Ulead's first two releases of its DVD-authoring software were called simply DVD MovieFactory. Version 3.0 is now called DVD MovieFactory Disc Creator, and the program offers some new abilities to justify its longer name. The application can now create data and music discs in addition to video DVDs, and Ulead has beefed up the program's video tools, making it useful for a wider range of tasks. The interface is intuitive and easy to use, particularly well suited to beginners and those who want an uncomplicated way to burn a variety of discs. While Nero 6.0 Ultra is still the best tool in this category, MovieFactory's new broader capabilities packaged in the same simple interface make it a solid choice in its own right, especially for burning newbies.
Installing MovieFactory 3.0 couldn't be simpler. Just insert the disc and follow the onscreen prompts. You can select a custom installation--some might not want the included DVD player--but most people will be happy with the standard install. The program supports Windows 98 SE, Me, 2000, and XP, but not the Mac platform.
Ulead has made some great improvements to MovieFactory's interface since the release of version 2.0. While it's still a bit on the bland side, the main screen does a much better job of presenting the entirety of the program's capabilities. From this screen, you can choose to make a video, slide-show, music, or data disc and select Direct-to-Disc recording (to burn directly from a camera without editing). You can also edit or erase a rewritable disc, copy a disc, launch the label maker, or call up the DVD player from here.
MovieFactory's start screen presents all of your options in a clear and colorful format.
Ulead has added some impressive new tricks to MovieFactory's repertoire. For one, version 3.0 can now import video from set-top DVD recorders (using the DVD-VR format), which lets you import your favorite TV shows to your computer and edit out the commercials before you archive them. MovieFactory can now also edit directly on rewritable discs, so you can add video to a DVD you've already created and alter the menu, all without wasting a second disc. This feature worked flawlessly in our tests.
MovieFactory's interface lets you easily add new videos to your project--whether a new disc or a finished DVD.
Creating video, slide-show, and music discs was a similarly fuss-free process in our tests, although MovieFactory's dull gray interface won't win any beauty contests. Still, we like that when you create a video disc, MovieFactory offers to burn DVD player software onto the disc so that you needn't worry about people having the correct program to view your efforts. We're also pleased that the program now lets you add video to menus, backgrounds, and buttons. One quibble: We wish that the button that launches disc-burning were labeled Burn instead of Output.
MovieFactory comes with a self-contained DVD player that you can include on the video discs you create.
MovieFactory offers a few limited editing controls, but we can't recommend them--simple tasks, such as adding a transition or even trimming a scene, are unnecessarily cumbersome. Even finding a particular frame is tricky because, as in version 2.0, the video lags a few seconds behind the jog bar. Users looking for a more full bodied video editor should check out Pinnacle's Studio 8.0.Ulead offers solid tech support, but you have to do some digging on the site to find it. Ulead's FAQs, forums, and tech support e-mail can be accessed from the DVD MovieFactory product page; just click the tech support link in the lower right corner. Phone support, a toll call, operates from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, Monday through Friday. Ulead guarantees MovieFactory with a 90-day limited warranty.