhancement;
  • SmartSound Sonicfire™ Pro 5 for movie soundtrack creation; and the
  • Toast 11 High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in for burning and converting video from your HD camcorder;

Read on to learn more about each of these programs.



Adobe Photoshop Elements 9

Photoshop Elements is the number one selling consumer photo-editing software on the Mac, and it's easy to see why. It's a snap to organize, edit and enhance photos, and you can quickly share your memories in unique print creations, on the Web, on your mobile phone, and more.

Here are just a few of the things you can do with Photoshop Elements 9:

  • Use Photomerge technology to match photo styles between pictures, create smooth panoramas, create great group shots by selecting the best parts of several pictures, clean up scenes, and much more.;
  • Repair torn or damaged photos and make unwanted elements vanish with the Spot Healing Brush;
  • Create print projects like calendars, greeting cards, scrapbook pages and photo books;
  • Create stunning effects with new Guided Edits, including pop art styles, reflection effects, LOMO camera styles, and more;
  • Work with blended layers, for unlimited creativity;
  • Quickly share photos on Facebook or Online Albums with fun template.


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The Adobe Photoshop Elements editing window (click to enlarge).



Boinx FotoMagico 3 RE

The slideshow features in iPhoto are great, but when you want more control over things like transitions, music and special effects, it's time to take a step up to FotoMagico. FotoMagico turns your pictures and videos into spellbinding stories and presents them in high definition, taking full advantage of all those megapixels in your new digital camera. Innovative text, transition and alignment tools ensure astonishing results. With Toast 11 Pro, you can also burn your high-def slideshow to DVD or Blu-ray Disc for easy viewing, send them to your portable player, or convert them for emailing or publishing on your website.


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Creating a high-def slideshow with FotoMagico (click to enlarge).



BIAS SoundSoap 2 SE

Want your sound recordings and LP transfers to sound as good as the originals? Use SoundSoap to remove all types of unwanted sounds from digital audio files: hiss, room noise, rumble, electrical hum, clicks and crackles. You can clean up music you've digitized from your aging vinyl and tapes with Toast's Spin Doctor app. Or massage the audio tracks from your videos, eliminating wind and background noise to make your dialog loud and clear. Virtually any type of background noise can be scrubbed out quickly and easily with SoundSoap, leaving you with clean, crisp audio that sounds like you remember it.


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Cleaning up noise from analog recordings with SoundSoap (click to enlarge).


Even better, SoundSoap is very simple to use, just bring in your recording, then tweak your audio using the buttons and sliders. You can preview the results both sonically and visually, making it easy to get great results.


SmartSound Sonicfire Pro 5

Want to set the right mood for your home videos? Create a Hollywood-style soundtrack with Sonicfire Pro. Music and sound effects can turn a ho-hum video into a riveting thriller or an uplifting story, but few of us have the ability to record our own backing tracks. That's where Sonicfire comes in.

For example, using Sonicfire, you could create a soundtrack for a wedding highlight video that includes selected dialog like the wedding vows and reception toasts, as well as a unified background music theme, where otherwise there would be no continuity (not to mention poor recording quality).


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Creating a video soundtrack with Sonicfire Pro (click to enlarge).


You can tweak Sonicfire tracks to match the length, mood, and theme of your video. A huge library of professionally produced music in styles ranging from classical to hip-hop ensure you can create the perfect soundtrack without knowing how to read a note.


Toast 11 High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-In

The High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in, which lets you edit, burn and convert HD video content (such as that from AVCHD camcorders and EyeTV recordings), is an extra cost option in Toast 11, but comes included with Toast 11 Pro.

With the HD/BD Plug-in, you can burn your home movies or EyeTV recordings onto DVDs and Blu-ray Discs for playback on any standard Blu-ray set-top box or PlayStation® 3 game console. You don't even need a pricey Blu-ray recorder to burn high-definition DVDs, so you can get the full benefit of your high-def camcorder and HDTV with the DVD burner you already have.

If you do have a Blu-ray recorder, the High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in is indispensable for creating Blu-ray movie discs on the Mac. It supports both AVCHD and HDV camcorder sources, and lets you archive AVCHD camcorder video to disc in one easy step.

The Plug-in also allows you to edit your high-def videos, and crop out unwanted portions using a simple timeline interface. You can burn the results to disc using HD menu themes, or convert them for playback on your iPod, iPhone, Apple TV or portable player. Take your EyeTV shows and home movies on the road!


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Creating a high-def DVD from AVCHD video clips in Toast 11 (click to enlarge).

March 27, 2011

Fast Forward & Slow Motion in Roxio Game Capture

While Roxio Game Capture makes it a snap to capture and share your console gaming sessions, the really cool part is that you can also edit the results to add things like voice commentary, special effects, music and titles.

Editing is done with the included VideoWave software, a full-featured editing program. Check out this introductory tutorial to see how easy it is to edit clips, add effects, and upload the results to your favorite sharing site. And here's an example of what you can do with VideoWave and Game Capture:


One feature of VideoWave that's perfect for enhancing game captures is the ability to speed up and slow down your clips. You can fast-forward through less interesting sections, or turn already fast moves into light-speed maneuvers! Likewise, you can take a tricky move and replay it in slow motion for maximum effect.

Here's how. First, open VideoWave and select "Add Photo/Video" to add your clip to your production, following the introductory tutorial above. Then right-click on the clip in the timeline at the bottom of the screen and choose "Trim..." to bring up the Video Trimmer window.


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Right-clicking on a video clip to choose the Trim feature (click to enlarge).


Notice the little box at the bottom left of the Trim window called "Speed." This is where the magic happens. Simply change the speed to whatever multiple you like. For example, if you want your clip to be speeded up by a factor of four, you would enter 4. Or if you want to slow it down to quarter-speed, enter .25. You can also choose the beginning and end points of your clip here, by moving the red and green markers.


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Slowing down a clip to half-speed (click to enlarge).


After changing the speed for your clip, you can preview the results in the main video window at top right. Adjust the speed up or down if desired, or cut out portions that don't help tell the story. When you're done editing, you can share the finished production from the Output menu direct to sites like Facebook®, YouTube™ and WeGame™, or save it to disk, as show in our video tutorial. You can choose from many formats, such as MPEG2 for recording to DVD, or MPEG4 and AVC for iPod and portable player viewing.


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Sharing a edited Game Capture video direct to YouTube (click to enlarge).


So hook up your Game Capture device and start recording! You never know when you'll achieve that high score or hidden level. But Game Capture makes it a snap to edit and share your exploits!

March 25, 2011

Top 10 New Features in Toast 11

Roxio Toast 11 Titanium is the ultimate media toolkit, designed to make it quick and easy to get the most out of your personal media. Toast 11 makes fun to capture, copy, convert, and share your favorite music, photos, and video.

With Toast 11, you can capture streaming audio, easily access and search iLife and other photo libraries, or even capture video from your favorite websites. Once you've found the content you're going to work with, you can quickly and easily edit, adjust, and enhance that content. Last, Toast helps you convert and share that content on disc or online with friends, family, and the world.

Check out the complete list of what's new on the Toast 11 and Toast 11 Pro pages, respectively. Here, we've rounded up the top ten features so you can get off to a quick start on your Toast 11 adventure.


1. Streamlined Interface with Video & PDF Tutorials

The first thing you'll notice about Toast 11 is the new Toast Assistant, which gets you started quickly with common projects like converting DVDs for iPad, burning MP3 discs, or creating a high-definition DVD-Video disc for use in your set-top Blu-ray player.


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Choose from common project types from the new Toast Assistant (click image to enlarge).


The Assistant also has video and PDF tutorials built right into the program. Five tutorials are available now, with more to come! Check out the tutorial on Converting Video for iPad and iPhone.


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Toast 11 has built-in video and PDF tutorials that get you started fast (click image to enlarge).


2. Publish Videos to Facebook®, YouTube™ or Vimeo® — Then Tweet Them!

If you're a social media type, this is the feature you've been waiting for. Toast 11 now lets you post videos directly to your favorite sharing sites in one step, and can even automatically tweet your YouTube and Vimeo links!

See how to do it in our video tutorial.


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Toast 11 lets you upload finished videos direct to the Web, and even Tweet about them! (Click image to enlarge.)


3. Supercharged Video Conversion for iPad/iPhone/Apple TV

If you have a relatively recent NVIDIA-equipped Mac, you can now take advantage of VideoBoost technology to speed up your H.264 video exports, such as those for iPad, iPhone, Apple TV and more.

Check out the list of supported NVIDIA cards, with instructions on how to enable the feature.


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To make use of graphics card-accelerated video conversions, just check the VideoBoost box (click image to enlarge).


With VideoBoost you can get up to 2X faster encoding!


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When VideoBoost is running, you'll see a confirmation under the encoding progress bar.


4. Capture Audio from Any App — Without Annoying System Beeps!

With Toast's updated Spin Doctor utility, you can now capture the audio from any running app, including streaming audio from Web browsers, without the audio from other apps or the System. No more system beeps ruining your captures!


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Toast 11's revamped Spin Doctor utility now lets you capture the audio from any running app (click image to enlarge).


5. Preserve DVD Subtitles When Converting for iPad or iPhone

Want to watch converted DVD-videos on your iPad or iPhone with the subtitles? Now you can! Perfect for those who want to watch in quiet environments, or the hard of hearing, Toast 11 now let you embed subtitles on converted DVDs.

Simply add your DVD-Video image file or Video_TS folder to a conversion project, then click the Options button. You'll see a checkbox on the right to Embed Subtitles. That's all there is to it!


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Just click the checkbook to embed subtitles in DVDs you convert for iOS (click image to enlarge).


6. Export to DivX, MKV & Flash and Save Custom Profiles

DivX and MKV (Matroska) are hugely popular video formats on the Web and in home video collections because they allow high quality in relatively small file sizes. In Toast 11 you can now convert video to DivX Plus HD and MKV, among many others.


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Toast 11 supports virtually every video output format you could want, from smartphones and tablets to MKV and DivX (click image to enlarge).


By popular demand, you can also now export to Flash formats for embedding on your Web site. All the files you need are supplied, including the Player, if desired. You can even preview the results before you encode.


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Toast 11 makes it simple to embed Flash video on your site (click image to enlarge).


Better yet, you can now save custom Video Export Profiles for any device or output format. Tweak your encoding settings as desired, then reuse them again and again.


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In Toast 11 you can now save custom conversion profiles for easy reuse (click image to enlarge).


7. Enhanced Video Editing with Audio Effects

Now there's no need to use another program to edit video or add audio effects. Toast 11 includes built-in support for editing, trimming, and cropping — as well as the ability to apply popular Audio Unit effects to your tracks.

To edit video or apply Audio effects, just click the Edit or AU Filter buttons next to the video in your project list.


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Apply your favorite audio unit plug-in filters to any editing project (click image to enlarge).

Video editing features include previews, trimming, cropping and chapter setting.


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Video editing is easier and clearer with Toast 11's new interface (click image to enlarge).



8. Scheduled Conversions & Multi-recorder Burning

These two features can really improve your productivity. With scheduled conversions, you can control when to run lengthy encoding projects, and with multi-recorder burning you can take advantage of your extra optical drives to make multiple copies at once, greatly speeding production time.

To schedule an encoding project, first click the red encode button, then click the Schedule button at lower left to set a time. You can queue up as many videos you like in your conversion list before scheduling.


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Queue up and schedule your conversion projects so they get done while you sleep (click image to enlarge).


Need to make a dozen copies of a DVD for all the parents in your child's soccer team? Cut the time in half if you have two optical drives, which many people do. Just change the drive destination option at the bottom of the Toast window to "Select Multiple Recorders" when you're ready to start burning, then check off the recorders you want to use.


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Make use of multiple recorders to speed large burn projects (click image to enlarge).


9. Burn Audio Projects Across Multiple Discs

Now you don't need to worry if all your music files will fit on one disc! Toast 11 will automatically span them across multiple discs if needed. This is a great feature when you want to back up your music library or export large playlists.


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Toast 11 now lets you span audio files across multiple discs for easy burning of large projects (click image to enlarge).


10. Play Back High-Def DVD-Video Discs Right on Your Mac!

Last, but not least, Toast 11 now lets you view high-definition DVD-Video discs right on your Mac! These are discs burned on standard DVD media by Toast that play on your set-top Blu-ray player, and are perfect for HD home videos. Now you don't even need to have a Blu-ray player handy to enjoy them.


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Watch or preview high-definition DVD-Video discs made with Toast right on your Mac (click image to enlarge).


February 22, 2011

Getting Started with Video Effects in Creator 2011

Roxio VideoWave is a Roxio Creator component that lets you edit and share your home movies. With VideoWave, even beginners can quickly produce entertaining videos, yet experienced editors can enjoy complete creative control.

But you don't have to be George Lucas to use fun video effects that liven up your movies. Two new effects packs make it a snap to apply professional-looking styles like aged film, newsprint and destabilization (the Video Effects: Enhance & Style pack), or naturalistic effects like fog, fire, smoke and sparkles (the Video Effects: Nature pack). Both packs plug directly into VideoWave, integrating seamlessly with the program's built-in effects. They work with Creator 2009, 2010 and 2011.

To get started, install your Effects pack, and then open VideoWave by clicking on the Video-Movies tab on the Creator home screen and choosing Edit Video - Advanced. (You can also open VideoWave directly from the Roxio folder in the Windows Start menu.)

Next, choose your project type. Select Normal for 4:3 video, or Widescreen for 16:9 video, depending upon your source footage. Now add the clips you will use in your movie by clicking the Add Photo/Video button and choosing them from your hard disk. You can play clips in the file browser to preview them. Then click Open to add them to your project. Finally, arrange the clips on the timeline in the order you'd like them to appear in your movie.

Now that you've got your production started, it's time to play with some effects! Below we'll show you how to apply a few typical effects from the packs, but there are many more where these came from. For extensive video samples of the effects, be sure to check out the respective product pages for Video Effects: Nature and Video Effects: Enhance & Style.


Applying an Effect

The first step is to choose the type of effect you want to apply to a particular clip or portion of a clip. Click Add Video Effect at top left, or the Effect Selector in the right-hand pane to see a gallery of effects. You'll see a complete list of all available effects, including those built into VideoWave and those added by Effects packs.

You'll see several versions of most effects. For example, there are four fog effects: Fluffy, Red Mist, Rising Green and Steady Mist. Click the Play button on any effect in the gallery to preview it. Explore the various effects types and variations to get a feel for what's available and how you might be able to use them in your production.

Once you've familiarized yourself with the effects, choose one to apply to a clip, then either drag it to the clip preview pane to apply it to the current clip, or drag it directly to the Fx1 timeline at the bottom of the VideoWave window. You'll see a result like the below, from the Enhance & Style pack:


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Applying the Aged Film effect (click to enlarge).


Notice the name and duration of the effect in the timeline at the bottom. You can have multiple effects at different points in the Fx1 timeline, or even overlap effects by adding a second effect to the Fx2 timeline, and so on. Here's an example of a second effect, Newsprint, from the Enhance & Style pack.


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Using the Newsprint style (click to enlarge).


Now we'll look at how to edit the duration and settings for an effect. First click on the effect icon in the Timeline to select it, and then click the Settings tab at upper right (if you don't see this tab, choose "Show Settings" from the Tools area at left). You'll see a window similar to the below:


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Changing settings for the Newsprint style (click to enlarge).


To change the duration, drag the orange start and end markers just below the clip in the preview pane. Press Play to preview how the effect will look and to help fine-tune your start and end points. Now check out the settings page at right. Here you can change whatever parameters are applicable to your effect. In the case of Newsprint, we can change the size of the lines or dots in the effect. In the case of the Visual Harmonizer, we can change the vertical position of the harmonics. Other effects may have different sets of parameters.


Nature Effects: Fog, Smoke, Fire & More

The Nature pack has some really cool effects, such as fog, rainfall, fireworks and "fairy dust" that should work well with many home movie scenes.

Here's the Mist effect being applied to a beach video:


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Applying the Mist effect from the Nature pack (click image to enlarge).


Using Keyframes

The final piece of the effects puzzle is using key frames, found in the Settings tab for your effect. Key frames let you change the settings for an effect at different points in time. During the time between the key frames, the effect gradually changes from the settings defined in the first key frame to the settings defined in the second key frame. For example, if you apply the Visual Harmonizer effect to your production, you can set different vertical positions for the effect at the beginning and end, or any location in between.

By default, when you add an effect, the application adds start and end key frames. To add a keyframe, use the jog wheel or slider in the Preview pane to move the playback head to the position at which you want to insert the keyframe. Then click Add key frame here in the Settings pane. Make sure the key frame is selected in the drop-down box, and adjust its effect settings. You can have different settings for each key frame you define.


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Defining new key frames.


Key frames give you incredible power over your effects, and help you create most any look you can imagine. Try some video effects today!

January 21, 2011

Recording TV Shows with Toast & EyeTV

Life is busy! If you're tired of missing your favorite shows or simply want to save them for watching later on your iPad, try Toast 10 and EyeTV. With EyeTV, you can turn your faithful Mac into a high-definition digital video recorder, saving shows automatically that you can view anywhere: on your computer, on your TV, or on your i-device. Even if you have a DVR, you probably can't export the contents to your Mac, much less your iPhone (with the exception of TiVos, learn how here).

Better yet, EyeTV and Toast work with both standard and high-definition video! You can even use Toast to burn DVDs or Blu-ray Discs with your recordings. (Blu-ray requires the optional Toast HD/BD Plug-in.)

Assuming you already have Toast 10, all you need to do is add one of the several Elgato EyeTV tuner options, such as the EyeTV One and EyeTV HD, to turn your Mac into an HD DVR. Whichever tuner you choose, Toast makes it easy to save the programs you've captured on your Mac to DVD, or export them to your iPad, iPhone, iPod, or other media player. You can also stream them to your Apple TV!


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Elgato EyeTV Hybrid.


The EyeTV tuners do a lot more than just record video to hard disk. The software interacts with the TV Guide online program guide to schedule recordings, and maintains a list of past recordings stored on your hard disk, so you can use it like you would a regular HD DVR, but without the monthly fees (there is a $20/year fee for the TV Guide service after the first year). It even lets you pause live TV, skip commercials, and enjoy instant replays. Since most newer Macs, and many older ones, have video output capabilities, you can plug the output from your Mac into a TV set (including HDTVs), and use your Mac's remote control (or your iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch with the Remote app) to watch or record video from the comfort of your couch in full high-definition. Or play back EyeTV recordings through your Apple TV.

Depending on the tuner you choose, you can record over-the-air broadcasts in standard or high-definition, and/or cable/satellite signals using the set-top converter box supplied by your provider. When using a converter box to change channels, you plug the output from the converter into the EyeTV, which should be tuned to channel 3 or 4, depending on your service. (Unscrambled Clear QAM cable channels don't require a converter box.) All but the digital-only EyeTV One can also accept almost any form of standard-definition analog video from sources like VCRs, camcorders and DVD players. The EyeTV 250 Plus also includes on-board hardware encoding to take the burden off your Mac's processor when capturing analog audio. It's great for converting old tapes to digital format. (Note that for HD recording, a Dual G5 or Intel Mac is required.)

Using EyeTV

Open the EyeTV software and three windows appear: a resizable video window, a program guide/scheduling window, and an onscreen controller (which you can use along with or in place of a remote). The onscreen controller tells you what the current show is and how far into it you are, and provides typical fast forward/reverse/pause/record/volume/channel functions, as well as instant replay, mute, program guide, and 30-second commercial skip buttons. The video window can be resized as desired, or fill the screen. You can also show or hide the controller at any time.


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EyeTV playing Sesame Street live, with controller and program window in the background (click to enlarge).


Step-by-Step from Video Recording to DVD

Now that you've become familiar with the features and capabilities of EyeTV, here's a step-by-step guide to burning your recorded EyeTV programs to DVD with Toast, or converting them for your iPad, iPhone or other media player.

1) First, connect things up according to the EyeTV instructions, then run the EyeTV software setup assistant to creat an account for the TV Guide program listing (so you know what you're watching, and can program future recordings). The setup process will also tune all the channels coming off your antenna or cable/satellite input. The program guide supports over-the-air, cable and satellite services.


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The EyeTV program guide. Clicking the button next to a program name schedules it for recording.


2) Next, choose a future show to record by clicking the little record button that appears next to it. You can even set a show to record all season long, so you'll never miss another episode of "American Idol" or "CSI." Just click the show name, and choose "Record All." Better yet, if you set the preference to "Start EyeTV when a device is plugged in," it will wake up your Mac from sleep to record, and even boot up your machine if it is off (with OS 10.2 or later and automatic login enabled in your Mac System Preferences)! No worries about having to leave your machine on all the time.

3) When you're done recording, the show will appear in the Recordings library, where you can select it for playback on your computer, or send it to Toast for burning or conversion for iPad or iPhone. To make a DVD or Blu-ray Disc (with a Blu-ray recorder and the Toast HD/BD Plug-in) select your EyeTV recording(s) within the Toast 10 Media Browser and drag them to the Video Project window. About 2 hours of standard-definition video will fit on a DVD, or about 2 hours of high-definition video on a 25GB Blu-ray disc. Choose menu and navigation options for your disc at lower left, then press the Burn button. You can also trim out commercials from your recordings before burning, by clicking the Edit button next to each video in the Project window.


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Making a DVD or Blu-ray Disc from your EyeTV recordings (click to enlarge).


4) To convert EyeTV recordings for your mobile device or set-top player, such as your iPhone, iPod Touch or Apple TV, click the Convert Tab in the Toast window and drag in your recordings from the Media Browser as above. Again, you can trim out commercials or other unwanted portions using the Edit button next to each video.


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Converting EyeTV recordings for your mobile device or set-top box (click to enlarge).


Finally, select the format you want to convert to by clicking the little gear icon at lower left to bring up the Player settings window. We chose to export in iPad and send the results straight to iTunes. Then click the red button to start converting. You can convert multiple shows at once.

Using Toast and EyeTV, you can keep your iPad loaded with high-definition shows to watch anywhere, and build up a video library of all your favorite programs. With an over-the-air antenna, you can even ditch cable altogether. Get started saving now!

Video Lab HD's Top 5 Tricks

Roxio Video Lab HD is a full-featured video editor that adds an entirely new dimension to your productions, letting you create and edit in 3D as well as standard and high-definition. You don't even need a 3D camera — Video Lab HD can convert 2D movies to 3D! And deluxe plastic 3D glasses are included so you can preview the results on your monitor.

Other hot features include: picture-in-picture effects, titles and scrolling credits; auto-adjustment of color, brightness and contrast; streaming Web video capture; video stabilization and rotation; iPad video conversion; and direct Facebook video uploads. You can even burn to Blu-ray Discs for playback on your set-top Blu-ray player.

Check out the complete list of Video Lab HD features here. Below, we've rounded up tutorials on Video Lab's top five tricks so you can get off to a fast start on your new editing adventure.


1. Create & Edit 3D Videos

If you're lucky enough to have a 3D camcorder, Video Lab HD will let you import and edit your videos. But you don't need a 3D camcorder to get started -- Video Lab can convert any 2D video to 3D!

Learn all about 3D video editing and conversion with Video Lab HD in our online tutorial.


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Video Lab HD lets you import and edit most types of 3D video, or convert 2D video to 3D (click image to enlarge).


3. Share and Export 3D Video

After producing your 3D movie in VideoWave, you have a number of output options, including producing a 3D DVD in MyDVD, sharing via YouTube or exporting 3D files in various formats for viewing on your computer or elsewhere.

Check out YouTube's 3D channel and get some inspiration for your own projects. All you need to view YouTube 3D is the red/cyan glasses included with Video Lab!

See how to share and export 3D video formats in our video tutorial.



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YouTube's 3D Channel has loads of cool 3D videos. Make your own with Video Lab! (Click image to enlarge).


3. Create a 3D DVD or Blu-ray Disc

With Video Lab HD's MyDVD app, you can burn 3D DVDs and Blu-ray Discs that you can play in your standalone 3D-enabled Blu-ray player. There's no need to have special 3D hardware on your computer, Video Lab does all the work.

Learn how to create 3D discs with MyDVD in our online tutorial.


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Video Lab HD's MyDVD app lets you create 3D DVDs and Blu-ray Discs (click image to enlarge).


4. Stabilize Shaky Video

VideoLab's VideoWave editing app makes it easy to fix often-shaky handheld videos, or those taken in a moving car or train. You can correct rotational movement as well as up-and-down shakiness.

Learn how to tame those camcorder jitters in our online tutorial.


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Stabilizing shaky video in Creator's VideoWave app is a snap (click image to enlarge).


5. Rotate Video

VideoWave also has a simple rotate button, so you can turn that video you shot in portrait mode with your smartphone or camcorder into landscape orientation, or vice versa!

See how to rotate your movies with one click in our online tutorial.


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Video Lab's VideoWave app lets you rotate video horizontally or vertically (click image to enlarge).


December 14, 2010

Shooting the Holidays in 3D

If you're getting ready to record your holiday celebrations with a new 3D camera or camcorder, or simply want to shoot side-by-side 3D photos with the 2D camera you already have, these tips will help you get the best possible pictures.

First, check out our guide to shooting holiday video, which apply whether you're shooting in 2D or 3D. You'll discover tricks like getting down to kid level and using time-lapse video.


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Check out our guide to shooting holiday video.


Next, if you have a pair of red/cyan glasses, either paper or plastic, don them now to see the anaglyph 3D pictures in the rest of this article. (Don't worry, you can still understand and use the tips without the glasses.)

Tips for 3D Photo & Video Shooting

Plan your depth cues — The appearance of 3D is produced when multiple objects in an image or movie are located varying distances from the camera. These provide "depth cues" that help your brain perceive the scene in 3D. In this photo of the Washington Monument, water is the only foreground depth cue, so the appearance of 3D is muted.


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With water as the only foreground depth cue, the appearance of 3D is muted in this photo (click image to enlarge).


Compare that effect to solemn scene from the Korean War Veterans Memorial, below, where the bushes, fence, sidewalk, wall and trees in the background all provide depth cues that create a powerful 3D effect.


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Here the 3D effect is powerful due to the variations in depth (click image to enlarge).


Compose your shots so that your depth cues are well spaced between the closest foreground and farthest background objects. If you're shooting the Grand Canyon, a bush a foot away from the camera is a blurry distraction. If shooting a close-up of a flower, objects a foot in front of and behind the flower enhance the 3D effect.

Mind the screen borders — 3D is an illusion, and you should avoid clues that ruin this illusion. In this statue of John Paul Jones, the 3D effect is powerful at the top of the image, but muted where the background and statue meet at the bottom edge of the photo, which tells your brain that the statue, background and edge are all at the same depth.


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Be mindful of the borders of your image when shooting 3D (click image to enlarge).


Plan your shots so that the critical 3D-related components don't touch the borders. In the John Paul Jones shot, this would mean framing more loosely, so a larger portion of the body appears in 3D. In a video shoot, this means that all critical action occurs within the frame, and doesn't touch or extend beyond the borders.

Don't blur the background — When shooting traditional photos and videos, a popular technique is to blur the background, which focuses the viewer's attention on the subject of the shot. With 3D, you need the background objects to be as clear as possible to provide depth cues to the viewer. This means setting aperture at the highest possible value, creating the widest possible depth of field.

Make sure you have plenty of light — Most 3D viewing systems - whether $2.00 anaglyph red/cyan glasses, or $200 active shutter glasses -- darken the 3D photo or movie to some degree. This means that you should shoot your 3D shots with plenty of light. If you're following tip 3 (don't blur the background), you're also shooting with a high aperture setting, which reduces the light that reaches the lens. You'll get the best results shooting outdoors on sunny days, and if you shoot indoors, add as much light as you can to the scene before shooting.

Minimize grain — Simulated film grain reduces the sharpness of shot, and can reduce the associated 3D affect. Shoot at the lowest possible ISO setting.

Learning your camera's manual controls — You've probably already realized this, but tips 3, 4 and 5 probably mean that you'll have to abandon auto mode on your camera or camcorder and learn how to configure your camera manually.

When producing for anaglyph (red/cyan) distribution, mind the colors. Red/Cyan anaglyph viewing isn't friendly to reddish colors, converting them to yellows or blacks. You can see this in the image below; the original orange color turned to mauve by the anaglyph process.


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Here's a before and after, a 2D image converted to anaglyph 3D, with accompanying color change (click image to enlarge).


If you can control what your subjects are wearing, stay away from reds, oranges and similar colors, favoring grays and blues. For serious shoots, however, you should check your colors out beforehand to make sure they look good in anaglyph. If you're out shooting casually, keep in mind that anaglyph red/cyan may not be the best technique to capture the beauty of a red rose.

Shoot in the target viewing orientation — Few 3D editing programs let you rotate your images. Though there may be workarounds, depth cues and the associated 3D effect seems most effective when viewed at the original orientation. So don't shoot in portrait mode if you plan to rotate into landscape, or vice versa.

The world is your oyster — When shooting 3D images with a 2D camera, you're stuck with subjects that don't move. With a 3D camera, you can shoot any subject, moving or otherwise.

Experiment with alternative shooting settings — We've already discussed that you'll have to learn how to set aperture, exposure and ISO settings manually to produce the best results with your 2D camera, and the same obviously holds true with 3D cameras.

If you have a 3D camera, keep in mind that your camera may have alternative shooting modes that enhance its 3D capabilities. For example, the Fujifilm FinePix REAL 3D W1 camcorder has an Individual 3D Shutter mode that lets you combine two shots from a different angle into a single 3D image, which is useful when creating 3D images from longer distance shots. In this mode, the camera displays the first image in the viewfinder while you're framing the second, which obviously assists the precision of the framing. So beyond learning how to go manual with exposure and ISO related adjustments, explore any alternative shooting settings.

Shooting & Editing 3D Movies

Limit DOF, maximize light, disable — All of the rules for shooting 3D photos apply when shooting 3D videos, whether with a 3D video camera or with a 2D camera that you intend to convert to 3D in Roxio VideoWave. In particular, keep in mind that video cameras need much more light than still image cameras, and light accordingly. If your video is dark and grainy, it will be almost impossible to perceive any 3D effect.

Frame more loosely to maintain good screen borders — Video can produce very powerful 3D effects, but they're almost totally muted if the subject in motion intersects with a screen border. Frame loosely to avoid this contact.

3D takes time so pace your videos more slowly — It takes a few moments for the brain to perceive 3D, so fast paced cutting from one 3D scene to another will limit the perception of 3D. Slow down pans and other camera motion as well.

Be conservative when editing — When editing your videos, keep these thoughts in mind:

Limit the use of effects. Any effect that blurs edges in a video, like blurring or film grain, or otherwise distorts the content, like ripple or relief, may lessen the perception of depth in the 3D video.
Be careful with color correction. Color adjustments on video to be distributed in anaglyph format may interfere with the Red/Cyan coloring used to produce this output.
Be conservative. In general, be conservative in your first few 3D projects until you learn how to maximize your 3D videos. Then start spreading your creative wings.

Most of all, experiment and enjoy! 3D is an adventure. Don't be afraid to experiment and try new things. If you're a PC user, also check out our additional tips for editing 3D photos and videos with Creator 2011 here.

November 17, 2010

Burning High-Def DVDs & Blu-ray Discs with Creator 2011

If you thought you needed a Blu-ray recorder in order to burn high-definition discs from your home movies, think again. Creator 2011 can burn HD video directly to standard DVD media using your regular DVD recorder, complete with customizable menu themes and navigation screens! These special AVCHD discs can then be played back on your Sony PS3 or most set-top Blu-ray players, for viewing on your HDTV's big screen. Of course, if you do own a Blu-ray recorder, Creator 2011 can burn to Blu-ray Discs as well, with the optional High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in (which is included with Creator 2011 Pro).

If you've watched Blu-ray movies played on an HDTV, you know how breathtaking the quality can be. There is simply no comparison between the detail you get with full 1920-by-1080 HD video and standard 720-by-480 DVD resolution. Once you've experienced it, you'll likely never go back. And now that HD camcorders and DVRs are plentiful and affordable, more people are recording their home movies and TV shows in HD too. Even the new iPhone 4 can record 720p HD video (1280-by-720 pixels).

So how do you get your home HD recordings onto your TV screen? Blu-ray recorder prices are still quite high, at least $200 for an external drive. While prices will continue to drop, if you want to burn your HD movies NOW, the answer is as close as Creator and your DVD burner.

You can fit up to an hour of HD video onto a dual-layer DVD. If you are lucky enough to own a Blu-ray recorder, you can also burn hours of video on a single or dual-layer Blu-ray Disc, using Creator 2011 and its High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in. Even better, Creator's MyDVD application lets you edit your HD clips using a powerful timeline editor, and author discs with fully customizable HD menus and themes.

Getting Started -- Import Your Video

To author a high-definition DVD complete with custom menus, first open Creator 2011 and select the "Create DVDs" option under the Video/Movies tab. This will launch the MyDVD application. (You can also launch MyDVD directly from the Windows Start>Programs menu.) The application will start by asking what type of project you want to create. Choose "AVCHD Project" if you want to put HD video on standard DVDs, or "Blu-ray Project" if you have a Blu-ray recorder and want to burn a Blu-ray Disc (unless you have more than one hour of video, a dual-layer DVD is all you need). (For Blu-rays you also need the the HD/BD Plug-in, as we mentioned before.)


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Choosing a project type in MyDVD (click to enlarge).


Adding & Editing Your Movies

The next step is to bring your clips into your AVCHD DVD or Blu-ray project. Click the Add New Movie button at top left, and select the movies you want to use in your project from your hard disk (use the default aspect ratio for widescreen footage); hold down the Ctrl key to select multiple clips at once. You will then be asked if you want to import the files as one movie, or separate clips. In most cases, it's best to choose to import as separate clips, so that you can rearrange, add and delete clips easily. (If your clips are not already on your computer, use the convenient "Capture Video" utility also available under the Video/Movies tab to transfer them from your camcorder.)


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Clips listed in Project pane at lower left after adding movies to MyDVD project (click to enlarge).


The movies will now be listed in the Project pane at bottom left. Don't worry about the order for now, you can arrange things later. First, check each of your clips to see if they need trimming or removal of unwanted portions by clicking the Movies tab in the same pane. Choose a clip to preview it. If you want to trim the clip, or add a title or soundtrack, click the Edit Movie button at middle left to switch to editing mode.


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Editing a video clip in MyDVD (click to enlarge).


MyDVD's editing mode includes a powerful timeline editor. We won't go into all the details here, but you can do things like add titles, transitions, soundtracks and special effects, as well as basic editing. If your movies are long, you can also add chapter markers, just like those on a commercial movie disc, using the Edit Chapters button at middle left. Most home video clips are relatively short, however, so you probably won't need to do this.

Customizing Your Disc

Now that you've added all your movies and edited them as desired, it's time to customize your disc menus. First, make sure your clips are in the sequence you'd like them displayed on your menu--use the Move Up and Move Down buttons under the Movies tab to change the order. Then click "Change Menu Style" to pick a theme for your disc.


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Choosing a menu theme (click to enlarge).


You can choose any theme, although we recommend choosing from the HD themes, which have been designed with HD's wider aspect ratio and higher resolution in mind. (If you choose a standard-definition theme, it will be stretched to the HD aspect ratio.) Next, edit the movie titles by clicking on them in the preview pane. You can change fonts and sizes as desired, and add additional text anywhere you like. Also experiment with button styles by choosing "Change Button Styles" at middle left. There are some fun button animations!


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Editing movie titles (click to enlarge).


Once you've edited your menus to your satisfaction, preview your disc by clicking the Preview button at bottom right. You'll be presented with a fully operational disc emulator, so you can see exactly how your disc will play in your set-top player. If you find anything you want to change, go back and fix it using MyDVD's movie editing and disc authoring tools.


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Previewing your disc project (click to enlarge).


Burning Your Disc

Now you're all done, except for burning! The bar at the bottom will show how much video you have, and whether it fits on your disc. If needed, you can choose a different disc size, such as a dual-layer disc instead of a single-layer disc. You can also specify a quality level. By default, Creator will fit your video to the disc size. If you want to make sure that it is encoded at a particular quality level, use the pop-up menu at bottom right. The Highest Quality encoding option takes longer, but is worth it if you have the time and disc space.


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Disc encoding options (click to enlarge).


Finally, press the Burn button at bottom right, and select burn options, if desired. You can erase the disc if needed (for a rewritable disc), give it a label, and choose a burn speed. Be sure to use a burn speed that is supported by both your drive and media (not all media is rated for higher speeds). Choosing a lower speed may help avoid any problems while burning.


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The MyDVD Burn window (click to enlarge).


Once you press the Burn button, you'll see a recording progress indicator that shows the status of encoding and burning. Creator 2010 does not need to reencode most AVCHD clips unless you edit them or choose a different quality level, which saves a lot of time.


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The MyDVD burn progress indicator.


Now you can enjoy your production on the big screen! Pop your AVCHD disc into your PlayStation 3 or other Blu-ray player, and let your whole family enjoy your home videos in all their HD glory.

November 16, 2010

Getting Started with 3D in Creator 2011

Creator 2011's coolest new feature is 3D support for both photos and videos. But you may be wondering if you need special hardware to work in 3D and what is involved in the process. Don't worry, it's easier than you think!


