DVD Flick Review/Walkthrough

DVD Flick is a simple DVD-authoring program. It is free and can be downloaded here.

First, start a new project. Then, click on “Project settings” at the top. This will bring you to a menu allowing one to specify his or her custom settings.

There are many options here, and they may overwhelm you. First, title the DVD and set the target size. I’m using some cheap single-layer discs, but your DVDs may be different. A dual-layer DVD is approximately 8GB. Check the package of your blank discs to see what you have. If you can’t find the original packaging, look on the DVD itself. If it doesn’t say there, just assume it’s a normal, 4.3GB disc. Now set your encoder priority. Setting it high will take less time to encode, but will take more of your CPU up, and will slow your computer down. In a nutshell, only use “Above normal” if you are okay with not using your computer until it is done, or at least very slowly. If you need to use your computer as-normal while it is encoding, set it to “Normal” or below. “Thread count” is similar to “Encoder” in that it will take up more of your CPU, the higher you have that number set. DVD Flick will auto-detect the number of thread in your CPU when it starts up. Do not set it higher than how many you have. Now onto more-advanced video settings.

This menu will allow one to customize the video quality. For “Target format”, I live in America, which is an NTSC area. If you configure this setting incorrectly, your DVD may not function in your player. Here is a region map to see which region you are in. “Encoding” will allow you to choose how fast you wish to encode, be it fast with lower quality or slow with higher quality. Generally speaking, the slower you set this, the better your quality will be, which is why I have set it to “Best.” Now choose your target bitrate. Bitrate is how much data is sent per second. The maximum DVD bitrate is 9.8 megabits per second. My DVD, as you will soon see, is composed all of YouTube videos, which means their bitrate is 8 megabits per second; thus, it would be a waste of disc space to encode these at 9.8 megabits per second, as that is, in essence, wasting space on data that doesn’t exist. Always try to encode at your source bitrate. If your bitrate is too low, the image will break up in a phenomenon known as “macroblocking”. These are ugly squares generated due to a too-low bitrate. Unfortunately, herein lies my first flaw with DVD Flick: it does not allow for variable bitrates. For scenes in a video with little-to-no motion, such as pure black screens, there is absolutely no reason to encode at the max bitrate. This is a waste of space. If DVD Flick allowed for variable bitrates, so that high-motion scenes could have high bitrates and low-motion scenes could have slightly lower bitrates, encoding would be far more efficient and one would be able to add more footage per disc. As it stands, this is an issue that I would like to see implemented in a future version. Now for even more advanced settings.

Now for the more advanced video settings. “Log PSNR values” will log a rating of how accurately the source footage is reproduced, with 100 being exactly the same as the source footage (impossible with compression), and 0 being completely different. This is a nice feature that I appreciate. “Half horizontal resolution” will cut the resolution from 720×480 to 360×240. I do not recommend using this feature, as it will dramatically decrease the quality of your footage. “Deinterlace source” should be only used if the footage you are encoding is interlaced. If you are not sure if your footage is interlaced, and your camera is a recent camera from the past several years, then it is probably not interlaced. “Copy MPEG-2 streams” will copy the MPEG-2 encodes, instead of reencoding them. My footage is not MPEG-2, so I will not check this. “Apply 2:3 pulldown” is an option that should be used if working with a 29.97 frames-per-second interlaced footage when it should be 23.976 frames-per-second progressive. Very few sources will use this footage besides filmstock, or footage that has been edited in a program such as Sony Vegas or Windows Movie Maker to 24/23.976 frames-per-second. “Overscan” is a fault with television sets which will, as a simple explanation, cut out some of the image on all four sides. Most HDTVs today have the option of no overscan, or usually very little. Older CRT sets, however, may have more. “Add overscan borders” will encode slight black bars on all four sides so that only THAT gets overscanned out, and not actual footage. I do not care to use this, however, as, a.) this shrinks the footage down to a slightly lower resolution, thus removing detail, and, b.) the percentage of overscan is variable from set-to-set, so there will never truly be any way to know exactly what to put this at. The amount cut out is very little anyway. “DC precision” will raise the quality, but the bitrate as well. Since I am working with less-than twenty minutes of footage, I can set this value high and ensure higher-quality. I do not recommend setting this any lower than eight. Whew! That was a lot about video, huh? Now onto the simpler audio.

Audio is much simpler, but at a cost. “Volume modification” will allow you to adjust the volume. I have it set at 100%, which will keep it the same as the source. Then choose mono, stereo, or 5.1 surround. If you don’t know what your audio is, choose mono. Now set the audio bitrate. I ran into a problem here. The audio bitrate of the footage I’m working with is 192kbps. Unfortunately, that is not an option, and you cannot specify your own audio bitrate, meaning I had to choose between 128kbps and 256kbps. 128kbps would lower the quality of the audio. 256kbps would keep the audio quality the same, but is a waste of disc space. There exists only 192kbps worth of audio data here. Those extra 64kbps are redundant and waste space. This is a very minor issue, but I would like to see a customizable audio-bitrate option.  Now for playback.

This is not very complicated. I absolutely hate when DVDs don’t go to the menu when they’re finished, so I made sure it did that, and unchecked the first option. Now for burning.

“Create ISO image” will, obviously, create an ISO image, which you can use if you wish to burn more DVDs besides one. This will be faster than using DVD Flick each time. Make your title and use the settings above. Now for the actual footage.

  Now, simply drag your videos into DVD Flick. Then, click “menu settings” and choose a menu. For this review, I’ll just be using a simple black menu.

Now for the last step…insert a blank DVD into your DVD burner and click “Create DVD.”

   Once this process finishes, take out your DVD, pop it into your player, and enjoy! While it’s encoding, you can click “Entertain me”…and play Tetris!

   In conclusion, for a free DVD-authoring program, DVD Flick is remarkably in-depth. The only minor issues I came across were: 1.) no variable bitrate, 2.) no custom audio bitrates, and, 3.) an odd jaggedness to the menu, which makes the titles very difficult to read. (Seen in screencap 2.) Otherwise, it’s a near-perfect program! Highly recommended.

I hope you enjoyed my review of DVD Flick. It can be downloaded here. For screencaps of how the DVD turned out, check out the links below. Thanks for reading!

Screencaps taken in Media Player Classic and resized to 853×480 using cubic resampling in GIMP, in order to emulated the anamorphic nature of the footage. Menus are 4:3, and thus have been resized to 640×480 instead.