After that, Direct to Disc is pretty easy. Select your target format (I chose DVD), make sure MovieFactory has properly identified your recording drive (in my case, it defaulted to Pioneer A04 2X DVD-R), and click on through to the video capture screen. Here you can set the duration of capture (and your eventual DVD), pre-design a menu, or simply ask for chapters to be set at regular intervals (or not at all), make sure your source tape is where you want it, and click Capture & Burn. Nuthin' to it.
MovieFactory 2 is written for folks with more complex DVD ambitions, and there's plenty here to satisfy that constituency, keeping in mind the usual limitations of an entry-level tool. We're miles away from the DVD spec here, so there's next to nothing you need to know about that, but there's still room for enough customization for consumers and business users with limited time and budget to get their projects tailored to their own specs. MovieFactory has a nice capture interface with pleasing options like pre-setting capture duration, and several format (DV, AVI, MPEG, DVD, VCD) and video bit rate choices.
MovieFactory 2 also offers slideshow capabilities. You assemble a slideshow more or less as you arrange your video clips, using a familiar storyboard (with separate windows for slideshows and video projects). You can also trim your video clips using sliding bar navigation controls similar to what you find in Ulead's popular and powerful entry-level video editor, VideoStudio 7. (See review, www.emedialive.com/r17/2003/reviews0503_02.html.) Ulead also lets you edit out undesired portions of your clips with a handy Extract Video dialog.
The real make-or-break function of any DVD authoring tool is menu creation. It's very easy to create attractive semi-nested menus with MovieFactory, and Ulead includes a nice range of templates to help you along. You can also create custom menus using media files stored on your hard drive, and add music as you wish. MovieFactory then lets you preview your DVD, navigating from the menu you've created. The program then allows you to output to DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, or CD-R/RW if your project is in VideoCD format, with a few options for setting recording parameters available under "Output advanced settings." One additional feature that may appeal to some users is "Edit Disc," with which you can edit an existing DVD and re-record it to a rewritable disc or new DVD-/+R.
All in all, DVD MovieFactory 2 stacks up well against its competition in the entry-level DVD space. Though our testing was done on a 2.4gHz Pentium 4 Sony VAIO, Ulead says you don't need that much power to run MovieFactory 2. Minimum system requirements, according to Ulead: 450mHz Pentium 3 (700mHz or higher recommended) with 64MB RAM (128+ recommended) running Windows 98 SE/Me/2000/XP with 150MB of available hard disk space for program installation, 4GB+ hard disk space for video capture and converting, Windows-compatible display with 800x600 or higher resolution, and a CD-R/RW or DVD burner.