3D Creation Basics

There are several ways to approach 3D creation: you can simply add 3D effects to your existing 2D pictures and movies (which look amazingly real!); you can shoot photos from two slightly different positions with a regular 2D camera and merge them into a 3D image; or you can use one of a new crop of true 3D cameras and camcorders that have dual lenses, such as the Fujifilm FinePix REAL 3D W3 or the Viewsonic 3DV5.

Creator 2011 lets you work in all three methods, with nothing more than what's in the box. Free red/blue 3D glasses are included so you can view "anaglyph" 3D photos and videos on any monitor. For the higher-quality stereoscopic format used by many new 3D cameras and camcorders, you can edit in Creator with no additional hardware, but you won't be able to view the results unless you have a 3D-capable PC or HDTV and matching "active-shutter" glasses. Check out our article on how 3D video works for more on anaglyph vs. active-shutter.

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With alternate-frame 3D technology, full-resolution left and right images are displayed sequentially in sync with active-shutter glasses (click to enlarge). Credit: Panasonic.


3D-Capable Hardware

For the full high-definition 3D experience, we therefore recommend using a 3D-capable PC, which includes an appropriate video card or processor, a 3D-enabled monitor (which can be your big-screen 3DTV), and active-shutter glasses. Many recent laptops and desktops can be upgraded to 3D with a simple kit consisting of glasses and software, such as NVIDIA's 3D Vision Kit. NVIDIA provides an handy checklist of what you'll need to add to your current system to make it fully 3D capable, along with a list of system requirements, including compatible 3D monitors and HDTVs.

Hardware 3D support also opens up the world of 3D Blu-ray and 3D games -- almost 500 existing PC games can be viewed in 3D! And with 3D Blu-ray capability, you can both watch movies like Avatar, and create your own 3D Blu-rays for viewing on your big-screen 3DTV. (3D Blu-ray authoring requires the High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in or Creator 2011 Pro, along with a 3D-capable Blu-ray recorder.)


Creating and Editing 3D Photos

Creator 2011 makes it easy to produce 3D photos from either 2D or 3D originals, including 3D MPO files from a Fujifilm FinePix REAL 3D camera, a pair of left and right views of a place or object, or any 2D digital photo.

Basically, you load your pairs of images, adjust their positioning for an optimal 3D look while wearing your glasses (either anaglyph or active-shutter), and then save the results. Single 2D images are also supported. Creator will automatically make a second image slightly shifted from the first.

Check out our tips for shooting 3D images and videos for maximum effect, then see how to edit them in our video tutorial.


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Creator 2011 lets you convert 2D photos to 3D with one click, or edit photos from your 3D camera (click image to enlarge).


Creating & Editing 3D Videos

If you're lucky enough to have a 3D camcorder, Creator 2011 will let you import and edit your videos. But you don't need a 3D camcorder to get started -- Creator can also convert any 2D video to 3D!

It's all done in Roxio VideoWave, part of the Creator suite. VideoWave can also convert traditional 2D images into 3D projects, and incorporate 3D images from multiple sources.

See how to do it in our video tutorial.


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Creator 2011 lets you import and edit most types of 3D video, or convert 2D video to 3D (click image to enlarge).


Creating 3D DVDs or Blu-ray Discs

The final piece of the puzzle is burning 3D DVDs and Blu-ray Discs that you can play in your set-top 3D-enabled Blu-ray player. This is a great option if you have a 3DTV and Blu-ray player, but don't yet have a 3D-capable PC monitor and shutter glasses. If you do have 3D hardware support in your PC, you'll be able to preview your work before burning.

See how to create 3D discs with MyDVD in our online video tutorial.


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Creator 2011's MyDVD app lets you create 3D DVDs and Blu-ray Discs (click image to enlarge).


November 15, 2010

Stream Video to Your iPhone, iPad or Laptop on the Go

Ever wished you could put the same videos on your iPhone or iPad that you have at home on your Mac, but there's not enough space? With the Roxio Streamer application in Toast 10, you can set up most any Mac to stream video over the Internet in H.264 format to a Mac or PC Web browser. There's even a free native iPhone app for viewing on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch!

With Streamer, you won't need to use up any of your precious mobile storage space, and you can have access to a much wider variety of shows and movies than you could ever fit on a portable player. Even better, you can stream any type of video that Toast can handle: your latest home movies, EyeTV recordings, and shows transferred from your networked TiVo DVR via TiVoToGo.

You'll need a high-speed Internet connection at both ends (such as Wi-Fi or 3G cellular), but once videos are added to the Streamer content list, they are available for remote viewing at any time. Non-H.264 video will automatically be converted by Toast. You can even have TiVo shows automatically transferred via TiVoToGo and added to the Streamer list as soon as they are recorded! You could pay big bucks for special streaming hardware to view your TV shows remotely, or you can get it all free with Toast!

Setting Up Streamer

The first time you use Streamer, you'll need to set it up with a user name and password. Assuming your router is UPnP or NAT-PMP enabled (as both the AirPort Extreme and Express are), it will be configured automatically. Otherwise take note of the TCP port number given under the Advanced heading and open that port on your router for the computer you intend to stream from.


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The Streamer setup screen.


Once you've created your account, the Streamer window will open. Choose Preferences under the Streamer menu to configure a few key settings, such as whether you want Streamer to launch every time you log in to your computer, and whether you'd like to start the Streamer server automatically on launch. If you want to be able to stream videos on demand to your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad or laptop on the go, we recommend checking these two boxes so that Streamer is always at the ready. (You'll also need to leave your computer on, of course.)


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The Streamer Preferences window.


The Advanced tab under Preferences allows you to set the streaming video quality (which should depend on the upload speed of your connection -- higher speeds are capable of streaming higher quality video). The maximum data rates allowed are: Low (about 330Kbps), Medium (about 550Kbps), and High (about 760Kbps) quality. Trying to send a high data rate stream over a low rate connection will result in broken up or failed streaming, so be sure to test and adjust your stream as necessary. Choose low or medium quality for viewing over iPhone 3G connections. High quality is usually fine for Wi-Fi connections. Also note the Mail preferences tab, which lets you set an email address to be notified automatically when new videos are added to your Streamer list.


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Streamer Advanced Preferences.


Adding Videos to Streamer

Now that you have Streamer all set up, it's time to add videos to your streaming list. There are two ways to do this. The first way is add them directly to Streamer by dragging and dropping files to the Streamer window or clicking the Add Video button to select them. You can do this for QuickTime files with a QuickTime extension (such as .mov), as well as EyeTV and TiVo files. If any conversion is needed (to adjust the data rate, for example), it will be handled automatically by Toast. For other video formats, such as DV and AVCHD camcorder files, you'll need to drag them into Toast first, then use the Convert project tab to send them to Streamer (simply choose Streamer as the playback format at bottom left of the Toast window).


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Converting video files in Toast to send to Streamer.


Once the files have been converted, they will appear in your Streamer list. You can click on any video to play a preview, if desired.


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The Streamer list shows the files available for streaming.


Next, click the button to "Start streaming" if not already started. You will see a green light at the bottom of the window when the server is running, and the URL to use to access your videos remotely. Make note of this URL, which is of the form: http://streamer.roxio.com/username

Playing Back Streamer Clips

Now that the prep work is done, it's time to play back your videos! From your Mac or PC, enter the Streamer URL in your Web browser. (Be sure you are using a Wi-Fi or other fast Internet connection.) You'll get a login page that asks for the password you entered when you created your account. After entering the password, you'll see the Streamer list.


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Logging into Streamer from a remote browser.


Choose a video, then click to play it back. The video will open using the QuickTime player. (Be sure to install QuickTime on your Windows PC, if you haven't already. If you have iTunes on your PC, you also have QuickTime.)


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Playing Streamer videos.


On your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch playback is even easier, thanks to the free native Streamer app for Wi-Fi. After you've downloaded and installed the app, on first launch it will ask for your user ID and password. From then on you can simply launch the app from the Home screen, and you will be automatically logged in and taken directly to your Streamer list. (Note that if you only have a 3G connection, rather than Wi-Fi, you can use the Web URL streaming method above in Safari instead of the Streamer app. EDGE connections are too slow for Streamer.)


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The Streamer iPhone app.


To browse available shows, simply use your finger to scroll down the list. Buttons at the top of the screen let you switch between viewing by title and date. You can also tap on Search and have search results presented as you enter characters. Multiple episodes of the same show will be grouped automatically into a virtual folder, reducing clutter. Tapping a folder name brings up a list of all the episodes inside.

Once you've found the show you want to watch, tap on it and you'll be shown a synopsis of the episode. Finally, click the play button located at bottom right and your video should begin playing in a few seconds. While your video is being played, you can review the show synopsis by tapping the screen.


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Playing Streamer videos on the iPhone.


Setting Up Automatic Transfers of TiVo Shows

That's all there is to it! Once you have Streamer set up, it's easy to add more videos. If you have a TiVo and use TiVoToGo, also take advantage of the ability to automatically send new recordings to Streamer. First, open TiVo Transfer (in the Toast Extras menu). Then select a television show that appears on your DVR and click the "Create Auto Transfer" button at bottom right. This will automatically transfer all new recordings of the selected show to your Mac.

Next, Open the TiVo Transfer Preferences and enable "Automatically export transferred TiVo recordings to Toast." Finally, open Toast Preferences and select the Audio & Video tab. At the bottom of this tab you will see an option called "Default for Automatic TiVo Exports." Click on the Change button and select Streamer, then click OK. All your automatic TiVo transfers will now be exported to Streamer immediately for viewing anywhere in the world you have a fast Internet connection!

October 26, 2010

Creator 2011 Pro's Five Magic Ingredients

The new Creator 2011 comes in two flavors: standard and Pro. The standard version includes all the great digital media capabilities you're used to, plus new features like 3D photo and video editing, Roxio Streamer, video stabilization and rotation. But Creator 2011 Pro takes your media to a whole new level, with five pro-quality apps worth more than $250:

  • Roxio BackOnTrack™ 4 for restoring your precious data after a crash;
  • Roxio Secure Burn™ for encrypted drag-and-drop burning;
  • BIAS SoundSoap™ SE for audio noise reduction and enhancement;
  • SmartSound Sonicfire Pro® for movie soundtrack creation; and the
  • High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in for burning and converting video from your HD camcorder.

Read on to learn more about each of these programs.


Roxio BackOnTrack 4

Completely redesigned, Roxio BackOnTrack 4 can restore your entire system, protecting you against computer crashes and user error. Now with a streamlined interface, you can set up one-click backups, yet retain full control over exactly what you want to back up, and when. Get started now to preserve your precious photos, videos, music and other important files.


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Roxio BackOnTrack can back up specific files, or your entire hard drive, with just one click.



Roxio Secure Burn

Roxio Secure Burn makes it simple to archive files to disc quickly and securely. The FIPS 140-2 certified encryption option gives you enterprise-class security for all your data, from tax files to family photos. Better yet, you can burn directly from the desktop by dragging and dropping. It could not be easier.

To use Secure Burn, you first insert a blank disc or rewriteable media (CD, DVD or Blu-ray). The Roxio Burn icon will then appear on the desktop, and you can drag files to it from anywhere on your computer. Once you've dragged all your files, just click the burn button to start recording. The Options window, accessible from the Roxio Burn drop-down menu at bottom right, lets you turn on encryption.


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Burning an encrypted disc right from the desktop with Roxio Secure Burn.


Roxio Burn also lets you copy discs and disc image files, and can span files that are too big to fit across multiple discs. All right from the desktop.


SoundSoap SE

Want your sound recordings and LP transfers to sound as good as the originals? Use SoundSoap SE to remove all types of unwanted sounds from digital audio files: hiss, room noise, rumble, electrical hum, clicks and crackles.

You can clean up music you've digitized from your aging vinyl and tapes with Creator's LP & Tape Assistant. Or massage the audio tracks from your videos, eliminating wind and background noise to make your dialog loud and clear. Virtually any type of background noise can be scrubbed out quickly and easily with SoundSoap, leaving you with clean, crisp audio that sounds like you remember it.


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Cleaning up noise from audio recordings with SoundSoap SE (click to enlarge).


Even better, SoundSoap SE is very simple to use, just bring in your recording, then tweak your audio using the buttons and sliders. You can preview the results both sonically and visually, making it easy to get great results.


Sonicfire Pro

Want to set the right mood for your home videos? Create a Hollywood-style soundtrack with Sonicfire Pro. Music and sound effects can turn a ho-hum video into a riveting thriller or an uplifting story, but few of us have the ability to record our own backing tracks. That's where Sonicfire comes in.

For example, using Sonicfire, you could create a soundtrack for a wedding highlight video that includes selected dialog like the wedding vows and reception toasts, as well as a unified background music theme, where otherwise there would be no continuity (not to mention poor recording quality).


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Creating a wedding video soundtrack with Sonicfire Pro (click to enlarge).


You can tweak Sonicfire tracks to match the length, mood, and theme of your video. A huge library of professionally produced music in styles ranging from classical to hip-hop ensure you can create the perfect soundtrack without knowing how to read a note.


High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-In

The High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in, which lets you edit, burn and convert video from high-definition camcorders, is an extra cost option in Creator 2011, but comes standard with Creator 2011 Pro. With the Plug-in, you can burn your home movies or TiVo recordings onto DVDs and Blu-ray Discs for playback on any standard Blu-ray set-top box or PlayStation® 3 game console. You don't even need a pricey Blu-ray recorder to burn high-definition DVDs, so you can get the full benefit of your high-def camcorder and HDTV with the DVD burner you already have.

If you do have a Blu-ray recorder, the High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in is indispensable for creating Blu-ray movie discs. It supports both AVCHD and HDV camcorder sources, and lets you archive AVCHD files to disc in one easy step.

The Plug-in also allows you to edit your high-def videos using any of Creators tools, including VideoWave and CineMagic. You can burn the results to disc, or convert them for playback on your iPod, iPad, iPhone, Android device, PSP or other portable player. Take your TV shows and home movies on the road!


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Editing high-def video in VideoWave (click to enlarge).


Build a Home TV Library with Toast 10

Why pay to rent or buy TV shows you already get for free? With Toast 10, you can transfer recordings from your networked TiVo to your Mac, then convert them for your iPad or iPhone. Or burn them to DVD or Blu-ray for your video library. Even better, you'll free up space on your TiVo for new recordings. Here's how to do it.


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Burning high-definition TiVo shows to a Blu-ray disc (click to enlarge).


Don't have a TiVo? No problem. Toast also lets you capture streaming Web video (here's how), and can convert and burn TV recordings made with Elgato's popular EyeTV tuners. With EyeTV, you can record over-the-air HD channels direct to your Mac's hard drive. Then use Toast to send them to your iPad or burn them to DVD or Blu-ray. Here's how to do it.

Not only can you easily build up your home video library with Toast, but in many cases, you can ditch the expense of cable altogether!


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Making a DVD or Blu-ray Disc from your EyeTV recordings.


How to Shoot Your Pumpkin

For serious pumpkin carvers, like the thousands of readers who eagerly await the annual "This Old House" and ExtremePumpkin.com carving contests, it can be painful to see their efforts disintegrate as nature takes its course.


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One of the 2009 "This Old House" carving contest winners (click to enlarge).


This year, instead of consigning your artwork to the compost heap, preserve it forever in videos and photos. Time-lapse videos are perfect for documenting the carving process, and are fascinating to watch. Put them on your blog, upload them to YouTube or Facebook, or make a DVD. Here's how to make time-lapse videos on your PC or on your Mac. Before you start, get some inspiration from YouTube!


Check out some YouTube time-lapse carving videos like this one for inspiration. Keeping the pumpkin lit while carving makes for a neat visual effect, and also lets you see what the finished result will look like as you carve.


Another great way to preserve and share your masterpiece is through photos. But not just any photos! There is an art to shooting pumpkins as well as carving them. Pose your pumpkin in an appropriate spot, with props if desired (spiderwebs, hats, other pumpkins, fake blood, etc.), and wait for just the right light. Dusk is usually a good time, since there is enough ambient light to show the pumpkin, yet it's also dark enough for the interior lighting to shine through. Here are some tips from Instructables.com.


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To take a good pumpkin photo, try a long exposure time and some external lighting as well as internal (click to enlarge).


This year, you'll have the best documented pumpkin ever! So start carving and have a great Halloween.

September 20, 2010

Top 10 Features in Creator 2011

Roxio Creator 2011 and Creator 2011 Pro add an entirely new dimension to your media projects, letting you create and edit 3D photos and videos. You don't even need a 3D camera — Creator 2011 can convert 2D pictures and movies to 3D! Other hot new features include video stabilization and rotation, iPad video conversion and direct Facebook video uploads.

Creator 2011 also integrates perfectly with all your digital media devices, from digital cameras and HD camcorders to smart phones, tablets, music players, TiVos, Blu-ray players and game consoles, making it a snap to transfer and convert files between them so you can enjoy your media anywhere. And the revolutionary new Roxio Streamer lets you share your entire home media library over the Internet with family and friends.

Check out the complete list of what's new on the Creator 2011 and Creator 2011 Pro pages, respectively. Here, we've rounded up tutorials on the top ten features so you can get off to a quick start on your Creator 2011 adventure.


1. Create & Edit 3D Videos

If you're lucky enough to have a 3D camcorder, Creator 2011 will let you import and edit your videos. But you don't need a 3D camcorder to get started -- Creator can convert any 2D video to 3D!

Learn all about 3D video editing and conversion with Creator in our video tutorial.


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Creator 2011 lets you import and edit most types of 3D video, or convert 2D video to 3D (click image to enlarge).


2. Create & Edit 3D Photos

Creator 2011 makes it easy to produce 3D photos from either 2D or 3D originals, including 3D MPO files from a Fujifilm FinePix REAL 3D W1 camera, a pair of left and right views of a place or object, or any 2D digital photo. There's even a pair of 3D glasses in the box so you can view them on-screen!

See how to do it in our video tutorial.


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Creator 2011 lets you convert 2D photos to 3D with one click, or edit photos from your 3D camera (click image to enlarge).


3. Create a 3D DVD or Blu-ray Disc

With Creator 2011, you can burn 3D DVDs and Blu-ray Discs that you can play in your standalone 3D-enabled Blu-ray player. There's no need to have special 3D hardware on your computer, Creator does all the work.

Learn how to create 3D discs with MyDVD in our video tutorial.


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Creator 2011's MyDVD app now lets you create 3D DVDs and Blu-ray Discs (click image to enlarge).


4. Watch 3D Movies on Your PC

Creator's CinePlayer app is already the best 2D video viewer. Now it can play 3D videos too! You can play either discs or video files, assuming you have appropriate 3D video hardware and software in your computer, such as NVidia's 3D Vision Kit with supported monitor and video card. Windows Vista or Windows 7 is also required.

To start playing 3D movies on your 3D-capable PC hardware, first choose the Settings button at top left and click the 3D tab. Make sure "Enable 3D Processing" is set to Automatic. Then insert a 3D movie disc or use the Open menu to open a 3D movie file or video clip. Be sure to use full-screen mode in order to view 3D effects.

CinePlayer should automatically select the correct playback settings for the 3D video format, but if you need to change the setting, you can do so by clicking the Roll 3D Input Format button at bottom right to cycle through the available settings until things look right. There's also a Roll Eye Order button to change the left/right order. Also note that for best viewing, you should sit at least 3 feet from your monitor.


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Roxio CinePlayer now offers the best 3D viewing experience, as well as 2D. (click image to enlarge).


5. Stabilize Shaky Video

Creator 2011's VideoWave editing app makes it easy to fix often-shaky handheld videos, or those taken in a moving car or train. You can correct rotational movement as well as up-and-down shakiness.

Learn how to tame those camcorder jitters in our video tutorial.


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Stabilizing shaky video in Creator's VideoWave app is a snap (click image to enlarge).


6. Rotate Video

VideoWave also has a simple rotate button, so you can turn that video you shot in portrait mode with your smartphone or camcorder into landscape orientation, or vice versa!

See how to rotate your movies with one click in our video tutorial.


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Creator 2011's VideoWave app lets you rotate video horizontally or vertically (click image to enlarge).


7. Share Your Home Media Library

Want to access your media files anywhere? Share them with friends and family? With Roxio Streamer, you simply copy your media files to special folders on your hard disk. From there, you can then access and play them anywhere you can connect to the Web -- in the living room, the office or the airport. You can play your music while you work, watch a video in your hotel room, or play a slideshow for the friends you are visiting. You'll always have your media at hand. Streaming works on PCs, Macs and many other devices, including smartphones and DLNA equipment like set-top boxes and game consoles.

Learn all about sharing media with Roxio Streamer in our video tutorial.


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You can access your Roxio Streamer media library from any Web browser (click image to enlarge).


8. Convert Videos for iPad

Need to convert videos for your shiny new iPad? Look no further than Creator 2011. We've added an iPad output preset to the Video Capture & Convert utility, so you can send your videos direct to iTunes in optimized viewing format for syncing to iPad.

See how to convert video with Creator in our online tutorial.


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Creator's Video Capture & Convert utility now has an iPad preset (click image to enlarge).


9. Upload Videos Directly to Facebook

Creator has long had direct YouTube video upload. Now we've added Facebook uploads too, by popular request. To upload, simply click the Share button on the Video/Movies tab, then choose Facebook, and the video you want to share. You'll be prompted for information about the video, then it will be automatically uploaded to your account. You can save your Facebook account login within the program, so you only need to enter it once.


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Creator 2011 now lets you send videos directly to Facebook, in addition to YouTube (click image to enlarge).


10. Import MKV Videos for Use in Creator Projects

Last, but not least, Creator 2011 now lets you use the common MKV video format (Matroska Video), which is often found on the Web, in all your projects. You can convert MKV for your iPad, use it in VideoWave projects, or burn it to DVD or Blu-ray.

September 3, 2010

Make a Halloween Party Invitation

Our family LOVES Halloween and we give a major Halloween party each year, with a haunted house for the kids, costumes for the adults too, and food for all. In the past that has meant painstakingly addressing and mailing 50-75 printed invitations—an expensive and time-eating task!

Since we now have email addresses for pretty much everyone on our list, we thought we'd go the email route this year, which also makes RSVPs quick and easy. But we still wanted the invitation to be special and convey the spirit of the party—not just a plain message. We also wanted to get people excited about coming!

So we decided to make a fun PhotoShow invitation, complete with captions and music. Roxio PhotoShows are free and easy to make, and you can email them directly to your recipients. We made and mailed this year's holiday party invite in less than an hour! (And started getting RSVPs and compliments immediately!)

Here's how to do it:

First, choose a few pictures from Halloweens past or find appropriate images on the Web, then go to PhotoShow.com and log in (if you don't already have an account, creating one is easy). Next, click "Make a PhotoShow" at the top of the screen. You'll be asked to upload your photos. When you're done, the fun begins!

Next, you'll be prompted to enter the title and credits for your PhotoShow, which we used for our main invitation text (Halloween Open House is the title).

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Now it's time to choose a style, or overall theme, for the show. We chose "Spooky Halloween" for our show, which comes with a really neat title sequence.

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If your photos are not in the right order, or you'd like to change the background music, click on the Photos & Music tabe now, and simply drag to rearrange. Click the musical note icon on any photo to choose different music, or upload your own, if you have a Premium account. The Spooky Halloween style comes with its own spooky music!

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Next, we added captions to each photo, and chose a caption style that matched the Title text.

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Finally, we clicked the Stickers tab and added some cool Halloween animations to a couple of the slides. That was it! PhotoShow did the rest automatically. We could have customized it further, but we were happy with the results. And it was time to start on our haunted house decorating plans!

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When you're finished tweaking your invitation, save the PhotoShow and click the Done button. You'll now be presented with various sharing options, such as posting to your blog or Web site, and burning a DVD. Here, you'll be choosing the email option to send the invitation directly to your friends from PhotoShow.

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Now you simply enter the email addresses of your recipients, add a message if desired (we included driving directions and RSVP information in our message so that they could be printed out easily), and click the Send button! Tip: If you have a lot of addresses, and don't want to enter them all in PhotoShow, simply send one invitation to yourself, then forward it to your recipients from your regular email program.

Here's our finished PhotoShow. What will yours look like? Please invite us!

August 16, 2010

Complete Guide to Buying a Blu-ray Recorder

If you've been salivating over the 25-50GB capacity of Blu-ray Discs for archival purposes, or simply the opportunity to burn full-length HD home movies that you can play in your set-top Blu-ray player, it may be time to buy a Blu-ray burner. Prices have come down dramatically in the past year, for both drives and media.

Whether you're thinking of buying a new computer or adding on to your existing PC or Mac, a Blu-ray recorder is now an affordable and must-have extra for digital media mavens, especially HD camcorder owners.

The added capacity can go a long way. Blu-Ray Discs can make short work of backing up your hard disk, and dual-layer recorders let you back up your valuable movie discs without compromising video quality. Roxio's Creator 2010 and Toast 10 support both types of discs, and provide all the software you need to take full advantage of the latest burning hardware.

But not all Blu-ray drives are alike. And you may need to make sure your other PC hardware is up to snuff in order to watch Blu-ray videos as well as burn them. There are considerable differences in media as well, with varying capacities, speeds and rewriteability.

So what should you look for when choosing a BD burner? Recording technology has been advancing rapidly, and the myriad formats and speeds can be bewildering. Media types alone comprise an alphabet soup: BD-ROM (read-only), BD-R (recordable) and BD-RE (rewriteable), plus single-layer (25GB) and dual-layer (50GB) variations. The brand-new BDXL, a triple-layer format with 33.33GB per layer, for a total of 100GB, just started to ship last month in Japan, and should hit stateside later this year. Quad-layer 128GB discs are coming too. BDXL is currently only available in set-top recorders, though, not computer drives. There are also mini 3-inch Blu-ray discs with a capacity of 7.5GB designed for compact camcorders.

Then of course Blu-ray burners can also play and record DVDs and CDs in all their many variations as well. (For more technical details, we highly recommend "The Authoritative Blu-ray FAQ."

Blu-ray State of the Art

Blu-rays hold a lot of data, which means it can take quite a long time to burn a disc -- literally hours for a 50GB disc on a first-generation BD recorder. But things have gotten much faster since then. The key spec you want to look at when choosing a drive is the BD-R burn speed. The current top recording speed for Blu-ray burners is 12X, which means you can write a 25GB BD-R disc in about 11 minutes, and a 50GB disc in about 22 minutes, assuming your computer and burning software are capable as well.

When buying a new computer, very often the Blu-ray recording speed is not stated up front, and you have to dig down in the specs to discover it. Check it out and upgrade to 12X if possible, since the many hours you will save when burning will be well worth the small cost differential.

If you're adding on to an existing PC or Mac (no Macs come with built-in Blu-ray), then the task is easier. Just search your favorite retailers for 12X drives, either internal or external, depending on your preference. External drives cost a little more, but are handy for moving around and sharing between computers.

Also make sure your system is up to snuff. If you're a PC user, you'll want Vista or Windows 7, in order to be able to play Blu-ray videos. You'll also need a fast computer with hardware support for the copy-protection on commercial Blu-ray movie discs. This includes the computer, graphics card and monitor -- ask your computer vendor if you're not sure of Blu-ray playback support. Finally, you'll also need Blu-ray capable recording and playback software, such as Creator 2010.

Mac users have a simpler task, since they only need to worry about burning capability (the Mac OS does not support playback of Blu-ray video). With Toast 10, Mac users can burn and read Blu-ray data discs and burn Blu-ray video discs for playback in set-top players. Toast 10 requires a PowerPC G5 or Intel Mac for Blu-ray video burning, and System 10.5 or 10.6.

Blu-ray Media Tips

Blu-ray media holds a lot, but is comparatively more expensive than DVD or CD media. A 25GB BD-R disc costs about $1.50, and a 25GB BD-RE disc costs about $5. You'll pay a premium, too for high-speed media. A 6X certified 25GB BD-R disc costs about $7. You can always try writing faster on lower-speed rated media, but results are not guaranteed.

Given the high prices, we recommend buying a few BD-REs to use as test discs. You can keep rewriting them until you have your perfect project, then burn to BD-R. BD-REs are also perfect for backup purposes, since you can overwrite as needed.

Blu-ray Burning Tips

A 50GB BD disc can hold more than 9 hours of HD video, or up to 23 hours of standard definition movies (half those numbers for a 25GB disc). If you want to burn full-length home videos or high-definition movies, Blu-ray is the right choice.

If you're on a PC, check out our guide to burning high-definition movie discs with Creator 2010. Mac users can see our similar guide for Toast 10.

Once you start enjoying your home movies in full HD on the big screen, you won't want to go back!

July 20, 2010

How to Do Everything with Creator

You've got questions. We've got answers! If you're new to Creator 2010, or simply want to learn more about its many features, you've come to the right place. Here's an overview of all the many tutorials, help files, software updates and discussion areas available to Creator owners.

You'll also find many more resources in our online Support area, including the latest software updates, FAQs and active user discussions. Chances are, your answers are ready and waiting.


The Learning Center

Creator 2010 has an extensive in-program Help system, with both context-sensitive and searchable user guide pages. But for full step-by-step tutorials on almost every aspect of the program, turn to the Learning Center, which is accessible from the Creator 2010 Home screen. The Learning Center, pictured below, offers both video and printable PDF versions of each tutorial, so you can follow along easily. Here are just a few of the dozens of available subjects:


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The Creator 2010 Learning Center has tutorials organized by topic (click to enlarge).


Support Pages

If you're having a problem the Learning Center doesn't cover, it's time to turn to online support. The Creator 2010 Support pages and Knowledgebase host a plethora of resources, from software updates to Support Notes.


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The Creator 2010 Support Page, showing the Knowledgebase and Support Notes (click to enlarge).


User Discussion Area

Finally, when you have a specific question that is not answered in the usual places, the Creator 2010 Discussion Area is where to find the solution. Users just like you post questions, and chances are, yours has already been answered. Try searching the discussions first, and then post a question if you can't find the answer.


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The Creator 2010 discussion area is a great place to find helpful answers from your peers (click to enlarge).


How to Do Everything with Toast

You've got questions. We've got answers! If you're new to Toast, or simply want to learn more about its many features, you've come to the right place. Here's an overview of all the many tutorials, help files, software updates and discussion areas available to Toast owners.

You'll also find many more resources in our online Support area, including the latest software updates, FAQs and active user discussions. Chances are, your answers are ready and waiting.


The Help Menu

The first place to look for help is the in-program Help menu, which brings up a 142-page User Guide with full instructions for performing many common tasks, as well as explanations of specific features. Use the Search feature to find a topic, or browse the subject headings.


Video Tutorials

If you're just getting started with Toast 10, also check out our video tutorials, which give an excellent visual overview of the program features and interface:


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The Toast 10 video tutorials show you exactly how things work (click to enlarge).


Web Tutorials

For more in-depth how-tos on specific subjects, try our extensive collection of step-by-step Web tutorials that you can print out and follow along with. Here's a list sorted by category:

GENERAL

VIDEO

AUDIO


Support Pages

The Toast 10 Support pages and Knowledgebase also host a plethora of resources, from software updates to Help files and Support Notes.


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The Toast 10 Support Page, showing the Help files and Support Notes (click to enlarge).


User Discussion Area

Last but not least, when you have a specific question that is not answered in the usual places, the Toast 10 Discussion Area is the place to find the solution. Users just like you post questions, and chances are, yours has already been answered. Try searching the discussions first, and then post a question if you can't find the answer.


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The Toast 10 discussion area is a great place to find helpful answers from your peers (click to enlarge).


June 21, 2010

Burning High-Def DVDs & Blu-ray Discs with Toast 10

If you thought you needed a Blu-ray recorder in order to burn high-definition discs from your home movies, think again. Toast 10 Titanium, together with the High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in (included with Toast 10 Pro), can burn HD video directly to standard DVD media using your regular DVD recorder, complete with customizable menu themes and navigation screens! These special AVCHD discs can then be played back on your Sony PS3 or most set-top Blu-ray players, for viewing on your HDTV's big screen. Of course, if you do own a Blu-ray recorder, Toast 10 can burn to Blu-ray Discs as well.

If you've watched Blu-ray movies played on an HDTV, you know how breathtaking the quality can be. There is simply no comparison between the detail you get with full 1920-by-1080 HD video and standard 720-by-480 DVD resolution. And now that HD camcorders and DVRs are plentiful and affordable, more people are recording their home movies and TV shows in high-def. Even the new iPhone 4 can record 720p HD video (1280-by-720 pixels).

So how do you get your home HD recordings onto your TV screen? Blu-ray recorder prices are still quite high, at least $200 for an external drive. While prices will continue to drop, if you want to burn your HD movies NOW, the answer is as close as Toast and your DVD burner.

You can fit up to an hour of HD video on a dual-layer DVD, which is plenty for most home video productions. If you are lucky enough to own a Blu-ray recorder, you can also burn hours of video on a Blu-ray Disc. Even better, Toast lets you crop and trim your HD video, so you can edit out segments you don't want. The same thing goes for HD recordings you make using Elgato's EyeTV or your HD TiVo, so you can burn your favorite HD shows onto DVDs that will play back in your set-top Blu-ray player.

Getting Started -- Import Your Video

To create a high-definition DVD, first open Toast 10 (make sure you have the High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in installed) and select the Blu-ray Video project option under the Video tab. Now bring in your HD video clips. Open the Toast Media Browser, and select clips already on your hard drive, or use the AVCHD option to import movies directly from your attached AVCHD camcorder (which should be in computer connection mode). You can even choose TV recordings from your EyeTV and TiVo folders.

While Toast does not import directly from HDV camcorders, you can use HDV clips in your high-def projects as long as you import them to hard disk first, using your camera's utility software, then drag them to the Toast window. Everything will be converted to the proper format when you burn your disc. As you import or drag in video clips, your Project window will start to fill up and look like this:


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The Toast 10 Blu-ray Video project window, showing video clips in both AVCHD and HDV formats, and a TiVo recording (click to enlarge).


Each clip is labeled with valuable information, such as the date recorded, the length, and the encoding format (such as H.264/AVC 1920x1080 or 1440x1080 for AVCHD clips, and MPEG-2 1440x1080 for HDV camcorder clips).


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Video clips in the Toast Project window. The top clip is from an AVCHD camcorder, the bottom clip is from an HDV camcorder (click to enlarge).


Cropping and Trimming Clips

If some of your video clips need trimming to remove unwanted portions, click the Edit button next to each clip in the Project window. You'll see the following pop-up:


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Editing a video clip in the Toast 10 Project window (click to enlarge).


Here, you can do several things. You can change the default name and date of your clip, and you can crop and trim it by clicking the Edit button. Change the name to whatever you'd like your clip to be labeled in the navigation menu you'll see when you pop the disc into your set-top Blu-ray player. Clicking the Edit button brings up the Toast Video Player window.


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Trimming an HD video clip in the Toast 10 Video Player (click to enlarge).


To edit out unwanted portions of your clip first look at the slider below the video and move the pointer to the place where you'd like to start trimming. Click the middle icon just below the slider, which will then insert two markers at that point. Drag these to the left or right to exclude the unwanted portions. The area between the two markers will not appear in your finished project. You can repeat this procedure to crop out multiple portions. Finally, save your changes. Note that the original video will not be affected.

Finishing Your Disc

Now that you've imported all your clips, trimmed off any unwanted portions, and given them descriptive names, it's time to finish up your disc. Make sure the clips are in the sequence you'd like them displayed on your disc menu--just drag them up or down to change the order. Next, click the More button at bottom left to bring up the complete set of disc options. You can select a menu style (be sure to choose an HD style), decide whether you want the disc to start playing video automatically on insertion, and choose an encoding quality, among other options. "Best" quality encoding takes longer, but is worth it if you have the time.


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Setting disc recording options (click to enlarge).


Now you're all done, except for burning! The bar at the bottom will show how much video you have, and whether it fits on your disc. Choose DVD or DVD DL as the disc type if you have a DVD drive, and BD or BD DL if you have a Blu-ray recorder.


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Choosing the DVD or BD disc type (click to enlarge).


If all is in order, click the red Burn button, insert a blank disc, and wait while Toast performs its magic. You can then pop your disc into most set-top Blu-ray players and enjoy high-def home movies on your HDTV!

Burning High-Def DVDs & Blu-ray Discs with Creator 2010

If you thought you needed a Blu-ray recorder in order to burn high-definition discs from your home movies, think again. Creator 2011 can burn HD video directly to standard DVD media using your regular DVD recorder, complete with customizable menu themes and navigation screens! These special AVCHD discs can then be played back on your Sony PS3 or most set-top Blu-ray players, for viewing on your HDTV's big screen. Of course, if you do own a Blu-ray recorder, Creator 2011 can burn to Blu-ray Discs as well, with the optional High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in (which is included with Creator 2011 Pro).

If you've watched Blu-ray movies played on an HDTV, you know how breathtaking the quality can be. There is simply no comparison between the detail you get with full 1920-by-1080 HD video and standard 720-by-480 DVD resolution. Once you've experienced it, you'll likely never go back. And now that HD camcorders and DVRs are plentiful and affordable, more people are recording their home movies and TV shows in HD too. Even the new iPhone 4 can record 720p HD video (1280-by-720 pixels).

So how do you get your home HD recordings onto your TV screen? Blu-ray recorder prices are still quite high, at least $200 for an external drive. While prices will continue to drop, if you want to burn your HD movies NOW, the answer is as close as Creator and your DVD burner.

