Apple's DVD Studio Pro 2

Home video fans and independent film makers should take heart in a new announcement from Apple Computer.

Next week, the Cupertino, CA- based company will release DVD Studio Pro 2, a redesigned application to simplify professional DVD authoring. DVD Studio Pro 2 offers integration with Final Cut Pro 4, and completes Apple's professional suite of software, which includes Shake 3, the compositing and visual effects software; Soundtrack, the music production tool; and Logic Platinum for computer-based music production.

New features include an easy-to-navigate user interface, fully customizable templates, an innovative menu editor, timeline-based track editing, and a new MPEG-2 encoder. Apple claims that Studio Pro 2 is so intuitive that users can "start creating elegant DVDs in a few simple steps." Design templates are fully customizable, allowing users to begin DVD projects with "the look of a Hollywood title" or by creating templates from scratch.

The software suite incorporates popular graphics applications such as Adobe Photoshop and reduces editing tedium through the use of "context-sensitive drop palettes." DVD Studio Pro 2 enables users to work quickly and efficiently, with "a linear view of clips, audio, and other assets," says Apple. The suite accommodates up to nine video angles, eight audio streams (including Dolby Digital 5.1) and 32 subtitle streams, and includes an integrated MPEG-2 encoder claimed to "deliver pristine video at low bit rates."

The English-language version of DVD Studio Pro 2 can be ordered online immediately through the Apple Store. Beginning August 18, it will be available through Apple's retail stores and Apple authorized resellers. Suggested retail price is $499.