PICK OF THE DAY - 01/06/99
For movies, DVD has become incredibly popular and turned out to be one of the biggest hits of this past Christmas season.On the computer data side, things arenít quite as bright. Although most new computers come equipped with a DVD drive as standard practice, there is a major shortage of available software programs on DVD. A few programs here and there, but for the most part CDís remain the storage medium of choice. Itís ironic because only a year ago I read articles from various ďcomputer expertsĒ predicting a quick death for CDís and CD burners as DVD-Ram swept onto the scene. Now 12 months later virtually the exact opposite is true. CD burners are more popular than ever and recordable DVD data storage is mired in a tangled web of incompatible formats.
Will DVD eventually replace the CD as the common format for distributing software and storing data? You bet. Will it be anytime soon? Probably not. In the mean time the popularity of burning your own CDís will only increase as prices drop and the process becomes easier. The only problem, if you want to call it that, is now handing someone a CD youíve just created yourself is no longer the awe inspiring event it once was. Last year I handed in a project for one of my classes on a CD I had burned. The teacher was shocked, the other scrubs in my class all wanted to know how I did it and basically I was feeling like Mr. Computer guy. I did the same thing last semester. How times have changed. Not only did the teacher not care that my presentation was on CD, I actually got bitched at because the title of the CD was sloppily scrawled across the top in felt-tip pen. If thatís the reaction I got in school, I can only imagine what happens when small businesses try to do the same thing to impress clients.
Should you just toss that burner and take your work to a professional service to create your CDís? For anyone with half a brain, the smarter move would be to spend $35 and learn to use MultiMedia Builder. If youíre using your CD burner to do anything besides copying Pantera CDís then you shoucld check MM Builder out. MM Builder turns what would normally be just another CD full of files into a super slick presentation that rivals what youíd find on CDís from the big guys.
When you pop in Microsoft Office, Half-Life, or any other commercial CD, whatís the first thing you notice? The CD runs automatically and launches a cool looking, often animated, menu from which you can install the program, check out the read-me file, or perform other pertinent functions. Itís mainly a cosmetic thing, but it lends an air of professionalism to both the CD and the company behind it. Itís so common that most people never think twice about it and therein lies the rub. People expect flash so when the CD youíve created doesnít have it, it really sticks out. How did people go about making those nifty features in the past? To be onest I have no clue, but it doesnít really matter because with MM Builder around you can create pretty much the exact same thing.
With MM Builder you donít have to be a graphic design whiz or a programming expert, MM Builder is intuitive and easy to use for a tool this powerful. The main program interface is similar in appearance to a tag based HTML editor or basic image editing program, toolbars ringing the main work area and a smaller window off to the side. Itís WYSIWYG and object oriented so creating your CD menu is almost like playing with Legoís. Snap an image here, drag a sound over there, etc. A simple menu can be created and ready to go in minutes.
The audio and visual options you have for your CD front-end are immense. You can have single or multiple .WAV files playing, audio tracks from a CD, or even play MP3s. Video clips can be included and controlled by the end user and practically every major image file format is supported under MM Builder. The CDís you make can be as plain or as extravagant as you want. Itís all up to you. MM Builder can help you whip up buttons for your menu and also provide some quick and dirty image enhancement such as sharpen, blur, flip, and image effects like fire, bevel, glow, drop shadow and cutout. Finally, if you really want to go wild in designing your menu you can even use custom shapes for the menu itself. Instead of a standard rectangular window, why not have a circle or something else slightly off the wall. Why not have the menu in the shape of your logo, etc.?
The menus created with MM Builder are more than just a pretty. Your menu can perform a whole host of functions. Almost anything you could possibly want to do is available. Execute a program when a button is clicked, launch a document or help file, send e-mail, browse the contents of the CD, or a number of other different options. For an added level of control and precision MM Builder comes with scripting ability built in. You donít have to worry about it if youíre just interested in creating standard menus, but if you want to get more advanced and are familiar at all with any type of programming, chances are youíll want to play around with some scripting. Let me just reiterate, you DONíT have to use any scripting. I didnít and things just turned out fine. When youíre satisfied with the results of your menu, MM Builder creates all the files youíll need. Add them to the rest of the files to be burned, fire up the burner, and youíre all set. Make your work stand out and get noticed. Get MultiMedia Builder.