You can fit up to an hour of HD video onto a dual-layer DVD. If you are lucky enough to own a Blu-ray recorder, you can also burn hours of video on a single or dual-layer Blu-ray Disc, using Creator 2011 and its High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in. Even better, Creator's MyDVD application lets you edit your HD clips using a powerful timeline editor, and author discs with fully customizable HD menus and themes.

Getting Started -- Import Your Video

To author a high-definition DVD complete with custom menus, first open Creator 2011 and select the "Create DVDs" option under the Video/Movies tab. This will launch the MyDVD application. (You can also launch MyDVD directly from the Windows Start>Programs menu.) The application will start by asking what type of project you want to create. Choose "AVCHD Project" if you want to put HD video on standard DVDs, or "Blu-ray Project" if you have a Blu-ray recorder and want to burn a Blu-ray Disc (unless you have more than one hour of video, a dual-layer DVD is all you need). (For Blu-rays you also need the the HD/BD Plug-in, as we mentioned before.)


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Choosing a project type in MyDVD (click to enlarge).


Adding & Editing Your Movies

The next step is to bring your clips into your AVCHD DVD or Blu-ray project. Click the Add New Movie button at top left, and select the movies you want to use in your project from your hard disk (use the default aspect ratio for widescreen footage); hold down the Ctrl key to select multiple clips at once. You will then be asked if you want to import the files as one movie, or separate clips. In most cases, it's best to choose to import as separate clips, so that you can rearrange, add and delete clips easily. (If your clips are not already on your computer, use the convenient "Capture Video" utility also available under the Video/Movies tab to transfer them from your camcorder.)


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Clips listed in Project pane at lower left after adding movies to MyDVD project (click to enlarge).


The movies will now be listed in the Project pane at bottom left. Don't worry about the order for now, you can arrange things later. First, check each of your clips to see if they need trimming or removal of unwanted portions by clicking the Movies tab in the same pane. Choose a clip to preview it. If you want to trim the clip, or add a title or soundtrack, click the Edit Movie button at middle left to switch to editing mode.


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Editing a video clip in MyDVD (click to enlarge).


MyDVD's editing mode includes a powerful timeline editor. We won't go into all the details here, but you can do things like add titles, transitions, soundtracks and special effects, as well as basic editing. If your movies are long, you can also add chapter markers, just like those on a commercial movie disc, using the Edit Chapters button at middle left. Most home video clips are relatively short, however, so you probably won't need to do this.

Customizing Your Disc

Now that you've added all your movies and edited them as desired, it's time to customize your disc menus. First, make sure your clips are in the sequence you'd like them displayed on your menu--use the Move Up and Move Down buttons under the Movies tab to change the order. Then click "Change Menu Style" to pick a theme for your disc.


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Choosing a menu theme (click to enlarge).


You can choose any theme, although we recommend choosing from the HD themes, which have been designed with HD's wider aspect ratio and higher resolution in mind. (If you choose a standard-definition theme, it will be stretched to the HD aspect ratio.) Next, edit the movie titles by clicking on them in the preview pane. You can change fonts and sizes as desired, and add additional text anywhere you like. Also experiment with button styles by choosing "Change Button Styles" at middle left. There are some fun button animations!


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Editing movie titles (click to enlarge).


Once you've edited your menus to your satisfaction, preview your disc by clicking the Preview button at bottom right. You'll be presented with a fully operational disc emulator, so you can see exactly how your disc will play in your set-top player. If you find anything you want to change, go back and fix it using MyDVD's movie editing and disc authoring tools.


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Previewing your disc project (click to enlarge).


Burning Your Disc

Now you're all done, except for burning! The bar at the bottom will show how much video you have, and whether it fits on your disc. If needed, you can choose a different disc size, such as a dual-layer disc instead of a single-layer disc. You can also specify a quality level. By default, Creator will fit your video to the disc size. If you want to make sure that it is encoded at a particular quality level, use the pop-up menu at bottom right. The Highest Quality encoding option takes longer, but is worth it if you have the time and disc space.


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Disc encoding options (click to enlarge).


Finally, press the Burn button at bottom right, and select burn options, if desired. You can erase the disc if needed (for a rewritable disc), give it a label, and choose a burn speed. Be sure to use a burn speed that is supported by both your drive and media (not all media is rated for higher speeds). Choosing a lower speed may help avoid any problems while burning.


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The MyDVD Burn window (click to enlarge).


Once you press the Burn button, you'll see a recording progress indicator that shows the status of encoding and burning. Creator 2010 does not need to reencode most AVCHD clips unless you edit them or choose a different quality level, which saves a lot of time.


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The MyDVD burn progress indicator.


Now you can enjoy your production on the big screen! Pop your AVCHD disc into your PlayStation 3 or other Blu-ray player, and let your whole family enjoy your home videos in all their HD glory.

May 24, 2010

How 3D Video Works

Today's 3D movie technology has come a long way from the 1950s, or even 1922, when the first film using anaglyph red/blue glasses was shown to a paying audience. If you've seen "Avatar" in 3D, you've gotten a glimpse of the future of 3D cinema.

But how does it all work? And how will it be brought to home computers and video cameras? Can you shoot your own 3D movies today?


How we see 3D

The key to understanding how 3D cameras work is understanding how we perceive depth. We don't really "see" in 3D. Our brains "infer" depth from multiple sources of information. Even with one eye and a 2D image, there are many visual clues that our brains process as depth: relative object sizes, shadows, objects partially obscured by others in a scene, the focal plane, and geometric perspective (such as a road narrowing in the distance). And with motion, we also get clues from how the positions of close objects change more rapidly than distant ones.

With two eyes, even more depth information is added, thanks to the stereoscopic effect. The two slightly diverging views from each eye are merged together into a single "stereo" image by the brain.

Not everyone can see 3D. About 5 or 10 percent of us have some stereoscopic vision deficiency, and thus can't process the dual left-right images properly.


Creating 3D in Photos and Movies

3D still and movie cameras movies rely on taking two pictures of a scene, mimicking the two images from our right and left eyes. They are then delivered to each eye separately for our brain to merge together as if the scene were "live" in front of us. Where 3D technology differs widely is in how these left and right images are delivered to the eyes.

The venerable ViewMaster toy is a familiar example of simple stereoscopy. Each 3D slide is composed of two images taken from slightly different positions and angles similar to the difference between human eyes (which average about 2.5 inches apart). When you look through the binocular viewer, each eye sees the appropriate left or right image.

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ViewMaster binocular stereoscopic viewer and slide wheels.


For movies on the big screen, however, a different delivery system is needed. Red and blue glasses, like the ones used in the 3D movie craze of the early 1950s, are another familiar example of stereoscopy. Two images are projected on the screen at one time, through different color filters, then one eye sees the image filtered by the red lens, and the other eye gets the image filtered by the blue lens. The use of color filters to deliver 3D is called anaglyph.

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A 1950s 3D movie audience.


The major downside to anaglyph 3D is picture quality, as so much color information is filtered from each image.


Today's 3D Displays & Glasses

Modern 3D movie technology has thus moved in new directions, and several methods are in use by various TV manufacturers and cinema operators. The most common method used by TV vendors is alternate-frame display, in which "active-shutter" glasses are synced with your TV to block the right eye when the left-hand frame is being shown, and vice versa.

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With alternate-frame technology, the full resolution left and right images are displayed sequentially. (Click to enlarge.) Credit: Panasonic


Alternate-frame display with active-shutter glasses has several advantages, notably the ability to display full HD resolution. Many 3D delivery schemes only show half the resolution per frame. Active-shutter glasses also work when you turn your head or use a side viewing angle, unlike some other 3D technologies.

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Sony's active-shutter glasses.


There is also a checkerboard 3D delivery technology called DLP 3D that uses active-shutter glasses, but you get only half the image resolution per eye. Not all 3D Blu-ray players will be able to output this checkerboard signal, either, in which case you'll need to buy a converter.


The 3D Future

Ideally, we'd be able to view 3D displays with no glasses at all, and that's what manufacturers are working on. These "autostereoscopic" displays use lenses to deliver the correct image to each eye. It will be a while before displays suitable for family viewing reach the market, however. Some small, personal autostereoscopic displays are available now.


Viewing Blu-ray 3D

So what do you need to view 3D movies on Blu-ray today? First, you need a 3D-capable Blu-ray player. Second, you need a 3D-capable TV with matching 3D glasses (different vendors currently use slightly different active-shutter syncing technologies, but universal 3D glasses will be coming soon). Sony's PlayStation 3 is also getting a 3D firmware upgrade this summer.

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To watch Blu-ray 3Ds, you need a 3D-capable Blu-ray player and TV, plus matching 3D glasses.


You will soon be able to view Blu-ray 3Ds right on your 3D-capable computer display with Roxio CinePlayer 3D. Look for Blu-ray 3D-enabled PCs and notebooks with CinePlayer to start appearing this summer. Also check out nVidia's GeForce 3D Vision Kit, which is great for 3D games, and Fujifilm's FinePix Real 3D camera. Expect consumer 3D camcorders to appear later this year, starting with DXG's 3D View this summer.

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Roxio CinePlayer 3D will be shipping this summer on 3D-capable PCs.


Learn more about 3D:

Roxio 3D FAQ

Wikipedia on 3D Film

How Stuff Works on 3D Glasses

April 20, 2010

Converting Video for iPad with Roxio Creator

Apple's new iPad is great for video watching on the go, but many types of video will need to be converted before you can play them back on this "magical and revolutionary" tablet. Happily, Roxio Creator 2010 owners already have everything they need to convert most any type of video for viewing on the iPad (and iPhone/iPod Touch too). Here's how:


Step 1: Open Roxio Video Copy & Convert

First, open Roxio Creator. Then click on the Video-Movies tab and choose the "Copy and Convert Video" project.

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Opening the Roxio Video Copy & Convert utility (click to enlarge).


Step 2: Choose Your Videos and Settings

The Roxio Video Copy & Convert Utility will then open. At top left, click the Movies button to choose videos you'd like to convert for your iPad. You can choose multiple videos at once, of almost any type (WMV, AVI, DV, AVC, MPEG2/4, DivX and many more). You can even extract movies from nonprotected DVDs and capture Web videos.

Below, we've selected a TV show we captured from a DVR.

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Selecting videos to convert (click to enlarge).


Next, we'll choose the settings to convert this movie to iPad format. To begin, click on the Video icon in the Output selection area at top right.

Now click on the Custom button at bottom right to adjust the settings for iPad. Simply select "H.264" from the Compression menu, and AAC in the Audio format menu, if not already selected. Also, if you have a high-definition source, reduce the resolution to "HD 720p," which is the maximum the iPad can display. Leave other settings where they are, unless you are an expert. (If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, choose the iPhone output icon instead, and send the converted videos directly to iTunes.)

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Customizing video conversion settings for iPad (click to enlarge).


Step 3: Export Videos and Send to iPad

Now click the green arrow to start the export process.

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Exporting the video for iPad.

When finished, simply drag the converted video into iTunes, then sync to your iPad. Enjoy!

Making DVDs with Toast 10 Titanium

Toast 10 Titanium is the total Mac DVD solution, with loads of movie-making features that make it possible for anyone to create great DVDs quickly and easily, complete with titles and menu themes. You can transfer all your old videotapes to DVD, or import your home movies from your camcorder. You can even extract and reuse clips from other DVDs, and use Web videos, EyeTV and TiVo recordings! (If you have an HD camcorder and the Toast High-Def/Blu-ray Plug-in, see our separate article on making high-definition DVDs and Blu-ray discs here.)

Getting Started

So how do you get started making a DVD in Toast 10? It's really quite simple. First, determine where your source video and photos are coming from: direct from your camcorder (live or tape), from existing unencrypted DVDs, or from existing video and photo files on your hard disk, including iMovies. Import video from your camcorder with Toast, or organize your content files. You can use any QuickTime-supported video files, such as DV, AVI, MOV, HDV (1080i/720p), and MPEG-4. You can also use video files that QuickTime doesn't support natively, such as AVCHD, MPEG-2, DivX, EyeTV recorded shows, and TiVo transfers. Then launch Toast, and click on the Video tab at top left. Select "DVD-Video." (Also select NTSC or PAL under the Toast Preferences "Audio & Video" tab, depending on your DVD player format. North America and Japan are NTSC, most of Europe and Asia are PAL).


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Toast's easy-to-use encoding presets let you prioritize recording speed or video quality (click to enlarge).


Also decide on encoding quality (bottom left). Choose Automatic, then "Best" quality unless speed is more important to you. The Toast encoder will automatically adjust the encoding rate to use all available space on a disc. A single-layer DVD holds 60 to 150 minutes of video depending on quality level, double that for dual-layer. Generally, the less video you put on the disc, the better the quality. For photo slideshows you can fit thousands of images on a DVD. (You can also have a mixture of slideshows and video clips.)

Finally, if you are making a disc that contains slideshows, you can choose to include the original full-quality photos on the disc as well. Click the "More" button at bottom left, then check the box to "Add original photos" under the Disc tab). This is a great feature for sharing photos with family and friends. Not only will they be able to view your video and photos, they can print the pictures too! The photos will be accessible when the disc is used on a computer, Mac or PC.

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Toast video disc options include the ability to add full-resolution photos on a photo slideshow DVD.


Drag & Drop

Now that you've set up your basic project, you can start adding videos. To add content, simply drag your video clips, photos or iMovies into the content window. You can mix up DV files, movies copied from an MPEG4 (AVC) camcorder, video downloaded from the Internet (including DivX files), iMovies, EyeTV recordings, pictures from iPhoto or Photoshop, selections from other DVDs, and more. Use the Toast Media Browser to select clips, or drag in your files from the Finder. Photos dragged together, or in one folder, will become a single slideshow; photos dragged individually will become separate "slideshows."

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This DVD video project shows a few of the wide variety of source formats supported by Toast: Motion-JPEG clips from a digital camera, DV clips from a digital tape camcorder, H.264/AVC clips from a flash-based camcorder, an MPEG-1 animation downloaded from the Web, and a JPEG photo slideshow.


Organizing and Editing Your Content

With all the content added, it's time to organize it and think about what the resulting disc will look like.

First, put your content in the order in which you'd like it to appear on the disc, by dragging items up and down the content window. Note that each item in the content window will become a button in the DVD navigation menu, so if you want some videos to be combined into a single button, you'll need to merge them before dragging into Toast. You can splice clips together in QuickTime Pro, iMovie or another video editor.

Next, customize each item if desired, by clicking on the Edit button. For video, you can trim off extra frames at the beginning or ends of clips, set a particular frame to use as the button icon, and give a name to the clip, which will be used as a tag on the menu button. You can also split the clip into "chapters" of 1 to 10 minutes or automatically use chapters that have been set in iMovie, Final Cut or Toast's Plug & Burn utility. Chapters allow you to use the DVD player's remote control to jump forward and back in the video quickly.

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Toast lets you trim the beginning and ends of clips using sliders, and set chapter markers for easy navigation (click to enlarge).


For photo slideshows, clicking the edit button lets you add and remove pictures, change their order, set a duration for each slide to appear on screen, specify a name for the slideshow, and select one photo to use as the button icon. For a truly great slideshow with transitions, animation effects, audio tracks, titles and more, use Roxio PhotoShow (available at PhotoShow.com) to create and download the show, then drag the resulting movie into your DVD project.

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Toast makes it easy to rearrange, add and delete photos from your slideshows. You can also choose a photo for the menu button, and set slide duration.


Customizing DVD Menus and Styles

Toast 10 lets you choose from a number of different themes, or menu styles, for your DVDs. These themes incorporate background artwork, fonts, menu placement, border styles, and so on. To choose a theme, select it from the drop-down menu at the bottom left of the Video project window. Then click the "More" button to customize your disc further.

Options include changing the number of buttons you want to show in the main menu, and whether you want to include slide menus for photo slideshows. You can also decide whether you want the disc to auto-play when inserted, and whether it should play continuously or stop at the end of each chapter. Finally, as we mentioned earlier, you can opt to include data files or original photos on the disc that will be viewable only when inserted in a computer. This feature is really useful for adding full-resolution files to a photo slideshow for archiving or printing purposes.

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Choose one of the provided menu styles, or drag in your own background picture.


If you are a real pro, you can also customize DVD encoding parameters like video and audio bit rates and aspect ratio. More information on these can be found in the Toast user manual, but we advise sticking with the automatic settings for reliable results.

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Toast provides full control over DVD encoding parameters for video pros.


Now that you've got everything perfect, be sure to save your project. That way, you can open it again later and add or tweak things easily.

Burning the Disc

Now it's time to burn! We recommend previewing your DVD by saving it as a Disc Image file (using the Disc Image button at bottom right), and playing it back just as you would a regular DVD (mount it on the Desktop from the Toast Utilities menu). This way you can try it out and make any needed tweaks. If you decide that the slide duration should be a little longer, the menus need rearranging, or a piece of video needs a little editing, you can make changes without wasting media. A disc image is also handy to have if you want to make extra copies of your disc later. You can burn the image without having to reencode the video.

To burn, simply click the record button and insert your blank media (single or dual-layer, as appropriate for your project). Toast will then encode and process your video before burning. If you want to make multiple copies, you can specify this in the burn dialog, and Toast will prompt you to keep inserting additional discs until all are done.

That's it! You've successfully made your first movie DVD with Toast 10! We bet you'll want to make many more.

April 16, 2010

Take Your Shows on the Road with Toast

Got a long road trip or plane flight coming up? Want to keep the kids happy and occupied? Put their (and your!) favorite TV shows and movies on your iPad, iPhone, PSP, or other media player (including in-car DVD players), using Toast 10’s handy Convert feature.

Toast makes it simple to convert non-protected DVDs, DVD Video_TS folders, home movie clips or downloaded videos to portable player and cell phone formats, including MPEG-4, H.264/AVC and DivX. You can even convert TV shows you’ve recorded with your El Gato EyeTV or copied from your networked TiVo, and send the results directly to iTunes or Roxio Streamer.

Getting Started

To start, open Toast and click the Convert tab, then choose from the list of source video types: DVD-video discs or image files; Video_TS folders; and individual video files on your hard disk, such as downloaded videos or TV recordings. Below, we've selected a Video_TS folder on our hard disk. Video_TS folders (which include all the content on a DVD) can be created by Toast from your home movie discs, or sometimes downloaded from the Web.


Converting a Video_TS folder (click to enlarge).

In addition to copying DVDs to your iPod or iPhone, Toast can convert and copy EyeTV and TiVo recordings -- or most any MPEG-4, QuickTime or DivX file. In the illustration below, we have selected a show from our EyeTV library within Toast's Media Browser.


Converting EyeTV recordings.


Cropping and Trimming Your Videos

Before pressing the red Burn button to start the conversion process, it's time to clip out any unwanted portions of your videos, and check the encoding settings.

To trim out portions of your recordings, click the Edit button. Depending on the type of video you have, you will see two different edit windows, but the principle is the same for each: first move the slider below the video to the place where you'd like to start trimming. Click the middle icon just below the slider, which will then insert two markers at that point. Drag these to the left or right to exclude the unwanted portions. The area between the two markers will not appear in your finished project. You can repeat this procedure to crop out multiple portions. Finally, save your changes. Note that the original video will not be affected.


Trimming high-def video in Toast (click to enlarge).


Checking Encoding Settings

To check encoding settings, click the Player Setup button at the bottom left of the Toast window. (It looks like a gear.) A window will pop up that lets you select your output device format (such as iPhone or PSP), encoding quality level, and destination folder. Select your device from the list.


Choosing an output device.

Next, if you are familiar with encoding settings, you can change the quality level to "Custom" and choose your conversion parameters. Here, we checked the box to preserve the aspect ratio using letterbox format, since we were combining HD and SD sources. It's best to leave the settings at their defaults unless you know what you are doing or want to experiment. For iPad, you can just use the Apple TV setting in Automatic mode.


Customizing encoding settings.

After tweaking your settings, try the Preview button to see a snippet of your video the way it will be encoded. This is really handy for avoiding problems, since encoding full-length videos can take hours, depending on the speed of your machine.


Previewing the results (click to enlarge).


Starting the Conversion Process

Assuming you like what you see in the Preview, it's time to convert your video! Press the red Burn button and the Player Setup window will pop up again. Double-check your settings, and press "Convert" to start the encoding process. You'll see a progress bar of the results telling you how much longer you need to wait.


The Player Setup window appears when you press the red Burn button (click to enlarge).

In addition to saving videos for copying to your portable player, Toast can also send videos direct to Streamer, Roxio's free real-time streaming service. With Streamer, you can view videos streamed from your home Mac in real time directly to your iPhone, iPod Touch or laptop. You'll need a broadband connection, such as WiFi or 3G cellular. For a complete tutorial on using Streamer, click here.

So next time you're hitting the road, don't leave home without your videos. Creator makes it easy to take them with you.

Using the Roxio PhotoShow Export Plug-in for iPhoto

Roxio's new iPhoto Export Plug-in makes it a snap to upload photos directly from iPhoto to PhotoShow.com, so you can take advantage of PhotoShow's great slideshow personalization and sharing features. Here's how:


Step 1: Download & Install the Plug-in

First, go to PhotoShow.com, and log into your account (or create one if you don't have one yet -- it's free). Then click the My Account button at top right, and the Software Downloads button at the left. Next, click the download button for the iPhoto Plug-in. Note that you need iPhoto '08 or '09 and an Intel Mac to use the Plug-in. Finally, double-click the downloaded file to install it, then open iPhoto.


Step 2: Choose & Export Photos

Using the Plug-in could not be easier. Just select the photos or events you want to upload to PhotoShow in the iPhoto library window at right, or select an album by highlighting in the list at left, and choose Export from the File menu to bring up the dialog box.

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The iPhoto Export Plug-in for Roxio PhotoShow (click to enlarge).


Now add your PhotoShow account information to the drop-down list; your login will be saved for future uploads. You can even add multiple PhotoShow accounts.

Next, choose an existing PhotoShow to add the selected pictures to, or start a new one and give it a title (you can always change this later). Here we've selected three photos to add to an existing show.

Finally, click the Export button to send your photos to PhotoShow.com. You'll see a progress bar as they are sent, and a confirmation when finished. The confirmation dialog also gives you a convenient button to go to PhotoShow.com to edit your show.

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The export confirmation dialog.


Step 3: Personalize & Share Your Show

Now that you've finished uploading, it's time to personalize and share your show! Check out our PhotoShow tutorial for more on its capabilities, such as captions, speech bubbles, animations and music.

Here's our African safari show:

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African safari PhotoShow (click to open).

March 24, 2010

Capturing Web Audio with Toast 10

Free personalized Internet radio stations like Pandora, Last.fm, Slacker, Meemix and Jango are hugely popular. Thousands more stations are available through iTunes and at sites like Live365 and Shoutcast. But what if you're offline? Or simply busy when your favorite NPR show comes on? No problem, you can record streaming Web audio (or any audio playing on your Mac) with Toast's CD Spin Doctor app, then transfer it to your iPod or other music player to enjoy anywhere. Toast will even automatically identify and tag the songs for you then send them to iTunes!


Step 1: Start Recording

To start recording, first make sure your Internet radio station (or other streaming audio) is open and playing in your Web browser or in iTunes. (Or if your show is about to start, tune to the station and start playing.) Then open CD Spin Doctor and click the button to Start Auto Music Capture. When you've finished recording, simply click Stop.

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Starting Auto Music Capture in CD Spin Doctor (click to enlarge).


Step 2: Auto-Define and Identify Tracks

Once you've stopped recording, CD Spin Doctor will switch to a timeline editing view. Click the button to save your recording to disk (you can delete it later after you've exported the songs to iTunes). Now click the Auto-Define button at the top to automatically split your file into tracks, one for each song. Once you have the track list, click the Identify button to tag each track with title and artist information.

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Tracks auto-defined and identified in Spin Doctor (click to enlarge).

Typically, since radio is continuous, you'll start recording in the middle of the first song, and stop in the middle of the last song. So you'll notice in our track list, the first and last tracks are short partial recordings, and one is unidentified. Simply click on these to delete them, and you'll be left with all your fully recorded tracks in between.


Step 3: Send to iTunes or Toast

The final step is to send your new recordings to iTunes or Toast. To send tracks to iTunes, first check them off in the "Active" column next to the track names. Then select "Send Active Tracks to iTunes" from the File menu. iTunes will open and your tracks will be added to the Music list. From iTunes you can sync them to your iPod or iPhone, stream them to your Apple TV or stereo and use them as backing tracks for iPhoto slideshows.

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Sending tracks to iTunes (click to enlarge).

You can also send your recording directly to Toast, where you can use them in Audio CDs or Music DVDs. To send tracks to Toast, choose the desired option from the Toast menu. You can send all tracks, or selected tracks, and choose Audio CD or Music DVD. Toast will then open a new Audio CD or Music DVD project with your tracks in it.

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Sending tracks to Toast (click to enlarge).

With Toast, you can get the most out of your streaming Internet radio subscriptions!

Top 10 Secrets of Pro-Quality Photo Prints

Today's home photo printers can yield just as good results as retail photo labs, and with much more control. Want to print on matte or rag paper? Use greeting card paper stock? Add text or captions for scrapbooking? All are easy when you do it yourself. But getting the best quality out of your printer requires some knowledge of resolution and dpi, ink and paper types, and color correction. Here's what you need to know to make pro-quality photo prints.


1. Use the highest quality camera settings on your camera

Great prints start with great images. Always set your camera to the highest resolution (number of pixels) and quality (compression level) it can capture. Typically this will be set in a menu on the LCD screen, like that of the Canon camera below. High-resolution images take more space, and will reduce the number that can fit on a memory card, but today's memory cards are so big and inexpensive that if you expect to run out of space before you get to a computer, it's best to simply buy another card.


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Resolution and quality settings for a Canon camera (click to enlarge).


Also get to know the other image settings on your camera, such as scene modes and white balance. To learn more, check out CNET's excellent guide to scene modes, and Darren Rowse's white balance tutorial. With the right exposure, your pictures will shine on-screen and in print.


2. Scan at the right resolution

For printing images from older negatives or prints, it's critical to use the right scan settings. Most scanners have an automatic mode, where you simply select "document" or "photo" and the scanner software figures out the rest. For more control, switch to your scan software's expert or professional mode, so you can set the parameters directly.

For example, when scanning a print that will be enlarged, scan at a higher resolution than normal to give enough detail. Ideally, you want to end up (after editing and cropping) with an image that matches the native resolution of your printer (typically 240 or 300 dpi). Adjust the scan resolution accordingly. Scantips.com has a detailed tutorial.


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"Professional" scan settings for an Epson scanner (click to enlarge).


3. Correct exposure and color problems

Now that you've got high-quality source images, it's time to enhance them. Older scanned photos will typically have fading and color balance issues which can often be corrected with automatic tools in your favorite photo editor, such as the Tint tool in Roxio PhotoSuite (part of Creator 2010), or the Enhance tool in iPhoto.

Newer photos taken with digital cameras and cameraphones often have contrast, brightness or saturation problems. It's best to head these issues off by learning about scene modes and white balance (see Tip 1), but if you still have problems, they can also be fixed in your photo editor. PhotoSuite has tools for Brightness & Contrast, Saturation and Exposure, including both manual and automatic fixes for exposure and saturation. iPhoto's Adjust tool has manual controls for these.

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A faded photo fixed using color-correction tools (click to enlarge).



4. Remove dust & scratches

Scanned images, especially negatives, will also often have visible dust and scratches that can be corrected with your editing software, such as PhotoSuite. While you're at it, also remove red-eye with the simple tools in most editors. Our PhotoSuite tutorial tells you how to do both.


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Removing dust from an old image scan with Roxio PhotoSuite's Dust filter (click to enlarge).


5. Crop and frame your photo

Fixing your image and removing dust and scratches will do a lot for your prints, but sometimes the biggest improvement will come simply from better cropping or framing of the subject. Tightening the crop will immediately make a difference in most pictures, and in others, putting the subject off center can add artful interest. Check out the Digital Photography School's tutorial on "Cropping for Impact" for more.

You can also crop to fit a particular frame or print size. Just make sure you get the proportions exact, the image will be scaled as needed during printing.

Finally, invest in a paper cutter. You'll be able to accurately cut prints to fit your mat or frame, cut out greeting cards or scrapbooking materials, and divide multiple-print pages with ease (see Tip 10).


6. Choose the right ink and printer

If you don't already have a "photo-quality" printer, usually with multiple color ink cartridges, you may want to invest in a better one. Very good photo printers can be had for well under $100 these days. The ongoing ink cost is often the bigger expenditure. But for top-quality prints, ink makes a huge difference.

The so-called "archival" inks found in better photo inkjets are formulated to withstand exposure to sunlight and resist smudging and bleeding. Some are even waterproof, and may be guaranteed to last for a certain number of years (assuming you use matching archival-quality paper).

Below is an image from a test of inkjet durability that illustrates the range of fading found with different inks and papers.


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Inkjet print fading tests under UV light (click to enlarge).


7. Choose the right paper

As with ink, archival paper is the best choice for photos you intend to keep or display for the long term. But beyond durability, also check out the different paper types on the market. Each printer vendor has an array tailored to match their printer and ink characteristics, from high-gloss white to velvety semi-gloss to matte.

The Fine Art papers offered by Epson are especially good for black and white prints and old-time or artisan-quality effects with their heavy weights and cotton content. Check out these paper guides from HP, Epson and Canon.


8. Choose the right print settings

After selecting your ink and paper, make sure to choose the right print settings for them. Most printers have options in the print dialog boxes on both Mac and Windows for selecting paper type, resolution, print quality level, color etc. Go through all of these options and learn what they mean. Try some test prints to see the difference.

Your photo editing program may have further print settings, such as "print profiles" and color management (calibration) tools that help ensure the colors you see on the screen are what you get on the print.


9. Make old-timey prints

Now that you know the basics of how to get good prints from your home inkjet, it's time to get creative! With PhotoSuite, or your favorite image editor, you can take digital camera photos and make them look like old-fashioned prints with ease.

We wanted to take the middle photo below and give it a similar soft framed and airbrushed look to the left photo, which dates from the 50s. We also had an antique silver oval frame to put it in. In PhotoSuite, we used the Mask/Cutout by Shape tool to crop out the oval shape and give it a soft feathered edge. Then we also used the Selenium option in the Special Effects tool to give it a gray tint. After printing on heavy matte fine art paper with archival ink, we had a photo perfect for framing.


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New image (center) masked and tinted to resemble an old photo (left) (click to enlarge).


10. Print multiple photos per page

Finally, printing at home makes it easy to create various sizes and extra copies of your photos to give to family and friends. Most photo editors, including PhotoSuite and iPhoto, have page layout tools that let you print multiple copies on one page, conserving expensive photo paper. Why print just one 5x7 when two will fit on the page easily? PhotoSuite has literally dozens of print templates for fitting combinations of photo sizes on a page, such as one 5x7 plus five 2x3s. Share your photos!


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Printing multiple photos per page with Roxio PhotoSuite (click to enlarge).

February 23, 2010

Spring Clean Your Mac with Toast 10

Spring cleaning is not just for dust bunnies! Computing cobwebs can be especially important to eradicate, before your Mac succumbs to information overload or disk failure. So think of spring cleaning as preventive maintenance for the machine you probably spend more time with than your car. Taxes will also go easier when you've got your files organized.

With Toast 10 Titanium, you can take three easy steps toward a clean computing house:

1. Archive — Use Toast's flexible data disc burning features to offload little-used files to CD or DVD and free up valuable hard disk space. Your programs will run faster when they've got plenty of breathing room. Use the Mac-only disc format to encrypt discs for security — a perfect solution for old financial and tax records. Store copies of your archives in a second location for added safety.


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Using the Data disc project type to archive tax data to disc for safekeeping.


2. Organize — Now's the time to wrangle all those audio, video and photo files floating around your hard disk into the appropriate iPhoto/iTunes/iMovie libraries. Once you've done that, Toast 10's integrated Media Browser gives you instant access to all your media for use in your projects. And of course your iLife programs will be more useful too, with media at the ready.


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Using the Toast Media Browser to import music from iTunes for an audio project.


3. Back Up — Finally, perform manual or automatic backups of your current files with Toast 10's Get Backup program. This deceptively program sports amazing power. You can even back up to a network hard disk. For backups of large files, folders or applications across multiple CDs or DVDs, you can take advantage of Toast's unique disc-spanning feature - which splits the data across as many discs as needed.


Using Get Backup

Using Get Backup 2 RE, you can back up any number of files or folders manually at the click of a button, or automatically on a scheduled basis. To get started, just open Get Backup from the Toast folder. You'll be presented with the following window:


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The main Get Backup window.


To create a backup project, simply add the files and/or folders you want to back up to the list on the right by clicking the "+" button at middle left. You can also click the handy icons at top to add some common folders. Your screen should now look something like this:


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The Get Backup window showing various folders in a backup project.


At this point you could simply click the blue backup button to start burning. But first, hit the Properties button at middle right and take a look at the options. Here you can choose the destination for your backup, such as a DVD, external hard disk, or even a network drive, as well as the backup method: full, incremental, or versioned (where old versions of files are not deleted when changed). You can also choose to have your data compressed, which greatly reduces space needs (Get Backup uses the standard TAR file format for archives and GZIP format for compression, so backups can easily be opened by other utilities). Finally, you can set your backup to perform on a regular schedule (more on this below).


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Setting the destination and format for your backup.


Scheduling Backups

To schedule a backup so that it runs automatically, click the Schedule button at the bottom of the Properties window, then select a daily, weekly or monthly interval, and a time of day.

To make sure your backup runs even if the program is not open, you also need to open Get Backup Preferences and check the boxes for "Enable Schedule" and "Use Agent" at top right. With these boxes checked, a background agent will launch the utility at the appointed time and begin the backup process.

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Setting Get Backup Preferences.


Note that you don't have to have Get Backup open for scheduled backups to take place, but they may not occur if your machine is sleeping/hibernating. You can change your Energy Saver system preferences to prevent this from happening.

Now that your Mac is cleaned and backed up, you'll rest easier knowing your valuable data is safe, and your machinery all polished up, ready to go for another year.

Create a DVD Music Disc with Toast 10

Want to be able to play your digital music on your home theater, but don't want the expense and hassle of a streaming set-top box or iPod dock? Try a Music DVD! This is simply a standard DVD, filled with music instead of video. It can play in any DVD player, and navigated from the comfort of your couch with your DVD remote, just like a video disc. Even better, it holds up to 50 hours of songs -- in high-quality Dolby Digital format!

Music DVDs are perfect for parties, too. You can include cover art (or any other photos you like) for each track, and tracks can be arranged in handy menus and playlists. You could create a 60's theme disc with pictures from the era that show on screen while the music plays. Or a disc for a family reunion with family photos and family favorite songs. In essence, a Music DVD is a music player that you or your guests can control with your TV remote. And just one disc can hold an entire music collection. (Both single and dual-layer DVDs are supported.)

To create a Music DVD with Toast 10, first choose the Music DVD project type under the Audio tab. Then drag in music files from your hard disk or the Toast Media Browser. Each folder or group of files you add at one time will appear as a playlist with its own button on the DVD menu.


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Dragging in music from the iTunes library via the Toast Media Browser.


Now that you have your music imported, click the Edit button for any playlist to: rearrange, add or remove songs in the list; add album artwork or photos; set the name and menu button image for the playlist; and set the length of the pause between tracks. To add album art or photos, simply drag and drop an image directly onto a track in the Edit window. If you don't add artwork to a particular track, the button graphic from the DVD menu will be displayed instead.


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Editing a playlist.


Next, open the Options area at bottom left to select a DVD menu style (there are dozens of choices) and options such as "Include Shuffle Play," which adds a Shuffle Play button for each playlist on your DVD to play the tracks in random order.


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Choosing DVD menu options.


Finally, click the burn button to record your disc. The bar at the bottom tells you how much space your music will take up. You can use dual-layer discs if you have too much for a single-layer DVD, for nearly 100 hours of music!


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The finished DVD showing the Playlist menu. Note the Artists, Albums and Songs buttons at the bottom, so you can find any song easily.


January 27, 2010

Six Easy Ways to Fix Your Photos

Got older photos that need fixing up? Cell phone pics that are washed out and grey? Or just want to get creative with your images? It's time for PhotoSuite, part of the Creator 2010 and Creator 2010 Pro packages.

Most Creator owners have probably used PhotoSuite to perform common tasks like rotate and crop pictures for printing and remove red-eye. Perhaps you've even taken advantage of the handy AutoFix tool to correct exposure problems. But there's a whole new world of photo enhancement awaiting you with a little exploration of PhotoSuite's more advanced features. Tools like cloning, dust removal, special effects, smart edge detection and masking can make your pictures come alive.

Here's a quick tour of some of our favorite PhotoSuite tools, which are accessible by clicking one of the three tabs at the top left of the editing window, then choosing the appropriate task.

Masking & Cutouts

If there's one key area you should master, it's masking. Masking is the process of isolating and cutting out an area of a photo, which can then be used alone or in combination with other tools and photos to produce virtually any result you can imagine.

With masking, a person or object is typically separated from an uninteresting background, and then placed on a new background or used alone. The toucan in the photo below could be isolated using the Mask/Cutout Edge Tracing tool, or using the Mask/Cutout by Color tool. The first lets you trace the outline of an object with a series of clicks around it, while the second lets you select a relatively uniform background by clicking areas of like color around it. Cutout by Color works great for an object set against a blue sky or white wall, for example.

