DVD Players on PCs
A lot has been posted about putting web links on a DVD and I have the workflow worked out. However I don't recall discussions about the fact that many PCs don't have an MPEG2 decoder installed...unless you buy a decoder, you won't be able to play a DVD.
We are making a DVD with link to a new web site for medical clinics, and so far we have fond tht although most of them have a web connection and at least a combo drive, they do not have a player app. So, have you ever partnered with a company like WinDVD to include the app on the disc, or have you put a link to the app? How do you deal with the fact that many PCs do not have a DVD MPEG2 decoder standard?
How do you address this with corporate clients who don't load DVD players on their pcs?
I think it's a converstion you have to have upfront before doing the project. Although most computers with dvd players or combo drives installed have an mpeg decoder, many corporate computers do not have that software installed. Many or most corporate computers have the user privelges locked down so employees can't install software, including software dvd players and or mpeg 2 decoders. You need to pony up with the IS department and corporate representatives to have a frank discussion about what the minimum system specs are required to view a rom enhanced, dvd video title. Some computers (although this is becoming the rare exception) don't even have the 'horsepower' to play back the video smoothly. If you are using eDVD, to install the InterActual Player requires that someone with administrator priveleges does the install, or it won't work (even if there was a dvd player/decoder on board). Checking this out ahead of time will avoid headaches and frustrated customers in the future.
It still needs a dvd decoder. This application doesn't get around the basic issues that eDVD enhanced discs face--that being the system needs a software dvd player and mpeg decoder pre-installed.
You may have to take a hard line with the client/cleint's IT manager that in order to play back a DVD on PC, there has to a DVD decoder installed. You should have this converation in the first high-level meeting among the project stakeholders before you sink a lot of time into the project. In your propsal/scope of work, you should lay out the system requirements for viewing the finished DVD.
This is all great stuff, however I'm looking big picture. What if you are handing out 1000 copies and they are going to small medical clinics all around the country? The videos on the DVd inspire them to click the link and the web site gives them the information and resources. but there is no way to know if the clinics have the software needed, whether or not they can even load it, or if they will take the time to do it.
Sometimes you don't have the luxury....therefore I think it is way shortsighted of Microsoft in 2006 to NOT have DVD playback as a standard part of the OS. Macs might cost more, but you get a DVD player, a capable media playerall tightly integrated with the OS.
I understand that Vista might actually come with a DVD player and MPEG decoder. Hooray...it will be 2007.
End of rant, but in reality we don't always have the option to insist that every recipient of a disc can and will install a DVD player app, and since most of our project will live on the Web, the link on the disc was essential. What the client really wanted was a copy of the Web site on a CD....we argued that the minute you print the 1000 copies, the info on the disk is dated...things can get updated on the web, but not on the discs. Didn't make sense. We might go with a CD with MPEG1 clips on it and a link to the website.
Again, the project is really for a Web site, but they want a deliverable that can inspire them to go there. We have 4 very inspiring short videos (2 minutes each) that will compel you to have a look at the site, and DVD is a good way to view a video...with the link it's a great deliverable. A CD with MPEG1 movies is ok, but not as good looking as a DVD...also can't be viewed in a set top. I realize the link isn't going to work in a set top, but again, the videos hopefully will compel them to the site.
That's the story, and I'm sticking to it...any other thoughts on the lack of DVD player/decoder on the PC that is crippling?
I know the answer is not what you wanted to hear, but it is the reality of things. There really are optimal solutions to the limitations you are facing.
Years ago, Spruce technologies offered a lowly ($99) app called SpruceUp. It would allow for some rudimentary links, and it bundled as a part of the disc build a built in dvd software player (Syzergy). It solves one of the problems, that being the potential lack of a dvd decoder on the recipient PC. However, it doesn't solve the problem that you will most likely face with the target computers you post--that being relatively severe restrictions on any software loading on PC's from personnel other than designated IS/IT employees. I can tell you from personal experience in the medical field that this is the norm, and not the exception. These PC's often have electronic medical record applications and digital xray imaging viewing and archiving. The corporations can't run the risk or expense of any Tom, Dick, or Harry loading programs that might conflict, and worse yet, introducing viruses/worms/trojan horses/etc. system wide.
There is an expense to having a dvd player due to mpeg 2 licensing costs. Maybe that's why MS didn't bundle it in and jack up the price of their OS. I don't know why they don't include it, and it sure would make things simpler if they would. You can distribute your content as mpeg1, but playing the files and launching web links will not be as eloquent or straight forward for the viewer to use. You could put your content in a Powerpoint presentation (again you face the potential limitation of the recipient computer not having the software to play it, but even if the computer doesn't have PP installed, there is a freebie viewer that the link could be included on your disc, or even the actual executable). You could play your video clips (mpeg1), and have URL links/buttons on the slides.
If you have a Mac, Keynote does a great job of giving you a variety of output options. You can create Quicktime files with slides that play you video, and slides with hyperlinks to the web. The quality is excellent. Of course the viewer has to have Quicktime installed, and there are some system requirements (to play H264 files), especially the need for WinXP (which is not necessarily on all your target PC's).
In the end, I don't think there is a single best solution. Even if you could come to some agreement with a third party vendor to allow you to include a dvd software player, you can't bank on the fact that the ulitmate viewer will have the ability to even load it.