Rendering verses Authoring verses Burning
Rendering is the process where MEP renders your video footage from the various formats on the timeline eg DV-AVI, AVI, JPEG as well as processing all your edits eg cuts, fades, title and effects, to DVD format, which is MPEG 2 (on a DVD they are named VOBs). There are quite tight parameters required for video and audio for the DVD format, but MEP sets those.
Authoring is the process of creating the DVD menus. After you have set up the menus, during the burn process, MEP will create the compliant DVD structure which includes the .IFO (DVD Information) files and BUP (DVD backup) files.
Burning is the process where MEP (or any other burning program such as Nero or ImgBurn) takes the encoded and authored files and puts them onto a DVD disk in the required DVD folder ie VIDEO_TS.
Rendering to your Hard Drive
MEP renders and authors all the files for the DVD on the hard disk before it actually burns the DVD. This allows final checking of the project before actually putting it onto a disk, or storing on the hard drive if a disk burn is not required. Subsequent burning to disk with any buring program is easy.
To render your project to your hard drive, you have a couple of options.
"Burn" to ISO (only available in MEP 14 and later)
The first one is to choose "Image Recorder" as the Burner:
This will create an ISO image, which can be opened by VLC Player for checking before burning the ISO image to a DVD using your favourite burning program.
This option will also create the DVD Image files in a folder as described below.
A consideration when using the ISO option is the disk space will be used: the ISO image itself (up to 4.7gb for a normal DVD) and the DVD image folder (another 4.7gb).
One advantage of using the ISO option is that it will allow you to use the "Shut down PC after burning" option, because if you do not burn to ISO and do not insert a DVD before commencing the Burn disk process, MEP will pause to display the "please insert disk" message and not get to the "shutdown PC after burning" option.
"Burn" without the ISO
This option does not create the ISO image but functionally achieves the same thing. Simply proceed through the normal burning procedure but leave your disk drive empty ie do not put in a blank disk.
The "shutdown PC after burning" function will not work with this option, as MEP will ask you for the disk at the end of the rendering/authoring process.
When MEP gets to the point of wanting to burn the DVD, it'll pop up a window asking "please insert an empty disk" as shown:
Click Cancel. Note that the next step, the burn step, is the last (11/11 in this case). All encoding and authoring has been done.
Next, locate your DVD Image files. You can find your DVD files in the folder that is specified in the "Temporary" folder: hit key Y (or File>Program settings) then click on the Path Settings tab.
Note the location of the "Disk Images" folder (earlier versions called it the "Temporary" folder).
Your DVD files are in a subfolder of the Disk Images folder called "DVD Image xxx", where XXX is the name of your project:
Check your "DVD"
Use those files to make further disk copies of your production, or as I do for every project, open the DVD Image folder in your computer's software DVD player such as PowerDVD. It is amazing how many times I mess up the menus, but correcting them and recreating the disk image (choosing Use All to stop a re-encode (or Maintain All in MEP 11 and earlier) is easy and fast, all before anything gets burned.
Alternatively, the ISO file, if created, can be opened by VLC Player (or other ISO-playing program).
VLC Player has an excellent feature which allows high-speed playback of your movie (up to 4 x) with audio. I find this is a great way of doing a final quick run-through of your movie before putting it onto disk. Use the + key on the numeric keypad to speed up VLC and the - key to slow back down. The current speed is shown in the lower right corner of the player.
By the way, IFO files are "information" files about the DVD (they tell the player what files to play and various other info), BUP files are backups of the IFOs and VOBs are "video object" files. These contain your movie, split into 1gb chunks. They are basically MPEG 2 files. Movie 1 is VTS_01_xxx, Movie 2 is VTS_02_xxx and so on.
Burning to Disk
In the above example, I have rendered my project (from the TV) to my external USB 2 hard drive. I then plugged it into my wife's desktop and burnt it there onto a DVD+R DL, as it was over 4.3gb and my laptop doesn't have a dual-layer burner.
To now burn the project, simply use your favourite burning program eg Nero or the free Imgburn (guide for using Imgburn here), to burn a DVD project using either the ISO image file or the files in the DVD Image_xxx folder. Magix also has a burning program called Goya; it can be accessed via the Magix prgorams folder on the Start menu. You can, of course, simply re-open the project in MEP and burn it that way.