Here, we're using the Mask/Cutout by Shape tool (found under the Change Objects tab) to put a frame around our cutout subject, which will make a nice portrait for printing or use on a greeting card. The slider at the bottom of the tool window determines the amount of "feathering" of the frame edge. Here, we've used quite a bit of feathering to give it an old-fashioned look.


Using PhotoSuite's Mask/Cutout by Shape tool to create an oval frame.


Once you've got the mask the way you want it, simply click "Create Cutout" and choose to create a new object or save it to a file (depending on what you want to do with it). You can use the finished cutout in all sort of projects, from collages to calendars.


The finished cutout.


Cloning & Stamping

The Clone Brush is another handy tool under the Change Object tab that is surprisingly easy to use once you try it. With the Clone Brush you can copy (clone) a portion of a photo elsewhere in the image, using a variable-size brush to "paint" it on. Here, we're going to give this lonely humpback whale a companion.



To use the Clone Brush, you simply select the tool, then click in a corner of the object you want to clone to set the "start point." Then you brush it directly into the area where you want to duplicate it. As you brush, you'll see the object beginning to appear; simply keep brushing until you have as much of it cloned as you like. You can do this as many times as you want in one picture. So you could fill a night sky with cloned fireworks or stars, for example.


Using the Clone Brush to give this humpback whale a diving partner.


Special Effects & Clip Art

A myriad of special effects can be found under the Enhance menu. Here, we're starting with a tranquil forest scene, and would like to deepen its mystery.


Our starting forest scene.


Clicking on the Special Effects tool (under the Enhance tab) brings up dozens of possible effects, from color variations to painterly effects to warping. Here we've chosen to warm the colors in our image to give the desired feeling of being in an enchanted forest.


Using the Special Effects tool to warm the colors in an image.


In this alternate take, we've use the Charcoal Special Effect to give the scene an almost snowy look, then planted a snowman with a road sign taken from the built-in clip art collection, also accessible under the Enhance tab. We could then add text to the sign saying "Grandma's House" or "Santa's Workshop" with "Add or Edit Text" tool.


Creator and PhotoSuite come with a huge collection of clip art, like the snowman above.


Framing Your Masterpieces

Frames are great ways to enhance photos for greeting cards or other print projects, and PhotoSuite makes it a snap to add them. You simply select the Frames tool from under the Enhance tab, then select from the large number of options. The frame is automatically put around your photo. There's also a companion Mat tool, for the full framing effect.


Applying a picture frame in PhotoSuite.


Removing Dust & Scratches

If you scan in a lot of old photos and slides, the Dust and Scratches tools, found under the Fix menu, will be your best friends. Each does just what it sounds like, removing dust or scratches from your photo automatically. You can control the degree of removal using sliders. More removal will necessarily soften your photo somewhat, so try to use the minimum necessary.


Using PhotoSuite's Dust removal tool.


Fixing Mobile Phone Photos

Finally, if you have a cameraphone, PhotoSuite's Mobile Photo Doctor tool is indispensible for correcting these often washed out or too-dark images.


A photo taken with a Treo cameraphone before fixing in PhotoSuite.


One click on the Mobile Photo Doctor, and color and contrast are restored to this image.


The picture after using PhotoSuite's Mobile Photo Doctor.


Top 10 HD Camcorder Features Explained

Put a $500 HD camcorder side-by-side with a $1,500 model, and you may be hard-pressed to tell the difference. Until you dig into the acronym soup of specs. Peek under the hood, and you'll find vast differences in quality and functionality. You just need to know what to look for. Here are some of the key features that differentiate the latest crop of HD camcorders, and why they are important.


Video Format & Resolution

Unless you are on a very limited budget, don't look at anything less than 1080p (1920x1080 progressive scan) recording, also called "Full HD," "True HD" or "Ultra HD" by vendors. Full 1080p will yield smoother and better looking results than either 1080i or 720p, the two other possible HD resolutions. Most 1080p camcorders also let you record in lower resolutions if desired, and 1080p models are now available in all price ranges, so there is little reason to go with anything less.

The other major spec to look at is the video format your movies will be recorded in. This has a major impact on how you will be able to use the video in your computer. Some formats can be used directly by various applications, or copied straight to your iPod or other portable player, and some require conversion.

The three most common are AVCHD, H.264 and HDV. AVCHD and H.264 are recorded to flash memory, memory card, hard disk or optical disc in the camcorder, while HDV is recorded to MiniDV tape.

AVCHD stands for Advanced Video Codec High Definition, and uses the MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 compression scheme. AVCHD is a newer and more efficient format than HDV, which uses the older MPEG-2 codec (also used by DVDs). Thus AVCHD files will be smaller than HDV files at any given quality level.

AVCHD and HDV are found in the highest quality camcorders, the ones that have bit rates up to the maximum possible -- 24Mbps for AVCHD and 25Mbps for HDV. Higher bit rates mean less image compression, and therefore higher quality and larger file sizes. Camcorders that can record 1080p video at maximum bit rates are generally the most expensive, and tend to have better lenses, image sensors and other features as well.


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The Canon Vixia HF-S20 is a 1080p AVCHD camcorder that records up to 24Mbps video as well as 8MP still images.


Finally, most pocket HD camcorders record directly in the H.264 format, using either MPEG-4 or AVI codecs. Cameras that record in H.264/MPEG-4 can be used to upload video direct to YouTube, iPod or PSP, with no conversion required, but are typically much lower quality than the full-size AVHCD or HDV models.

So what does all this boil down to when choosing an HD camcorder? Go with an H.264 model if you primarily want to shoot video for the Web, and also want a pocketable model. For top quality, you can go with either AVCHD or HDV, but AVCHD video is easier to copy to your hard disk, since you can simply drag and drop files on the desktop. And while AVCHD used to be difficult to edit, most computer video editing programs, including Roxio VideoWave on the PC and iMovie on the Mac, now support it.


Storage Media

As mentioned above, there are several possible storage formats for video: built-in flash memory, removable memory cards, hard drives, miniDVDs, and MiniDV tape. Some built-in flash memory is nice, but the most convenient type of storage is probably removable memory cards. They add little size or weight, compared to hard drives, discs or tapes, and dramatic drops in memory card prices have also made it affordable to carry spare cards.

The latest memory card format making its way into HD camcorders is SXDC, which expands the maximum capacity to an amazing 2 terabytes, from just 32GB for SHDC. SXDC cards up to 64GB are available now. With a 64GB card, you can record up to 6 hours of top-quality 24Mbps, 1080p AVCHD video.


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SXDC memory cards can go all the way up to 2 terabytes.


At some point, however, you will need to transfer recordings on memory cards or internal storage to permanent storage like external hard drives, DVDs or Blu-ray discs. Roxio Creator and Roxio Toast make this process easy, with convenient AVCHD archiving capabilities that let you record direct to DVD or Blu-ray disc for both playback and storage. Of course, miniDVDs and tapes serve as their own long-term storage media, and may be the best choice if you travel a lot and don't have the means to archive your video on the go.


Lenses & Zooms

In general, the better and more expensive the camcorder, the better the lens. In a given price range, look for lenses with the longest "optical" zooms, and the best low-light performance. With optical zoom, you get a full-resolution picture at the longest zoom. With digital zoom, the picture is basically a cropped and enlarged portion of the full-resolution image, and you'll lose a lot of quality. Many manufacturers specify a combination of optical and digital zoom, such as 10X optical/200X digital, but the optical number is the one to focus on.

Some camcorders have staggeringly high optical zoom numbers, such as 60X or 70X. These can be useful in some situations, such as sports and big game-viewing, where you can't get closer to your subject. However, note that you'll likely need a tripod to use them, since at these long zooms, even the slightest camera movement can look like an earthquake. Image-stabilization (see below) helps, but a tripod is better.

For low-light performance, look at the minimum illumination number given for the camcorder (7 lux or lower is good). In general, cameras with larger CCD or CMOS chips (image sensors) have better low-light performance, with less grain showing. If you do a lot of indoor shooting, however, it's probably a good idea to invest in a video light as well.


Video Outputs

HD camcorders typically have multiple types of outputs. For transferring the video to your computer, there may be USB 2.0 or FireWire (also known as IEEE 1394 or i.Link) jacks. Just be sure that if you buy a FireWire camcorder, that you also have a FireWire port on your computer. For viewing your recordings on TV, there may be HDMI or component jacks. HDMI is simpler and more convenient as long as you have an HDMI port on your TV. Then there may also be separate audio inputs and outputs, which let you attach external microphones or listen via headphones. Some cameras also offer DLNA support. With DLNA in both camera and your TV or media device, you can be sure of playing back your video without conversion.


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The Sony Bloggie MHS-CM5 camera has USB 2.0 and HDMI outputs, and records in H.264/MPEG-4 for direct upload to Web or portable player. It also has face detection and image stabilization.


Image Stabilization

Also called shake reduction or steady shot, image stabilization is one of the most important features to make its way into consumer camcorders in recent years. As resolution gets higher, zooms get longer, and cameras get smaller, it becomes harder and harder to avoid visible camera movement while shooting.

That's where fancy electronic stabilization comes in, that automatically adjusts for small movements in the picture. As with zoom lenses, optical image stabilization is preferable to digital stabilization, where the effect is only applied after recording and reduces overall quality slightly.

While optical stabilization is great, the poor man's solution is simply to use a tripod, or steady your camera against a tree or wall. We keep a little flexible tripod, that can wrap around a pipe or tree branch or sit on a table, in our camera bag at all times.


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The sure-fire way to stabilize your shots is to use a tripod.


Face Tracking

Face tracking, or face detection, is another recent innovation that can greatly improve the quality of your video. By recognizing faces in the picture, the camera can adjust focus and color for sharp subjects and natural skin tones, no matter where they are in the frame. Some cameras even let you touch the face that you want to prioritize on their LCDs.


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Face tracking lets you shoot off-center subjects easily.


Geotagging

With geotagging, you'll always know exactly where a video or photo was shot. Cameras with this capability have built-in GPS receivers, and "tag" your videos so you can view them on a map. This is an especially good feature for outdoor sports and travel. Imagine recording your location as you shoot while hiking the Appalachian Trail or cruising in the Caribbean.

Some cameras also allow geotagging with external GPS receivers, by connecting them via Bluetooth.


Video Panoramas

Probably the coolest new feature to show up in camcorders at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show is 360-degree video panorama recording. Found in an inexpensive pocket cam, the 360-degree recording is achieved with a special lens attachment. It works for both photos and videos.


Still Photo Capability

Last but not least, we would be remiss if we didn't mention that today's camcorders are often also excellent still cameras. This combination lets you carry just one camera in your pocket, instead of two, although the still capability won't be as feature-filled or convenient as that of a dedicated camera. Look for at least 5-megapixel still photo support, plus the ability to switch quickly between still and video modes. You don't want to miss the shot because you were fumbling with controls or menus!

December 16, 2009

How to Extract Video and Audio Clips from DVDs with Toast 10

Have you ever wanted to copy video or audio clips from a DVD to put on your iPod or use in other projects? Now you can! Toast 10 Titanium lets you select and extract just the video scenes (or parts of scenes) you want from your non-encrypted DVDs. You can then convert them and send them to iTunes in one step. You can even combine clips from various scenes on your DVD, selecting just the highlights you want, and eliminating the rest. Clip out a scene from that DVD of your sister's wedding and add it to a family movie disc, or extract the music from that movie or concert DVD and listen to it anywhere. Here's how:


1. Bring in Your DVD

Open Toast and click on the Convert tab, then select the Video Files project type. Add a non-encrypted DVD disc or DVD-Video folder (VIDEO_TS folder) to your project by dragging it into the Toast window.


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Bringing your DVD into Toast.


2. Open the Toast Video Editor

Now open the Toast Video Editor by clicking on the Extract button on the right of your DVD movie. The editing window will open up showing the video with a timeline at the bottom.


DVDExtract2.jpg

The Toast Video Editor window.


3. Select Your Clips

The Toast Video Editor includes a pair of in/out markers on the far left and right of the timeline. Drag these to mark the beginning and ending points of a clip you want to extract. If you want to extract another segment from the same video, first move the cursor above the timeline to a point outside the original selection, then click the marker button centered below the timeline to add an additional set of in/out markers.


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Selecting DVD clips in the Toast Video Editor.


Repeat the process for each segment you want to select. You can move, clear or invert your markers at any time if you change your mind or make a mistake. Finally save your changes by choosing "Close Editor" from the View menu.


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Use the Clear All and Invert Markers options at lower right to change your selections if needed.


4. Convert & Export Your Clips

Now that you've marked your desired clips, all that's left is to convert and export them. Click the big red Convert button at bottom right, and a dialog box will open where you can select output options.


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Video output conversion options.


First choose the device or format you want to save to, such as iPhone or QuickTime movie. Then select a quality level (we recommend using the default options for your output device). Finally, choose a destination for your video, such as iTunes, your Movies folder, or the Desktop. Click the Convert button, and you're done!

Now enjoy your DVD clips on your portable player, upload them to the Web, or use them in your other video projects, including iMovies.

November 17, 2009

Make A Holiday PhotoShow

Want to make a Holiday PhotoShow like this one? Then gather up your best photos, from holidays past and present, and go to PhotoShow.com to get started. In just a few minutes, you can create a fun and engaging keepsake of the season. Music, captions, and themed styles let you tell a story with your pictures.

The whole family can join in on picking photos and music, and adding captions, effects and stickers. You'll create new memories while you relive the old ones.

Play your new show on your big-screen TV for everyone to enjoy! Or put it on your Web site or blog (including Facebook and MySpace), email it to friends and relatives, transfer it to your iPod or smartphone, or burn a DVD. The sharing options are endless. Your show can also be as private or as public as you like. You control who you invite to view it.

Basic PhotoShows are free to create and share. With a Premium PhotoShow account you also get many added benefits, such as video clip support, hundreds more custom styles and artwork, and the ability to add your own MP3 tracks or use multiple music tracks in one show. Premium subscribers can also create PhotoShows offline with the downloadable desktop software, and burn their own DVDs.

So how does it all work? The best way to learn is simply to create a PhotoShow! Here, we'll go through the process of creating a Holiday PhotoShow on PhotoShow.com.

Getting Started with Roxio PhotoShow

To begin your PhotoShow, go toPhotoShow.com and click the Sign In button at upper right, if you aren't signed in already. Or click Sign Up to create a new account. Now click the "Make a PhotoShow" button at the top, which brings you to the first step: adding your photos.


HolidayPS1.jpg

Click to enlarge.


Next, click the Add Photos button so you can upload pictures from your hard drive. You can select as many files as you like at one time; just hold down the Control key (or Command key on the Mac) to select additional photos in the same folder. Click the Add more... button to add more photos from different locations. You can import photos from Facebook, Flickr, Picasa and Shutterfly, too (choose the account first from the list on the right). If you have a Premium account, you can also select video clips from your camcorder to upload. Once you've added all the photos for your show, your screen should look like this (notice the video at the bottom of the list):


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Click to enlarge.


Finally, click the Upload button to send all your photos and videos to PhotoShow.com. You'll see a progress bar as each file uploads.

Customizing Your PhotoShow

Now the fun begins! You'll be asked to enter a title for your PhotoShow, as well as a creator and "star(s)." These credits will be shown at both the beginning and end of your show. Be as whimsical or serious as you like, depending on the subject matter.


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Click to enlarge.


Next, pick the overall Style, or theme, for your PhotoShow. There are dozens to choose from. Click the More Styles button to browse the additional themes available to Premium members. You can also customize the timing for each slide, if desired, letting some slides stay onscreen longer than others, using the drop-down Speed menu and slider.


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Click to enlarge.


Here, we've picked the Christmas style; other Premium holiday options include Thanksgiving, Hannukah, New Year's, Happy Holidays, and Winter. You can quickly preview your show with any number of styles to see what is best for you in the thumbnail at upper right.


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Click to enlarge.


If you have any questions about PhotoShow features as you go, simply click the little question mark icon to open the Tips panel on the side, which provides context-sensitive help.


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Click to enlarge.


With the style picked, it's time to arrange our photos and add some background music (notice that we're simply following the tabs at the top from left to right -- although you can select tabs in any order). Under the Music & Photos tab, you can drag your photos around into any order, rotate them (using the popup icon at the lower left corner of each photo), delete photos, and add additional music tracks. Premium users can also upload their own MP3s.

First, we'll arrange the photos and videos in the order that we want them to appear by dragging them around. We've got two vintage items: one photo and one video, taken in the early 60s, that we want to show first, so we'll move them to the beginning, and also rearrange the rest of the slides.


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Click to enlarge.


Next, we want to select a more upbeat music track for the contemporary portion of the show, so we'll slide over the blue handle at the end. The blue handles define the start and end of each music track. Now we can click the music icon in the top right corner of the third photo to pick a new track for the rest of the slides.


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Click to enlarge.


The More Music window will open, where you can select other PhotoShow tracks, or upload your own if you have a Premium account. We've picked Jingle Bells as our second track below.


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Click to enlarge.


Now you can see how the show looks with two songs. Each is represented by a different color. You can drag the blue handle in the middle to change the crossover point of the two tracks. You can also add and remove photos at any time.


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Click to enlarge.


Moving on down the line, we come to the Captions tab. Captions can be added in any size or width of text, in several different styles, and dragged into position anywhere on your image. This makes it easy to customize captions for each slide. Captions are where you can get really funny and creative, bringing your photos alive for your viewers. Simply click the Next button to add captions to each slide in your show.


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Click to enlarge.


New to PhotoShow.com this month is the ability to resize the editing window, so you can see more options at one time, and preview your show in full size in real time while you edit. Enlarge the picture below to see what a difference it makes!


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Click to enlarge.


The fun doesn't stop there: you can also add speech bubbles, more titles, stickers, and borders. Premium subscribers get more options for these. Here we've added a bubble to one of our slides.


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Click to enlarge.


And below we've added a couple stickers to another slide. Stickers are basically animated graphics, in tons of fun shapes and themes. You'll find everything from mistletoe and Santa's caps, to hopping Easter bunnies and flying Halloween witches in the sticker library.


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Click to enlarge.


Finally, borders are great for adding interest to your entire show. Here's an example of what borders look like, although we have not applied one to our final show. There are many other themes to choose from, as well as plain picture-frame styles.


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Click to enlarge.


Sharing Your Show

You can continue to play with your show and add or change elements. When you're finished, click the Preview button to check out the complete show.

Assuming everything is okay, click the Done button to start sharing! There are four basic sharing options: you can email a link to view your show to friends and family; post the show to your Web page or blog; or purchase your show on DVD. With a Premium account, you can also save your show to your hard drive in MP4 format, for viewing on your iPod or other portable player, and burn your own DVDs.

To transfer a show to your iPod or iPhone (with a Premium account), click the "Save as MP4 video" button at lower right. In a few minutes, you'll received an emailed link to download your MP4 show to your desktop. MP4s can be dragged and dropped right into iTunes for syncing with your iPod, or transferred to any other media player that supports MP4 video, including PSPs.


HolidayPS16.jpg

Click to enlarge.


Now, wasn't that fun and easy?

October 28, 2009

Making Sense of Video Formats

Digital video quality has been improving rapidly, thanks to ever better and more efficient compression algorithms. But the consequent alphabet soup of acronyms (MPEG-1, 2, 4, DV, HDV, AVCHD, H.264, DivX, Flash etc.) out there just seems to grow with every technology advance. However, thanks to Roxio video burning and editing software's ability to convert to and from most formats there are really only a few you need to worry about.


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Creator 2010 takes the pain out of these conversions, by providing presets for most popular output formats. You simply choose the files you want to convert from the list on the left, and your outpout device from the handy visual guide on the left.


Here's a guide to the most common formats you'll see around the Web:

H.264/MPEG-4 AVC (advanced video codec) — This is the highly efficient format used by most new portable players, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, Apple TV and Sony PSP. It's also used by a lot of web video chat and conferencing programs, and is popular for streaming video due to its compact size.

AVCHD — A high-def video format based on H.264 video that has taken the camcorder market by storm. Most flash and hard-disk-based camcorders record in AVCHD. Discs, including DVDs, authored as AVCHD are playable in most Blu-ray players.

DV/HDV — DV is the original consumer digital camcorder format. All MiniDV tape camcorders are either DV or HDV, the new high-def version. DV is a special high-quality standard definition video format that is very space-consuming. By contrast, HDV uses the MPEG-2 compression scheme, the same used by DVDs (although in a higher resolution), so it can fit a decent amount of high-def video onto the same size tapes. Both are excellent quality, but are being displaced by AVCHD due to AVCHD's even smaller file sizes and easier handling.

DivX — DivX is both a brand name for products from DivX Inc., and a compression format noted for its extreme encoding efficiency. Movies encoded in DivX format maintain surprising quality, even in high-definition. Both Roxio Creator for Windows and Toast for Mac can convert video to DivX format.

Flash — The format used by YouTube and much other web-based video. Requires Flash Player to decode, as well as special authoring tools. Best avoided by consumers except for playback.

WMV9 — Windows Media Video 9 is the Microsoft implementation of the VC-1 SMPTE HD video standard. VC-1 is an efficient codec that can be played back in set-top Blu-ray players, and WMV9 can support both unprotected and DRM (copy-protected) material.

QuickTime or MOV — QuickTime files (usually with the .MOV extension), can contain almost any type of video format within them. QuickTime is basically a wrapper that tells the QuickTime Player how to decode whatever is contained inside. Since QuickTime is a system-level architecture, many applications can play QuickTime files in addition to Apple's player. You will need to have the QuickTime framework installed on your PC or Mac, however.

For more information on any of these formats, we highly recommend Wikipedia.

Popcorn 4's Top 5 Tricks

With Popcorn® 4 you can enjoy your video anywhere you want, on the device of your choice. You can make high quality copies of your DVDs and movies (even fitting up to 4 hours of video on a single-layer DVD), and convert DVDs and other videos (including TiVo® shows!) for your iPhone, iPod or other portable player. You can also save streaming Web videos from your favorite web sites and burn them to DVD for viewing on your big-screen TV! Popcorn 4 makes it easier than ever to enjoy your video anywhere.

But that's just the beginning, there's lots more. Popcorn 4's top five new tricks are:

  • DVD Clip Extraction: Extract video clips or music from any DVD-Video and convert to the format of your choice
  • Mac2TiVo: Stream video from your Mac to your TiVo DVR — perfect for home videos
  • Scheduled Conversions: Save time by setting your video conversions to run when you're away from the computer
  • YouTube™ Publishing: Send converted videos directly to YouTube
  • Adobe Flash Conversion: Convert your videos to the Flash FLV format for easy online posting and sharing

Read on to learn more about each of these features.


Extract Clips from DVDs

Popcorn 4 lets you extract both video clips and music from unencrypted DVD-Video discs and VIDEO_TS folders. You just mark clips, or areas of the DVD-Video you want to extract, and then export them to the format of your choice. This feature is perfect for sharing short clips online, or using clips in presentations and demos. You can also extract the music only from concert DVDs to put on your iPod or other music player.

To extract video clips from your DVD begin a Convert>Video Files project. Then insert your unencrypted DVD-Video disc. From the Popcorn Media Browser, select DVD from the top menu and then drag your DVD into the project window. You can also drag in a VIDEO_TS from the Finder.

Now that your DVD is dragged into the project, you will see the Extract DVD Clip dialog. Select the video title you would like to extract a clip from in the pull-down Title menu. Also select the audio track(s) you'd like to use from the DVD, including any alternate languages.

To select the portion of the video title you want to extract, click the play button to preview the DVD title. Now you'll see a timeline below the clip. Drag the Clip Start Marker and Clip End Marker so that the area of video you would like to extract is between them. Alternatively you can change the value of Start Chapter or End Chapter to have the clip markers move to those positions.

Finally click the + button at the bottom left of the window. This will add your selected clip to the list of clips to extract. You can click on the name of the clip in the list to make changes to the name. If you want to extract more clips, simply select another video title and repeat the same steps.

When you're finished selecting clips, click the Add button. Your video clips will be added to the Convert>Video Files project. Now all you have to do is click the red Copy button. The Player Setup dialog will appear and you can export all of the clips to the format of your choice.


Popcorn4DVDExtract.jpg

Extracting (click to enlarge).


If you'd like to extract audio only from a DVD-video disc, the procedure is similar. First, begin a Convert>Audio Files project. Then follow the same procedure for extracting video clips above. Now when you press the red Copy button, you'll be able to select the audio format you would like to use for extracted music.


Send Videos from Mac to TiVo

Popcorn has been able to transfer shows from your networked TiVo to your Mac for years now, using TiVo Transfer. But in Popcorn 4, we've added the capability to copy and stream videos back from your Mac to your TiVo! Now you can view those home movies you transferred from your digital camcorder on the big screen easily. Here's how:

First, open the Mac2TiVo application in the Popcorn folder. You'll be prompted to enter your TiVo Media Access Key in order to authorize file transfers. (The Media Access Key is available in the Messages & Settings>Account System Information area of TiVo Central.) You'll only need to do this once. Now simply drag video folders to the Mac2TiVo window (either standard or HD), and they will be converted to the necessary format automatically. Finally, click the "Start Server" button to send the videos to the Now Playing list on your TiVo.


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Streaming video from your Mac to your TiVo DVR with Mac2TiVo (click to enlarge).



Schedule Video Conversions

Even though Popcorn is as efficient as possible, converting video takes time, and can drastically slow down your machine in the process. With Popcorn 4, you can now queue up and schedule CPU-intensive video conversions to run when you're away from the computer, eliminating downtime. You can also pause and resume conversions at any time, so you are always in control of your computer. Even better, Popcorn 4's improved video preview quality ensures no unpleasant surprises after conversion — what you see is what you'll get. You can even save Preview clips at different settings to compare quality, and then choose the best one for the full conversion.

To schedule your conversion, begin your Convert>Video Files project and get to the point to where the Player Setup dialog appears. Next, select your Device, Quality, and Save To destination from the available options. Now click the Schedule button, select "At Exact Time," and specify when your video conversion should begin. You can also choose "Countdown" and select the number of hours and minutes before conversion.

Finally, click OK. Popcorn 4 will minimize to the dock, and a schedule icon will appear over the normal Popcorn icon to indicate that a video conversion has been scheduled. Note that Popcorn must remain running for the conversion to occur at the scheduled time; however you can switch to other user accounts using Fast User Switching.


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Scheduling video conversions means no more enforced coffee breaks (click to enlarge).



Publish Videos Direct to YouTube

Any video you convert with Popcorn 4 can also be sent directly to your YouTube account. You can select a title, category, description, and sharing options — then post to YouTube with a click. You can even publish your AVCHD home videos — saving significant time over iMovie since no lengthy conversion is required. Here's how.

First, start your Convert>Video Files project as you would any other, by adding video(s) to the project window using the Media Browser or dragging from the Finder. Then click the red Copy button and select YouTube from the Device pulldown.

Next, select your Quality level. You will notice the destination option is not available, this is normal because your destination is YouTube. Now click the Convert button and you'll be prompted with a YouTube dialog to enter information about your video.

If your YouTube account name is not shown in the Account pulldown, click Add and follow the instructions to enter your account details or create a new account. Then select the appropriate YouTube category for your video, and enter description and tag information.

You can also enable the "Make this movie private" option if you don't want other users to be able to see your video unless you explicitly share it with them. Finally, click Upload, and you video will be converted and uploaded to YouTube. Once complete, you can change your description and other details if desired by logging into your account on the YouTube site.


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Publishing videos direct from Popcorn to YouTube (click to enlarge).



Convert Videos to Flash for Your Website

FLV and F4V, or Flash Video, are widely used formats for storing video that will be played back in Web browsers using Adobe Flash Player. Most video you watch on sites like YouTube is in this format. Popcorn 4 now allows you to turn your own video into FLV or F4V for Adobe Flash playback. Popcorn even generates the HTML template and video player controls you need for posting Flash video online. Here's how:

First, start a Convert>Video Files project as you normally would, by adding video from any source, including the Media Browser, to the Content Area. Then click the red Copy button, and select Flash Video (FLV) or Flash Video (F4V) from the Device pulldown. The format displayed here can be changed in Popcorn Preferences; F4V is Adobe's current recommendation. Next, select a quality level and destination for your converted video. Finally, click the Convert button and your video will be exported into the selected Flash video format.

There is also a "Flash Video with Player" option available from the Device pulldown menu. Selecting this option will not only convert your video into FLV or F4V video for Adobe Flash, but will also create an HTML template and video playback controller to make it easy to insert your Flash video into any Web page.


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Exporting video in Flash format for sharing on the Web.


October 22, 2009

Converting TiVo Shows for your Mac or iPod

Wouldn't it be great to transfer your TiVo® DVR recordings to your Mac laptop, iPhone or iPod for viewing on the road? Or save them to DVD or Blu-ray disc to build up your video library? Or copy home videos from your Mac to your TiVo DVR so you can watch them on the big screen at any time? Now you can!

All you need is Toast 10 Titanium and a compatible networked TiVo DVR (click here for instructions on networking your TiVo). You can even set up automatic transfers that work together with your Season Passes, so your favorite shows will be waiting for you on your Mac whenever you want to watch them. You can also edit out unwanted portions from the shows you transfer to save space on your portable player. Here's how:


Transfer Shows from TiVo to Mac

Whether you want to send your TiVo shows to your iPhone or burn them to DVD, the first step is to transfer them to your Mac with the TiVo Transfer application. When you install Toast 10, you'll be asked if you want to enable TiVo Transfers. If you didn't check the box at first, you can enable TiVo support later by launching the Toast Setup Assistant from the Toast Help menu.


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Enabling TiVo Transfers in the Toast Setup Assistant.


Now launch the TiVo Transfer application from the Toast 10 folder, or from the Extras menu in Toast. You'll be asked to enter the Media Access Key for your TiVo, which you only have to do once. To retrieve your key, go to "My TiVo" at TiVo.com, click on "My Account" and sign in. Finally, click on "View Media Access Key," copy the number, and paste it into TiVo Transfer. You can also find your Media Access Key in TiVo Central, under Messages & Settings>>Account & System Information.


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Entering the Media Access Key for your TiVo.


After entering your Media Access Key, you'll see the main window of TiVo Transfer. The TiVo DVRs list at bottom left displays all TiVo DVRs detected on your home network. Click on one to view all shows in the Now Playing List for that DVR.


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Viewing available recordings on your networked TiVo DVRs (click to enlarge).


Next, choose shows to transfer by selecting them and clicking the Start Transfer button. (Make sure you have enough hard disk space for your transfers, HD recordings can be large.) Some shows (mostly from premium movie channels) may have a red slash next to them, indicating they are copy-protected and cannot be transferred.

The shows will then appear in the Active Transfers list until they have finished copying to your Mac. Transfers happen in the background, and you can keep working on other things in the meantime.

When completed, the shows will be displayed in the TiVo Recordings list. You can watch these shows on your Mac with the Toast Video Player simply by double-clicking.


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Shows in the TiVo Recordings list are on your Mac and can be used in any Toast video project (click to enlarge).


If you have Season Passes on your TiVo, also consider using the Auto Transfer feature, which copies all new recordings of a particular show to your Mac as soon as they appear. With Auto Transfer, the latest episodes of your favorite shows can be transferred and converted overnight, and all ready to view on your Mac or sync to your iPhone or iPod in the morning. Just be sure to select your default conversion format for TiVo recording under the Toast Preferences Audio & Video tab. For conversion to iPod or DVD, read on.


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Creating an Auto Transfer for a Season Pass (click to enlarge).


Convert Shows for iPhone or iPod

Once you've transferred shows to your Mac, you can use them in your Toast video projects. To convert them for your iPhone, iPod or or other portable video player, open Toast 10, click the Convert tab, and choose the Video Files project type. Next, open the Toast Media Browser from the Window menu, select the TiVo recordings you'd like to convert, and drag them to the Toast window.


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Selecting TiVo shows to convert for iPhone or iPod (click to enlarge).


Now click the Player Setup button at bottom left and select your portable player (such as iPhone/iPod, PSP or BlackBerry) from the drop-down list that appears. Also select a quality level (higher quality takes more space) and a destination for the converted videos. Here, we've chosen to send the converted videos directly to iTunes, since we will be syncing them to an iPhone. You can also save them to any location on your hard drive, or send them directly to Roxio Streamer for remote viewing via the Web (read more about Streamer below).


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Selecting the iPhone/iPod conversion format.


At this point you can click the red Export button and start the conversion (which can be paused and resumed at any time), but you can also take a little time to trim out unwanted portions of the videos first. This has the advantage of saving space on your portable player.

To trim a video, first click the Edit button next to it. Then click Edit again within the box that appears. This will open the editing window.


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Opening the Toast video editing window (click to enlarge).


To trim out any portion, simply move the play head at the top of the timeline bar to the point at which you want to start cutting, and then click the trim button at bottom, which inserts a set of two markers at that point. Then grab the right-hand marker and move it to the place where you want to stop cutting. The video in between the two markers, represented by hash marks, will be trimmed out. Keep inserting more markers to trim out more portions. When you're finished, your video will look something like this:


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Trimming unwanted portions from a TiVo show (click to enlarge).


Now choose Save from the Edit menu to save your changes and close the editing window. Thanks to trimming, Mad Men has now been reduced from 1:01:59 to 47:08, a 24 percent space savings. Finally, click the red Export button to start the conversion.

The conversion process will take a while, and you'll see an encoding progress bar. Once finished, open iTunes and check out your new videos! You can play them back within iTunes, or sync them to your iPod or iPhone next time you connect.


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Converted TiVo shows in iTunes, ready for syncing to iPhone or iPod (click to enlarge).


Burn Shows to DVD or Blu-ray Disc

Archiving shows to DVD or Blu-ray disc is a great way to free up space on your TiVo and build up your video library. You can then play them back later on your TV or computer at any time. To archive a show, simply start a new DVD-Video or Blu-ray Video project in Toast, open the Media Browser from the Window menu, and select shows to burn from the list of TiVo recordings on your Mac (as illustrated in the previous section). The bar at the bottom will tell you how much disc space is used by your selections, and how much is still available.

If you have a Blu-ray drive, you can fit two hours of full-quality HD video on a 25GB disc, and four hours on a 50GB disc. You can also burn HD recordings to DVD media that can be played in a set-top Blu-ray player, and they will be compressed as needed to fit on the disc. Simply choose the type of disc you want to use (such as single or dual-layer DVD or Blu-ray) from the drop-down list at lower right. Note that Blu-ray and HD recording requires the Toast HD/BD Plug-in (available separately, or included with Toast 10 Pro).


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Burning high-definition TiVo shows to a Blu-ray disc (click to enlarge).


Once you've selected your shows to archive, you can customize your disc using the Options panel at lower left to choose a Menu Style and other features. You can also edit each video by clicking the button next to it. This allows you to change the title, customize chapter markers, and edit out unwanted portions (just like we did above).

Finally, click the red button at lower right, and your disc will be burned. You'll be prompted to insert a disc if you haven't already.


Watch TiVo Shows Remotely Using Roxio Streamer

We've covered how to transfer shows to your Mac or portable player when you're at home, but how about if you're on the road when a new show is recorded to your TiVo? With the Roxio Streamer application in Toast 10, you can set up most any Mac to stream video over the Internet in H.264 format to an iPhone or iPod Touch, or to a Mac or PC Web browser. There's even a free native iPhone app!

Using the Auto Transfer feature with Streamer, you can set things up so that your favorite new TiVo recordings are automatically transferred to your Mac, converted with Toast, and added to your Streamer list. You'll be able to view them from your broadband-connected computer or iPhone/iPod Touch as soon as they are in Streamer. This also frees up precious phone storage space.


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Watching shows in Roxio Streamer on an iPhone (click to enlarge).


Is your favorite team in the playoffs and you can't watch the game in your hotel? Use TiVo's ability to schedule shows from the Web or iPhone, and Apple's Back to My Mac remote access capability to set up the transfer and add it to your Streamer list!

You'll need a high-speed Internet connection at both ends (such as Wi-Fi or 3G cellular), but once videos are added to the Streamer content list, they are available for remote viewing at any time. Read our complete Streamer tutorial here.


Send Videos from Mac to TiVo

One of the hot new features in Toast 10 is the ability to copy and stream videos back from your Mac to your TiVo. This makes it easy to view those home movies from your digital camcorder on the big screen. You can transfer pretty much any video you have on your Mac, including Web videos you've captured with the Toast Web Video Capture feature. Here's how:

First, open Mac2TiVo in the Toast 10 applications folder. You'll be prompted to enter your TiVo Media Access Key in order to authorize file transfers. (See above for how to find your Media Access Key.) Now simply drag video folders to the Mac2TiVo window, and they will be converted to the necessary format automatically. Finally, click the "Start Server" button to send the videos to the Now Playing list on your TiVo.


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Streaming video using the Mac2TiVo application (click to enlarge).


September 22, 2009

Capture & Convert Web Video with Toast 10

Ever wish you could save YouTube or other Flash-based streaming Web video to your hard disk so you can play it offline? Or wanted to tranfer YouTube clips to your iPod, PSP or other portable player? Now you can, with Toast 10's Web video capture feature.

