DVD Your Movie Clips

very good
key review info
application features
  • Convert almost all formats of video to DVD, including WMV, MKV, AVI, DivX, XviD, MPEG, MP4, QuickTime Movie (MOV, QT), Real Video (RM, RMVB), H.264/AVC, M2TS, M2T, MTS, FLV, etc
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You’re sitting in front of your monitor and suddenly you remember of some funny moment that you caught on camera and you start searching for it on your computer. You finally find it and press play. After a few minutes of watching your holiday recordings, you will realize that you would rather do it from the comfort or your sofa or armchair. The only problem is that you don’t have a DVD with all of these moments you enjoy. Sothink Movie DVD Maker can do that for you.

Of course, you can take your movies on a portable storage device and go to a video conversion studio, thus spending time and money on something that you can easily accomplish by yourself. Being a novice, all you need is an application to help you with this task and as many blank DVD discs as you wish. After you will manage to create one DVD from scratch and play it on your DVD player, you won’t see any point in paying for this job. You may buy a program or just go for freeware that suits your needs.

Sothink Movie DVD Maker from SourceTec Software is basically free. Why basically? You will not be prompted at any stage of the DVD creation process to buy the Pro version of the software, but the final product will have its chapters preceded by a short informational screen. If this minor disadvantage annoys you, the price tag for the Pro version is 34.95 $ and does not add any feature.

The main objective of this application is to convert and burn your movies to DVDs. The spectrum of supported input video files includes the most popular formats from the common AVI, WMV or MPEG to the latest additions such as MP4, MKV or FLV, but also QuickTime's MOV and RealPlayer's RM and even 3GP and MTS formats. From this point of view, Sothink Movie DVD Maker surely has things covered.

After the quiet, brief installation process, you can jump right into the program. The application will automatically install the auxiliary software (mainly encoders) so you will not spend any time looking for compatible software. It’s all there and that can only please you, whether you are a beginner or a more experienced user. The graphical user interface is clearly above average when it comes to free video to DVD convertors. Simple, yet fun and easy to use, it packs five distinct areas placed in a natural and helpful layout.

The upper section is reserved to the menu bar, closely followed by the button bar. The buttons are nicely drawn and the presence of a thumbnail size slider is a nice addition. The main area consists of the file zone, settings panel and video preview section.

Sothink Movie DVD Maker allows users to load their source video files from the File menu, the Add Files button or by drag & drop. Once the files are loaded within the program (this action triggers a progress window), the real job starts. The program will automatically display the resolution of your movies and their duration. You can re-order your files by using the Move Up / Down buttons to create the sequence of DVD chapters.

The right panel will require a bit of attention from your part, as you can easily influence the output quality both to your advantage or disappointment. The Settings tab will allow users to select the DVD writer and target disc size (single-layered DVD-5 or double-layered DVD-9). Next in line is the TV system selection menu. If you are unsure of this setting, here is a quick hint: the NTSC standard is typically used in North America, West coast of South America and Japan, while PAL goes for the rest of the world.

The Zoom mode menu will provide users with the most popular options: Letterbox (which is the standard setting) as well as Stretch or Pan & Scan (which affect the quality of the picture while removing the black bands). Is it hard to decide once more? Just go with the default option – Letterbox. For more video and audio stream customization options, click on the Advanced tab. You can easily set the bit rates and the number of audio channels.

The Aspect Ratio selection comes in very handy for your classic TV set (4:3) or LCD widescreen format (16:9). For best results of the conversion process, I recommend the default settings, as they will deliver great output. You can store up to six hours of videos on a single DVD; however, the picture quality will significantly drop below any pleasant standard. The recommended playtime of a DVD is somewhere between 90 and 120 minutes.

Sothink Movie DVD Maker also provides users with DVD menu basic creation. The selection of built in templates is quite impressive with great designs and quality. Even though, there may be users that just want to add their own background and soundtrack to the DVD menu. No problem whatsoever; select your picture and sound file of your choice from the BG image / audio options. Furthermore, customize the Title and Button font and text.

The last things you will need to set before hitting the Burn button are playback related. You can choose to return to the menu after each chapter or play the chapters in their sequence. At the end of the last chapter, similar options can be selected. By this point, you would have asked of the embedding subtitle feature. It is nowhere to be found in the interface of the software; however I can assure you that it works. Just make sure that the respective subtitles have the same filename as the video files and that they share the same folder on your computer. The software supports the main subtitle formats (SUB, SRT, TXT and SSA).

The only feature left outside the button bar is the Trim capability. It’s all about pure and classic trimming and can be found by accessing the Edit menu as well as the context menu of the application. Sothink Movie DVD Maker packs a nice set of options. Users can easily select the temporary folder, encoding performance and burner settings and customize the user interface. Choose from 1 to 4 threads per individual encoding and enable the software to convert more than one file at a time (only go higher is you own a multi-core CPU with a good cooler).

Did I mention that you also need a DVD disc? Ignore that. This application can skip the burning process and create a ready-to-be-burned folder structure inside the temporary folder. So grab yourself some DVDs while it encodes the video files. Just don’t take too much time.

Technically speaking, this DVD maker tool performs quite well. The conversion process takes about 20 minutes of your time and it provides both progress bars and remaining time estimation for each source video file. The encoder will ask for as much as 90% of your CPU and 300 to 350 MB of system memory. It really stresses the cores only during simultaneous multiple file conversion. The end product is truly remarkable in both picture and sound quality. The test setup system holds a quad-core CPU and 8 GB or DDR3 RAM.

The Good

The burning capabilities of Sothink Movie DVD Maker wrap up the well-built conversion and authoring segments into a truly capable application. Every aspect of the video to DVD conversion is made in a positive manner, from video list management to video and audio stream customization.

It also provides the necessary ease-of-use in task fulfillment. A great addition to the software is the vast array of DVD menu templates to choose from. Their distinguished looks will nicely round up the DVD creation process so you can enjoy the results on your DVD player in no time at all.

The Bad

One of the few issues in this application is the prompt screen encoded in each chapter that indicates the use of the free version of the software in the process of DVD creation. Secondly, the subtitle embedding feature has no translation into the interface of the software, making it hard for you to know whether that the final product will present this characteristic or not. The lack of built-in helping guide is another disadvantage of this program.

The Truth

This feature-rich DVD maker works fast, looks great and delivers amazing DVD content. Sothink Movie DVD Maker packs video conversion, DVD authoring as well as DVD burning capabilities. I have to admit; overall, it’s quite a breath-taking tool. A few minor tweaks here and there would really make this an outstanding piece of software.

Here are some snapshots of the application in action:

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user interface 5
features 5
ease of use 4
pricing / value 3


final rating 4
Editor's review
very good
 

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