DVD Companion Offers Authors a Guide
Posted Feb 1, 2001

For years, video professionals have had to navigate the treacherous woods of DVD authoring with little more than a map and supplies. The journey can take a toll on some authors, costing in both time and frustration. Now, thanks to Gnome Digital Media, DVD authors are getting guidance from a new companion. The DVD Companion, that is. The DVD Companion is an interactive help system geared toward helping DVD authors, and, says Bruce Nazarian, president of Gnome Digital Media, is the first of its kind in the field.

According to Nazarian, the program will be sold electronically from Gnome Digital's Web site (www.gnomedigital.com), as well as on CD-ROM for about $100. In addition to being sold as a standalone product, Nazarian says that it's possible that the DVD Companion will eventually be bundled with DVD products from Apple and Sonic. The DVD Companion is installed as part of the Macintosh help menu. Users can either browse authoring topics or type in a question which they need answered.

The DVD Companion explains authoring procedures and on occasion even provides illustrated demonstrations. Nazarian says that the demonstrations may sometime in the future develop into video presentations.

In addition to acting as an instructional guide, the DVD Companion provides a basic guide to the various DVD formats and authoring techniques, as well as an extensive glossary of DVD jargon. "It's a very easy, real-time, on-your-desktop hand-holder," Nazarian says about the program.

Not to neglect any non-Macintosh users who may require a little help, there is also a PC version of DVD Companion, which consists of a large number of HTML documents. "It's kind of like a tiny Web site," says Nazarian. "We will try to format the reference materials as Web pages, so it can be as cross-platform as possible. Even so, there is not much of a reason to put Sonic DVD Creator or Fusion-specific tips on a Windows platform—they're Mac-only applications. We may do a Windows version for [multi-platform] DVDit!, however."

The target audience of the DVD Companion is, believe it or not, professional DVD authors. Nazarian has spent more than two years training people in DVD authoring, and half of the requests for help that he gets are from professionals. "I imagine that a fair percentage of professional authors are potentially fair game for this product," he says. "DVD authoring is a very complicated and technical endeavor, but it's relatively easy to do if you have a guide through the wilderness."

Nazarian believes that there is a potentially huge consumer market for DVD authoring, and that Apple is ready to tap into it. "There's already consumer interest," he says. "More of it will be done when the tools are relatively well-available and cost-effective."

Apple has spent the past year ensuring its continued dominance in the professional authoring market, beginning last spring with its acquisition of Astarte's intellectual property— including the acquired but as-yet-unassigned DVDirector authoring solution—as well as the software company's engineering team.

Apple has also formed partnerships with Pinnacle Systems, a provider of digital video editing tools, and graphics hardware specialist Matrox to develop new products for the content authoring markets. The deals with Pinnacle and Matrox marked a departure from a trend in recent years, when companies were more often focused on bringing Windows-based products to market first.

Nazarian anticipates that Apple will set its sights on the consumer market soon, which will mean an increased need for DVD authoring help products such as the DVD Companion. "I believe that Apple is going to amaze and astound us," Nazarian predicts. "The forces are gathering, and it's only a matter of time."