There are just a few simple steps: To start, open Toast, click the Convert tab, and choose the Video Files project type. Next, open the Media Browser by clicking on the icon at top right, or selecting it from the Window menu. Finally, select "Web video" from the drop-down list of media types. Now Toast is all ready to capture.


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Preparing to capture Web video (click to enlarge).

To start capturing video, simply open your Web browser and play the video you want to record. Toast will automatically capture it for you, and then add it to the Media Browser Web video list. Continue playing and capturing as many clips as you like. Below, we've captured several YouTube clips.


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Captured clips displayed in the Media Browser (click to enlarge).

Now drag the clips to the project window to convert them to the desired playback format (the Flash-format captures will not be saved after you quit Toast, so be sure to convert them first). Click the Record button, and you'll be prompted to select your playback device and quality level. You can save the converted videos directly to iTunes if you like, or to a folder. We've opted to send our videos to iTunes below, so we can transfer them to an iPhone.


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Sending captured video to iTunes.

Now you can preserve and enjoy your favorite Web videos anywhere, without an Internet connection!


Make a Halloween PhotoShow

Revive the ghosts of Halloweens past. Create a PhotoShow of your family's best costumes, scariest pumpkins and spookiest decorations for an eye-popping treat that will be the highlight of any holiday party. You can create a dynamic multimedia show with music, special effects and animation in minutes. Watch the kids grow, costume by costume!

Better yet, involve the whole family in making it. Everyone can have fun gathering photos, choosing music, and adding captions and special effects. You'll create new memories while you relive the old ones.

Play your spooky show on your big-screen TV as a backdrop to your Halloween celebrations, even use it in a haunted house! Or put it on your Web site or blog (including Facebook and MySpace), email it to friends and relatives, or burn a DVD. The sharing options are endless. Your show can also be as private or as public as you like. You control who you invite to view it.

Basic PhotoShows are free to create and share. However, a Premium PhotoShow account brings many benefits like video support, hundreds more custom styles and artwork, the ability to adding your own music tracks, and offline PhotoShow creation using the matching desktop software.

So how does it all work? The best way to learn is simply to create a PhotoShow! Here, we'll go through the process of creating a Halloween PhotoShow on PhotoShow.com.

Getting Started with Roxio PhotoShow

To begin your PhotoShow, go toPhotoShow.com and click the Sign In button at upper right, if you aren't signed in already. Or click Sign Up to create a new account. Now click the button labeled "Start Your PhotoShow Now," which brings you to the first step: adding your photos.


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Click to enlarge.


Now click the Add Photos button so you can upload pictures from your hard disk. You can select as many files as you like at one time; just hold down the Control key (or Command key on the Mac) to select additional photos in the same folder. Click the Add more... button to add more photos from different locations. You can import photos from Facebook, Flickr, Picasa and Shutterfly, too (choose the account first from the list on the right). If you have a Premium account, you can also select video clips from your camcorder to upload. Once you've added all the photos for your show, your screen should look like this:


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Click to enlarge.


Finally, click the Upload button to send all your photos and videos to PhotoShow.com. You'll see a progress bar as each file uploads.

Customizing Your PhotoShow

Now the fun begins! You'll be asked to enter a title for your PhotoShow, as well as a creator and "star(s)." These credits will be shown at both the beginning and end of your show. Be as whimsical or serious as you like, depending on the subject matter.


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Click to enlarge.


Next, pick the overall Style, or theme, for your PhotoShow. There are dozens to choose from, such as Father's Day, Graduation, Summer, and more. Click the More button to view additional styles available to Premium members.


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Click to enlarge.


Here, we've picked Halloween, of course! You can quickly preview your show with any number of styles to see what is best for you. You can also customize the timing for each slide, if desired, letting some slides stay onscreen longer than others.


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Click to enlarge.


With the Halloween Style picked, it's time to arrange our photos and add some background music (notice that we're simply following the tabs at the top from left to right -- although you can select tabs in any order). Under the Music & Photos tab, you can drag your photos around into any order, rotate them (using the popup icon at the lower left corner of each photo), delete photos, and add additional music tracks. Premium users can also upload their own MP3s.


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Click to enlarge.


First, we'll arrange the photos and videos in the order that we want them to appear by dragging them around. Next, we want to add a new music track for the trick-or-treating portion of the show, called "Dancing in the Streets," so we'll slide over the blue handle at the beginning to the next to last photo. The blue handles define the start and end of each music track.


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Click to enlarge.


Now we'll select the first photo and click the popup music icon to choose the song. It will be applied to all the photos up to the start of the next track. You can add even more tracks if you like, and Premium subscribers can upload their own MP3s to use as background music.


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Click to enlarge.


Now you can see how the show looks with two songs. Each is represented by a different color. You can drag the blue handle in the middle to change the crossover point of the two tracks. You can also add and remove photos at any time.


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Click to enlarge.


Moving on down the line, we come to the Captions tab. Captions can be added in any size or width of text, in several different styles, and dragged into position anywhere on your image. This makes it easy to customize captions for each slide. Captions are where you can get really funny and creative, bringing your photos alive for your viewers. Simply click the Next button to add captions to each slide in your show.


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Click to enlarge.


The fun doesn't stop there: you can also add speech bubbles, more titles, stickers, and borders. Premium subscribers get more options for all of these. Here we've added a bubble to one of our slides.


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Click to enlarge.


And here we've added a couple stickers to another slide. Stickers are basically animated graphics, in tons of fun shapes and themes. You'll find everything from flying ghosts and witches to hopping Easter bunnies in the sticker library.


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Click to enlarge.


Finally, borders are great for adding interest to your entire show. We've selected the Halloween border style here. There are many other themes to choose from, as well as plain picture-frame styles.


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Click to enlarge.


Sharing Your Show

You can continue to play with your show and add or change elements. But we're finished, so we'll click the Preview button to check out the complete show.


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Click to enlarge.


Assuming everything is okay, click the Done button to start sharing! There are four basic sharing options: you can email a link to view your show to friends and family; post the show to your Web page or blog; or purchase your show on DVD. With a Premium account, you can also save your show to your hard drive in MP4 format, for viewing on your iPod or other portable player.


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Click to enlarge.


And here's the finished PhotoShow! Now, wasn't that fun and easy?

August 26, 2009

Top 10 New Features in Creator 2010

Roxio Creator 2010 and Creator 2010 Pro have literally hundreds of powerful new features that make creating digital media projects easier and more enjoyable than ever, from smart encoding of video from your AVCHD camcorder that saves hours of rendering time, to automatic capture of streaming Internet music.

Even better, Creator 2010 integrates perfectly with all your digital media devices, from digital cameras and HD camcorders to smart phones, music players, TiVos, Blu-ray players and game consoles, making it a snap to transfer and convert files between them so you can enjoy your media anywhere. It is also certified for Windows 7, so you'll be prepared for Microsoft's latest OS.

There are full lists of what's new on the Creator 2010 and Creator 2010 Pro pages, respectively. Here, we've picked ten of the best new features to show you how they work.

1. Archive HD Video Direct-to-Disc

If you have an AVCHD camcorder, this feature alone is worth the upgrade to Creator 2010. AVCHD camcorders typically hold only a few hours of video, so they need to be emptied frequently -- resulting in hard drive overload.

Instead of clogging up your hard drive, Creator 2010 lets you burn AVCHD archive discs straight from your camcorder to DVD or Blu-ray Disc (Blu-ray Disc burning requires the optional High-Def/Blu-ray Plug-in, which is included with Creator 2010). These discs are playable in your set-top Blu-ray player, no editing needed! And you don't need an expensive Blu-ray drive if you burn AVCHD on DVDs. All you do is plug in your camcorder, open Creator and choose the AVCHD Archive task, select the clips you want to burn, and go!


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Burning an archive of the contents of an AVCHD camcorder's flash drive direct to disc (click to enlarge).

HDV camcorder owners can also send their videos straight from tape to DVD or Blu-ray Disc with Creator 2010's Plug & Burn feature. Between AVCHD Archive and Plug & Burn, Creator has all its HD bases covered.


2. Transfer Your Videos Fast with Smart Encoding

HD camcorders provide top-quality video. But that very high quality also usually means long encoding times when you transfer the video to discs. With Creator 2010, you can skip the wait and chop hours off your video projects, thanks to Smart Encoding. With Smart Encoding, Creator automatically determines which sections of video need reencoding (such as titles and transitions), and leaves the remaining footage in its original form, so encoding is reduced to the absolute minimum. This has the added advantage of preserving original video quality as much as possible. Creator 2010 is one of the first applications to support Smart Encoding for both AVCHD and HDV videos!


3. Accelerate Video Conversions up to 5X

Creator 2010 now leverages the NVidia® CUDA™ and ATI® Stream technologies in certain graphics cards to speed up video encoding and conversion up to five times, a huge boost. NVidia CUDA works with AVC(H.264) video, while ATI Stream accelerates both AVC and MPEG2 encoding. Check the NVidia and ATI Web sites to see if your card supports one of these great new technologies.


4. Output Easily with Presets for Your Device

Creator 2010 lets you enjoy your media anywhere: on your PC, website, smartphone, portable player, game console, DVD or Blu-ray player, TiVo, and more. Creator also makes it a snap to convert files for playback on any device. Just choose your output medium visually from the scrolling gallery, press the Convert button, and you're done! There's no need to understand video formats to get the right results. But if you do want to tweak your encoding parameters, simply click the Custom button to get full access.


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Converting video for iPhone with streamlined output presets (click to enlarge).


5. Pause/Resume & Schedule Video Conversions

Creator 2010 makes those long video conversion projects (such as converting HD video to MP4 for YouTube or your iPhone) way more convenient by add Pause/Resume and scheduling features. With Creator 2010, you can now queue up and schedule conversions to take place whenever you're away from your PC, pause them when you get back, and resume them later. No more system slowdowns while video is encoding!


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With Creator 2010, you can pause and resume video conversion projects any time you want (click to enlarge).


6. Save & Convert Web Video

With Creator 2010, you can now capture Flash-based Web video (such as YouTube) direct to your hard drive, then transfer it to DVD or your portable player, or use it in any of your video projects.

To capture, simply open Creator, choose Video-Movies and the Copy and Convert Video task, then click on the Convert Video tab. Now click the Web Video button and you'll be prompted to open your browser and start playing your video. When your video is finished playing, it will appear in the list on the left of the window. You can keep playing more videos and add them to the list.

When you're done, choose your output device from the options on the right, and press the Convert button. That's all there is to it!


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Capturing and converting Web video for playback anywhere (click to enlarge).


7. Capture Internet Radio

If you've ever wanted to capture songs from Internet radio, Creator 2010 is the solution. Not only can it automatically capture any audio streaming to your computer, it can identify songs automatically for you, and even send them to iTunes or your portable player! Build your music library easily.

To capture, open Roxio Home, then select the Music-Audio tab and choose Capture Audio from Sound Card. Also choose Separate Tracks to have Creator automatically divide the music stream into tracks and transferred to your iTunes library. When you press the Record button whatever is playing on your computer will start to be captured. You can stop at any time.


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Capturing Internet radio and saving it straight to iTunes (click to enlarge).


8. Drag & Drop Burning Straight from the Desktop

Just need to copy a disc or burn some files to give to a friend or colleague? There's no need to fire up the full Creator application. Instead, insert a blank disc in your drive, and the Roxio Burn icon will show up on your desktop. Simply drag and drop your files or folders onto the icon, then press the burn button! Or insert a previously burned disc and use Roxio Burn to make a quick copy. You can even use it to erase rewriteable discs. The disc icon fills up to indicate how full your burned disc will be.


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Roxio Burn lets you drag and drop files to burn right on the desktop.


9. Create Dazzling Multimedia Slideshows

Creator 2010 now integrates with Photoshow.com, to let you turn your photos and video clips into engaging slideshows complete with music and professionally-designed graphics. Finished PhotoShows can be burned to DVD or shared online in your personal PhotoShow.com gallery. See the Roxio YouTube PhotoShow channel for video tutorials.


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Roxio Burn lets you drag and drop files to burn right on the desktop (click to enlarge).


10. View Step-by-Step Tutorials within Creator

Last, but not least, Creator 2010 includes a new Learning Center with full step-by-step video and PDF tutorials that will help you get started using all the new features, and many more, such as creating panoramas, editing videos, transferring LPs & tapes to DVD and converting CD audiobooks.


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Creator 2010's Learning Center has step-by-step video tutorials that help you get started quickly (click to enlarge).

July 22, 2009

Take Your Shows on the Road with Creator

Got a long road trip or plane flight coming up? Want to keep the kids happy and occupied? Put their (and your!) favorite TV shows and movies on your iPod, iPhone, PSP, or other media player (including in-car DVD players), using Creator 2009’s handy Video Copy & Convert feature.

Creator 2009 makes it simple to convert non-protected DVDs, DVD Video_TS folders, home movie clips or downloaded videos to portable player and cell phone formats, including MPEG-4, MPEG-2, WMV, 3GP and DivX. You can even convert TV shows you’ve recorded with Windows Media Center or copied from your networked TiVo with TiVo Desktop software, and send the results directly to iTunes or sync to your mobile device.

To start, open the Creator 2009 Launcher and choose the "Copy & Convert DVD-Video" task from the Video - Movies tab (don't worry, it's not just for DVDs!). You'll see a window with two selection panes. The left pane is where you choose the source videos you want to convert, and the right pane is where you tell Creator what format you want to convert them to. Click the DVD Video Copy button if you want to copy an entire DVD, and the Video Compilation button to select portions of DVDs and/or videos already on your hard drive.

Below, we've selected a few videos from our hard drive, in various formats (a high-def TV show recorded in Windows Media Center, a downloaded DivX file and a TiVo recording), and selected iPod as the output format. To send the converted video directly to your device, choose "Portable Device/Media" as the output destination.


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The Video Copy & Convert window showing output for iPod.

The total size of the converted videos is shown in the bar at the bottom of the window, so you can make sure you have enough space. If you like you can preview and trim movies in the left pane, by double-clicking on the thumbnails. This feature is great for removing unwanted portions of TV shows and other recordings. To tweak encoding parameters like frame rates and resolution, you can click the Options Summary button. However, we recommend sticking with the defaults for best compatibility.


Copying a DVD to Your Player

If you'd like to convert a full DVD or disc image file for playback on your portable device, choose the DVD Video Copy button. You'll see a window like the one below:


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Copying a full DVD to your portable player.

The process is just like we illustrated above. First select your DVD source file in the left-hand pane, then your output destination and format in the right-hand pane. You can copy non-copy-protected DVD-video discs to another disc, or to your hard drive or player device. Use this feature to make backup copies of your kids' DVDs for playback in car DVD systems, or to load up your laptop with movies to watch on the plane.


Syncing to Your Portable Player

Now that you've converted your video, it's time to put it on your player. If you sent the files directly to iTunes, you can simply attach your iPod or iPhone and sync. If you have another supported device, such as a Windows Mobile smartphone or Sony PSP, you can use the Media Manager to sync your files.


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The Media Manager with attached devices displayed.

To set up syncing, attach your device and select Sync Settings from the Tools menu in Media Manager if it doesn't open automatically. After that you can click the Sync button to transfer files, and use the My Devices area at bottom left to drag and drop items to be synced. See our full mobile sync tutorial here.


Using the Desktop Sync Gadget

Sometimes you just need to get that new photo or video onto your smartphone or PSP quickly. Or sync a new playlist to listen to in the car. With Creator 2009, media syncing is a snap thanks to the new SyncIt! gadget. Just drag media files onto the handy desktop gadget, and it will automatically convert and send them to your portable device.


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Using the Creator 2009 SyncIt! gadget.

All supported devices that have been connected to your computer will show up in the menu, even if the device is not currently attached. There couldn't be an easier way to convert and sync your files. The Gadget works equally well with Windows XP and Windows Vista. You can keep the gadget on your desktop, or open it from the Roxio Launcher. Click the Video - Movies tab and then choose "Drag and Drop Convert" to launch SyncIt!

So next time you're hitting the road, don't leave home without your videos. Creator 2009 makes it easy to take them with you!

June 17, 2009

Capturing Video from Your Camcorder with Toast

Want to make DVDs or Blu-ray discs of your home videos, send them to your iPhone, or upload them to YouTube? Unless you already have them on your hard disk, you'll likely need to start by capturing source video from your camcorder.

Toast 10 Titanium imports video direct from most AVCHD and DV camcorders, while Easy VHS to DVD for Mac digitizes video from analog camcorders and VCRs. In this tutorial, we'll show you how to capture digital video with Toast. For analog video, see our separate tutorial on capturing with Easy VHS to DVD.

AVCHD Camcorder Import

You can import video clips from your AVCHD camcorder in two ways. If you just want to archive your clips to disc so you can erase and reuse the storage in your camcorder, choose "AVCHD Archive" under the Video project tab. Then attach your camcorder to your Mac. With most AVCHD camcorders this means connecting it via a USB cable and turning it on in playback mode. (You may also need to make some selections on your camcorder screen. See your camcorder's manual for full instructions on how to put it in the right mode for communication with your Mac.)

Once your camcorder is connected properly, it will show in the project window, and Toast will tell you how much space it will take to burn to disc. You can choose CD, DVD or Blu-ray discs for archiving. Toast will span multiple discs if needed. Finally, click the Burn button, and your video will be captured to disc for use in your future projects.


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Burning an AVCHD Archive disc.


The other way to capture clips from your AVCHD camcorder is to import them directly into your video project. First, connect your camcorder as described above. Then choose DVD-Video or Blu-ray Video under the Video project tab, and open the Media Browser from the Window menu. Your camcorder will show as "AVCHD" in the Media Browser menu. Select the clips you'd like to import, and drag them to the project window. Now you're all set to create projects such as DVD and Blu-ray discs that can be played back in your set-top Blu-ray player.


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Importing AVCHD clips into a video project.


Similarly, if you'd like to convert your videos for playback on your iPhone or iPod, or upload them to YouTube, simply drag your AVCHD files from the Media Browser into the Convert>Video Files project window instead. For YouTube, choose the "MPEG-4 Player" device type in the Player setup dialog. The resulting MPEG-4 files can be uploaded directly to YouTube in your Web browser.

DV Camcorder Import

When importing from DV camcorders, use Toast's handy Plug & Burn feature, which lets you quickly create DVDs or disc images of your video clips for archiving or use in other projects. You can import an entire tape at once, or a portion of it. After importing, you can immediately start recording your disc, or add other video or slideshows from your hard disk before recording.

To import with Plug & Burn, start a new DVD-Video or Blu-ray Video project. If you will want to burn your disc immediately after capturing, also choose your DVD options at this time, such as menu styles and encoding quality, from the bottom left of the Toast window. Next, connect your DV camcorder as directed by the manufacturer (typically via FireWire) and set it to playback mode. In a few seconds, a camcorder icon will appear in the Content area.


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Connecting your DV camcorder.


Use the camera controls in the Toast window, or on your camcorder, to fast-forward or rewind to the point where you want to begin recording. Now, click the Import button. The Plug & Burn options dialog box will appear, where you can choose to record the entire tape, or a certain number of minutes. You can also give the clip a name, and rewind the tape if necessary.

Finally, you can select whether to import and then record immediately, or just import. Choose Import if you want to record more clips or add video from other sources to your project.


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Choosing Plug & Burn options.


If you chose to record immediately, you'll also be prompted to insert a blank disc, and you can leave the project unattended until it's done, making it easy to archive your DV tapes to disc. If you chose to Import only, the finished clip will appear in the Toast project window, where you can trim it if needed, and use it in your video projects.

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The finished clip, ready to use in Toast video projects


June 16, 2009

Creating a Vacation PhotoShow

This summer, share your travels with your friends and family just when they are most interested: while you are still on the road! Roxio PhotoShow makes it a snap to create photo and video slideshows from your laptop or even your smartphone (iPhone, BlackBerry or Windows Mobile). You can create dynamic multimedia slideshows with music, special effects and animation in minutes.

The sharing options are endless, too. Invite friends and family to watch your shows on your personal Roxio Web page, embed your shows on your blog or on other sites like Facebook and MySpace, burn your shows to a DVD, even podcast your favorites and watch them on your mobile device of choice! Your shows can be as private or as public as you like.

Basic PhotoShows are free to create and share. However, a Premium PhotoShow account brings many benefits like video support, hundreds more custom styles, music and artwork, and the ability to create PhotoShows offline, using the matching desktop software.

So how does it all work? The best way to learn is simply to create a PhotoShow! Here, we'll go through the process on PhotoShow.com.

Getting Started with Roxio PhotoShow

To begin your PhotoShow, simply click the button labeled "Start Your PhotoShow Now," which brings you to the first step: adding your photos.


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At this point, click the Sign In button at upper right, if you aren't signed in already. Or click Sign Up to create a new account. Now click the Add Photos button so you can upload your pictures. You can select as many files as you like at one time; just hold down the Control key (or Command key on the Mac) to select additional photos in the same folder.



Continue adding photos until you have everything you need. You can import photos from Facebook, Flickr, and Shutterfly, too. If you have a Premium account, you can also select video clips from your camcorder to upload.

Customizing Your PhotoShow

Now the fun begins! You'll be asked to enter a title for your PhotoShow, as well as a creator and "star(s)." These credits will be shown at both the beginning and end of your show. Be as whimsical or serious as you like, depending on the subject matter. Then default PhotoShow styles will be applied, and you'll see a preview of your PhotoShow. At this point, you pick an overall Style for your show, such as Father's Day, Graduation, Summer, and more. Here, we've picked Photo Cards, a fun theme that works well with many types of photos.



Another excellent general-purpose style is Pan & Zoom, also known as the "Ken Burns" style, which he used to great effect in his Civil War series. You can quickly preview your show with any number of styles to see what is best for you. You can also customize the timing for each slide, if desired, letting some slides stay onscreen longer than others.



With the basic style down, it's time to add some background music (notice that we're simply following the tabs at the top from left to right -- although you can select tabs in any order). We chose a free track from John Lee Hooker, but with a Premium account, you can also choose any DRM-free MP3 track from your own music collection.



Next, we'll arrange the photos and videos in the order that we want them to appear by dragging them around. Note the camcorder icon on the last thumbnail. This signifies a video clip.



Moving on down the line, we come to the Captions tab. Captions can be added in any style or size of text, and positioned independently anywhere on your image. This makes it easy to customize captions for each slide. Captions are where you can get really funny and creative, bringing your photos alive for your viewers.



The fun doesn't stop there: you can also add speech bubbles, more titles, stickers, and borders. Stickers are basically animated graphics, in tons of fun shapes and themes. You'll find everything from hopping Easter bunnies to scary pumpkins in the sticker library.

Sharing Your Show

You can continue to play with your show and add or change elements. But we're finished, so we'll click the Done button and start sharing! There are four basic sharing options: you can email a link to view your show to friends and family; post the show to your Web page or blog; purchase your show on DVD; and even broadcast it to cable TV with certain providers. With a Premium account, you can also save your show to your hard drive in MP4 format, for viewing on your iPod or other portable player.


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When your recipients click the link in the PhotoShow email, they'll be brought to the PhotoShow site to view the show. If they don't already have an account, they'll be prompted to create one, since an account is needed to preserve the privacy of your shows. At that point viewers can also do things like buy photo prints or a DVD of the show, or download it for viewing on a portable media player, depending on whether they have a standard or Premium account.



We hope that's given you a taste of how easy it easy to make a PhotoShow! You can also upload photos directly from your iPhone with the PhotoShow iPhone app, or use the PhotoShow Uploaders on BlackBerry and Windows Mobile phones. It's never been easier to share your adventures securely and privately.


May 19, 2009

Getting Started with Easy VHS to DVD for Mac

Chances are you've already moved on to HDTV, but what about those piles of home movies and old TV shows you have recorded on VHS tapes? It's time to bring them into the digital era by recording them to your Mac. With Roxio Easy VHS to DVD for Mac you can burn them to DVD, upload them to YouTube, or convert them for playback on your iPod, iPhone or other portable player.

Using iMovie and Toast you can also edit your recordings, add titles and transitions, and create projects combining analog footage with that from digital camcorders.

Easy VHS to DVD for Mac includes the hardware and software you need to capture and convert almost any analog video. The video capture hardware is a small USB stick with connections for both composite and S-video sources. Simply install the software, plug in the USB stick and connect your VCR or camcorder, and you're ready to start transferring your tapes.

The program is not just for tapes. Here are some common analog video sources you can capture with Easy VHS to DVD for Mac:

  • VHS tapes from your VCR
  • Analog camcorder output (VHS, S-VHS, 8mm or Hi-8)
  • The composite or S-video output from your TV (when viewing live standard-definition channels)

Easy VHS to DVD for Mac is also perfect for recording shows from standard-definition DVRs that don't have PC transfer capabilities. Otherwise your shows are trapped forever in the DVR. (If you're lucky enough to have a networked TiVo, you can send shows to your Mac with TiVo Transfer, then burn them with Toast. TiVo Transfer is included with Toast 10 Titanium.)

Here's how to get started with Easy VHS to DVD for Mac:


Step 1: Capture Video to Your Mac

After you've installed the software and plugged the USB device into your Mac, open Easy VHS to DVD. You'll see the following screen:


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The Easy VHS to DVD for Mac Introduction window.


Here you enter some quick information about your video: name, approximate length, and desired recording quality. The approximate length is not binding -- you can start/stop your recording at any time -- it just helps to determine the disk space that will be required for your recording. For example, if you have an hour-long video, and choose 90 minutes and high quality, the program will tell you that you'll need about 4GB of hard disk space.

In the next screen, you'll select your source video (composite or S-video) and check that it is playing correctly in the preview window. If not, make sure you have connected to a set of analog output jacks on your VCR or camcorder (input jacks look the same, but will not work), and that all plugs are tight.


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Connecting and checking your video source.


Now it's time to check the audio. Make sure you can hear it through your Mac's speakers or headphones, and that the green lights are blinking in the preview window. If you have no audio, check that the red and white RCA cables are plugged into output jacks on your VCR or camcorder. If you'd like to mute the audio, and only capture video, you can do that too, by clicking the mute button at the upper left corner of the video window.


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Checking your audio source.


Now it's time to start recording! Cue up your video again to the beginning, and click the red record button to start capturing. If you'd like to automatically stop recording after the amount of time you specified at the beginning (90 minutes in this example), check the box at the bottom. Leave it unchecked to stop the recording manually by pressing the button again.


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Starting the recording.


When the recording is finished, it will be saved to your Movies folder with the name you gave it at the beginning of the project, and you'll see the following output options:


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Easy VHS to DVD for Mac output options.


You can burn your recording to DVD with Toast, send it to iMovie for editing, or save it to QuickTime Player format. You can also go back and capture more videos. QuickTime Player output will be saved to the Easy VHS to DVD folder (inside your Movies folder) in MPEG4 format, and can be dropped right into iTunes for playback on your iPod, iPhone or Apple TV.

For YouTube, it's even easier, the capture files saved to your Easy VHS to DVD folder can be uploaded directly, no additional conversion necessary. Just sign into your account in your Web browser and click the Upload button. Then select the desired capture files in Easy VHS to DVD folder.

We'll go ahead and burn our recording to DVD with Toast Basic (which is included in the Easy VHS to DVD package).


Step 2: Burn the Recording to DVD

Now that you've digitized your video, it's time to burn it to DVD. When you click the "Send to Toast" button, Toast will open with the DVD project type selected and your video already in the project window, as below.


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Burning to DVD with Toast.


At lower left, you'll see options for customizing your DVD, such as Menu Styles and whether your disc will start to play automatically on insertion. Click the More button to do things like change the Menu title of your DVD.

You can also add more videos to your DVD project using the Add button (the bar at the bottom will tell you how much space you have left on your disc, whether single or dual-layer). Finally, you can trim your videos and set the menu button title and thumbnail picture by clicking on the Edit button next to each video in the project window.

When you've got your disc set up the way you want it, click the Burn button at lower right and you're all done.

April 23, 2009

Cleaning Audio with SoundSoap for Mac

Want your sound recordings and LP transfers to sound as good as the originals? Use Toast 10 Pro's SoundSoap™ SE application to remove all types of unwanted sounds from digital audio files: hiss, room noise, rumble, electrical hum, clicks and crackles.

You can clean up music you've digitized from your aging vinyl and tapes with Toast's CD Spin Doctor application. Or massage the audio tracks from your video recordings, eliminating wind and background noise to make your dialog loud and clear.

Virtually any type of background noise can be scrubbed out quickly and easily with SoundSoap, leaving you with clean, crisp audio that sounds like you remember it—or maybe even better!

Step-by-Step: Cleaning Audio Files with SoundSoap

1. Get Started

To begin, launch SoundSoap SE from your Application folder. Then open the file you want to clean up from the File menu, such as a recording made by CD Spin Doctor. The file can be in almost any standard digital audio or video format, including QuickTime, DV (camcorder format), AVI, WAV, AIFF, MP3, MP4 (AAC) and more.


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Choosing the audio or video file you want to clean.


2. Get a noise education

You're ready to start cleaning now, but first, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the different types of noise typical of sound recordings, since each one will be tackled by a different tool in SoundSoap.

The four major types are: Broadband Noise, such as tape hiss and air-conditioner noise; Hum, typically associated with faulty or ungrounded electrical circuits and power lines; Rumble, a low-frequency noise like that from a turntable motor; and Clicks & Crackles, which are commonly found in recordings made from scratched or dirty vinyl records.

To learn more about these noise types and how to identify them, see Chapter 3 of the SoundSoap 2.2 User Guide (downloadable here).

3. Remove Click & Crackle

In the SoundSoap window, you'll be working from left to right to clean up your recording. While the various tools can be applied in any order and combination, it's best to remove certain types of noise before others. Background noise before hum, for example. And clicks and crackles first of all, since they are usually easily identifiable as abrupt peaks in waveforms.

The big "Wash Window" in the middle is a visual representation of your sound file. Red represents noise, and blue represents the desired audio. In general, the bluer it gets, the better (although your ears are the true judge). You'll see the bands move and change as you play back your file and work the noise controls.

To begin, make sure the Broadband Noise filter is off using the button at middle left. Next, start playing your audio file using the controls at the bottom. Now gradually raise the "Remove Click & Crackle" slider just enough to reduce the clicks without affecting the rest of your recording. Run through the recording a couple times to make sure of your choice. Note that this tool mainly applies to LP and tape transfers. If you are editing a video soundtrack, you can probably skip Click & Crackle, unless there was some unusual background noise.


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Adjusting the Click & Crackle slider.


4. Reduce Broadband Noise

Now let's move on to the broadband noise-reduction tool, something you'll probably want to apply to every sound file, whether from an LP or videotape. Broadband noise is the most common type of noise you'll find in videotapes, and cleaning it can make a huge difference to your sound quality. If you're recording outside on a windy day, in a moving car, or inside with a fan, refrigerator or air conditioner in the background, broadband noise reduction will help voices come to the fore and make your audio listenable.

First, find a location in the sound file that is silent except for the background, a couple seconds, if possible. This will often be at the beginning or end of an LP or tape transfer. Move the playback head to that point and pause. Then click the "Learn Noise" button in the center of the window and start playback. SoundSoap will analyze the broadband frequencies causing the noise, and clean them automatically.


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Clicking the "Learn Noise" button before turning on broadband noise reduction.


5. Adjust the Noise Tuner Knob

Now click the "noise only" button, and start playing your file from the beginning. If you hear anything BUT noise (voices or music), turn the Noise Tuner knob on the left slowly counterclockwise until you hear JUST the unwanted noise. This is to adjust the frequencies that noise reduction is applied to, to make sure it doesn't take away sounds you want along with the noise.


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Clicking the "noise only" button to check noise tuning.


6. Adjust the Noise Reduction Knob

Next, adjust the Noise Reduction knob on the right. Turn the Broadband mode button to On and start playback again. This time, turn the Noise Reduction knob the minimum necessary to remove the background noise. If the material being cleaned is dialog, also click the Preserve Voice button at the left. This filter will automatically remove sounds outside of the range of human voices. Now you've finished cleaning broadband noise. Notice how the Wash Window, formerly mostly red, is now turning blue?


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Adjusting the noise reduction level.


7. Remove Hum & Rumble

If you are cleaning a file digitized from an LP or tape and you know you have hum or rumble (not typically found in video), you can remove them with the buttons at lower left. Click the 50Hz or 60Hz buttons to remove hum (50Hz is for Europe, which has 50Hz power, while 60Hz is for the US and other 60Hz power countries), and the "Remove Rumble" button to remove turntable rumble. Be sure to listen to your recording after applying each tool, to make sure it has the desired effect. Finally, click the Apply button to save all your noise reduction settings thus far. (Don't worry, your original file will not be altered.)


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Clicking the Remove Rumble button.


8. Enhance your recording

You've now cleaned the noise out of your audio file, but SoundSoap has one more goodie for you, the Enhance feature. This slider at far right enhances the tones in degraded sources like LPs and tapes. It's great for music tracks that sound washed out. Start playing your cleaned file, and move the slider up and down until you find a pleasing balance. Now click Apply again, and choose Save As from the file menu to save your work to a new file, leaving your original untouched.


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Adjusting the tone enhancement slider.


9. Use your cleaned file

Now that you're all done, you can use your sparkling clean audio file in your music or video project. Just import it into Toast, iTunes or iMovie as you would any other audio file. You'll be amazed at the difference!

10. Just for fun

Want to see what a cleaned sound file looks like, compared to the original? Open your pre- and post-SoundSoap files in Toast's CD Spin Doctor and check out the waveforms. You should be able to clearly see the difference, especially i areas of silence.

March 13, 2009

Preserve Your Musical Past with Toast 10

Need a soundtrack for a family vacation or road trip? Unlock your family's musical past by converting old LPs and tapes to MP3, then create mix discs or iPod playlists customized for everyone on your list. All you need is Toast 10 and a turntable. You can dig up your old one, or borrow one from a friend. The process is quick and painless.

Toast 10 makes it easy to get great results with its CD Spin Doctor app. Even better, once you've made your recording, you can put away those LPs, preventing further wear and tear, and preserving them for future generations. You can also go on to make CD and DVD compilations of your musical memories -- perfect for family reunions, anniversaries and birthdays -- even combining them with tracks from digital sources like CDs or Internet radio (which Toast 10 can now automatically capture from your Web browser!). This article shows you how, step by step.

One note before we start. If the LP or cassette you want to transfer to CD has been published on CD, you may want to buy the CD rather than make a copy. This is not for copyright reasons -- you are perfectly within your rights to make a CD copy of an album you already own for personal use. The fact is that a commercial CD will likely be far better quality than copying an LP or tape to CD, even with a top-notch turntable. That said, if you have records that were never issued as CDs, or family audiotapes you want to preserve, transferring these analog sources to CDs makes perfect sense, and Toast 10 makes it simple.

Step 1: Use a Clean Source

When digitizing an analog audio signal it's important to make sure you get the best signal into the computer before recording. While Toast's CD Spin Doctor has clean-up filters, they should be viewed as secondary. Make sure that you wipe your LPs (with a soft, lint-free cloth or record brush). If you have a lot of material to record, you might also consider replacing the needle in your turntable if you can't remember the last time you did so. Similarly, make sure your cassette deck heads are clean, and that you engage the same noise-reduction technology (Dolby B or C, etc) used when the tape was recorded. Not all decks support all technologies.

Step 2: Connect Things Up

Depending upon whether you have a record or cassette, you will have to use a slightly different technique to connect your sound source to your computer. For tapes and other line-level audio sources, including TVs, VCRs, DVD players, stereo receivers, and MP3 players, you should ideally use a player that has line-out jacks (usually two RCA plugs), and connect these jacks to the line-in minijack of your Mac. (If your Mac doesn't have an audio input jack, you will need to buy a third-party USB audio interface.) If your portable tape player lacks line-out jacks, you can also use a headphone output; though this will require more work in adjusting levels (see Step 3).

If you're recording from an LP, you'll likely need to run it through a receiver or amplifier with a "phono preamp" first because most turntables put out a signal that is much lower than a standard line signal. Connecting this directly to the computer will not work. Most home receivers and amplifiers have a special input for connecting the turntable. You then use the line-out from the amplifier (often labeled tape out) to the line-in of your Mac. If you don't have a receiver with a phono input, you can buy dedicated phono pre-amps at electronics hobby stores. Finally, there are newer USB turntables that provide a direct USB input to your Mac. These are the easiest to connect.

Step 3: Choose Recording Input and Adjust Levels

Now you're ready to begin recording! Open CD Spin Doctor, select New Recording, and click the Continue button. You'll first see a diagram summarizing our connection tips above, then you'll be prompted to choose an input device (choose Line In or USB depending on your equipment). If things are hooked up correctly, you'll see the input level meter light up, and you can also monitor the source using speakers or headphones.


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Choosing your input source.


Next, you'll adjust your audio input level, or gain. Setting the correct input volume is very important. When recording, you want to get as high a level as possible without "clipping." If this happens, the audio may be noticeably distorted. To adjust the level, watch the two bars in the middle of the recording window as you are playing the loudest passage in your source. Adjust the gain slider so that the bars stay in the green portion, and go into the yellow only at the peaks, avoiding the red region altogether (where clipping occurs). Note that if you have used the headphone connection of a tape recorder or amplifier as your source, you can also adjust the volume on your tape deck or amp. For best results, the output from the source and the Spin Doctor input slider should both be set about halfway. (If you are using a USB input, the gain slider will be fixed and you can skip to the next step.)


