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Briefly during our 5-day intensive Final Cut training program, we cover a DVD Studio feature called DVD@ccess. It's a cool feature with lots of potential - essentially, it lets you pop open a web page from within a computer DVD player. Unfortunately, some things just make too much sense to work in the real world.

First, the good news: if you know for a fact that ALL of your audience will be using Macs to view their DVDs, you're in business. Apple DVD Player has supported DVD@ccess for quite a while now. And the bad news? Virtually nobody else in the world will see the webpage like you intended - that is to say, their DVD player will simply ignore the DVD@ccess-enabled web links.

Apple's documentation tries to reassure us that they're all about the free love - "PC users can view DVD@ccess content too, man" - and, like the rosy-glassed hippies of yore, it's not so much that they're wrong as it is they're orbiting a different planet from the majority of us. In order for a PC to support DVD@ccess features, the user has to quit the DVD player, log on as an administrator, navigate to the disc from their desktop, pull a fancy trick (right-click and click Explore) to view the disc's contents, stumble into a folder called DVDccess, and choose to install software from there. And then go back and start the DVD over again. All this for a webpage.

If that isn't headache enough, remember that, in the Wild West of PC software, there's a different DVD player for each day of the year. While Apple's DVD@ccess installer for PC supports the most popular DVD playing software, it doesn't (and can't) support it all. For that matter, as much whining as you hear about Windows Vista, that's where the PC world's heading. And DVD@ccess won't even try to install on Vista.

And don't forget about us old-fashioned geezers who still watch our talkies on the dadgummed TV set. Them rabbit ears may beam you in the news (for another year, anyway), but they sure as shrimp won't take you online.

DVD@ccess means well, and it's a great idea. If it fits with your workflow (or your Mac politics), use it. But remember that, especially if your disc is going out to an audience in the double digits or more ... almost nobody will be seeing the result. So you should probably pay attention to catering the fallback experience to the other 99% of your users: simply displaying the web address in question on a menu sounds polite to me.

Next time, a more constructive article: if DVD@ccess is but a pipe dream, how do we get viewers to totter over to their web browsers?


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"Director's Commentary" - Setting secondary audio and/or captions was the previous entry in this blog.

Getting your Users to the Web, Part 2: Designing Usable URLs is the next entry in this blog.

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