2005 School DVD Postmortem

After 14 intensive hours of work, the DVD for the 5th grade completion ceremony is finished. As has been my practice for the las three years, no Microsoft products were harmed (read: used at all) for this product.

The Process

  • All photos of the children are organized in iPhoto and touched up or modified in Photoshop Elements 2.
  • The actual slideshow was put together in Keynote 2 and exported as a QuickTime movie.
  • Music was composed, orchestrated, and recorded in Sibelius 3 (with a little help from Audio Hijack).
  • Children’s voiceovers were recorded in Audio Hijack. Both these voices and the music get imported and organized in to iTunes.
  • All media gets dumped into iMovie.
  • The whole package was last exported to iDVD.

The Good

iPhoto is awesome. I organize everything image-related in iPhoto – digital photographs, desktop pictures, stock photos. I love that program. Keynote 2 is a great tool. I’ve discovered so many neat things about it during this last project.

Apple’s media browsers built into their iWork and iLife applications are also great. Since all of my audio was organized in iTunes, and all of the images were organized in iPhoto, all of my resources were no more than a click or two away – even if the application it was stored in was closed.

Getting away from Apple’s products, Sibelius is really growing on me now that I am learning more about it, but I have a long way to go. Now if only I could justify upgrading the instruments to Kontakt Player Gold. Also, Audio Hijack was great for recording the kids’ voices. Additionally, it saved a major part of the project close to the end, and I’ll talk about that further down in this post.

Finally, my friend Christine gets to be in the awesome category. She composed the beautiful music that went into this year’s project. I merely acted as orchestrator and arranger.

The So-So

iMovie and iDVD were flakey. I began experiencing some slowdowns and unexpected terminations in iMovie, and iDVD messed up burning the first DVD and produced a coaster. I opened up my Process Viewer in OS X, and my CPU usage never maxed out, nor was I in any danger of running out of memory while iMovie was running. I’m not sure where the instability was coming from.

Update: As far as iDVD goes, that coaster turned out to be my fault, so iDVD worked as well as expected.

The Bad

Things got rushed at the end, so there are still some details I am unhappy with. That’s my own fault. I did not pace myself as well this year as I have in previous years.

Keynote’s “drop” slide transition did not translate well into video, and I wish I had made some time to compose some additional music for the extra slideshow. Another weird Keynote flaw was the “fly” transition: when I used it on an object (technically it’s a text transition), it would leave artifacts if the object was coming from the left side of the screen.

Finally, Sibelius was not behaving at all when I exported the score as an audio track. It would always come out as an unreadable file. Fortunately, I was able to use Audio Hijack to record the music while it was playing, and that saved the day.

The End

Overall, the project went well. Now all that’s left is duplicating a bunch of copies as parents order them. (I really need to invest in one of those disc duplicators before I fry my computer’s optical drive!) The glitches seemed pretty random and isolated. Overall, my “Made on a Mac” DVD was a relatively pain-free experience.

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