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Adjusting input levels.


While you're checking levels (using quality headphones or external speakers if possible), also check for hum -- you may need to ground your source deck. Most turntables come with a special ground wire for this purpose. Also make sure that the computer and source equipment are plugged into the same power strip, and that power cables and sound cables are not bunched together. Keep sound cables away from CRTs, televisions and other sources of electronic noise.

Once you've adjusted the input level, you'll choose a recording quality: CD, DVD, or DVD High Quality. Choose as appropriate depending on what type of disc you want to make, and continue.


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Choose CD recording quality.


Finally, it's time to press the record button! Cue up your source to the beginning, press the record button in Spin Doctor, and then start your source. Don't worry about recording blank space at the beginning; you can remove that later. Make sure you have enough disk space before starting, though. CD audio is uncompressed, and runs about 10MB per minute (or 600MB per hour). Spin Doctor cleverly tells you exactly how much recording time you have available. You can either stop the recording manually, or tell it to automatically stop after a given amount of time, which is handy for unattended recording.


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Making the recording.


Step 4: Identify Tracks and Clean Things Up

Once you've made your recording, it will appear as a single waveform in the Spin Doctor main window, where you can edit it and apply filters like noise reduction. If you have recorded an entire LP or tape with multiple tracks, the first thing to do is divide up the tracks. Spin Doctor can do this for you automatically. Simply click the Auto-define Tracks magic wand at the top. This will define tracks based on passages of silence in the recording. You can set the sensitivity and other parameters in the CD Spin Doctor Preferences dialog. You can also set Spin Doctor to automatically define tracks after every recording, which is the default.

Next, click the Identify button at the top to automatically retrieve artist and track names from the GraceNote online database. It works amazingly well. We were only able to stump the database a few times. The Info button at top right lets you view and edit track data.


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Editing track information.


Finally, click the Filters button at top right. Here, you'll find noise reduction, sound enhancement and EQ filters that you can apply to your entire file, or selected tracks. Keep Noise Reducer settings as low as possible to reduce noise without muting the overall sound too much. It's often useful to test noise reduction settings on a quiet passage (such as the spaces between songs) where noise is easily distinguished.


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Applying noise filters.


The Sound Enhancer filters let you adjust the dynamics of a recording. This is particularly useful for restoring some dynamic range to tape recordings as well as MP3s created with low bit rates. Why is this necessary? Compression (as with MP3 encoding) tends to make highs not as high and lows not as low. Similarly, tapes often don't have the dynamic range found in records and CDs due to a lower signal-to-noise ratio. The Sound Enhancer manipulates the signal to expand the differences again (you can think of it like increasing contrast in a photographic image).

Step 5: More on Defining Tracks

CD Spin Doctor's Auto-define Tracks feature analyzes the recording, looking for quiet passages, and splits tracks automatically. If it doesn't match the original tracks correctly, you can manually define the tracks in one of two methods: click-and-drag (left Track Mode button), and single-click (right Track Mode button) In click-and-drag mode, you define a track by clicking on the lower waveform where you want the track to begin, dragging to the right, and then releasing the mouse button where you want the track to end. Your newly created track is displayed on the timeline as a colored rectangle and appears in the track list just below the waveform. This method is also useful for snipping off unwanted portions at the beginning or end of your tracks. Note that the entire selection must be outside of any existing tracks.

In single-click mode, the first track automatically starts at the beginning of the recording and ends at the point where you click the lower waveform. Clicking again defines the end point of your next track, which will begin right after the previous one. This method is the easiest when you don't need to trim tracks.

Note that the track list is separate from the sound file you digitized. You can have two tracks that use the same portion of your audio track. You can also delete tracks from the track list. By selecting only the regions with sound when you define tracks, you also eliminate any silence at the beginning, and the gaps between songs. The gaps will be added back when you burn your audio CD. Toast automatically puts in 2-second pauses, but you can customize them.

Step 6: Burn or Export Your Recordings

Once you have defined your tracks, simply select the ones you want to transfer and press the Toast or iTunes button at top right. Toast or iTunes will be launched and the track(s) you selected added to the Toast Audio CD project list or your iTunes library. In Toast, you can then adjust the gaps between tracks and complete your CD setup before burning. You can also drag tracks from Spin Doctor to Toast, and combine them with digital tracks from other sources.

When combining tracks from multiple sources, try the Normalize Track function found in the Disc menu. Normalizing all tracks on a CD helps equalize the volume of tracks taken from different sources, which can be annoyingly loud or soft. (However, normalization should not be used as a substitute for setting levels correctly during recording. Once a sound is distorted or clipped, you can't restore it.)

Now it's time to press the Burn button! You've just made the best possible recording of your LPs and tapes. Don't forget to transfer that beautiful album cover art to your new CD too. Toast 10 Titanium includes Disc Cover 2 RE, which makes it easy to create perfect labels and covers.

Stream Video from Your Mac to Your iPhone

Ever wished you could put the same videos on your iPhone that you have at home on your Mac, but there's not enough space? With the Roxio Streamer application in Toast 10, you can set up most any Mac to stream video over the Internet in H.264 format to an iPhone, iPod Touch, or to a Mac or PC Web browser. There's even a free native iPhone app for viewing on your phone or iPod Touch!

With Streamer, you won't need to use up any of your precious phone storage space, and you can have access to a much wider variety of shows and movies than you could ever fit on a portable player. Even better, you can stream any type of video that Toast can handle: your latest home movies, EyeTV recordings, and shows transferred from your networked TiVo DVR via TiVoToGo.

You'll need a high-speed Internet connection at both ends (such as Wi-Fi or 3G cellular), but once videos are added to the Streamer content list, they are available for remote viewing at any time. Non-H.264 video will automatically be converted by Toast. You can even have TiVo shows automatically transferred via TiVoToGo and added to the Streamer list as soon as they are recorded! You could pay big bucks for special streaming hardware to view your TV shows remotely, or you can get it all free with Toast!

Setting Up Streamer

The first time you use Streamer, you'll need to set it up with a user name and password. Assuming your router is UPnP or NAT-PMP enabled (as both the AirPort Extreme and Express are), it will be configured automatically. Otherwise take note of the TCP port number given under the Advanced heading and open that port on your router for the computer you intend to stream from.


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The Streamer setup screen.


Once you've created your account, the Streamer window will open. Choose Preferences under the Streamer menu to configure a few key settings, such as whether you want Streamer to launch every time you log in to your computer, and whether you'd like to start the Streamer server automatically on launch. If you want to be able to stream videos on demand to your iPhone, iPod Touch or laptop on the go, we recommend checking these two boxes so that Streamer is always at the ready. (You'll also need to leave your computer on, of course.)


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The Streamer Preferences window.


The Advanced tab under Preferences allows you to set the streaming video quality (which should depend on the upload speed of your connection -- higher speeds are capable of streaming higher quality video). The maximum data rates allowed are: Low (about 330Kbps), Medium (about 550Kbps), and High (about 760Kbps) quality. Trying to send a high data rate stream over a low rate connection will result in broken up or failed streaming, so be sure to test and adjust your stream as necessary. Choose low or medium quality for viewing over iPhone 3G connections. High quality is usually fine for Wi-Fi connections. Also note the Mail preferences tab, which lets you set an email address to be notified automatically when new videos are added to your Streamer list.


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Streamer Advanced Preferences.


Adding Videos to Streamer

Now that you have Streamer all set up, it's time to add videos to your streaming list. There are two ways to do this. The first way is add them directly to Streamer by dragging and dropping files to the Streamer window or clicking the Add Video button to select them. You can do this for QuickTime files with a QuickTime extension (such as .mov), as well as EyeTV and TiVo files. If any conversion is needed (to adjust the data rate, for example), it will be handled automatically by Toast. For other video formats, such as DV and AVCHD camcorder files, you'll need to drag them into Toast first, then use the Convert project tab to send them to Streamer (simply choose Streamer as the playback format at bottom left of the Toast window).


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Converting video files in Toast to send to Streamer.


Once the files have been converted, they will appear in your Streamer list. You can click on any video to play a preview, if desired.


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The Streamer list shows the files available for streaming.


Next, click the button to "Start streaming" if not already started. You will see a green light at the bottom of the window when the server is running, and the URL to use to access your videos remotely. Make note of this URL, which is of the form: http://streamer.roxio.com/username

Playing Back Streamer Clips

Now that the prep work is done, it's time to play back your videos! From your Mac or PC, enter the Streamer URL in your Web browser. (Be sure you are using a Wi-Fi or other fast Internet connection.) You'll get a login page that asks for the password you entered when you created your account. After entering the password, you'll see the Streamer list.


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Logging into Streamer from a remote browser.


Choose a video, then click to play it back. The video will open using the QuickTime player. (Be sure to install QuickTime on your Windows PC, if you haven't already. If you have iTunes on your PC, you also have QuickTime.)


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Playing Streamer videos.


On your iPhone or iPod Touch playback is even easier, thanks to the free native Streamer app for Wi-Fi. After you've downloaded and installed the app, on first launch it will ask for your user ID and password. From then on you can simply launch the app from the Home screen, and you will be automatically logged in and taken directly to your Streamer list. (Note that if you only have a 3G connection on your iPhone, rather than Wi-Fi, you can use the Web URL streaming method above in Safari instead of the Streamer app. EDGE connections are too slow for Streamer.)


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The Streamer iPhone app.


To browse available shows, simply use your finger to scroll down the list. Buttons at the top of the screen let you switch between viewing by title and date. You can also tap on Search and have search results presented as you enter characters. Multiple episodes of the same show will be grouped automatically into a virtual folder, reducing clutter. Tapping a folder name brings up a list of all the episodes inside.

Once you’ve found the show you want to watch, tap on it and you’ll be shown a synopsis of the episode. Finally, click the play button located at bottom right and your video should begin playing in a few seconds. While your video is being played, you can review the show synopsis by tapping the screen.


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Playing Streamer videos on the iPhone.


Setting Up Automatic Transfers of TiVo Shows

That's all there is to it! Once you have Streamer set up, it's easy to add more videos. If you have a TiVo and use TiVoToGo, also take advantage of the ability to automatically send new recordings to Streamer. First, open TiVo Transfer (in the Toast Extras menu). Then select a television show that appears on your DVR and click the "Create Auto Transfer" button at bottom right. This will automatically transfer all new recordings of the selected show to your Mac.

Next, Open the TiVo Transfer Preferences and enable "Automatically export transferred TiVo recordings to Toast." Finally, open Toast Preferences and select the Audio & Video tab. At the bottom of this tab you will see an option called "Default for Automatic TiVo Exports." Click on the Change button and select Streamer, then click OK. All your automatic TiVo transfers will now be exported to Streamer immediately for viewing anywhere in the world you have a fast Internet connection!

February 17, 2009

How to Extract Video Clips from DVDs with Toast 10

Have you ever wanted to copy clips from a DVD to put on your iPod, upload to YouTube, or use in other video projects? Now you can! Toast 10 Titanium lets you select and extract just the scenes (or parts of scenes) you want from your non-encrypted DVDs. You can then convert them and send them to iTunes in one step. You can even combine clips from various scenes on your DVD, selecting just the highlights you want, and eliminating the rest. Clip out a scene from that DVD of your sister's wedding and add it to a family movie disc, or put your kid's soccer goal your iPhone so you can show it off to the world. Here's how:


1. Bring in Your DVD

Open Toast and click on the Convert tab, then select the Video Files project type. Add a non-encrypted DVD disc or DVD-Video folder (VIDEO_TS folder) to your project by dragging it into the Toast window.


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Bringing your DVD into Toast.


2. Open the Toast Video Editor

Now open the Toast Video Editor by clicking on the Extract button on the right of your DVD movie. The editing window will open up showing the video with a timeline at the bottom.


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The Toast Video Editor window.


3. Select Your Clips

The Toast Video Editor includes a pair of in/out markers on the far left and right of the timeline. Drag these to mark the beginning and ending points of a clip you want to extract. If you want to extract another segment from the same video, first move the cursor above the timeline to a point outside the original selection, then click the marker button centered below the timeline to add an additional set of in/out markers.


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Selecting DVD clips in the Toast Video Editor.


Repeat the process for each segment you want to select. You can move, clear or invert your markers at any time if you change your mind or make a mistake. Finally save your changes by choosing "Close Editor" from the View menu.


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Use the Clear All and Invert Markers options at lower right to change your selections if needed.


4. Convert & Export Your Clips

Now that you've marked your desired clips, all that's left is to convert and export them. Click the big red Convert button at bottom right, and a dialog box will open where you can select output options.


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Video output conversion options.


First choose the device or format you want to save to, such as iPhone or QuickTime movie. Then select a quality level (we recommend using the default options for your output device). Finally, choose a destination for your video, such as iTunes, your Movies folder, or the Desktop. Click the Convert button, and you're done!

Now enjoy your DVD clips on your portable player, upload them to the Web, or use them in your other video projects, including iMovies.

Toast 10 Pro's Five Magic Ingredients

Toast 10 Titanium now comes in two flavors: standard and Pro. The standard version includes all the great digital media features and extra goodies you're used to, like CD SpinDoctor, Disc Cover, Streamer and Get Backup. It's the perfect complement to iLife, helping you get more out of your digital media. But Toast 10 Pro takes your media to a whole new level, with five pro-quality apps worth more than $300:

  • High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in for burning and converting video from your HD camcorder;
  • LightZone™ for visual photo editing;
  • FotoMagico™ for creating high-definition slideshows;
  • SoundSoap™ SE for audio noise reduction and enhancement; and the
  • Sonicfire Pro® for movie soundtrack creation;

Read on to learn more about each of these programs.


High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-In

The High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in, which lets you edit, burn and convert HD video content from AVCHD camcorders and EyeTV recordings, is an extra cost option in Toast 10, but comes standard with Toast 10 Pro. With the Plug-in, you can burn your home movies or EyeTV recordings onto DVDs and Blu-ray Discs for playback on any standard Blu-ray set-top box or PlayStation® 3 game console. You don't even need a pricey Blu-ray recorder to burn high-definition DVDs, so you can get the full benefit of your high-def camcorder and HDTV with the DVD burner you already have.

If you do have a Blu-ray recorder, the High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in is indispensable for creating Blu-ray movie discs on the Mac. It supports both AVCHD and HDV camcorder sources, and lets you archive AVCHD camcorder video to disc in one easy step.

The Plug-in also allows you to edit your high-def videos, and crop out unwanted portions using a simple timeline interface. You can burn the results to disc using 20 new HD menu themes, or convert them for playback on your iPod, iPhone, Apple TV or portable player. Take your EyeTV shows and home movies on the road!


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Editing high-def AVCHD video in Toast 10 (click to enlarge).



LightZone

This Macworld Editor's Choice award-winning photo editor is an essential tool for digital camera enthusiasts. Sophisticated features like zone mapping and relight yield professional quality light and color balance, and all operations are live -- no waiting for effects to render, as with other programs. What you see is what you get. All operations are non-destructive, too, so you'll never have to worry about your original files. LightZone is the perfect complement to Aperture and iPhoto, which have only basic editing tools.

Here are a few of the things you can do with LightZone:

  • Edit RAW format images, to take advantage of today's high-end cameras;
  • Perform advanced selection and masking, so you can apply filters and effects to just the right portion of your photo;
  • Work with unlimited layers, for unlimited creativity;
  • Perform batch processing tasks on multiple files and folders at once, for huge time savings; and


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The LightZone editor showing the Relight and Spot tools (click to enlarge).



FotoMagico

The slideshow features in iPhoto are great, but when you want more control over things like transitions, music and special effects, it's time to take a step up to FotoMagico. FotoMagico turns your pictures into spellbinding stories and presents them in high definition -- taking full advantage of all those megapixels in your new digital camera. Innovative text, transition and alignment tools ensure astonishing results. With Toast 10 Pro, you can also burn your high-def slideshow to DVD or Blu-ray Disc for easy viewing, send them to your portable player, or convert them for emailing or publishing on your website.


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Creating a high-def slideshow with FotoMagico (click to enlarge).



SoundSoap SE

Want your sound recordings and LP transfers to sound as good as the originals? Use SoundSoap SE to remove all types of unwanted sounds from digital audio files: hiss, room noise, rumble, electrical hum, clicks and crackles. You can clean up music you've digitized from your aging vinyl and tapes with CD SpinDoctor's Recording Assistant. Or massage the audio tracks from your videos, eliminating wind and background noise to make your dialog loud and clear. Virtually any type of background noise can be scrubbed out quickly and easily with SoundSoap, leaving you with clean, crisp audio that sounds like you remember it.


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Cleaning up noise from analog recordings with SoundSoap SE.


Even better, SoundSoap SE is very simple to use, just bring in your recording, then tweak your audio using the buttons and sliders. You can preview the results both sonically and visually, making it easy to get great results.


Sonicfire Pro

Want to set the right mood for your home videos? Create a Hollywood-style soundtrack with Sonicfire Pro. Music and sound effects can turn a ho-hum video into a riveting thriller or an uplifting story, but few of us have the ability to record our own backing tracks. That's where Sonicfire comes in.

For example, using Sonicfire, you could create a soundtrack for a wedding highlight video that includes selected dialog like the wedding vows and reception toasts, as well as a unified background music theme, where otherwise there would be no continuity (not to mention poor recording quality).


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Creating a wedding video soundtrack with Sonicfire Pro (click to enlarge).


You can tweak Sonicfire tracks to match the length, mood, and theme of your video. A huge library of professionally produced music in styles ranging from classical to hip-hop ensure you can create the perfect soundtrack without knowing how to read a note.

February 11, 2009

Give Yourself a Media Makeover with Creator 2009 & Windows Vista

You've got the latest digital camera, camcorder and music player, and the rapidly expanding photo, video and music collections to prove it. Now it's time to start doing more with your media than just filling up your hard disk, such as uploading videos to YouTube or your mobile phone, creating engaging photo slideshows that you can email or post on your Website, and creating smooth party music mixes with DJ-style beatmatching between each track.

Give yourself an extreme media makeover with Creator 2009 and Windows Vista. There's no pain involved! Creator 2009 integrates neatly with Vista's powerful playback and management features, making it simple and easy to import, edit, enjoy and share all types of media. Here are just a few examples of how Creator 2009 enhances Vista's media capabilities (click on the links for more information and tutorials):


Video

With Creator 2009, you can import video from all the latest camcorders, including high-definition AVCHD and HDV models. Even transfer your old analog video too! Once captured, you can transform your video into Hollywood-style productions in minutes with CineMagic, or use VideoWave's powerful timeline editor to get it exactly the way you want it.

Once edited, share your movies over your home network using Windows Media Player 11, part of Windows Vista. Play them on other PCs, or send them to your Xbox 360 or Windows Media Center Extender for viewing on your big-screen TV.


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Creating a DVD (click to enlarge).


To share with family and friends, burn a DVD or Blu-ray Disc with Creator, in either standard or high-definition. Or convert your movies for playback on your smartphone or portable media player. With Creator's handy SyncIt! gadget, you can drag-and-drop to convert video and send it to your player right from the Vista desktop! SyncIt! works with photos and music too.


Music

Creator and Vista are the perfect musical duo as well. Windows Media Player 11's powerful music library can handle literally millions of tracks without missing a beat, and lets you organize and enjoy music from all sources, include online stores, CDs, and downloads. Key features include the ability to sync your collection across multiple PCs, identify unlabeled tracks, find and display album art, and create intelligent Shuffle playlists from your favorite albums. You can even play back your tracks from any PC on your network.


DVDMusicSample.jpg

DVD Music Discs.


With Creator 2009, you can also convert your old LPs and tapes to digital, create DVD Music Discs that hold hundreds of tracks and artwork (perfect for parties!), convert CD audiobooks for listening on your portable player, make professionally beatmatched music mixes, capture streaming audio from almost any online source, and use your tunes as soundtracks for slideshows and videos.


Photo

Vista and Creator 2009 can also tame your photo collection. Use Vista to automatically import photos from your camera and display them in the Windows Photo Gallery. Then automatically share them with family and friends over the Internet using Windows Live, or view them on your TV with your Xbox 360 or Media Center Extender. By adding tags, labels and comments to pictures and clips in Windows Photo Gallery, you can get your library organized and make it easy to find that special photo using the handy integrated search feature.


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Roxio PhotoShow


Then do more with your photos with Creator 2009: edit and enhance them with PhotoSuite, create sweeping panoramas, make greeting cards and calendars, create amazing slideshows, send them to your portable player, and, perhaps most important of all, safeguard your precious memories by backing them up onto CDs and DVDs.

Together, Creator 2009 and Windows Vista let you share and enjoy your media everywhere: on your PC, TV, portable player, cellphone, game console and the Web.

January 21, 2009

Getting Started with Easy VHS to DVD

Chances are you've already moved on to HDTV, but what about all those piles of home movies and old TV shows you have recorded on VHS tapes? It's time to bring them into the digital era by recording them to your PC. With Roxio Easy VHS to DVD you can burn them to DVD, convert them for playback on your portable player, or upload them to YouTube. You can also edit your recordings, add titles and transitions, and create projects combining analog footage with that from digital camcorders.

Easy VHS to DVD includes both the hardware and software you need to capture and convert almost any analog video. The video capture hardware is a small USB stick with connections for both composite and S-video sources. The editing and burning software is based on the top-rated Roxio Creator suite, so you know it's polished and easy to use. Simply plug in the USB stick, then install the software, and you're ready to start transferring your tapes.

The program is not just for tapes, though. Here are some common analog video sources you can capture with Easy VHS to DVD:

  • VHS tapes from your VCR
  • Analog camcorder output (VHS, S-VHS, 8mm or Hi-8)
  • The composite or S-video output from your TV (when viewing live standard-definition channels)

Easy VHS to DVD is also perfect for recording shows from standard-definition DVRs that don't have PC transfer capabilities. Otherwise your shows are trapped forever in the DVR. (If you're lucky enough to have a networked TiVo, see our tutorial on burning TiVo shows with Creator here.)

Here's how to get started with Easy VHS to DVD:


Step 1: Capture Video to Your PC

After you've plugged in the USB device and installed the software, connect your source to the USB stick using a composite or S-video cable. Now open Easy VHS to DVD. You'll see the following Home screen:


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The Easy VHS to DVD Home screen.


The Home screen gives you various options for common tasks. To transfer tapes to DVD, you can choose either "Plug & Burn," or "Capture Video." Plug & Burn is for when you want to go directly from tape to DVD as quickly as possible, without editing the video or saving it to your hard disk. It only takes a little longer than playing back your video to complete the burn, and is the fastest way to transfer a large number of tapes.

To use Plug & Burn, you simply insert a blank DVD, choose a menu style and title if desired, a quality level (1 hour of high-quality video will fit on a single-layer DVD, 2 hours on a dual-layer disc), and start capturing direct to DVD. You can capture multiple pieces of video, up to the capacity of the disc, then click "Finish" to finalize the burn. That's all there is to it!


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Transferring a video to DVD with Plug & Burn. (Click to enlarge.)


If you want to do more with your recordings, such as edit them, upload them to YouTube, or convert them for playback on your iPod or PSP, it's best to use the Capture Video option, which saves your recordings to hard disk for subsequent use in all types of projects, including burning DVDs. This option also allows you to select other digital formats than MPEG-2 (the DVD format), such as AVI and VCD. It takes longer to transfer a tape to DVD with Capture Video, since capturing and burning are separate processes, but if you have the hard disk space, and think you might want to do more with your video than just burn a DVD, the extra time is worth it.

Choosing "Capture Video" from the Home screen brings up the Media Import window, as shown below. The first task is to select your video capture device from the drop-down menu. (If your PC has a built-in webcam, that will usually be the first device in the list.)


easyvhs2.jpg

Selecting your video capture device. (Click to enlarge.)


After you select your USB stick, you'll see a preview window of the video currently being played on your source (VCR, camcorder, TV or DVR). (You may need to choose either Composite or S-video from the Input menu if you don't see a picture.) Before you click the Capture button to start recording to hard disk, choose a format (such as DV, DVD HQ, DVD SP, DVD LP or VCD). If you want to edit your video in VideoWave or CineMagic, choose DV. If you only want to burn DVDs, we recommend recording in DVD HQ format for top quality if you have the disk space (Media Import will tell you how much space you have available). Otherwise you can choose one of the more-compressed (lesser-quality) DVD options, such as DVD SP and LP. You can fit about 1 hour of HQ, 1.5 hours of SP, or 2 hours of LP video on a single-layer DVD. Dual-layer discs hold twice as much.


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Setting up your recording. (Click to enlarge.)


Other options to choose include a capture length (so you can record unattended), a title for the recording, and video enhancements like contrast and brightness. Now click the Capture button to start recording. You'll see the progress of the recording in the Status area. When it's done, the finished video will be saved to your Videos folder (or whatever destination folder you selected), and will show up in the thumbnail list at right. Keep recording videos in this manner until you have all the material you need for your project.


easyvhs4.jpg

The finished recording in the movie list. (Click to enlarge.)


Step 2: Burn the Recording to DVD

Now that you've digitized all your videos, it's time to burn them to DVD. Go back to the Home screen, and choose "Create DVDs." This will start the MyDVD application, which is a full-featured DVD authoring package.


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Starting up MyDVD and selecting a project type. (Click to enlarge.)


MyDVD will first ask you to select a project type, such as a standard DVD with menus, or a DVD without menus that starts playing automatically when you insert it in your player. Next, add your recordings to your project by clicking the Add Movie button and selecting them from the browser. Add as many movies as you need for your project. They will appear in a list at lower left.


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Adding the recorded movie to the DVD project. (Click to enlarge.)


If desired, you can now customize your DVD with menu styles, titles, backgrounds and chapter markers. See our MyDVD tutorial for more on what you can do with MyDVD. Once you've gotten the DVD the way you want it, press the Burn button at top right.


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Burning the DVD.


In the Burn dialog box, you can choose your recording speed if desired, and enter a label for the disc. You can also save to an Image File on your hard disk, which is useful if you may want to burn additional copies of the disc later, or prefer play it back from your hard disk or media server.

Step 3: Do More with Your Recordings

Capturing video and burning it to DVD only scratches the surface of Easy VHS to DVD's capabilities. Once you've captured videos to your hard disk, you can also do things like:

  • Trim and cut out unwanted portions from your recordings.
  • Add titles, transition, soundtracks and more in VideoWave, the full-featured video editing program included with Easy VHS to DVD.
  • Convert them for viewing on your iPod, iPhone, PSP, or other portable player
  • Post them to YouTube
  • Share them online on your own secure Web page with Roxio PhotoShow.

Finally, Easy VHS to DVD also includes disc label creation software, as well as the popular LP & Tape Assistant program for digitizing analog audio. Once you've converted all your old analog video and audio to digital, you'll never go back!

Toast 10's Top Five Features

Toast 10 Titanium has literally dozens of valuable new features that help you manage and enjoy your media, from intelligent folder synchronization between two Macs, to automated Web music and video capture. There's a full list on the Toast 10 page (click on the "Why Upgrade" button), but here we're going to cherry-pick the top five features and show you how they work.

If you've got an iPhone, iPod, AVCHD camcorder or TiVo, listen to audiobooks, or frequently play YouTube videos, read on to see what Toast 10 can do for you!

Capture & Convert Web Video

Ever wish you could save YouTube or other Flash-based streaming Web video to your hard disk for offline playback? Or wanted to put YouTube clips on your iPod, PSP or other portable player? Now you can, with Toast 10's Web video capture feature.

To start, open Toast, click the Convert tab, and choose the Video Files project type. Next, open the Media Browser by clicking on the icon at top right, or selecting it from the Window menu. Finally, select "Web video" from the drop-down list of media types. Now Toast is all ready to capture.


WebVideoCap1.jpg

Preparing to capture Web video (click to enlarge).

To start capturing video, simply open your Web browser and play the video you want to record. Toast will automatically capture it for you, and then add it to the Media Browser Web video list. Continue playing and capturing as many clips as you like. Below, we've captured several YouTube clips.


WebVideoCap3.jpg

Captured clips displayed in the Media Browser (click to enlarge).

Now drag the clips to the project window to convert them to the desired playback format (the Flash-format captures will not be saved after you quit Toast, so be sure to convert them first). Click the Record button, and you'll be prompted to select your playback device and quality level. You can save the converted videos directly to iTunes if you like, or to a folder. We've opted to send our videos to iTunes below, so we can transfer them to an iPhone.


WebVideoCap4.jpg

Sending captured video to iTunes.

Now you can preserve and enjoy your favorite YouTube videos anywhere, without an Internet connection!


Back Up AVCHD Camcorders in One Step

If you have an AVCHD camcorder, this feature alone is worth the upgrade to Toast 10. AVCHD is the most widely used HD camcorder format, and also great for burning high-def DVDs and Blu-ray Discs that you can play in your set-top DVD player, such as a Sony PlayStation 3. But AVCHD camcorders record to on-board hard drives or memory cards that typically hold only a few hours of video, so they need to be emptied frequently. All that HD video can quickly overwhelm even the biggest hard drive, however, so it's best to save the raw footage to DVDs or Blu-ray Discs for archival purposes. Toast 10 makes it one-step easy.

To create an AVCHD Archive disc, click the Video tab and choose the AVCHD Archive project. Then connect your camcorder via USB and make sure it is set to playback mode. You may also want to plug the camcorder into an AC outlet to make sure the battery doesn't die during the transfer. (Some camcorders require this for computer connections.) Once connected, the camera should be available in the drop-down list at the top of the Project window. In the screen below, it is called "No Name," which is the default name of the memory card in many Canon AVCHD camcorders.


AVCHDArchive.jpg

Creating an archive of the contents of an AVCHD camcorder's flash drive (click to enlarge).


Next, choose the type of disc you are going to archive to (such as DVD, DVD-DL or Blu-ray) from the menu at bottom right. If the contents of the camera won't fit on one disc, Toast will automatically split it into multiple discs. Also check the box at lower left to "Save Video Preview in Movies Folder." This is an incredibly useful feature that creates video "thumbnails" so you can keep a virtual index of all your archived videos on your main hard drive. That way you won't have to hunt through a pile of discs to find a particular clip.

Finally, click the Burn button, and your camcorder will be at the ready to record more video!


Convert CD Audiobooks for iPod/iPhone

Who needs a Kindle when you have an iPod or other portable music player? iTunes, iPod and iPhone have custom features for playing back audiobooks, such as chapter skipping, pause/resume and book cover art, using the special iTunes .m4b audiobook file format. But converting CD or MP3 audiobooks to iTunes audiobooks used to be difficult and inconvenient. The new Audiobook CD conversion feature in Toast 10 makes the process easy, and even keeps the chapters and bookmarks that would be lost with a manual transfer.

To convert an Audiobook CD to iTunes audiobook format, open Toast 10 and select the Convert tab, then choose the Audiobook project type. Insert your CD, and click the Record button. Toast will convert the Audiobook and send it to iTunes. Sync to your iPod or iPhone, and you'll have the ultimate portable audiobook player!


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Converting CD audiobooks to iTunes audiobook format (click to enlarge).


Stream Videos from Mac to TiVo

Toast has been able to transfer shows from your networked TiVo to your Mac for years now. But in Toast 10, we've added the capability to copy and stream videos back from your Mac to your TiVo! Now you can view those home movies you transferred from your digital camcorder on the big screen easily. Here's how:

First, open Mac2TiVo in the Toast 10 applications folder. You'll be prompted to enter your TiVo Media Access Key in order to authorize file transfers. (The Media Access Key is available in the Messages & Settings>Account System Information area of TiVo Central.) You'll only need to do this once. Now simply drag video folders to the Mac2TiVo window, and they will be converted to the necessary format automatically. Finally, click the "Start Server" button to send the videos to the Now Playing list on your TiVo.


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Streaming video using the Mac2TiVo application.


Choose from 20 New Menu Styles

Just purchased an HD camcorder? Toast 10 now has 20 new standard and high-definition menu styles to choose from for DVDs and Blu-ray Discs. With Toast 10 and the HD/BD Plug-in, you can burn high-def video onto standard DVDs that will play right in your set-top Blu-ray player, so you don't need to buy an expensive Blu-ray burner for shorter videos.


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Toast 10 has 20 new menu styles for both standard and high-definition discs.

We hope we've whetted your appetite for Toast 10 with these five must-have features. Look for more in-depth coverage of Toast 10 and Toast 10 Pro in future Hot Topics articles.

January 20, 2009

Converting Videotapes to DVD with Creator 2009

Chances are you've already moved on to HDTV, but what about all those piles of home movies and old TV shows you have recorded on VHS tapes? It's time to bring them into the digital era by recording them to your PC. With Creator 2009 and the add-on Roxio USB Video Capture hardware you can burn them to DVD, convert them for playback on your portable player, or upload them to YouTube. You can also edit your recordings, add titles and transitions, and create projects combining analog footage with that from digital camcorders.

The USB Video Capture hardware integrates seamlessly with the various programs in Creator 2009. It consists of a small USB stick with connections for both composite and S-video sources. Simply install the driver software and plug in the USB stick when prompted, and you're ready to start transferring your tapes.

USB Video Capture is not just for tapes, though. Here are some common analog video sources you can record using the device:

  • VHS tapes from your VCR
  • Analog camcorder output (VHS, S-VHS, 8mm or Hi-8)
  • The composite or S-video output from your TV (when viewing live standard-definition channels)

USB Video Capture is also perfect for recording shows from standard-definition DVRs that don't have PC transfer capabilities. Otherwise your shows are trapped forever in the DVR. (If you're lucky enough to have a networked TiVo, see our tutorial on burning TiVo shows with Creator here.)

Here's how to get started with USB Video Capture and Creator 2009:


Step 1: Capture Video to Your PC

After you've installed the capture device, connect your analog source to the USB stick using a composite or S-video cable. Now open Creator, and choose the Video-Movies tab. You'll see the following list of tasks:


vidcap1.jpg

The Creator 2009 Video-Movies task list. (Click to enlarge.)


To transfer tapes to DVD, you can choose either "Plug & Burn" or "Capture Video" under the Import heading. Plug & Burn is best for when you want to go directly from tape to DVD as quickly as possible, without editing the video or saving it to your hard disk. It only takes a little longer than playing back your video to complete the burn, and is the fastest way to transfer a large number of tapes.

To use Plug & Burn, you simply insert a blank DVD, choose a menu style and title if desired, a quality level (1 hour of high-quality video will fit on a single-layer DVD, 2 hours on a dual-layer disc), and start capturing direct to DVD. You can capture multiple pieces of video, up to the capacity of the disc, then click "Finish" to finalize the burn. That's all there is to it!


plugburn2.jpg

Transferring a video to DVD with Plug & Burn. (Click to enlarge.)


If you want to do more with your recordings, such as edit them, upload them to YouTube, or convert them for playback on your iPod or PSP, it's best to use the Capture Video option, which saves your recordings to hard disk for subsequent use in all types of projects, including burning DVDs. This option also allows you to select other digital formats than MPEG-2 (the DVD format), such as AVI and VCD. It takes longer to transfer a tape to DVD with Capture Video, since capturing and burning are separate processes, but if you have the hard disk space, and think you might want to do more with your video than just burn a DVD, the extra time is worth it.

Choosing "Capture Video" from the Video-Movies screen brings up the Media Import application, as shown below. The first task is to select your video capture device from the drop-down menu. (If your PC has a built-in webcam, that will usually be the first device in the list.)


vidcap2.jpg

Selecting your video capture device. (Click to enlarge.)


After you select your USB stick, you'll see a preview window of the video currently being played on your source (VCR, camcorder, TV or DVR). (You may need to choose either Composite or S-video from the Input menu if you don't see a picture.) Before you click the Capture button to start recording to hard disk, choose a format (such as DV, DVD HQ, DVD SP, DVD LP or VCD). If you want to edit your video in VideoWave or CineMagic, choose DV. If you only want to burn DVDs, we recommend recording in DVD HQ format for top quality if you have the disk space (Media Import will tell you how much space you have available). Otherwise you can choose one of the more-compressed (lesser-quality) options, such as DVD SP and LP. You can fit about 1 hour of HQ, 1.5 hours of SP, or 2 hours of LP video on a single-layer DVD. Dual-layer discs hold twice as much.


vidcap3.jpg

Setting up your recording. (Click to enlarge.)


Other options to choose include a capture length (so you can record unattended), a title for the recording, and video enhancements like contrast and brightness. Now click the Capture button to start recording. You'll see the progress of the recording in the Status area. When it's done, the finished video will be saved to your Videos folder (or whatever destination folder you selected), and will show up in the thumbnail list at right. Keep recording videos in this manner until you have all the material you need for your project.


vidcap4.jpg

The finished recording in the movie list. (Click to enlarge.)


Step 2: Burn the Recording to DVD

Now that you've digitized all your videos, it's time to burn them to DVD. Go back to the Video-Movies screen, and choose "Create DVDs-Advanced." This will start the MyDVD application, which is a full-featured DVD authoring package.


easyvhs5.jpg

Starting up MyDVD and selecting a project type. (Click to enlarge.)


MyDVD will first ask you to select a project type, such as a standard DVD with menus, or a DVD without menus that starts playing automatically when you insert it in your player. Next, add your recordings to your project by clicking the Add Movie button and selecting them from the browser. Add as many movies as you need for your project. They will appear in a list at lower left.


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Adding the recorded movie to the DVD project. (Click to enlarge.)


