Sonic DVDit Pro 6 review

Price when reviewed

Five years ago, DVDit virtually had the DVD authoring market to itself. Bundled with numerous video-editing hardware packages, it was the semi-professional choice. Competition has increased considerably since, though, and DVDit has found itself on the sidelines, with version 5 passing almost unnoticed. Thankfully, version 6 of DVDit is an even bigger upgrade.

Sonic DVDit Pro 6 review

The interface will be almost unrecognisable to older users, with the look and feel now in line with current user-interface trends. Functions are separated into a plethora of floating windows, some of which are tabbed. The Project window aggregates the menus, movie titles and playlists; and the Preview window doubles up for menu design and watching your movie clips.

The Timeline is reminiscent of a full video editor, and assets are now held in tabs in the Palette. The Attributes window brings together controls such as remote button routing, which were previously found in their own sections. To help with arranging these, workspace presets are included for five tasks, and you can save your own custom workspaces across dual monitors too.

There’s now extensive subtitling and multilanguage support. The Pro version reviewed here has eight audio and 32 subtitle tracks, although the standard edition (£200 exc VAT) offers just bilingual audio. Subtitles can be added from external text files, which can then be edited within the Sonic interface, or typed out from scratch within DVDit.

The Slideshow Wizard now supports up to 999 images rather than just 99, changes to their duration and music soundtracks. However, you can still only have one kind of transition between slides unless you choose the Random option, which still doesn’t give you any control.

A useful new feature for corporate video makers is the ability to create playlists, which is again available only in the Pro version. If you’re making a DVD full of lots of little videos, you can aggregate any number of them together under different playlist headings. For example, an estate agent could put all the properties in one area under a single heading and DVD menu button.

When importing video assets, chapter markers in XML format can also be brought in, but only from Avid video-editing applications that have MetaSync support. Other editing software isn’t catered for, and we found DVDit couldn’t import markers created by Matrox’s RT.X100 real-time MPEG2 exporter, for example.

Although DVDit can’t compete with Adobe Encore DVD’s Photoshop integration, it does now recognise layered PSD files in a limited way.

Earlier versions of DVDit and MyDVD included simple Dolby Digital audio encoding, but DVDit Pro adds full 5.1 surround support. You can also add Region encoding, CSS and Macrovision encryption, plus output to DLT tape for professional mastering. The Pro version also bundles eDVD 4, which lets you create InterActual discs. These are DVD-Videos with interactive features, such as web links. It also includes a built-in player, although users will have to supply their own MPEG2 decoder.

With so much choice now in the DVD-authoring world, DVDit really needed something radical to put it back on the map. Fortunately, Sonic has delivered it. DVDit 6 finds the middle-ground between the over-complication of Adobe Encore and the more prosaic Ulead DVD Workshop. Aside from the welcome inclusion of eDVD and the subtitling abilities, DVDit doesn’t really win out on features, but it’s very intuitive, with enough design control to create attractive DVD menus. If you’d lost interest in DVDit, now is the time to take another look.

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