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   Training Review
   The Complete DVD Book
   Author: Chris Gore and Paul J. Salamoff
   Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions
   Format: Book (241 pgs.)
   Topic: How to produce your films on DVD

   MSRP: $26.95
   For Special Price: Click Here

   Website: Michael Wiese Productions
   Read Sample: Click Here
   Release Dates:
December 15, 2005

   Review Date:
December 15, 2005

   Reviewed By: Kari Ann Morgan
Final Score:

Every time you go to Blockbuster or browse the DVD section of the local retail store, you see it… the end product of a filmmaker's vision on the shelf for all to see (or rent or buy). You see it and wonder how you can get your movie there. Your film didn't get accepted to Sundance and there aren't any takers for distribution (not by any reputable distributor, at least!). What to do?

First of all, get a copy of Chris Gore and Paul J. Salamoff's The Complete DVD Book. It goes through the legal and technical aspects of creating, producing, and marketing your movie yourself. Even if you decide to have your DVD produced another way (by a professional individual or an outside company), there is a lot of valuable information about legality and things to look for when having someone else do it for you.

For those of you who are technologically savvy and have some kick-ass software, you can do it yourself with some guidance from this book. Chris Gore has his own distribution label (the well-known Film Threat) specifically for indie films, and Paul Salamoff has his own full-service DVD company; together, they have extensive experience in both mainstream and independent filmmaking, and can tell you not just what makes a great DVD, but exactly how to put it together.

First off, The Complete DVD Book is written for readers that have at least mid-level expertise with such programs as DVD Studio Pro, DVD Architect, Adobe PhotoShop, FinalCut Pro, etc. (While the authors don't endorse any software in particular, they use programs they are most familiar with as examples.) Although, in one sense, this is an instructional book, it won't help you if you have little to no experience or understanding of these programs. While there are diagrams and step-by-step instructions, it will be much easier if you're very familiar with the software already.

That being said, the instructions, guides, and suggestions they give are very easy-to-follow. Sections Three and Four make up the main part of the book, covering (respectively) Preparing Your DVD Assets and Authoring Your DVD. While this is the most technical and complicated part of the book, Gore and Salamoff simplify it by giving detailed explanations and showing diagrams of the specific menus, toolbars, and examples. For this project, they created a non-existent movie entitled Stranded, and take the reader through the process of creating a DVD.

First, they explain how to plan your DVD; write out the features, menus, options, etc. that you want to offer on your movie. Next, they tell you how to format the audio and video; this part is helpful, because they also explain the different types of encoding and formats, as well as their pros and cons. After all of this introductory material, they get into designing each button, menu, slideshow, and screen you want to appear on your DVD. Finally, they demonstrate how to program and connect all of the graphics, audio, video, and other information together on the disc. The last section deals with marketing your newly-minted creation, and even includes an extensive appendix with lots of valuable DVD resources for your project.

While all of the detailed technical information was a bit overwhelming to me at first, the diagrams and in-depth information they provide are extremely helpful and make comprehension much easier. While this book would still be too much for a novice, the explanations, diagrams, and organization in this book are very helpful to those with greater experience.

Depth of Information
The book covers a huge amount of information, starting with the legal ramifications of doing it yourself (or producing it through an outside company), to the making of the actual DVD itself, to marketing your movie for a wider viewing audience. As I write this review and reconsider everything I read, I'm blown away by just how much valuable information Gore and Salamoff were able to put into this book; and at the same time, it's not such heavy reading that you feel as though you're just dredged through Tolstoy's War and Peace.

Interest Level
This is no light weekend reading; this book is for those who are serious about putting together a professional, original, creative DVD of their movie. Whether you're the producer, director, or someone else involved in the movie (or if you want to start your own DVD production company), and want to get your film "out there" and noticed, then The Complete DVD Book is for you.

Because of the sheer volume of technical information, this is not a book that you can just breeze through (unless you have a photographic memory!). However, the authors' laid-back writing style, combined with their explanations, diagrams, and menus, make the book interesting, and keep it from becoming too dry and heavy.

For those who want to market their movies themselves or for those who want to have their own DVD service, this book is the perfect resource. The ideas, suggestions, and guides for planning, creating, and marketing your DVD are tremendously valuable; even when the technical aspects of DVD making change, this book can continue to be a great reference for future projects. Additionally, the appendix is full of extremely helpful information, contacts, and resources that you will definitely keep coming back to.

Value vs. Cost
As stated above, if you have the know-how and are intending to do this more than just once or twice, The Complete DVD Book is definitely well worth the investment. However, if you have only one or two movies you want to put on DVD or if your knowledge of the necessary software is limited, you might be better off borrowing the book first before deciding whether or not to get it, especially if after your first attempt you realize how complicated it is and vow, "Never again!" The more DVDs you make (or intend to make), the more value you will get from this book.

Overall Comment
While the subject matter is complicated and technical, it is made much easier to understand because of the writing style, explanations, and step-by-step diagrams. The book has a tremendous amount of information, and while it gets technical in some places, it is never boring or ponderous. The Complete DVD Book is the perfect resource for those who are adept with the necessary programs and are planning on doing this more than just once or twice. Not recommended for purchase for those with very basic understanding of the software and/or those looking to make just one or two DVDs.

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