If desired, you can now customize your DVD with menu styles, titles, backgrounds and chapter markers. See our MyDVD tutorial for more on what you can do with MyDVD. Once you've gotten the DVD the way you want it, press the Burn button at top right.


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Burning the DVD.


In the Burn dialog box, you can choose your recording speed if desired, and enter a label for the disc. You can also save to an Image File on your hard disk, which is useful if you may want to burn additional copies of the disc later, or prefer play it back from your hard disk or media server.

Step 3: Do More with Your Recordings

Capturing video and burning it to DVD only scratches the surface of Creator 2009's capabilities. Once you've captured videos to your hard disk, you can also do things like:

  • Trim and cut out unwanted portions from your recordings.
  • Add titles, transition, soundtracks and more in VideoWave, the full-featured video editing program included with Creator.
  • Convert them for viewing on your iPod, iPhone, PSP, or other portable player
  • Post them to YouTube
  • Share them online on your own secure Web page with Roxio PhotoShow.

Finally, Creator 2009 also includes disc label creation software, as well as the popular LP & Tape Assistant program for digitizing analog audio. Once you've converted all your old analog video and audio to digital, you'll never go back!

Backup & Disaster Recovery with Creator 2009

It happens to everyone. You install some new piece of software or update an old one, and suddenly weirdness ensues. Or the kids play around and throw your copy of Microsoft Office in the trash. In the worst case, your hard drive dies. Now there's an easy-to-use program that will undo the damage caused by software conflicts, malware, accidental deletions and hardware failures: Roxio BackOnTrack, a complete backup and disaster recovery tool. BackOnTrack is available separately, or as part of the Creator 2009 Ultimate suite.

BackOnTrack can schedule backups of selected data, or one-time backups of entire drives, and create disaster recovery discs that boot your computer while you restore from your backup. Backups can be made to CD, DVD or Blu-ray Disc, or to external or network drives. For total protection, first create a disaster recovery set, then perform regular scheduled backups of your data files.

Here's how to get protected:

Create a Disaster Recovery Set

First, open BackOnTrack by choosing "Backup Drive" from the Roxio Home screen Data-Copy tab.


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Choosing "Backup Drive" from the Creator 2009 Data-Copy tab.


You'll be taken directly to the Backup Drive task in BackOnTrack. Select "Disaster Recovery Set" from the drop-down menu at the top, and choose a destination for the set, such as an external or networked hard drive, or a DVD recorder.


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Creating a BackOnTrack Disaster Recovery Set (click to enlarge).


Now click the Record button at bottom right. If you chose DVDs (or Blu-ray Discs if you have a Blu-ray recorder and the Creator HD/BD Plug-in), you'll be prompted to insert as many discs as needed to complete the project. One of the discs will be an emergency boot disc. The others will contain the entire contents of your hard drive, including the system, so you can restore the full drive if necessary. Perform a new full drive backup every so often to keep up with major changes to your system and applications. If disaster strikes and you need to restore your drive, insert the recovery disc and then follow the on-screen directions.

Schedule Regular Backups

Now that you have your full disaster recovery set tucked away, also schedule regular backups of your working files like documents, email, music, photos and video. These will take much less space than the full drive backup. Network or external drives are perfect for scheduled backups since they can run unattended. If you want use DVD or Blu-ray Discs, you'll need to be present to insert them at backup time, or make sure a blank disc is in your drive.

To schedule regular backups, choose the File Backup task in BackOnTrack, then select the folder or types of files you want to backup. Also select a frequency (daily, weekly or monthly), and choose the destination drive from the menu at the bottom of the window. Then click Save to save your backup project. Note that BackOnTrack will not overwrite existing files at your destination, so you may want to use two rotating backup discs or drives, and erase the older backup each time.


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Starting a System Restore operation (click to enlarge).


To save space, or make sure noone can read your backup files, you can also compress and/or encrypt your file backups. Click the Advanced button to set these options. If you choose to encrypt your backups, be sure to store the password in a safe place. Your data will not be accessible without it.


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Compression and encryption options for File Backup projects.


Restoring Files

To restore files from your scheduled backups, first find the backup file (which will have a .sib extension), and double-click on it. BackOnTrack will then launch, with the Restore Drive project selected. To perform a selective restore, switch to the Restore Selected Files project and follow the directions. If your Back Up Drive project is saved on a set of discs, the catalog for that backup set is contained on the last disc in the set. The Restore Selected Files project will ask you to insert this disc so it can find the files or folders you want to restore.

Now that you've seen how easy it is to get protected with BackOnTrack, make a New Year's resolution to backup regularly!

Backing Up Your Data with Toast 10 Titanium

Backing up your precious family data is one of the most important things you can do. Just imagine the possibility of losing your irreplaceable digital photos or videos in a disk crash or natural disaster—that should be enough motivation to get started on a backup plan! And the New Year is the perfect time to do it. Thankfully, Toast 10 Titanium offers three simple ways to keep your data safe:

• First, Toast 10 includes Get Backup 2 RE, a powerful, yet easy-to-use utility that helps you schedule automatic backups of selected files and folders to a local hard drive, a network volume, or to a blank CD, DVD or Blu-ray Disc.
• Second, Get Backup lets you automatically synchronize folders between two machines, so you'll always be up-to-date.
• Finally, for everyday quick backups, you can just drag and drop files and folders into a Toast Data project window and press the Record button to burn them to a CD, DVD or Blu-ray Disc, or save them to an image file on your hard drive. (Blu-ray recording requires the High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-In.)

With any method, you can also use Toast 10 Titanium's unique ToastAnywhere feature to burn CDs, DVDs and BDs to networked recorders, a perfect solution for sharing an expensive Blu-ray recorder among multiple Macs. Below, we'll show you how to use each of these powerful backup tools.

Using Get Backup

Using Get Backup 2 RE, you can back up any number of files or folders manually at the click of a button, or automatically on a scheduled basis. To get started, just open Get Backup from the Toast folder. You'll be presented with the following window:


GetBackup1.jpg

The main Get Backup window.


To create a backup project, simply add the files and/or folders you want to back up to the list on the right by clicking the "+" button at middle left. You can also click the handy icons at top to add some common folders. Your screen should now look something like this:


GetBackup2.jpg

The Get Backup window showing various folders in a backup project.


At this point you could simply click the blue backup button to start burning. But first, hit the Properties button at middle right and take a look at the options. Here you can choose the destination for your backup, such as a DVD, external hard disk, or even a network drive, as well as the backup method: full, incremental, or versioned (where old versions of files are not deleted when changed). You can also choose to have your data compressed, which greatly reduces space needs (Get Backup uses the standard TAR file format for archives and GZIP format for compression, so backups can easily be opened by other utilities). Finally, you can set your backup to perform on a regular schedule (more on this below).


GetBackup3.jpg

Setting the destination and format for your backup.


Scheduling Backups

To schedule a backup so that it runs automatically, click the Schedule button at the bottom of the Properties window, then select a daily, weekly or monthly interval, and a time of day.

To make sure your backup runs even if the program is not open, you also need to open Get Backup Preferences and check the boxes for "Enable Schedule" and "Use Agent" at top right. With these boxes checked, a background agent will launch the utility at the appointed time and begin the backup process.

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Setting Get Backup Preferences.


Note that you don't have to have Get Backup open for scheduled backups to take place, but they may not occur if your machine is sleeping/hibernating. You can change your Energy Saver system preferences to prevent this from happening.


Synchronized Backups

Clicking the double arrows in the top right corner of the Get Backup window takes you into folder synchronization mode, where you can set up sync jobs on a daily, weekly or monthly schedule.

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Creating a synchronized folder.


To set up your sync job, simply choose the two target folders using the buttons at the top. The contents of the folder will then appear in the list below, and you can click the blue button to perform the sync. Also choose the direction of syncing using the drop-down arrows in between the two targets. You can sync in one direction (keeping the source folder unchanged), or two-way.

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Scheduling your synchronized folder.


To schedule folder syncing, click the Properties button. You'll see options for daily, weekly and monthly syncs. As with backup jobs, you should make sure that the User Agent is turned on in the Preferences window.

Finally, note that you can set up multiple backup and synchronization projects with individual schedules for each. Just click the New Project tab at the bottom of the window to start a new


Using ToastAnywhere

Toast 10 Titanium's ToastAnywhere feature lets you share CD and DVD recorders over a network (or the Internet), so you can back up even if you don't have a CD or DVD recorder connected to your Mac. It's a perfect solution for small offices, schools, and home networks to share expensive resources like Blu-ray recorders.

Here's how it works: both the sending and receiving computers need Toast 10 Titanium installed, and the receiving computer must turn on "ToastAnywhere Recorder Sharing" in the Toast 10 Preferences to share their recorder with other Toast 10 users on the network.

From there, the process is simple. As the sender, you set up the disc you want to burn in Toast just like you normally would, then select the shared recorder from the pop-up list when you click the Recorder Options button. To access a recorder on the Internet, choose "Other Shared Recorder," then enter the IP address of the remote machine (you may also need to adjust firewall and port settings). Finally, click the red Record button.


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Share your DVD or Blu-ray recorder over a network by turning on the ToastAnywhere feature in the Toast Preferences window.


That's it. The person sharing their recorder will be prompted to insert a blank disc, and Toast will then record your content to disc over the network. Of course, Toast must be also be open on the remote machine.

Now that you know how to use Toast 10 Titanium to back up and synchronize your precious media files, you can keep those New Year's resolutions!

December 19, 2008

Creating Video Soundtracks with SonicFire Pro

Want to set the right mood for your videos? Create a Hollywood-style soundtrack with SonicFire Pro, part of the Creator 2009 Ultimate suite. Music and sound effects can turn a ho-hum video into a riveting thriller or an uplifting story, but few of us have the ability to record our own backing tracks. With SonicFire's huge library of professionally produced music in styles ranging from classical to hip-hop, you can create the perfect soundtrack without knowing how to read a note.

SonicFire's unique mood-mapping technology lets you automatically generate music that follows the action in your videos, getting softer, louder or more intense to fit your script. Want the music to lower behind your dialog? No problem, just add a mood point. You can add sound effects too, using the powerful multi-track editor.

In this tutorial, we'll be editing a soundtrack for a wedding video created with CineMagic (another program in the Creator suite). It's about 5.5 minutes long, and includes highlights like the walk down the aisle, the exchange of vows, and scenes from the reception. We decided to create a whole new soundtrack for several reasons. First, while there was music in the church and reception, it didn't record very well. Second, since our edited video only included snippets of each scene, there was no continuity in the music. Finally, the clips from the reception had a lot of crowd noise.

All these problems are typical of home video editing. In these situations, it's best and easiest to simply toss out the audio (except for key dialog or musical performances), and then add your own backing track. Here, the only bits of dialog we'll be keeping are the wedding vows and best man's toast. Around that, we'll add a soundtrack specially generated by SonicFire to match the length, mood and theme of our video.

Step 1: Import Your Video

To start, choose SonicFire Pro from the Windows Start menu (in the SmartSound folder). The program will open to a blank project. Next, import the video you want to create a soundtrack for, by clicking the "Choose Video" button at lower left. Ideally, your movie should be completely finished except for the audio, since you will be matching the soundtrack precisely to various points in the video. If you later make changes to your video that affect the length or key points in the action, you'll probably also have to go back and regenerate the soundtrack.

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Importing a movie into SonicFire Pro. (Click to enlarge.)


You can import your video in many popular formats, including AVI, MOV, MPEG-1 and WMV. If you have DV or AVCHD-format video from a digital camcorder, first use the Video Copy & Convert tool (found under the Video-Movies tab on the Creator home screen or in the Roxio Applications folder in the Start menu) to convert it to one of the supported formats.

If you have to convert your video, don't worry, you can still use the original high-quality video in your finished production; SonicFire simply employs the imported video as a reference guide for producing the soundtrack, which you will add back to your original video later in VideoWave.

While our wedding video was originally shot in DV, the edited version was created in CineMagic and saved in MPEG format, so we were able to import it directly without conversion. After import, your video will appear in the bottom right pane of the SonicFire window, and you can play it back at any time to locate particular points in your video and see how the soundtrack syncs up to the action.

Step 2: Select Your Main Background Music

Now comes the fun part, choosing music from the vast SmartSound libraries. A set of "Core Foundations" tracks come with SonicFire Pro, covering a wide range of styles. These will be all most home users need for occasional editing, especially since they can be supplemented with music from your own audio CDs.

But to take advantage of the full power of SonicFire Pro, such as ability to generate music that changes in mood and intensity along with your video and matches the length of every scene perfectly, you'll want to explore the full SmartSound library. To preview and choose music for your soundtrack, click the Maestro button at top right.


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Opening the SonicFire Maestro tool. (Click to enlarge.)


Now the Maestro window will pop up. Here you can browse around the SmartSound library, and listen to previews of all tracks available in the online store right from the program. If you find one you want to use, you can buy it individually, or as part of a set. The style and keyword search tools help narrow down your options. For our wedding video we wanted classical music that was uplifting. After listening to a few options, we chose Handel's Pavane. As well as fitting the wedding theme, Pavane has the added attraction of being a multi-layer track (indicated by the 3-line icon next to it), which means you can change the mood of the track over time. We wanted to have different moods for the church and reception scenes.


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Choosing music via the Maestro window.


Adding the Original Soundtrack

While the SmartSound music would be used throughout, in place of the original church and reception music, we wanted to keep the actual spoken wedding vows. So we chose the "Import Video's Audio" tool at bottom left to bring it into our project.


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Importing the audio track from your video. (Click to enlarge.)


The track then appears in a list of available audio at bottom right, and you can send it to the timeline by selecting it and clicking the Insert button as shown.


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Sending tracks to the timeline. (Click to enlarge.)


Now that we have all our source music placed on the timeline, it's time to customize it. You could add yet more tracks, such as your own CD audio files or additional SmartSound music via the Maestro. One piece of music was enough for our 5-minute video. For longer videos, you might want different pieces of music for different scenes.

Customizing Your Soundtrack

The first step in customizing your SonicFire soundtrack is deciding where the key points are, such as where you want moods to change, where you want to use original dialog, and where you want to switch to new music tracks. Move the video playback head along the timeline to each of these points, then click the "Add Marker" button at top to mark them. The markers will then make it easy to select key portions of the soundtrack for customization.

Changing moods between the church and reception was our first task. We selected the Pavane Mood Map, and a list of possible moods appeared in the Properties pane at right. To begin, the mood is set as "Full," with all instruments playing. We wanted a sparser sound for the church, so we moved changed it to Woodwinds. Then we moved the play head to the marker we set earlier for the start of the reception, clicked the Mood Map button at left to signal a change of mood, and chose "Full" for the remaining section of the music. We could have tweaked it even further, with changes at more points along the way, such as when the cake was being cut, or the bride was entering the church. For a longer video, we would have. You can change moods as often as you like.


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Changing moods. (Click to enlarge.)


The next task was to crop off all of our original audio save for the wedding vows. We simply dragged the ends of the WeddingAudio.wav track to the two markers we set earlier indicating the start and end of the vows. Then we played with the crossfade and fade-in/out tools at right until we got things sounding the way we wanted them. You can also change the volume of any track throughout the timeline by clicking the volume button next to the track name at left. This was useful in reducing the volume of the music while the dialog was playing.


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Editing the dialog track. (Click to enlarge.)


We were pretty happy with our wedding video at that point, but also wanted to explore another SonicFire feature: Variations. Variations are different versions of the same piece of music that can be placed back to back in longer pieces to provide variety (as opposed to repetitive sound loops). You can also use them somewhat like moods, to give a slightly different feel to your soundtrack. After listening to the options, we decided to go with a different variation than the original, called "Wonder."


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Choosing musical variations. (Click to enlarge.)


You could continue tweaking your video score with imported CD audio tracks, sound effects, and more. For the truly musically inclined, SonicFire Pro also has a slew of advanced features not mentioned here, such as the Razor tool and Smart Blocks, which let you break down SmartSound music into its basic components and rearrange them at will.

We'll stop here, however, and export our soundtrack. Depending on your project, you can simply export audio and video together, in one complete movie file, or export the soundtrack alone, to be added to the video later in VideoWave. Here, since our video is already in one of SonicFire's supported formats, we chose to simply output the video and audio together.


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Exporting the finished movie with soundtrack.


Now that you the basic of SonicFire Pro scoring, give it a try! Take any home video and see how easily you can enhance it with audio. You'll be amazed at the results!

December 18, 2008

Transfer TiVo Shows to DVDs & Portable Players with Creator

TiVo owners are hooked on their DVRs -- most can't imagine life BT (Before TiVo). But all those high-definition season passes can quickly overflow even the most capacious hard drive. And woe betide the parents who delete their daughter's episodes of Hannah Montana to make room for Lost! What's a TiVo-loving family to do?

The answer is to use TiVo Desktop and Roxio Creator 2009 to transfer shows from your networked TiVo to your computer, DVD, or portable player, freeing up precious space on your DVR for new recordings. You can archive all your favorite shows to DVD, and even edit out unwanted portions before burning. Or you can convert your TiVo files for transfer to iPods, iPhones, PSPs and other portable players, so you can view them anywhere. Creator does the all the conversion automatically, and can sync your shows straight to iTunes or your portable device.

Even better, you can also send photos and videos back to your TiVo for playback on the big screen. This feature is perfect for home movie viewing. And it all works with both standard and high-definition video, so you can make high-def DVDs and Blu-ray Discs out of HD TiVo recordings, or send movies from your HD camcorder to your HD TiVo in full 16:9 format. (High-definition also requires the Creator 2009 High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-In, available separately or as part of Creator 2009 Ultimate.)

Here's how to start making the most of your TiVo:

Transfer Shows to Your PC

The first step is to download and install TiVo Desktop, if you haven't already, and then use it to transfer shows from your networked TiVo to your PC. TiVo Desktop can be found on the TiVo site here.

Next, open up TiVo Desktop. At first, the window will be empty, since you haven't transferred any shows yet. Once you've copied shows over, they will appear in the "Now Playing" list. Below is the main TiVo Desktop window after transferring a few programs.


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The TiVo Desktop "Now Playing" List. (Click to enlarge.)


To transfer a new show to your PC, simply click the "Pick Recordings to Transfer" button at top left, and then select the appropriate items from the list that appears. You can transfer multiple shows at once, and also set up automatic transfers (top middle button), a real convenience. For example, you can have specific season passes sent to your PC every week, so you can then burn them to DVD or copy them to your iPod.


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Picking TiVo recordings to transfer to PC.


Here's the Now Playing window again, this time showing a new program in the process of being transferred. Note the display of the time remaining at top right.


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Transferring a TiVo recording. (Click to enlarge.)


Burning Shows to DVD or Blu-ray Disc

Now that you've used TiVo Desktop to transfer programs to your PC, it's time to switch over to Creator 2009 so you can edit, burn or convert them. First, we'll show you how to archive a show to DVD or Blu-ray. To start, open the Creator 2009 home screen, click the Video-Movies tab, then select "Create DVDs - Advanced" under the Create heading, which will then open the MyDVD program. You can also open MyDVD directly from the Roxio Creator Applications folder in the Programs menu.


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The Creator 2009 home screen.


Next, click the Add New Movie button, and navigate to the TiVo Recordings folder, which holds all the shows you've transferred to your PC. Select one or more movies to use in your DVD project.


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Selecting TiVo shows to burn. (Click to enlarge.)


The movie(s) will then show up in a list at the bottom left of the the MyDVD window, as shown below.


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TiVo show in the MyDVD project window. (Click to enlarge.)


At this point, if you like, you can customize your DVD with menu themes and chapters, and also select the type of disc you want to burn, such as DVD or Blu-ray. We have a complete tutorial on using MyDVD here. For a simple DVD, however, you can just go ahead and press the Burn button (at top right). The show will first be encoded, and then written to disc.


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Burning the TiVo show to DVD.


Burning TiVo recordings to DVD or Blu-ray Disc is a great way to make the most of your DVR, by building up a video library you can view anywhere, and freeing up space on your TiVo's hard disk.

Sending Shows to Your Portable Player

As you may have guessed from the DVD burning tutorial above, Creator 2009 is able to work with the shows in the TiVo Recordings folder just like any other videos. This means you can also edit them with VideoWave (including cutting out unwanted segments), combine TiVo shows with other video material in your projects, and convert them for viewing on your iPod, iPhone, PSP or other portable player.

To convert shows for playback on your portable device, go back to the Creator 2009 home screen shown above, and this time select "Copy and Convert DVD-Video" under the Edit and Transfer heading. The Roxio Video Copy & Convert tool will open. Click the Video Compilation tab, then the Add Movies button. Just as in our DVD tutorial above, a media selection window will open where you can pick the TiVo recordings you want to transfer.

After you've added all the shows you want to convert to the list at bottom left, choose your output format in the box at right. We have chosen iPhone here, which automatically sets the correct encoding options for the conversion. Then click the Copy button at top, and the transfer will start. You can send your files direct to iTunes, or save them to disc for later syncing with your portable player.


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Converting TiVo shows for iPhone viewing. (Click to enlarge.)


Now that you know the basics of working with TiVo recordings in Creator, try some fancier tricks, like combining TV footage and home movies in VideoWave for fun effects, or editing home movies to upload back to your TiVo. It's fun and easy!

December 13, 2008

How To Convert Video with Roxio Crunch

Want your iPhone, iPod and Apple TV video to snap, crackle and pop? Then Crunch it first!

Converting a movie, TV show or home video into a format that will look good on your iPod or iPhone is a fine art, as is creating top-quality streaming files for Apple TV. The compression process needs to be tuned for each type of video source and playback device, which can involve a bewildering array of technical parameters. But you don't need to be a digital video guru to get your home movies onto your iPod, or your DVDs onto your Apple TV. All you need is Roxio Crunch for Mac.

Roxio Crunch reduces the entire process to three easy steps, and does all the heavy lifting for you. You simply choose the video source files to convert (in nearly any format), select output presets optimized for your device, then go! Multiple video files can be processed in one batch, making it simple to move entire movie libraries to your new Apple TV, iPhone or iPod Touch.

You can even take unencrypted DVDs and Video_TS folders and select just the movie tracks you want to convert (skipping the extra features and foreign languages), which can save huge amounts of valuable drive space. After converting, Crunch drops your videos right into iTunes for automatic synchronization to your device. Here's how to do it:

Getting Started with Crunch

Roxio Crunch can convert most common types of digital video files for use on your Apple TV, video iPod, or iPhone, including:
* DVD-Video discs created with Toast, iDVD, or DVD Studio Pro
* Commercial DVD-Video discs that are not copy-protected or encrypted
* DVD-Video image files or VIDEO_TS folders from your hard disk
* Native QuickTime video formats, such as DV, AVI, MOV, and MPEG-4
* Other non-QuickTime video formats, such as MPEG-2 and DivX

The basic process is very simple. Just choose a video type from the source drawer on the left, drag your file(s) to the content window on the right, then click the red Convert button at bottom right. You will then be presented with a Player Setup dialog. You can drag as many video files as you like, to perform a batch conversion.


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Crunch conversion options.


The easiest way to use Crunch is to select your device (Apple TV, iPod or iPhone), along with the Automatic quality setting and output to iTunes. Those three settings will do everything automagically for you. If you want to be sure of top quality output, you can choose the Highest setting, or select Custom to set your own compression parameters. The Automatic setting will balance quality and file size, depending on the output device.


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Output quality level selection.


Customizing Quality Levels

While most users will be happy with the automatic presets, advanced users can delve into Crunch's custom compression options. Separate options are available for video and music. Available parameters will depend on your output device (you can choose image sizes from 160x120 all the way up to 1920x1080 for Apple TV, for example, but only up to 320x240 for iPod).


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Customizing Crunch compression options.


Crunching DVDs & Image Files

Converting DVDs, Video_TS folders and Disc Image files gives you the added option of selecting particular video tracks to compress. This is a big advantage when converting DVDs with lots of extras like trailers, director's cuts, foreign languages, and extra scenes. Omitting the extras conserves scarce disk space on your iPod or iPhone. By default, the main video and audio are included, as in the following Video_TS folder. Pressing the Options... button brings up a track selector.


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Converting a DVD Video_TS folder.


In the track selector, first click the Video drop-down menu. Choose All to include all videos, or main to include the single longest running video. Custom lets you select individual videos. Under the Audio menu, the primary audio is automatically selected for each video. If you select Custom as your Video choice, you can choose a different audio option for each video, such as a director's annotation or foreign language. Note that videos converted for portable players can only have one audio track and do not contain subtitles or menus. Multi-channel audio tracks will also be downsampled to two channels.


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Selecting DVD video and audio tracks.


Sending Videos to Your Player

If you selected iTunes as your destination, your videos can be automatically or manually synched to your device from there. If you saved your compressed videos elsewhere, you can drag and drop them into iTunes, or transfer them to other players that support MPEG-4 or H.264 video, such as the Sony PSP and many new smartphones.

We hope this article shows how easy it is to take all your videos to go, or even to convert an entire video library for viewing on your new iPhone or Apple TV. Now it's Crunch time!

November 14, 2008

Creating a CineMagic Movie

Want to create great-looking home movies but don't have the time to spend learning about video editing and special effects? Or simply don't have time, period? Roxio's CineMagic Assistant, part of the Creator 2009 suite, was made just for you. With CineMagic, all you do is bring in clips from your video camera, make a few quick selections, and the program does the rest! In literally 30 minutes, you can have a Hollywood-style production all ready to share via email, Web, portable media player or DVD.

Getting Started: Adding Content

The first task is to bring your video clips into the computer, if you haven't already. Use your video camera's transfer software, or use Creator's Media Import utility (found in the Roxio Home screen under Video>Import>Capture Video) to capture clips automatically. CineMagic can handle all major Windows video file formats, so don't worry about that for now. Once you have your clips ready, as well as any still photos you might want to mix in with the video, it's time to start. Choose Edit Video Automatically from the Video task list on the Roxio Home screen, and the CineMagic Assistant will open:


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Adding video clips to a CineMagic project.


Step one is to Add Content by bringing in the video clips and photos you want to use in your movie. Just click the Add Video/Photos button, and select your media files from the browser. They will appear in the viewer at right, where you can also play any clip to preview it by clicking the little arrow in the corner. Tip: Number your clips if you want CineMagic to keep them in a particular order. Here, we are creating a wedding video, and want our scenes in sequential order.

Next, click on the Select Scenes button, and you'll see a list of all the distinct scenes that appear in your clips. If there are any that you definitely want to appear in the movie, click the box at lower left of the thumbnails to add a checkmark. Also select any you DON'T want to appear by double-clicking to add a red "X." Any remaining scenes may or may not be used, depending on the length and style of movie you choose later on. Click the Preview button to play a selected scene.


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Selecting scenes to use in your video.


Clicking OK brings you back to the CineMagic window, where it's time to add background audio to your project. You can choose to add an audio track, such as a CD track or MP3 file, or use SmartSound audio to create custom "mood" music that fits your video length precisely.


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Selecting background audio for a CineMagic project.


We chose to use SmartSound audio, so were presented with additional options. With SmartSound, you first select a style of music, such as Blues, Jazz, Latin or Classical, then a title, and then variations on that theme, depending on the mood you want to project in your video. For our wedding video, set mostly in a church, we selected Classical>Handel Air Piano>Memories. You can also specify a length for your music.


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Adding custom SmartSound background audio.


Customizing Your Movie

Just a few more decisions now, you're almost there! Click Next to go to Step 2, where CineMagic lets you customize your movie by choosing a style, such as Party, Sports, Theater, Travel or Wedding. You'll also choose a duration for your movie, or whether you want it to fit precisely to the background audio you've already selected. For our wedding video, we chose to have CineMagic keep the clips in sequential order, and entered a title for the video: "Liz & Dave, June 2003." At this point, you can preview the entire movie, and then go back and change things if you like.


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Customizing your CineMagic movie.


That's all there is to making the movie. Now it's time to Save & Share it! There are several options for sharing, including Burn to Disc, Share Online, and Create Video File.


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Saving & Sharing your CineMagic movie.

We chose to Create Video File, so we could put the movie on a portable player in the AVC/H.264 format supported by the iPhone, iPod Touch, Sony PSP and others. A dialog box of options will pop up. Select the format and quality level you want. (The higher the quality, the bigger the file.)


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Saving & Sharing options.


You can save multiple versions of the video for different purposes, such as for playback on your HDTV and iPod. Rendering the movie will take some time, but it goes surprisingly fast. For a typical short video, take a coffee break, and it will probably be done when you come back! Then be sure to send it to all your friends!


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The final rendering.


November 13, 2008

Creating Greeting Cards & Calendars

This holiday season, show off some of those great photos you've taken with your digital camera by using them in creative print projects like greeting cards, calendars, posters, gift tags and invitations. Not only will your friends and relatives treasure their personalized gifts, you and your family will enjoy making these fun projects. You'll also save money over store-bought cards and tags! All you need is Creator 2009 and a color printer. Here's how to get started.

Creating a Greeting Card

To create your own unique cards for holidays, birthdays, graduations, and other special occasions, choose the Photo tab on the Roxio Home screen, then double-click on "Create Projects." You'll be presented with a list of possible project types and templates for each.

Select Cards, then browse through the various styles for the one that fits your occasion. The cards can also be used as party invitations. All are fully customizable with your own pictures, text, background artwork, font styles, and more.


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Choosing a card style in Creator's Photo Project Assistant.


When you've made your selection, click the Next button to got to Step 2 and personalize your card.


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Editing a greeting card.


Now comes the fun part! Double-click the photo on your card, then replaced the picture on this holiday card with your own (a baby Santa in our example). You can also replace the background artwork with another photo if you like.


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Customizing the front of the card with your own picture and text.


Next, customize the inside of the card. Click on the "Inside Right" button to view the text placeholder, select it, and then type your own text in the box at left. We changed the text color to red to match the holiday theme. That's all we did to this card. You can also change the font size and style using the tools at the top, or customize the inside left and back of the card with additional photos and text.


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Customizing the inside of the card.


Printing Your Card

Now it's time to print! First, however, be sure to save your card project, in case you want to print more copies later. Then click the Print button. (You may also want to email the card to some recipients, click the Email button for that.)


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Printing and saving your finished card.


In the Print Settings box, examine your card to be sure it's positioned properly on the page, then select the printer you want to use, and the number of copies. Now press the Print button to print the first side of the paper. (We recommend high quality photo card stock, which you can find in most big office supply stores.) Next, turn the paper over and reinsert it into your printer in the proper direction, and print the inside of the card. Do a single test page first to be sure you have the orientation correct and that the card folds properly. Finally, use a paper cutter (or ruler and x-acto knife) to trim the edges of your cards. Enjoy!


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Customizing the print settings.


Creating a Photo Calendar

While making your own greeting cards is quick and easy, if you really want to impress people, give them a customized calendar that they can use every day. To start, open the Photo Project Assistant again, and select Calendars instead of Cards. Choose the template that comes closest to your ideal, and click Next.


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Choosing a calendar template.


Now replace the various calendar placeholders with your own pictures and text, as you did with the greeting cards. Also choose a start date for your calendar. Again, you can customize any of the page elements, and change fonts, styles and colors. Finally, save and print your project, and let the compliments roll in!


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Customizing your calendar project.


November 12, 2008

Preserve Your Musical Past with Creator 2009

Looking for a great holiday gift that costs nothing but time? Unlock your family's musical past by converting old LPs and tapes to MP3, then create mix discs or iPod playlists customized for everyone on your list. All you need is Creator 2009 and a turntable. You can dig up your old one, or borrow one from a friend. The process is quick and painless.

Creator 2009 makes it easy to get great results with its LP & Tape Assistant. Even better, once you've made your recording, you can put away those LPs, preventing further wear and tear, and preserving them for future generations. You can also go on to make CD and DVD compilations of your musical memories--perfect for holiday reunions, anniversaries and birthdays--even combining them with tracks from digital sources like CDs or Internet radio. This article shows you how, step by step.

One note before we start. If the LP or cassette you want to transfer to CD has been published on CD, you may want to buy the CD rather than make a copy. This is not for copyright reasons--you are perfectly within your rights to make a CD copy of an album you already own for personal use. The fact is that a commercial CD will likely be far better quality than any copy you can make yourself, even with a top-notch turntable and sound card. That said, if you have records that were never issued as CDs, or family audiotapes you want to preserve, transferring these analog sources to CDs makes perfect sense, and Creator 2009 makes it simple.

Step 1: Use a Clean Source

When digitizing an analog audio signal it's important to make sure you get the best signal into the computer before recording. While Creator has a noise cleanup tool, this should be viewed as a secondary cleaning. Wipe your LPs with a lint-free anti-static cloth or record brush. If you have a lot of material to record, you might also consider replacing the needle in your turntable if you can't remember the last time you did so. Similarly, make sure your cassette deck heads are clean, and that you engage the same noise-reduction technology (Dolby B or C, etc) used when the tape was recorded. Not all decks support all technologies.

Step 2: Connect Things Up

Depending upon whether you have a record or cassette, you may have to use a different technique to connect your sound source to your computer. For tapes and other line-level audio sources, including TVs, VCRs, DVD players, stereo receivers, and MP3 players, you should ideally use a player that has line-out jacks (usually two RCA plugs), and connect these jacks to the line-in minijack of your PC's sound card. If your portable tape player lacks line-out jacks, you can also use a headphone output; though this will require more work in adjusting levels (see Step 3).

If you're recording from an LP, you'll likely need to run it through a receiver or amplifier with a "phono preamp" first because most turntables put out a signal that is much lower than a standard line signal. Connecting this directly to the computer will not work. Many home receivers and amplifiers have a special phono input for connecting the turntable. You then connect the line-out from the amplifier (often labeled tape out) to the line-in of your PC. In most cases you'll need a cable with dual RCA male plugs on one end to plug into your source deck, and a stereo male mini-plug on the other to connect to your computer. Finally, there are newer USB turntables that provide a direct USB input to your computer. These are the easiest to connect.

Step 3: Choose Recording Input and Adjust Levels

Now you're ready to begin recording! Choose "Digitize LPs and Tapes" from the Roxio Home Music-Audio task list. The LP & Tape Assistant will open, and you'll see a Recording window with options for selecting your audio input and adjusting the recording level. Click the "Recording Setup Guide" button for detailed instructions on choosing the correct input device and setting the level.

Setting the correct recording level is very important. You want to get as high a level as possible without "clipping," which can cause distortion. If the recording meters go into the red zone, sound is being clipped and you should readjust your recording level. Note that if you have used the headphone connection of a tape recorder or amplifier as your source, you can also adjust the volume on your tape deck or amp.


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Setting the recording input and level. Note that the level does not go into the red (clipping) zone.


Now, start playing a song and listen to it come through your computer. Use quality headphones or external speakers if possible. Check for hum--you may need to ground your source deck (all turntables come with a special ground wire for this purpose). Also make sure that the computer and source equipment are plugged into the same power strip, and that power cables and sound cables are not bunched together. Keep sound cables away from CRTs, televisions and other sources of electronic noise.

Once you've got a clean sound source coming through, it's time to start recording! Cue your source to the beginning, press the red Record button, then start your source playing. Don't worry about recording blank space at the beginning; you can remove that later. Make sure you have enough disk space before starting, though. The Assistant tells you how much recording time you have available.

By default, the LP & Tape Assistant automatically separates tracks whenever a period of silence is encountered. To adjust the sensitivity, click the Advanced Options button. Here, you can also limit recording time to a given number of minutes (handy for unattended recording), mute system sounds, and specify the file format and quality of the recording (CD quality is the default).


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The finished recording of a single album side, automatically split into tracks.


Step 4: Identifying and Enhancing Your Tracks

Now click the Next button at bottom right to go to Step 2 of the Assistant. Here you'll get a chance to identify and enhance your recordings. You can correct track splits, edit out unwanted bits at the beginnings or ends of tracks, and use filters to clean up and improve sound quality. You can also automatically identify the artist, album and song names!


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Trimming the recorded tracks.


After you've adjusted the track separators to trim your tracks (use the zoom buttons at top right to get a close-up look, then drag the separator arrows left or right), click the Tags button to identify your tracks automatically. The Edit Audio Tags window will then open, and you can edit the results.


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Identifying your tracks and editing audio tags.


Finally, checking the Clean box will reduce noise on all your tracks, while Enhance will improve the dynamic range, especially important for tape sources. Click the Clean and Enhance buttons to choose filtering options. You can also fade each track in and out by a variable length of time, and preview the results using the playback controls at lower right.


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Cleaning your recordings.


Step 5: Burn or Export Your Recordings

Once you're satisfied with your new recordings, it's time to burn them to disc or send them to your music player! To burn a CD, select the tracks you'd like to include, put them in order, and click the Burn Audio CD button. Be sure to click the checkboxes to add CD-Text info to your Audio CD, and to maximize track volumes (which will equalize the volume levels of tracks from different LPs). Or use the Export Tracks buttone to export your recordings in other formats, such as AAC or MP3 for use in your iPod or other portable audio player.


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Burning your CD.


Finally, you can choose to send the tracks to Creator's Sound Editor for further tweaking, or to the Music Disc Creator for making MP3 CDs and DVD Music Discs. Sending your new recordings to the Music Disc Creator also lets you combine them with tracks from other sources, such as songs ripped from CD or downloaded from the Web.

So dust off those albums and start recording! Don't forget to also transfer that beautiful cover art to your new CD, with the included Label Creator software.

