Movies on CD & DVD

Reviewed by: Lianne Reitter, October 2004, Updated January 2007
Published by: Magix, go to the web site
Requires: Pentium III or faster CPU, 128MB RAM, Windows 98 through Vista, 16 bit sound card, TV tuner card for television recording source; DVD recorder
MSRP: US$24.99

If you are anything like me, you have been using your digital camera not just to take still pictures but small videos as well. If you know my niece and nephew, it’s just not a family get together if they can't be filmed goofing around. What Aunt Lianne is inevitably left with are dozens of 30 second video clips, practically useless on their own, and far too precious to discard. Seems a waste to have them just taking up hard drive space so every once in a while I e-mail their mother a little memory from the past, if only to amuse myself. What I could really use, and what I've been keeping an eye out for, are programs that will allow me to easily marry these small video files together into something that lasts longer than a minute or so and is therefore more meaningful to the family. Did I mention that I also want to record TV shows and make backup copies of my DVD collection?

Windows XP comes with Movie Maker, but its features are limited. Windows Media Player is a nice playback utility and audio ripper, but aside from that it's a big fat pantload. Other software packages I've tried leave the older family members out of the loop because while they have a DVD player, they do not have a computer so creating a typical MPEG movie file for them is pointless. Movies on CD & DVD seems to be just the ticket to easily create and distribute just such productions.


If you have used Movies on CD & DVD’s sister product Photos on CD & DVD you will be familiar with the interface and the Magix creative process. It's a simple three step process. Step one is to import your movie (and before you do anything else, if you're living in North America go immediately to the settings menu and change the default PAL video setting to NTSC). You can do this in step three if you forget, but remember to do it at some point before you burn your final project or it will not work on north American DVD players. Once that’s done, and you have the right hardware set up, you can import from your video camera, your memory sticks, hard drives, even your VCR; where there is a will, there is a way with Movies on CD & DVD. If you have a large movie from a VCR or camcorder, importing it into the software will allow you to break it up in to separate scenes. You can add a title to your movie, adjust the brightness and color intensity as well as set the movie’s cropping abilities so that the edges won't get cut off when viewing your finished product on wide screen TVs. Once the movie is imported and you have a master to your liking you can go on to step 2. If you are like me, your hard drive already houses all the movie clips you will ever need so you won't need to import anything, so you can start editing your movie.

Now, like Photos on CD & DVD, step 2 is really step 2a, 2b, 2c and so on. There are dozens of choices you can make in the editing process. You can transition each scene to the next using something as simple as a fade or get fancy and use the 3D effects. Supplement the scenes with text, lay down a voice track or create atmosphere by using your favorite music file in the background. Movies on CD & DVD will automatically repeat music files that are shorter than your movie, or fade them towards the end if they go too long. It’s brilliant, automatic and works really well. If you add clips to your movie, the music will automatically adjust. You can manually adjust both the length and brightness of each clip as well as the volume and fade in/out length of your music file simply by clicking and dragging the appropriate control points on the time line.

One really great feature of Movies on CD & DVD is the ability to remove hiss and noise inherent in analog video recording. I also used the feature to remove the overemphasized treble noise obscuring the sound of waves lapping ashore at the lake. The noise is largely the fault of the tiny, cheap microphone in my digital camera. Once I applied the Audio Cleaning feature noise was gone but the sounds of the lapping waves were intact, enhancing my movie instead of detracting from it.

You can play in edit mode for hours and never get bored. But while most artists will admit to never really finishing a masterpiece, the time comes when you must move on to step three and burn that CD or DVD.

Step 3, better titled Make Disc, has all the bells and whistles to make a DVD that looks just like a commercial offering. There are so many different menu templates available, there is sure to be something you like, but you can also manipulate the background picture, the title font and borders of the DVD menu. After those choices are made it is time to choose what kind of disk you want to burn. You don't really have to burn a disk. If you'd rather, you can export your movie to your hard drive in either AVI, MPEG, QuickTime, Real or Windows Media Video (WMV) format. Some of the more elaborate things you did in edit mode may be lost if you are not making a DVD, but the software does a pretty good job of dealing with these issues. If in doubt, don't get too fancy and you'll be just fine.

I had some trouble with the virtual remote control in step 3. One click and it completely froze the software. It seems though to be a conflict with something on my Sony Vaio desktop as our generic test machine didn't suffer at all and in fact the virtual remote control worked quite well on that set up. We also had a bit of trouble with an older Hauppagge TV tuner card (Movies on CD & DVD would not recognize it), but we solved the problem with a driver update for the card. Also, if you're actually going to hang around the house backing up your DVD collection, make sure you either have a lot of time to spare or, better yet, a really fast PC. Backing up commercial DVDs is a long process at the best of times. Movies on CD & DVD works quite well for this, but it's a much more comfortable process on a dual core Pentium than it is on an older Pentium III.

Really, the only complaint I have about the software is the disk burning process. It seems you have to know a little more than just the point and click of things. A bit of knowledge of the DVD burning process and which DVD media (+R, -R, +RW or -RW) works in your older home player is a must. While my DVDs worked perfectly on the computers at our house, neither of our standalone Sony DVD players recognized the media. The oldest DVD player we own is going on five years which is a lot in the world of DVD technology. Live and learn I guess. There is an online help system that should provide answers if you have any troubles.

Movies on CD & DVD makes very simple indeed the process of changing fragmented moments in recorded time into living memories in all their glory. No disc reading problems with players manufactured during the past couple of years (they're all widely compatible with a long list of formats and media). Being able to make backup copies of commercial DVDs is very handy, and I can't say enough about the TV ad remover feature. Recommended.




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