2006 School DVD Postmortem

May is the long dark tea time of the soul around here, resulting in the site pretty much going dormant for a month. Well, that is all over, and it’s time to write about the DVD created for this year’s fifth grade completion ceremony.

The Process

Just like last year, no souls were tortured with Microsoft products throughout the duration of this project. Well, that’s not quite true. I tried to burn a photo CD at work, but the computer kept crashing mid-burn. I still think the paltry 256 MB of memory on those things is the root of all evil.

  • All photographs of teachers and children were dumped into iPhoto where they were organized and enhanced. This year’s school album contained over 600 images at one point.
  • The slideshow was assembled in Keynote and exported as a QuickTime file.
  • All music was handled by Sibelius 3.
  • The children were recorded using Audio Hijack and organized in iTunes.
  • Everything got put together in iMovie.
  • iDVD finished everything up.

The Good

iPhoto never missed a beat, and the new editing features (coupled with Keynote 3’s image enhancement options) allowed me to entirely remove Photoshop Elements from my workflow. Furthermore, with all of my media being stored in iPhoto and iTunes, nothing was more than a click or two away thanks to the Media Browser. Have I ever mentioned that I love Keynote?

Sibelius 3 worked very smoothly this time around. Christine’s emotional melodies once again provided great inspiration, and I was able to create more original content to compliment her material.

iMovie HD was great to work in, and it was this year’s project-saver. (More on that later.) Finally, iDVD was as simple and intuitive as ever. The Drop Zones Editor was a great addition to the interface of that product.

The Scary

iDVD (surprise) did cause one scary moment when it repeatedly crashed while encoding audio. Fortunately, I went back to iMovie and saved the whole package as a self-contained QuickTime file. With that done, iDVD had no problem burning the final DVD.

Life Lessons

Again, I allowed things to get rushed because I wanted to include some school functions that were just a couple of days before the completion ceremony. Consequently, I couldn’t finish up the music until I knew for sure how long the slides were going to last, and I allowed myself no time to account for major glitches like the one I experienced. Because of this, I had no copies of the DVD at the completion ceremony, and I had to take orders instead.

Furthermore, music composition became a frenzied process at the end, and the music did not quite match the visuals. There is one particularly apparent moment of awkward silence where I ran out of music. Fortunately, I was able to correct this for the DVDs that parents will be receiving.

The moral of the story? I need to set a date I want everything compiled by so I can enter into the duplication process with less time pressure. The final step is always where things go wrong. As a result, this is where I need to allow myself the most time. Anything that falls after that date will just not be included in the DVD.

The Conclusion of the Matter

Overall, the DVD went well. There was one major snag, but it was easily resolved. Time is my biggest enemy every year, and I just need to realize that I do have control over that variable. I was my own worst obstacle when it came to time, so that’s something I can learn to work around.

Product Links

  • Apple iLife – includes iPhoto, iMovie HD, iDVD, GarageBand, and iWeb.
  • Apple iWork – includes Keynote 3 and Pages 2.
  • Sibelius – great composition software. It’s now up to version 4.
  • Audio Hijack Pro – nice little recording app.
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