Recording TV Shows with Toast 9 & EyeTV

Life is busy, especially around the holidays. If you're tired of missing your favorite shows or simply want to save them for watching later on DVD or your iPod, try Toast 9 and EyeTV. With EyeTV, you can turn your faithful Mac into a high-definition digital video recorder, saving shows automatically that you can view anywhere: on your computer, on your TV, or on a portable player. Even if you have a DVR, you probably can’t export the contents to your Mac, much less your iPhone. And it all works with both regular and HDTV! You can even use Toast to burn DVDs or Blu-ray Discs with your recordings. (Blu-ray requires the optional Toast HD/BD Plug-in.)

Assuming you already have Toast 9 or Popcorn 3, all you need to do is add one of the Elgato EyeTV tuners, such as the EyeTV 250 Plus and EyeTV Hybrid USB stick to turn your Mac into a HD DVR. Whichever way you go, Toast and Popcorn make it easy to save the programs you've captured on your Mac to DVD, or export them to your iPhone, iPod, Apple TV or other media player.


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Elgato EyeTV Hybrid USB stick.


The EyeTV tuners do a lot more than just record video to hard disk, however. The software interacts with the free TitanTV online program guide to schedule recordings, and maintains a list of past recordings stored on your hard disk, so you can use it like you would a regular HD DVR, but without the monthly fees. It even lets you pause live TV, skip commercials, and enjoy instant replays. Since most newer Macs, and many older ones, have video output capabilities, you can plug the output from your Mac into a TV set (including HDTVs), and use your Mac's remote control (or your iPhone with the Remote app) to watch or record video from the comfort of your couch in full high-definition!

Both tuners can record over-the-air broadcasts in standard or high-definition, as well as cable or satellite signals using the set-top converter box supplied by your provider to change channels, and then plugging the output from the converter into the EyeTV, which should be tuned to channel 3 or 4, depending on your service. (Unscrambled Clear QAM cable channels don't require a converter box.) They can also accept almost any form of standard-definition analog video, with S-Video and RCA jacks for plugging in sources like VCRs, camcorders and DVD players. The EyeTV 250 Plus also includes on-board hardware encoding to take the burden off your Mac's processor for standard definition recording. It's great for converting old tapes to digital format. (Note that for HD recording, a Dual G5 or Intel Mac is required.)

Using EyeTV

Open the EyeTV software and three windows appear: a resizable video window, a program list of all available recordings on your hard disk, and an onscreen controller (which you can use along with or in place of an infrared remote). The onscreen controller (pictured below) tells you what the current show is and how far into it you are, and provides typical fast forward/reverse/pause/record/volume/channel functions, as well as instant replay, mute, program guide, and 30-second commercial skip buttons.


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The EyeTV controller.


Here's the video window, with the controller and recording information displayed. The video window can be resized as desired, or fill the screen. You can also show or hide the controller at any time.


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EyeTV playing video live, with controller and recording information bar.


Step-by-Step from Video Recording to DVD

Now that you've become familiar with the features and capabilities of EyeTV, here's a step-by-step guide to burning your recorded EyeTV programs to DVD or converting them for your iPod, iPhone or other media player.

1) First, connect things up according to the EyeTV instructions, then run the EyeTV software setup program to sign up for the online program guide (so you know what you're watching, and can program future recordings). The setup process will also tune all the channels coming off your antenna or cable/satellite input. The program guide supports over-the-air, cable and satellite services.


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The EyeTV program guide. Scheduled recordings are indicated by a red dot.


2) Next, choose a future show to record by clicking the red Record button that appears next to it. You can even set a show to record all season long, so you'll never miss another episode of American Idol or 24. Better yet, if you set the preference to "Start EyeTV when a device is plugged in," it will wake up your Mac from sleep to record, and even boot up your machine if it is off (with OS 10.2 or later and automatic login enabled in your Mac System Preferences)! No worries about having to leave your machine on all the time.

3) When you're done recording, the show will appear in the Recordings window, where you can select it for playback on your computer, or burn it to disc. To make a DVD or Blu-ray Disc (with a Blu-ray recorder and the Toast HD/BD Plug-in) select your recording(s) within the Toast 9 Media Browser and drag them to the Video Project window. About 2 hours of standard-definition video will fit on a DVD, or about 2 hours of high-definition video on a 25GB Blu-ray disc. Choose menu and navigation options for your disc at lower left, then press the Burn button. You can also trim out commercials from your recordings before burning, by clicking the Edit button next to each video in the Project window.


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Making a DVD or Blu-ray Disc from your EyeTV recordings.


4) To convert EyeTV recordings for your mobile device or set-top player, such as your iPhone, iPod Touch or Apple TV, click the Convert Tab in the Toast window and drag in your recordings from the Media Browser as above. Again, you can trim out commercials or other unwanted portions using the Edit button next to each video.


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Converting EyeTV recordings for your mobile device or set-top box.


Finally, select the format you want to convert to from the drop-down list (click the Recorder Settings icon at lower left). We chose to export for our iPhone. Then click the Burn button and your converted videos will be sent straight to iTunes!


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Choosing a player format for your conversions.


October 23, 2008

Download & Burn DVD Movies with Qflix

Picture it: You just got home from work, and still have to pull dinner together, supervise homework, and put the kids to bed. If you have time to relax with a movie afterwards, it will have to be whatever's on the tube, since there's definitely no time to go to the video store or order online.

And while digital downloads can be fast, most are time-limited or inconveniently locked to a PC or set-top device. Why spend all that time downloading a movie only to see it expire just hours after you've watched it? Even if you purchase the movie, it will likely have to spend its entire lifetime on a hard drive.

Instead, liberate your downloads with Sonic's revolutionary new download-to-burn technology: Qflix. Qflix drives and media let you have it both ways: a burned DVD for viewing on the big screen, plus a digital copy of the movie on up to three PCs. All copies are completely legal, so you'll be able to watch your movies anywhere: at home, in the car, or on your portable player.

The Qflix platform opens a whole new world where you don't have to run to the video store or wait two days for them to come in the mail. Instead, you can burn DVDs of the latest movie releases, like Iron Man and The Spiderwick Chronicles, right from your desktop. With one download, you get a movie that can be watched instantly on your PC and burned to DVD. You'll no longer have to choose between downloads and DVDs!

So how does this magic work? There are three simple steps: First, buy a Qflix DVD burner, available from Dell and others. Your burner will come with the Roxio Venue software, which you need for the following steps. Next, open Venue and choose a movie from the CinemaNow online store. Finally, press the download & burn button. That's it!

You'll have your finished DVD in hand in about 1.5 to 2 hours, and you can even watch the movie while it downloads to your PC. With a Qflix drive, you can pick a movie when you get home from work, and your DVD will be ready for viewing on the big screen after dinner.

Getting Started

The first step towards downloading and burning your own DVDs is to install the software disc that comes with your Qflix drive. Three programs will be installed: The Roxio Venue software you'll use to choose, buy, download, burn and watch CinemaNow movies; the CinemaNow software that manages your account; and Roxio CinePlayer, the premier DVD movie playing software for your PC (so you can watch your burned discs in top quality).

Next, plug in your new Qflix drive. It's a standard CD/DVD recorder, so will install itself automatically. You should then see a popup saying that your new hardware is ready to be used. Now it's time to open Roxio Venue and choose a movie!


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The Roxio Venue startup screen.


Buying Your First Movie

Choosing a movie is a breeze in Venue. You can browse through the newest releases, see the most popular downloads, search for a particular movie, or browse by genre, such as Action, Comedy, Drama, Family and Thriller.


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Browsing through the Thriller genre in the CinemaNow store.


Click on a movie you are interested in to see more details about it, such as the average customer rating, directors and producers, running time, and a synopsis of the plot.


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Movie details for Iron Man.


To illustrate the purchase process, we'll buy Iron Man. Click on the Buy Now button, and you'll be presented with a login/registration screen if you're not logged in already.


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The CinemaNow login/registration screen.


Fill out the registration form, login, and you'll be ready to buy. Now pay for your purchase. You can use PayPal or a credit card. Once you've paid successfully, you'll see the following confirmation screen.


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The movie purchase confirmation screen.


Downloading & Burning

The movie purchase confirmation screen is where the Qflix magic happens. Amazingly, you can download, burn and watch your movie all at the same time! But before burning your first movie, let's check your system first. From the Venue Tools menu, choose "Burnright System Check." This utility will automatically check to see if you have enough hard drive space, a Qflix burner attached, and an Internet connnection. Assuming everything is okay, you're good to go. If not, clear some disk space or check your connections.


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Checking your system before burning.


Assuming you want to burn the movie right away, check the box to "Automatically Begin DVD Burn," then click the Download button. Venue will do the rest! You'll be prompted to insert a blank Qflix disc, if you haven't already. A couple of blank discs may come with your drive; Qflix media can also be purchased from Dell, Roxio and other sources. If you don't check the box, you can also burn your movie later at any time.


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Starting the one-step download & burn process in Roxio Venue.


Once you click the Download button, you'll see a progress bar at the bottom of your screen, as well as a movie icon that shows the status of your download.


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The CinemaNow Movie Library while downloading & burning.


Once the download is completed, the icon label will change to reflect whether you have burned the movie yet or not. In the example below, we downloaded Iron Man, but did not burn it immediately, so it shows "Burn Allowed" in the Library. For The Spiderwick Chronicles, we did a download & burn, so its label changes to "Already Burned." To burn Iron Man later, you simply go to My Videos, then press the Burn button next to it.


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Movie Library showing movie during and after burning.


Enjoying the Show!

Now comes the payoff! Just double-click on any downloaded movie in your library to start playing it within Roxio Venue. You can even watch movies as they are being downloaded by press the Play button! The software will tell you when movies are ready to play, usually just a couple minutes after they start downloading, for near-instant movie fun. You can watch movies inside the Venue window, as shown below, or switch to full-screen mode using the controls at the top of the video pane.


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Watching a CinemaNow movie with Venue.


And of course once you've burned your movie to DVD with your Qflix drive, you can also watch it on your big-screen TV, on your car DVD system, or in any standard DVD player.

Note that since the CinemaNow license allows for playing back your purchased Qflix movies on up to three PCs at a time (in addition to burning one DVD), you can install the software on additional PCs for downloading and viewing. You only need a Qflix drive on the machine you want to use for burning your purchased DVDs. Log onto your CinemaNow account online to manage which three PCs or other CinemaNow-enabled devices are authorized for viewing at any one time. When you remove a PC from the authorized list movies are not deleted, so you can reauthorize a PC without having to redownload your movies; just reinstall the software to authorize it again.

Now that you've learned how easy, powerful and flexible the Qflix system is, check out Dell's special discounts for Roxio readers on desktop and laptop systems equipped with Qflix drives and save more than $200-$265! Or take $20 off a standalone Qflix drive.

September 17, 2008

Burning High-def DVDs & Blu-ray Discs with Creator 2009

If you thought you needed a Blu-ray recorder in order to burn high-definition discs from your home movies, think again. Creator 2009 can burn HD video directly to standard DVD media using your regular DVD recorder, complete with customizable menu themes and navigation screens! These special AVCHD DVDs can then be played back on your Sony PS3 or many set-top Blu-ray players, for viewing on your HDTV's big screen. Of course, if you do own a Blu-ray recorder, Creator 2009 can burn to Blu-ray Discs as well, with the optional High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in.

If you've watched Blu-ray movies played on an HDTV, you know how breathtaking the quality can be. There is simply no comparison between the detail you get with full 1920-by-1080 HD video and standard 720-by-480 DVD resolution. Once you've experienced it, you'll likely never go back. And now that HD camcorders and DVRs are plentiful and affordable, more people are recording their home movies and TV shows in HD too. The best consumer HD camcorders can now record at up to 1920-by-1080i, almost as good as the 1920-by-1080p (progressive scan) resolution found on commercial Blu-ray movie discs.

So how do you get your home HD recordings onto your TV screen? Blu-ray recorder prices are still very high, at least $500 or so for an external drive, and media prices range from about $15 to $50 per disc, which can add up fast. After buying that HDTV, set-top Blu-ray player and HD camcorder, there's probably not much left in the budget for an expensive Blu-ray burner as well. While prices will come down eventually, if you want to watch your HD movies NOW, the answer is as close as Creator and your DVD drive.

With Creator 2009, you can burn your HD camcorder footage onto regular DVD media, in the same format as Blu-ray video, using the DVD burner you already have. These special high-definition DVDs can be played in most Blu-ray set-top players, including the Sony PlayStation 3, and you can fit up to an hour of HD video onto a dual-layer DVD. If you are lucky enough to have a Blu-ray recorder, you can also burn hours of video on a single or dual-layer Blu-ray Disc, using Creator 2009 and its High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in (or Creator 2009 Ultimate, which includes the plug-in). Even better, Creator's MyDVD application lets you edit your HD clips using a powerful timeline editor, and author discs with fully customizable HD menus and themes.

Getting Started -- Import Your Video

To author a high-definition DVD complete with custom menus, first open Creator 2009 and select the "Create DVDs - Advanced project option under the Video - Movies tab. This will launch the MyDVD application. (You can also launch it directly from the Windows Programs menu.) The application will start by asking what type of project you want to create. Choose "AVCHD Project" if you want to put HD video on standard DVDs, or "Blu-ray Project" if you have a Blu-ray recorder and want to burn a Blu-ray Disc (unless you have more than one hour of video, a dual-layer DVD is all you need).


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Choosing a project type in MyDVD.


Now it's time to import your HD video clips from your camcorder, if you haven't already. Click the Capture/Import button at top left to open the Media Import Tool. Then connect your AVCHD camcorder and set it to PC connect mode per the manufacturer's directions. When connected properly, it will show up in the device list. Select it, and you will see a list of available clips in the box at left, complete with thumbnail previews. Each clip is labeled with valuable information, such as the length, screen format, and resolution (1920x1080 or 1440x1080 for AVCHD clips). Finally, choose the clips you want to use in your project, and click the Import button at bottom. The import process will start, and the imported clips will be shown in the box at right. When you are finished importing, click the Done button to return to MyDVD.


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Importing clips from an AVCHD camcorder with the Media Import tool.


Adding & Editing Your Movies

The next step is to bring your clips into your AVCHD DVD or Blu-ray project. Click the Add New Movie button at top left, and select the movies you want to use in your project from your hard disk (hold down the Ctrl key to select multiple clips at once). The movies will now appear in the project window at bottom left. Don't worry about the order for now, you can arrange things later. First, check each of your clips to see if they need trimming or removal of unwanted portions by clicking the Movies tab in the Project pane (at lower left). Choose a clip to preview it. If you want to trim the clip, or add a title or soundtrack, click the Edit Movie button at middle left to switch to editing mode.


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Editing a video clip in MyDVD.


MyDVD's editing mode includes a powerful timeline editor. We won't go into all the details here, but you can do things like add titles, transitions, soundtracks and special effects, as well as basic editing. If your movies are long, you can also add chapter markers, just like those on a commercial movie disc, using the Edit Chapters button at middle left. Most home video clips are relatively short, however, so you probably won't need to do this.

Customizing Your Disc

Now that you've added all your movies and edited them as desired, it's time to customize your disc menus. First, make sure your clips are in the sequence you'd like them displayed on your menu--use the Move Up and Move Down buttons under the Movies tab to change the order. Then click "Change Menu Style" to pick a theme for your disc.


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Choosing a menu theme.


You can choose from any theme, although we recommend checking the box to view the special HD themes only, which have been designed with HD's wider aspect ratio and higher resolution in mind. (If you choose a standard-definition theme, it will be stretched to the HD aspect ratio.) Next, edit the movie titles by clicking on them in the preview pane. You can change fonts and sizes as desired, and add additional text anywhere you like. Also experiment with button styles by choosing "Change Button Styles" at middle left.


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Editing movie titles.


Once you've edited your menus to your satisfaction, preview your disc by clicking the Preview button near the top right. You'll be presented with a fully operational disc emulator, so you can see exactly how your disc will play in your set-top player. If you find anything you want to change, go back and fix it using MyDVD's movie editing and disc authoring tools.


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Previewing your disc project.


Burning Your Disc

Now you're all done, except for burning! The bar at the bottom will show how much video you have, and whether it fits on your disc. If needed, you can choose a different disc size, such as a dual-layer disc instead of a single-layer disc. You can also specify a quality level. By default, Creator will fit your video to the disc size. If you want to make sure that it is encoded at a particular quality level, use the pop-up menu at bottom right. The Highest Quality encoding option takes longer, but is worth it if you have the time.


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Disc encoding options.


Finally, press the Burn button at top right, and select burn options, if desired. You can erase the disc if needed (for a rewritable disc), give it a label, and choose a burn speed. Be sure to use a burn speed that is supported by both your drive and media (not all media is rated for higher speeds). Choosing a lower speed may help avoid any problems while burning.


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The MyDVD Burn window.


Once you press the Burn button, you'll see a recording progress indicator that shows the status of encoding and burning. Encoding usually takes longer than burning.


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The MyDVD burn progress indicator.


Now it's time to enjoy your disc on the big screen! Pop it into your PlayStation 3 or other Blu-ray player, and let your whole family enjoy your home videos in all their HD glory.

Take Your Video & PhotoShows To Go

Sure, you've got a bunch of photos on your cameraphone or portable media player. But do you have a PhotoShow? With the new Roxio Online Premium Service, you can turn photos and video clips from your summer vacation or family wedding into an expressive multimedia slideshow--complete with rich special effects and a professional soundtrack--and then copy it to your smartphone or media player, all in just a few easy steps. No software needs to be installed, everything happens right in your Web browser! And it could not be easier, as you'll see below.

Once you've made your PhotoShow, you can share it instantly via a secure Web link that your friends can click on and view in their browser window. But with the Premium Service you get the added ability to download your finished shows in MPEG4 video format. This means you can view them offline on your computer, burn them to DVD, or copy them to your video-capable phone, iPod, PSP, or other portable player. Imagine being able to pull out your iPhone and play your PhotoShow for all your friends and co-workers!

Getting Started -- Importing Your Photos & Video

The first step in any PhotoShow project is to import your media. With the standard Roxio Online account, you can upload pictures only. With the Premium Service, however, you can upload video clips as well, making it easy to merge still photos and videos into the perfect show. To get started, just go to RoxioOnline.com, and click on "Make a PhotoShow." If you don't already have a Premium account, also click the button to "Upgrade Now."

Once you are signed in with your Premium account, you'll be presented with the Add Photos screen. This is where you choose the photos and videos you'd like to include in your show, and upload them. Note that there is a size limit of 50MB on videos, and 20MB on photos. Most popular photo and video formats are accepted, including JPG, PNG, BMP, GIF, AVI, WMV, MPEG1, MP4, M4V, MOV and QT. Here, we've chosen a series of photos and video clips from our summer vacation in Wisconsin.


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Uploading photos and videos to make a PhotoShow.


Personalizing Your PhotoShow

Now comes the fun part! Personalizing your PhotoShow with titles, captions, music, animated graphics, borders, background themes and transitions. For the full scoop on how to trick out your show, see "Share Your Photos with Roxio Online." Below, we chose the Summer theme to go with our vacation photos. It came out amazingly well, even before we personalized it, as you can see below.


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Choosing a theme in PhotoShow.


Once you've finished personalizing your show, it's time to share it with the people you choose, either publicly or privately. You'll be prompted with several ways to share: via emailed Web link, blog post, DVD, even via TV on Demand in select cable TV areas! To download your show in MPEG-4 format for your portable player, click the button at middle right, labeled "Get this PhotoShow on Video (mp4)."


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Choosing to get your PhotoShow delivered in MPEG-4 video format.


After you click the button, Roxio Online will begin the process of encoding your video (saving you the time to do it!), and then email you a link to download the file to your computer. From there, you can drag it to iTunes, or whatever program you use to sync with your mobile device, and start playing it for your friends and family! You can also burn it to DVD with Creator or Toast.

One more thing...If you are using a PC, and have a Premium account, you can also download the PhotoShow desktop software, which allows you to export video and burn DVDs right from your computer, rather than using the Web interface. Either way, Roxio Online has you covered!

Burning High-Def DVDs & Blu-ray Discs with Toast 9

If you thought you needed a Blu-ray recorder in order to burn high-definition discs from your home movies, think again. Toast 9 Titanium can burn HD video directly to standard DVD media using your regular DVD recorder, complete with customizable menu themes and navigation screens! These special AVCHD DVDs can then be played back on your Sony PS3 or many set-top Blu-ray players, for viewing on your HDTV's big screen. Of course, if you do own a Blu-ray recorder, Toast 9 can burn to Blu-ray Discs as well. Blu-ray discs hold much more video than DVDs.

If you've watched Blu-ray movies played on an HDTV, you know how breathtaking the quality can be. There is simply no comparison between the detail you get with full 1920-by-1080 HD video and standard 720-by-480 DVD resolution. Once you've experienced it, you'll likely never go back. And now that HD camcorders and DVRs are plentiful and affordable, more people are recording their home movies and TV shows in high-def too.

So how do you get your home HD recordings onto your TV screen? Blu-ray recorder prices are still very high, at least $500 or so for an external drive, and media prices range from about $15 to $50 per disc, which can add up fast. After buying that HDTV, set-top Blu-ray player and HD camcorder, there's probably not much left in the budget for an expensive Blu-ray burner as well. While prices will come down eventually, if you want to watch your HD movies NOW, the answer is as close as Toast and your DVD drive.

With Toast 9 and its High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in, you can burn your HD camcorder footage onto regular DVD media, in the same format as Blu-ray video, using the DVD burner you already have. These special high-definition DVDs can be played in most Blu-ray set-top players, including the Sony PlayStation 3, and you can fit up to an hour of HD video onto a dual-layer DVD. If you are lucky enough to have a Blu-ray recorder, you can also burn hours of video on a Blu-ray Disc. Even better, Toast lets you crop and trim your HD video, so you can edit out segments you don't want. The same thing goes for HD recordings you make using Elgato's EyeTV or your HD TiVo, so you can make DVDs of your favorite HD shows that will play back in your set-top Blu-ray player.

Getting Started -- Import Your Video

To create a high-definition DVD, first open Toast 9 (make sure you have the High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in installed) and select the Blu-ray Video project option under the Video tab. Now bring in your HD video clips. Open the Toast Media Browser, and select the EyeTV or TiVo option to import TV recordings, or select the AVCHD option to import movies directly from your attached AVCHD camcorder (which should be in computer connection mode). You can also simply drag in video clips to the Toast project window that are already on your hard disk. While Toast does not import directly from HDV camcorders, you can use HDV clips in your high-def projects as long as you import them to hard disk first, using your camera's utility software, then drag them to the Toast window. Everything will be converted to the proper format when you burn your disc. As you import or drag in video clips, your Project window will start to fill up and look like this:


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Toast 9 Blu-ray Video project window, showing video clips in both AVCHD and HDV formats.


Each clip is labeled with valuable information, such as the date recorded, the length, and the encoding format (such as H.264/AVC 1920x1080 or 1440x1080 for AVCHD clips, and MPEG-2 1440x1080 for HDV camcorder clips).


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Video clips in the Toast Project window. The top clip is from an AVCHD camcorder, the bottom clip is from an HDV camcorder.


Cropping and Trimming Clips

If some of your video clips need trimming to remove unwanted portions, click the Edit button next to each clip in the Project window. You'll see the following pop-up:


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Editing a video clip in the Toast 9 Project window.


Here, you can do several things. You can change the default name and date of your clip, and you can crop and trim it by clicking the Edit button. Change the name to whatever you'd like your clip to be labeled in the navigation menu you'll see when you pop the disc into your set-top Blu-ray player. Clicking the Edit button brings up the Toast Video Player window.


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Trimming an HD video clip in the Toast 9 Video Player.


To edit out unwanted portions of your clip first look at the slider below the video and move the pointer to the place where you'd like to start trimming. Click the middle icon just below the slider, which will then insert two markers at that point. Drag these to the left or right to exclude the unwanted portions. The area between the two markers will not appear in your finished project. You can repeat this procedure to crop out multiple portions. Finally, save your changes. Note that the original video will not be affected.

Finishing Your Disc

Now that you've imported all your clips, trimmed off any unwanted portions, and given them descriptive names, it's time to finish up your disc. Make sure the clips are in the sequence you'd like them displayed on your TV--just drag them up or down to change the order. Next, click the More button at bottom left to bring up the complete set of disc options. You can select a menu style (be sure to choose an HD style), decide whether you want the disc to start playing video automatically on insertion, and choose an encoding quality, among other options. "Best" quality encoding takes longer, but is worth it if you have the time.


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Setting disc recording options.


Now you're all done, except for burning! The bar at the bottom will show how much video you have, and whether it fits on your disc. Choose DVD or DVD DL as the disc type if you have a DVD drive, and BD or BD DL if you have a Blu-ray recorder. (Note, do NOT choose HD DVD if you have a DVD drive, HD DVD refers to Toshiba's now discontinued high-definition video disc format). If all is in order, click the red Burn button, insert a blank disc, and wait while Toast performs its magic. You can then pop your disc into most set-top Blu-ray players and enjoy high-def home movies on your HDTV!

August 26, 2008

Creator 2009's Greatest Hits

If you're looking for the inside scoop on what's new in Roxio Creator 2009, you've come to the right place! We've hand-picked the coolest new features for you, from AVCHD camcorder support and Blu-ray video disc burning for the videographer in the family, to portable media player syncing and DJ-style playlist beatmatching for the music mavens. Creator even integrates an entirely new service: Roxio Online with PhotoShow, for making compelling photo and video shows, complete with captions, special effects and music. There something new for everyone in the family!

Do More with Your Media--Faster

Yes, we know Creator has the richest set of features in any media suite. But we also wanted to make them easy to find and utilize, so that you don't have to read the manual to get things done. That's why Creator 2009 has a new product launcher that provides clearly organized access to all the many programs and tasks available within the suite, from Video & Movies to Music & Audio:


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Roxio Creator 2009's new task-based product launcher.

As you move your mouse over each task, you also get animated tips on what they do. You'll also find lots of step-by-step tutorials to help you get started, as well as inspirational articles that show you how to get more out of your media.

Finally, we know you're busy. So we've improved our video encoding algorithms dramatically, and optimized speed in several other tasks as well. For example, converting a 9GB DVD-video to fit on 4.7GB media is now up to 60 percent faster! The performance improvements are especially notable on multi-core systems.


Import Video from Your AVCHD Camcorder

The most hotly anticipated feature for many users will be Creator 2009's new support for AVCHD video. AVCHD is the most widely used new camcorder format, and also great for burning high-def DVDs and Blu-ray Discs that you can play in your set-top DVD player, such as a Sony PlayStation 3. Creator 2009 can import, edit and burn AVCHD, and supports Blu-ray video burning with the optional High-Def/Blu-ray Plug-in. Click here for a full tutorial on importing AVCHD video from your camcorder with Creator 2009


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Creator 2009's Media Import utility, showing AVCHD clips imported from a camcorder.


Author High-Def DVD & Blu-ray Discs

Just purchased an HD camcorder? Now you can author high-def DVDs and Blu-ray discs with Creator, thanks to dozens of new HD menu themes. With Creator 2009, you can burn high-def video onto standard DVDs that will play right in your set-top Blu-ray player, so you don't need to buy an expensive Blu-ray burner for shorter videos. And if you do have a Blu-ray burner, Creator 2009 supports it with the optional High-Def/Blu-ray Plug-in.


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HD menu themes in Creator 2009.

You can also edit your high-def video, including AVCHD, in VideoWave before you burn it to disc.


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Editing an HD movie in VideoWave.


Create Online PhotoShows

Creator 2009's Roxio Online integration is the other big news. With Roxio Online, Creator now offers secure online sharing of photo and video shows. You can upload video and photos directly within Creator, and make beautiful PhotoShows to securely and privately share online with friends and family. You also can burn your show to DVD, embed it in your blog or website, send a link via email to a secure site for viewing, or sync it to your portable media player!


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Roxio Online integration in Creator 2009.


Sync to Your Portable Player

Sometimes you just need to get that new photo or video onto your smartphone or PSP quickly. Or sync a new playlist to listen to in the car. With Creator 2009, media syncing is a snap thanks to the new SyncIt! gadget. Just drag media files onto the handy desktop gadget, and it will automatically convert and send them to your portable device. Unlike the last version, the new gadget is an applet that does not depend on the the Vista sidebar, and works equally well with Windows XP. You can keep the gadget on your desktop, or invoke it right within the Roxio Launcher. Click the Video – Movies tab and then choose "Drag and Drop Convert" to launch SyncIt!


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Using the new SyncIt! gadget.


Beatmatch Your Music Mixes

With beatmatching, you can create perfectly synchronized crossfades in music compilations for a professional DJ-style mix. Beatmatching is great for parties to keep the excitement level high between songs, so people stay on the dance floor. It's also ideal for workout playlists, to keep your energy up and the action going. To start beatmatching, just open Music Disc Creator from the Launcher, choose your tracks, and go! Click here for a complete tutorial.


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Create smooth crossfades with Creator 2009's new beatmatching feature.


Convert Audiobooks to Go

Who needs a Kindle when you have an iPod or other portable music player? iTunes, iPod and iPhone have custom features for playing back audiobooks, such as chapter skipping, pause/resume and book cover art, using the special iTunes .m4b audiobook file format. But converting CD or MP3 audiobooks to iTunes audiobooks used to be difficult and inconvenient. The new Audiobook Creator in Creator 2009 makes the process easy, and even keeps the chapters and bookmarks that would be lost with a manual transfer. Audiobook Creator also supports other portable players like the Creative Zen as well. Click here for a complete tutorial.


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Take your books to go with the new Audiobook Creator.


August 25, 2008

Share Your Photos with Roxio Online

Want to do more with your photos and videos? You've come to the right place. Roxio Online is the easiest way to create and share dynamic, multimedia slideshows (known as PhotoShows) using your personal media and our music, special effects and animation. You can literally have your first PhotoShow finished within minutes, and ready to share with your family and friends.

Creating a PhotoShow is just half of the experience, the real fun is in sharing it. Invite friends and family to watch your shows on your personal Roxio Web page, embed your shows on your blog or on other sites like Facebook and MySpace, burn your shows to a DVD, even podcast your favorites and watch them on your mobile device of choice!

With a basic account, you can create PhotoShows on the Roxio Online site as well as through the integrated sharing utility in Creator 2009 (one more reason to get your hands on this hot new release!). However, with a Premium PhotoShow account you can also create PhotoShows when you’re offline, using the matching PhotoShow desktop software! That means your imagination can continue on even without an Internet connection and you can spend more time flexing your creative muscle and less time waiting for media to upload! Plus, you can burn DVDs on the go!

A basic PhotoShow account is a fine way to get started sharing your favorite stories in a unique way, but to really bring your most memorable moments to life you’ll want to subscribe to our Premium service. With a Premium account you can upload your videos alongside your photos for an end to end storytelling experience, as well as pick from the hundreds of music titles, animated stickers, playback styles and backgrounds that Premium membership offers.

So how does it all work? The best way to show you is simply to create a PhotoShow! Here, we'll go through the process within Creator 2009. The process within the PhotoShow desktop software and Web site is nearly identical.

Getting Started with Roxio Online and PhotoShow

To start a PhotoShow, simply select the Online tab in the Creator 2009 Launcher, then click the "Share Photos" button.


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The PhotoShow utility will start, and you'll be prompted to add photos by selecting them from your hard drive. We selected three photos, which are queued in a list. You can keep adding more photos as needed. When you're done, click the Upload button. Don't worry if you forget some photos, you can always add more and reedit your show later.


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Customizing Your PhotoShow

Now the fun begins! You'll be asked to enter a title for your PhotoShow, as well as a creator and "star(s)." These credits will be shown at both the beginning and end of your show. Be as whimsical or serious as you like, depending on the subject matter. The default PhotoShow styles will be applied, and you'll see a preview of your PhotoShow.


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At this point, if you like the defaults, you can go ahead and click the Publish button to send your show to the Roxio Online site, and invite people to view it. But most users (especially the kids!) will enjoy spending a little time customizing their shows, to add their choice of music, styles and animated graphics. These options are presented in convenient tabs along the top. You can pick and choose which items you want to change, and leave others untouched. For example, we could just click the Captions tab to add captions to each photo and be finished. Basically, you can customize your show as much or as little as you want before clicking the Publish button. Above, we have applied the "Baseball" style to our slideshow, since the photos were taken at an Atlanta Braves game.


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Next we added captions to each slide, rearranged the slide order under the Arrange tab, and chose some new background music, as shown above. We already entered our Title information, and don't need to change that, nor do we want to put a Border (frame) around our show, so all that's left is the Stickers tab.


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Stickers are basically animated graphics, in tons of fun shapes and themes. You'll find everything from hopping Easter bunnies to scary pumpkins in the sticker library (the Premium service brings you the widest selection). We added a few to our birthday theme show (which you'll see below in the finished product!).


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You can continue to play with your show and add or change elements. But we're finished, so now it's time to click that Publish button and start sharing! Once you click the button, you'll get a screen asking for email addresses of the people you want to share it with. Enter as many as you like--you can always send it to more people later. You can also just send yourself a link, and then forward it through your email program as desired. We also chose to make the PhotoShow private, so only invited family and friends can view it. That also can be changed later if desired.


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Sharing Your Show

When you (or your recipient) click the link in the PhotoShow email, you'll be brought to the PhotoShow site to view the show. If your recipient doesn't already have an account, they'll be prompted to create one (it's free). An account is needed to preserve the privacy of your shows. At that point viewers can also do things like buy prints or a DVD of the show, or download it for viewing on a portable media player, depending on whether they have a standard or Premium account.


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If you click the "Menu" button at the bottom of your PhotoShow, you'll also get a bunch of other sharing options, such as emailing it to more people, and generating a direct link to the show you can use anywhere.


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Even more sharing options are shown right under the slideshow window, including sending it to your local Time-Warner cable system for view on demand, and creating code you can use to embed the show on your blog or Web site. We used the Post feature to generate the embedded show at the bottom of this page!


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The Finished Show!

Here are the results of our handiwork, which literally took about 10 minutes from start to posting on the Web. You'll also find many more examples of finished PhotoShows on the Roxio Online site. We hope we've illustrated just how fun and easy it is to create great results, and inspired you (and the whole family!) to create your own fun PhotoShows!


July 25, 2008

Viewing CD/DVD Recorder and Disc Information with Toast 9

Unless you still have the original disc case or drive manual lying around for reference, CD and DVD media and drives can be maddeningly mysterious. Does your drive support writing to DVD+RWs? Dual-layer DVD-Rs? And what kind of discs are those blank printable white thingies sitting on the corner of your desk? Are they CD-RWs or DVD-Rs? 8X or 16X? 72 or 80 minutes? And how much space is left on that multisession CD-R? Has it been closed? Or is it still appendable? Who's the manufacturer?

Happily, you can get the answers to all these questions (and many more you didn't know you had) using Toast's handy recorder and disc information tools.

Recorder Information Tool

To learn more about your CD or DVD drive's capabilities, choose Recorder Settings from Toast's Recorder menu. When the dialog comes up, click on the tab showing the model name of your drive (such as Matshita DVD-R) to view its capabilities and status. A long scrolling window will come up, with the more important parameters, such as firmware number and cache size, at the top.


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The Toast Recorder Settings window provides a listing of literally dozens of drive parameters.


Scrolling down a bit, you'll see a listing of all the types of discs that can be written and/or read by your drive, such as DVD-R/RW write, CD Track at Once, and so on. .


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More of the dozens of drive parameters shown by the Toast Recorder Settings tool.


Disc Information Tool

Now you know all about your drive. But what about your discs? After they are out of the packaging, one printable white disc looks much like another. Is it a CD or DVD? 4X or 24X? 72-minute or 80-minute? And even if a disc is already burned, you may not know if it's a CD-R or CD-RW, for example. That's where Toast's Disc Information tool comes in. Found under the Recorder menu, the Disc Information tool shows details about the media (CD-R, DVD+RW, etc.), the content type (such as DVD-Video or CD-audio), and information about what's on the disc (if already burned). For this blank CD-R, Toast correctly shows that it is a blank 700MB disc capable of being written at 8X or 24X.


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Toast's Disc Information tool shows details about your blank or recorded media.


Here's another example, this time showing results for a recorded DVD-R. In this case it shows the space used, number of layers, file system (Hybrid PC/Mac), number of sessions, and the content of the disc. If it were a DVD-RW, the "Erase Disc" button at bottom left would also have been enabled, letting you reuse rewritable media.


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The Disc Information window showing results for a previously recorded DVD-R.


Notice the "More" button next to the Manufacturer ID in the above picture? This is one of our favorite little-known features in Toast. Clcking the button takes you online, where you'll find complete details and user ratings for that particular brand and type of disc. Here, we find that our disc is a "Silver Verbatim DVD-Recordable 4.7GB 120min 16x Certified" with "Good" reliability ratings. By viewing the user ratings submitted by others, you can check the quality of your media, and find the best-performing discs for your drive.


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Disc information for our DVD-R from VideoHelp.com.


We hope this article has given you a taste for the valuable information you can gain from Toast's disc and drive information tools. If you want to learn more about what all the drive parameters mean, there is an excellent glossary of CD recording terms on CDRInfo.com, while VideoHelp has a great database of DVD recorders.