First off: I'm totally new to video encoding, so I'm not familiar with all the technical details of DVD encoding.
Here's what I perceive to be the problem as best as I understand it:
All my video files are already encoded (stats: MPEG-2, lower field order, NTSC, min/avg/max bitrate: 4/5.75/7 Mbs) before I bring them into Encore CS3. In the physical DVD though, my main menu, which uses one of the videos I encoded, consistently shows up as both lower and upper field order when I look in the VOB file. My chapter menu, which does not use any video, comes out as upper field order only. From what I'm told, older DVD sets tend to crash when hitting field order transitions, so I would like to get some uniformity through the entire project.
I've already tried changing the "quality settings presets" to match the encoding of my video files, so I would think that everything being automatically encoded should come out with those characteristics. Apparently, however, they are not.
Does Encore encode all its menus in upper field order no matter what?
Should I just re-encode everything in upper field order, or would it be fine if I only changed the menus to be upper only and the main movie to be lower only?
Are field order transitions really that dangerous?
-------------------------------- Other details
MUXing: Both the intro_movie and the video in the looping_menu are multiplexed, whereas the main_movie is not.
Testing: I've personally tested on half a dozen machines (two standalone). Only the crappy standalone has had problems (buffering in the main_movie section, not the menu), but I've had reports of other's tests which say that it won't run at all. (It's also been suggested to me that perhaps the field order transition can cause errors in other parts of the disc, but I have no clue whether that's true or not).