This is ridiculous. I have better machine juju than this. I am a fairly up-to-date, tech-savvy woman with a pretty good well of patience and the willingness to troubleshoot. I’m a child of the 70s who grew up with squealing, non-digital modems and those terrible Atari flat keyboards. I started learning back with BASIC on TRS80 stuff, and I have a solid decade or so under my belt of screwing around with external zip drives on some Macintosh business, and I can make an outdated version of Pagemaker stand up and sing. I have ProTools experience. I have been using a PC for over 15 years with a better-than-good success rate. I know how to use a soldering iron. I’m telling you, I have a looooong history with sussing out bugs and getting up to my elbows in workarounds and solutions. Also, I am priveledged to have Our Man Cub’s deep reserve of current computer know-how at my disposal. It SHOULD NOT BE SO DIFFICULT TO BURN A DAMNED DVD, Y’ALL.

Early on in the open submission period for Rabbit Heart 2014, I started to get these emails – submitters wanted to know what I recommended for burning a dvd that would work in the regular teevee-ready dvd player and didn’t cost an arm and a leg. I had No Idea. Seriously, sister, I was clueless about the degree of difficulty involved. When I got these emails, I told the senders not to worry, and just send me an MP4 file, and that I’d take care of it from there. Probably the smartest thing I did through the whole festival, as it turns out. Midway through the judging, when swapping out dvds turned into a tedious process,* I turned all the videos into MP4s anyway and stuffed them on a thumb drive. And then I stopped thinking about it.

But the current project on my desk is making Rabbit Heart 2014 dvds. And I want them to be beautiful. I also don’t want to spend more money on software to make them than they will generate in dvd sales.

So I started with the software that comes with Windows 7. The design looks lovely, and I got really excited about it – I picked a front menu template that even has these sweet bunnies on it! It looks great! I can assure you that, but I can’t prove it, because it won’t burn. At 99% the dvd drive pops open and vomits up a blank disc.** The burner literally Can’t Even.

I tried Roxio Creator, also free and came loaded with WIndows 7. Not bad at all – except for the GIANT UGLY*** LOGO SCREEN that burns into the project as the first menu unless you give them money for the full version. Looking at that screen, I am 100% sure that Roxio does not deserve my money. And  while I’m now at the point where I’m ready to suck it up and give someone some money, it won’t be Roxio. Roxio has officially hurt my feelings.

Then there’s Sony DVD Architect. Which might or might not deliver a nice product. I’ll never know, because the trial version just crashes when I add more than six videos. What a shame – it has some nice features that allow you to build playlists and fancy sub-menus. I was initially so stoked about it, too! Bummer.

And then there’s Nero. Which looks pretty good, but I’m still wrassling with – the trial version will only allow you to burn 30-second clips. This is of little use to me in terms of test-driving the product.

I know this is Process. I totally get that this is Process. On an intellectual level, I’m ok with it, and I know that I need to just keep going and continue to suss and try. Emotionally, I’m probably looking at longing to spend half a day with Netflix, tho’. All this to say,**** I’m still shopping for software. If you have any recommendations, pretty please, send them my way.



*Partially because the machine I was running the dvds on was pokey. Reeeeealy pokey.

**Apparently it’s not just me; this is a Thing. Google up MDVDM crashes at 99, and you’ll find a slew of irritated Windows 7 users. I’ve tried everything from turning off filters to clean reinstalls, and all I got for my time was some really screwballed preferences and a complete reinstall of Windows Essentials to fix said preferences. Dear Microsoft, Don’t you even beta test??

***It’s some seriously hideous, bright green pixellated foolishness. It looks like they scanned the image with an old-school fax machine. Who thought that was a good idea? It’s one thing to put up a logo – a nice copy of your logo that looks like it’s actually in the same aspect ratio as the rest of the dvd being created would suffice. But to phone it in like this last season of Dr. Who (don’t get me started)? Un-fucking-acceptable. It doesn’t do anything to make me want to give Roxio money.

****I ate the plums. Also, I cried a little. And then I cried a little more while watching Budweiser commercials on the internet, while I let DVD Maker run again in hopes that it would actually burn a disc. And then I ate some tater-tots, which are not on my diet, but are more satisfying than salad. Hello, I hate tech problems while I’m in the throes of pms.