Where We Started: DVD screener
Getting the film exported off the computer so that we can make a DVD was a much harder thing than it should have been.
Just for informational purposes, here's a short version of the process as it's supposed to work:
First, you export the movie from Final Cut Pro as a .mov file (with little or no compression).
Second, you compress that file for DVD using Apple's Compressor.
Third, you import the resulting files from Compressor into DVD Studio Pro, create a menu and chapter breaks, and then burn the disc.
Sounds easy, right?
There are so many things that went wrong - things I didn't even think were possible.
It started with sync issues. For some reason, the sound and picture were not in sync when we exported the movie. No matter what we did, we couldn't get the two in sync.
The other major issue is that Compressor was dropping the brightness of the movie significantly. Since the movie has a number of scenes that take place in dim lighting, this was unacceptable.
Those two problems caused significant delays. I won't bore you with all the attempts we made to solve these issues. The final resolution for the brightness issue came via former student B.B. Enriquez, who has had the same problem with Compressor and showed us how to tweak the gain settings in the software program. My colleagues tested several different settings on the movie, and we were all in agreement on the final look.
The sync issue was still lingering, though. Finally, my colleague Corey Carbonara suggested we try working with the film on a different computer. We had been using our high-end system (the one we use for finishing all larger/high-end projects). So we took the drive with the film on it and worked on a different system, and, well... that was the problem. Apparently the high-end system has a sound-related glitch that is preventing it from maintaining sync. Once we moved to another computer, the problem was solved.
And here's the result:
The first DVD screeners have been burned and mailed. And all of a sudden, I've entered an altogether more difficult phase of the filmmaking process: the waiting. Now I have to wait for people to respond to the film. And pray they like it as much as I do.