VisualHub is a Mac OS X application that, says its website, can “Fit up to 18 hours of video on one DVD. Play it in any standalone DVD player.”
This is one of those claims that, on the surface, seems preposterous: we’re used to DVDs holding a 2 hour movie at most. Just like we’re using the CDs storing 74 minutes of music. 18 hours!? That’s absurd.
It seems that the “DVD Video” standard — the standard that allows us to create DVDs that can be played “in any standalone DVD player” — allows for more video to be stored at lower quality. The “two hour movie” we’re used to is simply the approximate capacity when storing so-called “DVD-quality” video. In other words “high quality.”
But it you’re willing to accept lower quality video, you can squeeze more on a standard DVD. A lot more.
This is where VisualHub comes in:
You just drag digital video into the main window, select the “DVD” tab and “Burn When Done,” click “Start,” and after lots of re-compressing and DVD magic, you end up with a DVD with lots of video on it. There are no complicated settings to choose from: it just works.
Indeed the user’s manual says “The 18 hour limit is a soft limit. You can actually make longer DVDs, but quality will really start to suffer.”
I ran a test yesterday just before I left the office: I dragged seven 44-minute long TV episode AVI files into the application, clicked “Start” and when I came in this morning I had a DVD burned containing all of them. While I haven’t tried looking at it on a standard DVD player, the Apple DVD player has no problem with it, and the video quality is at least “VHS quality” if not better.