Creating and Sharing Picture and Video DVDs

Every edition of Windows 7 can burn data DVDs for backup and for playback on other computers .The premium editions of Windows 7 (Home Premium and higher) include Windows DVD Maker, which you can use to create custom discs in DVD format that can be played back in the living room on a consumer DVD player connected to your TV (or on another computer, using its included DVD playback software)

DVD Maker includes no pull-down menus . Instead, you use a two-step wizard: First, you put together the pictures or videos (or both) that will go into your DVD. Next, you add a title and create a DVD menu that can be navigated with a remote control. When both those steps are complete, you burn the project. Windows DVD Maker supports digital video files in WMV or AVI container formats, but not those saved in MPEG-4 formats; you can use photos in any format that Windows 7 recognizes.

You'll find the Windows DVD Maker shortcut on the Start menu, near the top of the All Programs menu. After you bypass the opening screen, you can begin building the list of items that will go into your new DVD. Figure 13-12 shows a DVD project after we've added a handful of video files to it.

Windows DVD Maker

Add pictures and video to the DVD




^ Remove items -f- <1 ^

DVD burner:

\E3 ®

I Ordei







Mackie in a ditch 3




Mackie Takes a Bath ti 2006 11 28 21 12 58





^ Mackie and Lucy meet





Mackie and Lucy play - first day





Next Cancel

6 of 150 r


Next Cancel

Figure 13-12 Be sure to enter a disc title in the box at the bottom of this dialog box before going on to the next step .

To add content, click the Add Items button above the contents pane and choose video or picture files from Windows Explorer. Use the Remove Items button to delete the current selection (with no warning or confirmation!) from the current list. Enter a disc title in the box at the bottom of the dialog box, and click Next to continue.

The Ready To Burn DVD step, shown in Figure 13-13, allows you to choose from a variety of menu styles and then customize the menu to suit your preferences .

Figure 13-13 You can accept one of the canned menu styles, such as the Layers option shown here, or use the row of buttons along the top to customize the menu.

The four buttons along the top of this dialog box allow you to preview the DVD based on its current content and settings, customize the menu, and synchronize a slide show with music. The following choices are available:

• Preview Takes you to a page that allows you to test-drive the DVD using on-screen controls that mimic those on a DVD player's remote control. You can see not only what menus look like but how they work. Preview buttons are available from other customization screens as well.

• Menu Text Includes edit controls where you can change the DVD title; customize the text that identifies the Play and Scenes buttons; choose fonts, font colors, and font styles; and add notes.

• Customize Menu Includes the same font choices as in the Menu Text option, as well as options to customize the video clips and sounds that play while the menu is visible. By default, DVD Maker picks snippets from the items in your project and uses them to add zing to the menu. If the snippets it chooses are inappropriate, you can create your own short custom video files, save them in WMV format, and use them here. You can also choose an alternate background audio track to play along with the menu. Click Change Style to accept the changes you just made . Note the Save As New Style button, which allows you to add your custom options to the menu list so that you can reuse the changes you make here.

• Slide Show Includes options suitable for DVDs that include only photos . This page allows you to include audio files as the sound track, change the length of time each picture is visible on the screen, and select transition effects. The most interesting option is the Change Slide Show Length To Match Music Length box, which automatically adjusts the intervals between photos so that the show begins and ends with the music

When you've finished customizing the menus, insert a blank disc in the DVD drive, click the Burn button, and be prepared to wait. When the disc is completed, be sure to label it (if you haven't done so already). It's also worth previewing the resulting disc in a compatible player to be sure that everything went as expected. If you notice any glitches, it's easier to fix them now than it is to try to re-create the entire project later.


Using Windows Media Center

Setting Up and Customizing Media Center .

Mastering the Media Center Interface

Playing Music, Pictures, Videos, and Movies

464 Recording and Watching TV

469 Connecting and Using a Media Center Extender

When you picture a media center, you probably imagine it in the living room, hooked up to a widescreen high-definition TV and a surround-sound system. But the Media Center interface is also right at home in dorm rooms, hotel rooms, offices, bedrooms, and other relatively small places where a computer display is big enough to stand in for a TV and where you can use a remote control or a mouse to operate a jukebox filled with music, movies, slide shows, and videos.

Windows Media Center is included with all of the premium editions of Windows 7, and its feature set is identical in each one. Its most basic function is to serve as a simpler alternative interface to Windows Media Player. Media Center uses the same media libraries you manage in Windows Explorer and Windows Media Player, so when you add or tag content in one place, it appears in Media Center as well. And it does much more when you add the right hardware.

With a TV tuner and an antenna or cable TV or satellite connection, you can configure Media Center to act as a digital video recorder whose capacity is limited only by the amount of disk space you give it. Add hardware extenders, and a single Media Center PC is also capable of feeding music, pictures, movies, and live or recorded TV to multiple rooms over a wired or wireless network .

Windows Media Center is included in Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate editions . All of the features we describe in this chapter are available in all those editions . Some features require additional hardware.

Because Windows Media Center is a large, feature-rich program, our attempt to cover it in a single chapter is, by definition, going to zoom quickly past some important topics . We apologize in advance to our readers outside the United States as well. Television technology is different overseas, and many of the changes in Windows 7 are specifically designed

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