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How many times have parents heard these four words in rapid fire: “Are we there yet?” from the kids in the backseat whenever the family went for a road trip. Thanks to today’s digital media technology, fewer parents now need to resort to the time-honored response, “We’ll get there when we get there.”
The Great American Road Trip (now a worldwide experience) created a tradition almost from the moment the automobile became a practical means of transportation. Some of the first to popularize it were the rich and famous. As early as 1915, Henry Ford (developed the assembly line for mass production of his Ford automobiles), Thomas A. Edison (invented the light bulb, among other things), Harvey Firestone (Firestone Tires) and John Burroughs (naturalist and early environmentalist) would go on camping road trips with a caravan of cars and people. Watch the silent film below to see how they camped in style.
As cars became more affordable and accessible to the general public, the road trip was embraced as an inexpensive way to explore new places and enjoy a different side of family life. Today’s technology provides no lack of portable devices that offer mobile entertainment to fill what can be the voids of traveling. Particularly, when motoring on the monotonous, mind numbing stretches of interstate highways. These much-needed diversions for children also do double duty in helping maintain some of the serenity and sanity of parents.
TURN YOUR AUTOMOBILE INTO A CINEMA ON WHEELS WITH A VIDEO PLAYLIST
Hollywood movies on DVD can easily be purchased or rented, but more and more, people want to customize their viewing options. With the incredible rise of online video, especially with entire new categories of user generated content to download, people are finding that burning their own DVDs is a simple, convenient way to build collections of specialty programs that wouldn’t ordinarily be available to them on the road.
The mobile hardware itself is all fairly straightforward: Miniaturized versions of DVD players with small screens and small speakers. Complete systems are common factory options in new vehicles, and there’s a brisk business in after-market, add-on kits. Combination players with flip-down screens, mounted in the ceiling are popular in vans. There are also screens that attach to the center console, with swivel bases for easier viewing by the front passenger.
Just about every screen configuration imaginable to suit your viewing needs is possible. There is one hitch for the driver’s screen though. It goes black unless the vehicle’s parking brake is engaged. Screens for rear seat passengers are typically installed behind the front seat headrests - similar to watching movies on an airplane.
One of the best ways to organize videos is by using playlists. Just like you would when making a music playlist. This is simply a way to collect your media files in groups for easy access. It’s just like putting related documents in a special folder to keep them organized. RealPlayer Plus will both build the road trip video playlists, and then burn DVD videos. Unlike the free version of RealPlayer, the Plus version has built-in DVD burning software. This integrates all the convenient features of the media player, downloader, converter, library, and playlists found in RealPlayer, while providing the capability to burn DVD video. The DVDs created can be played in the car, or in any DVD or Blu-ray player.
HOW TO MAKE VIDEO PLAYLISTS USING REALPLAYER PLUS DVD BURNING SOFTWARE
There are several paths through the RealPlayer Plus interface to begin creating video playlists. One of the easiest ways is to select File from the RealPlayer drop down menu, select New, and choose New Playlist.
This opens a dialog window prompting you to Create a New Playlist. Enter a name for the video playlist. In this example, we’re naming it “YouTube Family Videos.” If you already have videos in your RealPlayer library, select Make An Empty Playlist then you can add the videos you want at your leisure.
The empty playlist window will appear with a link to Add Clips to the playlist. Click Add Clips. A dialog window opens, select Videos in the left column to see all the videos in your RealPlayer library. Next, click on the videos you want to add to the Playlist and click the Add to Playlist button at the bottom of the screen.
You can also create playlist folders, which live inside the Playlist. It's a great way to organize your videos even more by grouping different, but similar videos in one place. For example, if you have a lot of funny videos, create a video playlist called "Funny Videos" and then add separate folders for types of videos such as funny cat videos and funny dog videos. Here's how to do it:
1. Click Playlists under Library in the left column of the screen.
2. Right-click on the name of the playlist where you want to add a folder and click New Playlist Folder.
3. The new playlist folder window opens, and we're going to name it “Baby Einstein.” Once you create the folder you'll be able to see it as a new folder inside the YouTube Family Videos playlist.
HOW TO BURN A DVD OF A ROAD TRIP VIDEO PLAYLIST WITH REALPLAYER PLUS
Now that the playlist has been created, we’re almost ready to use the DVD burning software in RealPlayer Plus. Click the “Burn” tab on the top menu bar. The clips added to the video playlist appear as a list on the left side of the screen. Here's how to burn a DVD:
1. Select Burn from the top navigation bar. If the burner is set to Audio CD Burner, use the drop-down menu to pick Video Disc Burner or simply click on the Video Disc Burner button.
2. Insert a DVD in the DVD burner and choose a DVD type.
3. Select videos from your RealPlayer playlist that you created that you want to burn to DVD and drag it to the video menu. You can rearrange the order by selecting them and dragging them into the order that you want them to appear.
4. Click the Burn Video to Disc button. There are options to rename the disc or choose to include on-screen menus as a guide to the disc content or remove that option completely. If you opt for the later option, there won’t be any menus or chapters on the completed DVD and it will just play the videos from start to finish.
5. Click on Advanced Options to choose the video-output setting. NTSC is standard. Change the Aspect Ratio to either 4:3 or Widescreen 16:9. If you plan on watching the DVD on a HDTV choose 16:9.
6. Select the write speed of your DVD player. Set the burn rate to 2X or 4X instead of 8X. This helps prevent buffer-under run, and makes for a more reliable burn.
7. Click the Burn button to start burning your DVD
8. When that begins, status bars for the percentage of each clip burned, the amount of time elapsed during the recording, and how much estimated time is remaining is presented in real-time on the screen.
9. When the burn is complete and the disc finalized, it’s ready for use.
Oh, one final thought. To relive the experience of your own road trips, shoot some video of your own. You’ll enjoy those memories in the future, and can build your own collection of road trip video playlists.
MAKING ROAD TRIP VIDEO PLAYLISTS IS GREAT FUN FOR ALL
A bonus in making road trip playlists to burn a DVD is that the same video playlists are on your computer stored in RealPlayer and can also be transferred to mobile devices.
Do you have a DVD player in your car, SUV or van? Do you just play pre-recorded movies, or have you ever made or wanted to make your own videos to take on the road? It’s not difficult to do. A huge amount of free online content is available to download, and it just may help dispense with one of the most popular road trip questions, “Are we there yet?”
Tom is a longtime video producer in the San Francisco Bay Area who brings impressive technical expertise to the RealPlayer blog. With a deep knowledge of video production and programming, he designs interactive media for public spaces and for an impressive portfolio of corporate clients. Tom enjoys demystifying technology, evangelizing on the future of digital media, and watching funny internet cat videos.