Apple used its CEO Steve Jobs’ keynote address to San Francisco’s Macworld Expo to introduce its new iDVD software that lets consumers "quickly and easily" create professional-looking DVDs for playback on consumer DVD players. Apple also released DVD Studio Pro, the first full-featured DVD authoring tool available for less than $1,000.

"This is something that I have personally dreamed about for years," Jobs told his audience. "I find it extraordinarily moving."

As DVD becomes more popular – there are over 10 million DVD players in the US alone – Apple sees its chance to appeal to these new users by offering simple software that will let them make their own DVDs.

iDVD comes preinstalled on the Power Mac G4 with the new SuperDrive, a combination CD-RW/DVD-R drive that reads and writes both CDs and DVDs.

DVD Studio Pro ($999) offers professional-quality DVD encoding, authoring and writing, and is "the perfect complement" to Apple’s Final Cut Pro video-editing, effects and compositing software, according to the company.

"iDVD and DVD Studio Pro continue Apple’s lead in the desktop video revolution," said Jobs. "Our new Power Mac G4 running iMovie, Final Cut Pro, iDVD and DVD Studio Pro offers professionals and high-end consumers the only integrated solution for pro-quality DVD creation."

iDVD ease iDVD makes it easy for Macintosh users to turn their iMovies, QuickTime files and even still pictures into DVDs that can be played on consumer DVD players. Acording to Apple, iDVD "shields users" from the complexity of DVD authoring by offering built-in professionally designed themes and drag-&-drop simplicity.

iDVD users can convert iMovies, QuickTime files and pictures into the format required for DVD using iDVD’s fast MPEG encoder. iMovies and pictures "are simply drag-&-dropped" into individual DVD projects. Users can then create menus, buttons and backgrounds using their own personal images, or choose from among more than a dozen themes with professionally designed background images and co-ordinated fonts and typefaces.

The project can be previewed to test navigation and flow. Then iDVD users can record DVDs with a single click on the Power Mac G4’s new combination CD-RW/DVD-R SuperDrive.

iDVD is pre-installed on the new Power Mac G4 with combination CD-RW/DVD-R SuperDrive, which writes to standard 4.7GB DVD-R discs, available from The Apple Store (www.apple.com) in packs of 5 for a suggested retail price of US$49.95. Each disc can hold an hour of high-quality video, and is compatible with a wide variety of consumer and computer DVD players. A list of compatible DVD players is available.

DVD Studio Pro DVD Studio Pro lets users encode video, conduct complex authoring tasks, preview the finished product in real time, and burn DVDs using the Power Mac G4’s new SuperDrive.

Users can encode video in MPEG-2 and encode audio in Dolby Digital, the two formats preferred for professionally mastered DVDs. The DVD can be authored, working with up to 99 video tracks and multiple language tracks. DVDs can also be customized to include slide shows, still or motion menus from layered Photoshop files or video clips, and interactive links directly to the Web.

Users can preview the finished project in real time without the need for a disk image or multiplexing, according to Apple. They can then burn DVDs using the Power Mac G4’s new SuperDrive for playback on consumer DVD players. In addition to burning DVDs, users can also choose to output to DLT tape for mass duplication or DVD-RAM to inexpensively test projects.

DVD Studio Pro is available this month from The Apple Store or through Authorized Apple Resellers for a retail price of US$999. Minimum system requirements to run DVD Studio Pro are a Power Mac G4 with AGP graphics and DVD-R, DVD-RAM, or DVD-ROM drive (configuration must support Apple DVD Player 2.0 or later), Mac OS 9.0.4 or 9.1, QuickTime 4.1, 128MB RAM (192MB recommended) and a 12GB hard drive.