The first obvious thing to say about Windows DVD Maker is that you’ll only find it if your computer is running either Vista Home Premium or Vista Ultimate. The second thing is that in order to burn DVDs, you need to have a DVD writer of some kind installed on your PC. Compare DVD Maker to many of the dedicated third-party disc-burning applications and it can look simplistic. In fact, this useful utility is more powerful than you might assume. Here, we’ll demonstrate how to use some of DVD Maker’s advanced features and how to troubleshoot the burning process should things not go to plan.
Creating a DVD in Windows DVD Maker can be done in several ways. If you have already been using Windows Movie Maker to edit a home video, you can simply click the ‘Publish Movie’ link on the Movie Maker toolbar and select the DVD option before clicking Next, then OK in the window that appears. Doing this will save your Movie Maker project and launch DVD Maker. Alternatively, if you’re not usingWindows Movie Maker and you just want to burn some video files to a disc, simply go to Start > All Programs and select Windows DVD Maker from the list. If it’s your first time using DVD Maker you’ll see a splash screen with some information about the program. Put a tick in the ‘Don’t show this page again’ box to get straight to DVD Maker next time you launch it.
Windows DVD Maker can also create backup data discs. Insert a blank DVD into your drive and an Autoplay window will appear. To perform a backup of files and folders, click on ‘Burn files to disc using Windows’. A dialogue box will open asking you to input a disc title. Type in a name, then click on the down-arrow next to ‘Show formatting options’. There are two types of data disc that can be created. Choose Live File System and you’ll be able to use the DVD like any other kind of data drive, adding and erasing files. DVDs created in this way are not 100 per cent compatible with other operating systems, however. If you want to make sure your disc will be readable in most computers with a DVD drive, choose the second option — Mastered — which still allows you to drag and drop files and folders, but all the files you want to include must be written to the disc at the same time — you can’t add or delete later.
Many set-top DVD players and some car stereos can play MP3 and/or WMA music files and it’s possible to use Windows’ DVD burning capabilities to create a disc of tunes - around 1,000 on a 4.7GB blank DVD. To burn part of your PC’s digital music library to disc, insert a blank DVD and, when the Autoplay window appears, select the ‘Burn a DVD data disc using Windows Media Player’ option. Media Player will launch and you’ll notice an icon for your blank DVD in the right-hand pane. Below this is the Burn List. Drag and drop music there from your main library window. When you’re done, click Start Burn at the bottomof the Burn List.
You can also burn DVDs through Windows Media Center (only available in Vista Home Premium and Ultimate). With Media Center open and a blank DVD in your drive, navigate the vertical menu until you reach the Tasks option, then go right once to select ‘Burn CD/DVD’. Media Center can create three types of DVD: data, video or photo slideshow. To burn a TV show to disc select ‘Video DVD’, click Next, enter a disc title and click Next again. On the following screen, put a check next to ‘Recorded TV’ and click Next. Now select the programme(s) you want by ticking the box to the bottom-right of each thumbnail. Click Next, then Burn DVD.
There are several different types of blank DVD — including DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW and DVD-Ram — and not all burners or set-top players are compatible. Check the loading tray or instruction booklet of your burner and DVD player to try and establish which types of disc can be used. The logos for compatible formats should be clearly shown. The most widely accepted disc format is write-once DVD-R. If in doubt, try burning to this first. If you’re having problems with a format you’re certain is compatible, you can also try using discs from a different manufacturer, as this can make a surprising
Changing some of DVD Maker’s settings may also help to solve burning and playback issues. In the main DVD Maker window, click the Options link, bottom-right. There are three main things to look at. First, under ‘DVD aspect ratio’ there are two options. If your movies are looking stretched or squashed when you play them back you may need to switch to either 4:3 (for standard TVs) or 16:9 (for widescreen TVs). Under Video format, you should also make sure that the Pal option is selected. If you’re having issues with the burning process itself, it may be worth lowering the speed with which files are being written to the disc. Click the dropdown menu next to DVD burner speed and select ‘Slow’. Click OK to continue.