does BHPhoto have only one of (I'm not sure if you're talking about one of the old Toshibas, or something else)?CitiBear
-- I'm fairly certain that the Toshiba solution indeed let the user completely customize the background and menus; although I'm not certain about this, it seems evident by the fact they offered a software tool to do the design work for it.
Descriptions for units like their RD-XS54 (vintage: 2006) say you can upload a custom menu background from your PC (the on-disc images are used for menu thumbnails).
I also checked the device's online manual on the Toshiba Web site (h ttp://www.tacp.toshiba.com/tacpassets-images/models/rd-xs55/docs/RD-XS55_OM_E.pdf
) and it confirms the capability:
From page 161 (Custom Menu Editor):
When creating a DVD-R/RW, this feature will allow you to set and add 16 types of images that are separate from the 8 types of custom menu which initially came with the recorder
You will need:
Images that you want to use on the menu screen (Windows bitmap format (bmp),*1 24 bit color, 720 x 480*2 pixels (72
If the format is the same, you can save an image from Mac OS as is (72 dpi).
Since PC and TV display images differently, an image which appears normal on the PC may appear elongated on the TV. An image will appear normally on the TV and can be used as a background if you first create an image on the PC that is 640 x 480 pixel size, then elongate this image horizontally to 720 x 480 pixel size.
OK... well, enough of that. The XS55 and that series definitely would fit the bill. But what about today?
PC Workflow using Authoring Tools
I'm comfortable with basic and advanced authoring tools -- I use them every day.
The problem with this solution is that at a live event where I want people walking away with a disc-in-hand, it doesn't allow the time to load the footage into the authoring tool, rendering and then burning. Even if I am recording straight to a HDD, my preference is AVI recording for best quality archive, and that would require re-rendering for the DVD (to MPEG2). If I set my HD recorder to record/encode to MPEG2, then perhaps this wouldn't be so bad. I'd have to network my recording machine with the authoring machine, which and pay someone to grab each video file, drag it into the authoring tool, and then create the discs. = extra steps & costs.... :-(
PC Workflow using direct-to-DVD Tools
I've heard of a tool by Dazzle called "Instant DVD Recorder" which allows you to record direct from camera to the PC's DVD recorder (real-time encoding). This sounds promising, in theory, except that:
(a) I need to record to hard disk (for archive) as well as DVD
(b) I do *not* want to rely on a PC in my workflow -- other than for basic tasks and rock-solid software, my experience with DV handling is that if something glitches even slightly, the DV devices may need to be reboot (and there's no time for this in the field)
(c) Dazzle and consumer Pinnacle products, in my experience, are not rock solid -- far from it. They look pretty on the outside, but I wouldn't rely on them for anything important.
Hardware Solution (non-PC) - old Toshiba DVD Burner
Find a bunch of 2006 Toshiba DVD Burner like the XS55 and hope they don't break.
Hardware Solution (Sony MC6)
What do you know about the Sony MC6 (VRD-MC6)? It is consumer-level for sure, and its small form-factor doesn't allow for stacking (grrrrrr), BUT... it can encode AVCHD to DVDs for playback on Blu-ray players (if the source DV is HD), and according to *some* descriptions, allows you to create a custom menu via a JPEG stored on an SD card. I say "some" descriptions because others say that you can choose from 4 preset designs.
I checked the manual for this on the SONY Web site, and indeed... it's there (see JPEG below)! Page 68:
Select a background image to apply to the DVD Menu screen for discs created with
A, B, C, D
Select from four images. The background image is set to [A] by default.
Sets your favorite photo (JPEG file) for a background image. Insert the memory card with the selected photo (JPEG file) into the DVDirect's memory card slot before creating a disc.
Save only a single photo (JPEG file) in the top directory of a memory card. If there are many photos in the top directory of the memory card, the desired photo may not be set for the DVD Menu.
Some photos (JPEG files) may not be applied to the DVD Menu.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on all this... I know I'm not alone!