I am trying to get started and am experimenting.
I used some avi clips and made what I thought was going to be a disk image using the "Make Disk".
Now when I go back to the project, in the "Video-General" source area rather than my original avi files, I see references to mpg files XXX_VA_000.mpg where XXX is a part of my original avi filename. Am I correct in assuming that these are the encoded version of my originals?
If I want to make another project with the same clips is it as good to use these files rather than my original clips?
On this forum I note that there are many references to people using "external" (non-DVDWS)encoders. Is that because they feel that they will get better results, ie. those encoders are better?
The extra files you see are your videos encoded based on your project settings. You could save time by using them in other projects if you plan to use similar project settings, and you use the "Do Not Convert Compliant Files" option -- they won't go through a re-rendering process...
To get that "DO NOT CONVERT" option, you'll need to update to the latest version for DVD WS. The update patch to ver 1.3 is pretty good (look for the special patch if you have a Canopus capture card). http://www.ulead.com/tech/dws/dws_ftp.htm
There are other encoders (software and hardware). And depending on how fussy you are, your budget, and your perception of high-quality, you could choose from a variety of encoding options. The encoder in the latest DVD WS is pretty good (imho), and another popular software encoder is called TMPGenc http://www.tmpgenc.net/e_main.html
There are also realtime hardware encoders like the USB Instant DVD 2.0 from ADS Technologies (PC Magazine's Editor's Choice) http://www.adstech.com